What to Look for in a Dog Boarding Kennel – Asking the Right Questions


Let’s face it, if you had a choice, your best friend would never spend a single day in a boarding kennel. You want him or her with you every single day and night. But sometimes, circumstances rear their ugly heads, and you end up without much of a choice if you don’t have a friend or family member who can take your dog for a while. Maybe you have to attend a funeral, and that means an overnight in a hotel. Or, heaven forbid, you have had a house fire or a flood, and again, you can’t find dog-friendly accommodations. When that happens, you may very well have to consider a boarding kennel. So, how do you choose the right one?

Here are some things to consider when choosing temporary accommodations for your dog.

Is the Kennel Certified?

There is nothing in the law that requires a kennel to be certified, and undoubtedly there are very good kennels that aren’t. However, if you choose a kennel that is certified by the ASPCA, you can be assured that they will have to operate according to very specific standards.

Should I Take a Tour?

Always! Never be afraid to ask for a tour of the kennel before you agree to place your dog there. In fact, if the kennel will not allow you to take a tour, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

A good kennel will have a staff-to-dog ratio of no more than 1:10. A good kennel should also be free of odors and waste. Look at the animals, too – do they look happy and stress-free? The very best kennels will also have web-cams so that you can check in on your dog and see what is happening in real time.

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What About the Hours?

Most kennels are not staffed 24/7. What this means is that if your dog gets sick, or caught in a fence, or has some other issue during certain hours, no one will be there. Ideally, you want a kennel that, if not staffed full time, at least has a watch-person who makes rounds regularly throughout the night.

How About Play Time?

It is a hard reality that you only get what you pay for. Some kennels include play time as a matter of course, while others ask for extra fees if they are going to take your dog out and play with him or her. Also, not all kennels will provide toys for your dog.

Leaving a dog at a boarding kennel is stressful at the best of times, both for you and your dog, and if your dog has separation anxiety, it can be that much worse. Often, bringing a toy with your dog can ease the anxiety. Right now, Amazon is offering the Kong Classic Dog Toy for just $8.79, down from $16.03. This is a huge savings, and the toy also qualifies for Amazon Prime shipping. You can fill this toy with treats for your anxious dog, and since it bounces unpredictably as well, it will keep him distracted while you leave, and then entertained for hours.

Is the Kennel Safe?

Most kennel operators mean well and honestly love their canine clients, but the trouble is that kennels, like other businesses, can be vulnerable to downturns, and may not always be able to keep up with routine maintenance. You should always check for holes or jagged edges in the fencing. If it looks like the kennel has seen better days, look elsewhere.

Also, take a look at the other dogs in the kennel. If they are wearing collars, this is a red flag. Collars can be a strangulation hazard, and if the kennel management is slipshod enough in this regard, heaven only knows what else could be wrong.

Also, when thinking about kennel safety, consider the individual needs of your dog. If he has health issues, is elderly or frail, you may be better off boarding him at a veterinary clinic.

What About Immunizations?

Before you take your dog to a boarding kennel, you should make sure that his immunizations are up to date. If the kennel management does not ask you if you have done so, then you can probably assume that they do not know if other dogs in the kennel have been immunized. This is another red flag, so find another kennel.

What Is the Procedure for Medications?

Some kennels will not accept dogs with health issues. If your dog needs medication, find out what the protocol is for administering. You want to be sure that your dog gets his medication at the right time, and that there is no chance of missing doses or doubling up on them. Again, if you think that your dog’s medical issues may be more than the kennel can handle, consider boarding at your veterinary clinic.

Should I Use a Pet Sitter Instead?

If you are considering a pet sitter, make sure to shop around and find one who is trustworthy. Don’t take on faith the references that the pet sitter offers – no one is ever going to say to you, “Here are the names and phone numbers of three people who are convinced that I should never be allowed anywhere near an animal.” Ask around, Google vigorously, and get a recommendation from your vet if possible. A pet sitter could be the right choice if your dog has severe separation anxiety or becomes very anxious in unfamiliar surroundings.

The Final Word

Visit various kennels. Ask questions, and expect answers – at a good boarding kennel, your questions will be welcomed. If they are not, look elsewhere. Take a look around, and see if you have a good feeling about leaving your dog in the care of the kennel you are considering. And finally, trust your gut. If it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong, but if you feel good about the kennel, chances are your dog will, too.  [thrive_leads id=’327′]

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