How to choose a dog boarding center is one of the most important decisions you will make for your dog. Where to leave your pets when you travel is a question which worries numerous pet families. As the nuclear, single parent or the myriad combinations and definition of family changes, a constant is our pets.
Where shall I kennel or board my dog? Start with a basic and simple understanding of what it means to kennel or board your dog. (We’re not discussing cats, they have distinct needs and ideally should not be displaced). We’re not even getting into pet sitting vs pet boarding. This is dedicated to help you find the best dog boarding center.
To choose a dog kennel or boarding facility interrogate and ask necessary questions. Be brutal if you must, it may save your dogs life.
There are no multi species pet boarding, please research the needs of each species before dropping your cat or dog off to a “better than home facility”. The only acceptable multi species pet boarding facilities are the ones which house each species separately. The staff are independent of each other and the physical structures are independent of each other. If this sounds extreme ask yourself why human and animal hospitals are not interchangeable? There are no pet hotels and over the top descriptions do not matter. Check the facility, their record and their staff. They may call themselves the ‘Ritz Carlton of dog boarding’, make sure they are being honest.
There are basic protocols and procedures all good, safe kennels adhere to, these are non negotiable. If a dog boarding center or kennel does follow these SOP’s walk away.
Does the kennel have a history of loosing dogs?
This may sound like a ridiculous question when you choose a dog boarding kennel, but ask it. It is vital to study the history of the kennel before you visit. Social media is a good reference point when choosing a dog boarding, read the reviews, if you can contact a family who has personally experienced a kennels services. Look around when you are there, are there too many doors and windows from where a dog can escape?
Windows should be high, ideally ventilators and grilled, so there is sufficient ventilation and the animals are safe.
Ideal design depends on the location, conditions, country and number of animals housed in a kennel or boarding center. So the kennel design that may work in a country which experiences 8 months of winter is clearly not going to work in a tropical country. A faultless kennel design would give each dog plenty of space, as well as privacy and a private kennel run. A kennel run is perfect for shy and older dogs who are at risk of being bullied. Kennel runs are distant dreams in cities, but there is no excuse for not filling the gap with a dedicated walk and exercise routine for dog boarding centers.
Dogs do not benefit from direct sunlight in the same way human beings do, but the benefits of your dog spending a few hours a day outdoors in a well lit enclosed area outweigh the dangers. The dog boarding or shelter must be able to demonstrate to you where they will take your dog, what access to shaded areas are there for exceptionally hot days, and the physical safety of the flight risk dog.
A foot bath/wash is as simple as it sounds. Foot baths may be in the form of a mat, a tub, or a depression in the flooring. The function of a foot bath is for persons, or in this case animals to step through to disinfect the soles of their shoes. In this case of dogs, their paws! Foot baths should be at every entry, exit and kennel entrance.
Equipment -Feeding ,Walking and Playing
Where you board your dog is as important as the trained staff the dog center employs.
If a kennel has 50 dogs and 2 persons to walk, feed and clean the place, that is not enough. As a general rule of thumb 4 dogs maximum to a single care taker.
Is play time supervised? Think resources, are there enough resources if the kennel is an open plan kennel. What are resources? A fancy word for toys. Make sure you check on the number of toys, there should be ideally be more than the number of dogs. Why? The simple and common sense explanation, dogs and kids do not fight when everyone gets a toy.
Remember teaching your kids to share? Well, you cannot do the same with dogs even if you call them your “kids” They are animals, they work on instinct, accept and cater to their needs.
Tick removal and checking
Dogs and ticks not a pleasant relationship, but a reality. Dog boarding or kennelling centers must demonstrate to you (not on paper) in practice how they isolate new entrants. Why? because ideally a dog entering a kennel is placed in an isolation kennel. While they spend time there they are checked for visual pests like ticks. It is also an opportunity to check on any infectious diseases a dog may be carrying.
Should you kennel a non neutered dog?
Are male and female dogs housed together? This is an important question so many pet owners do not ask. Do not assume male and female dogs will automatically get along. More importantly is your female dog neutered. A boarding facility which allows free roaming dogs puts your dog at risk. If your female dog is in heat ? They release pheromones which are undetectable to human beings but of course detectable to male dogs.
So, the danger of a free running un sterilised female in an open kennel facility around aroused male dogs is a disaster waiting to happen. Your dog to being with is in unfamiliar territory. You do not want her deal with the additional stress of being pursued by one or numerous male dogs. Even worse, if she is un sterilised and mating does occur, is the boarding facility or kennel is technically responsible, your dog suffers.
That depends on the kennel. Is it a free range kennel (which has multiple down sides) or a professional kennel. Professional kennels have individual kennels for each dog. It is so important to understand the dangers of sending your un-sterilised dog to a open plan kenneling facility.
Pet boarding centers or facilities are businesses, expect no less from them than you would from any other service provider. In fact, expect more, because they ask you to trust them with your family. A dog boarding center should give you the same sense of security as a child care center.
Facebook ‘pet parent’ groups and platforms are rife with questions of where and how to kennel pets when families travel. Ask the necessary questions before you pack your bags, nay, before you plan or vacation or better still the day you consider going on holiday. Do not rely on social media or virtual visits, please visit the facility, unannounced are the best visits.
Dog boarding centers should not be chosen based solely on what it will cost you. Fees are a consideration but do not believe that a more expensive dog boarding center is necessarily better. Remember you are kenneling a dog, even if you call it your child, this is a dog. It does not need pretty walls and beds. It is more important to have simple easy to clean walls and dog beds.