Jetting off on a vacation is a dream come true for many pet owners. Unfortunately, your pooch will not be able to accompany you on all of your adventures, which means you’ll need to find a way to have them taken care of while you are away. If your family and friends are busy or unable to house your dog for the duration of your trip, you’ve probably settled on using a kennel.
Choosing to board a dog is often a tough decision to make, but it doesn’t have to come with so much anxiety. By doing your research and planning ahead, you can rest easy and enjoy your trip without worrying about your pup’s comfort and safety back home.
Choosing the right boarding facility
Despite the common stigma, most kennels provide affordable and reliable care for your pooch while you’re away. There are a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to boarding your beloved pup, so how do you select the right one? Your dog is a part of your family and you want the best for them, much like you’d want the best for a spouse, sibling or parent.
Choosing the best boarding facility for your pooch can be easy once you do thorough research and explore your options. Try these tips to find a good match for your dog.
The first step is to ask family and friends who also have dogs if they have any recommendations for kennels. A positive personal experience is a good sign that your dog will be in good hands, so ask around and compile a list of any boarding facilities mentioned. If you can’t get any recommendations, look online for kennels in your area and read the online reviews to gauge the experiences of past customers.
Once you have a few kennels in mind, take the time to call each one and interview them to get a better sense of each facility. Ask them questions about these specific things:
- Staffing: How many people are on staff on a given day, compared to the number of dogs boarded? Check if the staff is there around the clock, or if they are only present during the daytime hours.
- Exercise: Ask about the facility’s exercise areas, what kind of exercise you should expect your dog to get, and how often.
- Socialization: Will your dog be able to interact with other dogs in the facility, if you so desire? How is dog playtime monitored?
- Comfort: Ask about how the facility maintains comfortable living arrangements for the dog, including temperature, access to fresh air and sunlight and sleeping areas.
- Grooming: Does the facility offer grooming services, and if so, what kinds? If you are going on a long vacation, will you return to see a freshly washed and brushed pup?
- Sanitation: How does the facility maintain cleanliness and cut down on transferable diseases and infections?
- Emergencies: Check on the facility’s policies for emergencies. Do they have a vet on call in case something goes wrong, or will they contact your preferred vet?
- References: Ask the kennel for references and check up on them, especially if you haven’t received a personal, trusted recommendation for the facility.
After you’ve narrowed your list down to one or two options, visit the kennel and ask for a tour to verify that the facility is clean and that dogs boarding there look happy and healthy. If you get a good vibe, go with your gut and select the facility to house your pup.
Before your trip
When you’ve decided on a boarding facility and are getting everything ready for your vacation, don’t forget to pack Fido a bag, too! There are a few necessary items you’ll need to drop off alongside your pooch when it’s time to go.
- Vet records: Most kennels require dogs to be up-to-date on their vaccinations, including Bordetella and distemper. Bring your dog’s vet records to prove they’re good to go.
- Paperwork and contact info: Don’t forget to fill out all paperwork requested by the facility, including emergency contact information for yourself, as well as for your family veterinarian.
- Medications: If your pooch takes medications, be sure to pack those along with a set of instructions on when they need to be administered and how much is needed.
- Food: Most kennels allow your dog to eat its normal food so it doesn’t encounter digestive issues during its stay. Pack enough for the duration of the stay, then add a little bit extra.
- Special instructions: If your dog has some unique behaviors or you feel the need to provide a feeding and medication schedule, create a detailed list and ensure the facility is aware of it when dropping your pooch off.
- Comfort items: Finally, make sure your pup is being sent with its favorite toy, its own bed and perhaps an old T-shirt of yours to help it feel comfortable and relaxed while you are away.
Boarding your dog doesn’t have to be a stressful experience—for you or your dog. When it comes time to drop off your pooch, stay cheerful and positive to keep your dog relaxed, and know that your beloved pup is in good hands.