Finally! Some time away. Some time to just…relax. No obligations. No chores. Just leisure, good food, and maybe a little scratching behind the ears. After all, your dog needs a break every now and then, too! Whether you’re planning a family reunion or a business trip, sending your pet to a kennel can be a great treat for him – and a great sense of relief for you. How do you ensure your furry friend will be safe, happy, and well-cared for?
The Fine Print
Make a list of kennels in your area. You can ask your vet or dog-owning friends/family for recommendations. Before you step foot inside to scope them out, though, check out municipal licensing requirements. Do boarding kennels need to be licensed or inspected? Many provinces do not mandate this, but if yours is one of them, make sure the kennels display their licensure prominently.
Next, see if your Better Business Bureau has any information on the kennels. Have any complaints been filed against any of them? Get the details.
Maybe, at this stage, you’ve winnowed your list a bit. Let’s narrow it down even further and find the right kennel for your pup.
Checking Out the Facilities
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. Well, you should definitely judge a kennel by its appearance. It can tell you a great deal about how your dog will be treated – as well as his level of safety.
- Is the facility clean? Does it smell clean?
- Is there good lighting?
- Is it well-ventilated? Is the temperature comfortable?
- Is the fencing intact? Are there torn, bent, or jagged edges?
- Do the other pets in the facility wear their collars? (The answer should be “no.” This is a strangulation hazard).
- Do dogs appear content and non-stressed?
- Do they have sufficient space, bedding, and water?
- What does the play area look like? Is it protected from sun, wind, rain, and other elements?
Questioning the Staff
Now, onto the interrogation. Hey, you don’t want to leave your baby with just anyone! Some questions to ask of the staff (in a calm, respectful way, of course!):
- How many animals does the kennel typically board?
- What is the pet to person ratio? (It should be no more than 1 person for every 10 dogs. Ideally, it will be even less. This gives your dog more individualized attention).
- What happens if your dog is injured or becomes ill?
- If your dog is on medication, how will they administer it? What is their procedure?
- How often do dogs exercise? How often are they walked? Are there separate play areas for big and small dogs? Young and old dogs?
- Does it cost more to have one-on-one playtime for your pet? (This is particularly important if you have a high-energy breed.)
- How often are dogs fed? What are they fed? Can you bring your own food?
- What vaccinations does my pet need? (Typically, it’s the standard: rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus. Many kennels also require Bordatella, canine influenza, flea/tick treatments, and heartworm preventatives. Make sure your dog is up-to-date, and that the kennel has a procedure for ensuring other dogs are too.)
While you’re touring the facility and asking questions, you’re looking for answers – but you’re also looking for how professional the staff is. Do they welcome you? Do they encourage a tour and show you the resting and play areas freely? If they don’t allow you to look around, do not leave your dog there.
Is the staff knowledgeable? Are they paying attention to you and making notes about your dog’s needs? Are these people with whom you’re comfortable leaving your pet? If not, don’t. There are other kennels that can, and will, take great care of your best friend.
Choosing a kennel is an important decision, and it does take some homework. But when you find a wonderful facility, you can leave your pet in good hands. You’ll be comfortable – and he will probably enjoy his canine vacation immensely.