The holiday season is quickly sneaking upon us and dog lovers will soon be traveling to be with family. If your dog is lucky, he/she will be able to come along. However, sometimes it’s just not logistically feasible. If your dog is unable to travel with you, then you must find a safe, clean environment for your pet to stay. If there is a family member or friend who is willing to take your beloved dog, count yourself lucky. Make sure to bring your care giver a gift for taking for your dog. Even though you may put up with your dog’s quirks, your friend or family member may not think they are so cute. So, if you have run out of options, what’s next?
I have been in the pet industry for 20 years, as trainer, kennel helper, and business owner. Here are Uncle Randy’s suggestions when boarding your pet. Boarding can be stressful for your dog. There are things you can do to make it less stressful. Don’t just go to the closest kennel in your area. It may not be the best option for your dog. Don’t base your decision on the most expensive or cheapest option either. Offering your dog a couch and television in his suite isn’t going to make him/her feel better. They need stimulation and interaction with people and dogs, not to be locked in a room with a television.
Do your research. Ask around, it all depends what you feel is best for your pet. Many veterinarians offer boarding. It’s great there is a VMD on site, but is your dog locked up the entire time? Many veterinary services don’t have the staff to play, walk, and interact with your dog. There primary mission is running the hospital and seeing the many clients they have day in and day out. I use to work for a veterinary hospital as a kennel helper. The dogs spent the majority time in their kennels.
Boarding a house dog can be stressful. To alleviate that stress it’s important to get the dogs out during the day and let them sniff, run, investigate, and play. Interaction with people and dogs are a great way to turn a stay at a kennel into positive experience. Many Kennels pick names like, “Camp, Resort, Whiskers, Play, and Bow”. Don’t let the title of the kennel play on your emotions. Visit the facility. Training and Boarding facilities are busy so schedule an appointment, don’t just stop in and expect the staff to drop everything to provide you with a tour.
Is the kennel clean and safe? The nose knows. If it stinks, keep looking. Are the kennels full of dogs? During the day the kennel should primarily be empty. Daytime is fun time. The dogs should be out stretching their legs and having a good time. Day time is for playtime, naptime, and treats. Is the staff knowledgeable? They should be confident in answering your questions. If they don’t put you at ease, keep looking.
Providing staff to exercise play and treat your dog costs money. Employee salary is the most expensive cost of kennel management. So, plan on paying for your dog’s wellbeing and stress free stay.
Does the kennel provide food for your dog? This maybe appealing to you and save you a little cash but it’s not what’s best for your dog. Changing your dog’s diet causes stress and digestive issues. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and complications. I recommend bringing your dog’s food to the kennel so they stay on their diet. It’s a hassle for the kennel but healthier for your dog. The Kennel prefers to scoop from one bag of dog food at feeding time. It’s more work to have 20-40 different varieties of dog food containers when feeding.
When looking at pricing, watch out for hidden fees. I had a client board their dogs at another facility and when they picked up had an extra $42 added to their bill because their dog would not go potty in the kennel. Since the dog had to be taken out to the grass to pee each day they added $6 a day to the dog’s stay. This tells me the dogs are not getting the exercise outdoors that they need.
Be careful about bringing items like beds and blankets for you dog. Many times dog’s chew, due to separation anxiety, and destroy their bedding. Ask if the kennel provides beds or are the dogs expected to sleep on a slab of concrete. At our facility all our kennels have therapeutic pet cots for the dogs to lounge on. They are comfortable and keep the dogs off of the concrete. The dogs love their cots!
At your visit, do the dogs look happy at the facility? A dog barking is a stressed dog. If you visit and you hear a lot of barking, the dogs are stressed. You would be surprised how quiet 20-25 dogs can be when they are out lounging around enjoying their day. Each dog should leave thinking they just had a great time playing ball, rather than staying in a kennel.
In closing, when dropping your dog off, don’t fuss over them. This holds true at home when you leave as well. The best way to deal with separation is to ignore the dog when you leave and act like you never left when you return. Talking baby talk and a lot of touching only makes the whole event stressful. Don’t allow your human emotions to dictate how you leave and greet your dog. You and your dog should enter the facility, pass the leash off to staff, they will talk and walk your dog into his/her play area and they will never know you left. If you must fuss, a scratch under a chin with a new treat dispenser or a hickory smoked bone is all they need. Have a wonderful trip and Happy Travels, your dog will be in good hands.