Choosing a boarding kennel, doggy daycare, or dog-sitting service can feel overwhelming. You want your dog to be safe and happy, but the most obvious and heavily advertised choices may not be the best fit for your dog.
Here’s how the experts at Toureen kennel say how to pick the right kennel for your four-legged best friend before you leave for your next vacation.
1) Go In Person
First, visit the facility you’re considering, preferably unannounced (but only during regular business hours, of course). Any reputable service for watching your dog will understand why you want to look around. If they’re evasive about a tour, that’s a red flag that should cause you to start looking elsewhere.
2) Make Sure It’s Clean and Safe
Next, while you’re at the facility, pay attention to messes and smells. Cleanliness and hygiene should be the most important factor in choosing a kennel. Poorly cleaned kennels can spread disease and stress out your dog. Any mess more than a pee puddle or two should give you pause.
You should also ask about the cleaning products the kennel uses. Ensure that they are nontoxic and that the kennel has a poison control plan.
3) Take a Peek at Playtime
Look around and see what play groups and other enrichment activities are available for your dog. Playgroups are important, especially if you’re boarding your dog long-term. This keeps them stimulated and healthy instead of bored and stressed out.
Playgroups should be divided by dog size and playfulness for safety. You don’t want small dogs to be playing with big dogs or cautious older dogs to be playing with boisterous young ones.
4) Bring a Piece of Home Along
You should also ask kennel staff about what items your dog is allowed to bring from home. Bringing food, toys, blankets, and other familiar items can help your dog acclimate to the kennel and reduce their stress.
Consider buying your dog some extra-strong toys and chews before your trip that they can bring along to the kennel. They may need more durable stress relief while they make the transition.
5) Watch for Outdoor Pitfalls
The outdoors space at a kennel should be sizeable enough for even large dogs to run around and play. Look around and make sure that the space is clean and free from hazards like sharp edges. There should be lots of shade and water around to prevent overheating. The fence should be high and sturdy. Short or flimsy fences are a recipe for escape.
Let the staff know if your dog is an escape artist so that they can take special precautions. Also ask about their procedure if a dog does escape, especially if the facility is near a highway or other hazardous area. Make sure that they will notify you promptly if your dog escapes.
6) Papers, Please
Paperwork is a pain, but when it comes to your dog’s health and wellbeing, it’s a good thing. A reputable dog-sitting service will require paperwork and proof of shots. This helps prevent the spread of dangerous diseases like kennel cough.
Also take a look at the fine print in any release forms or contracts that you sign. Make sure that you’re happy with the terms.
7) Check Credentials
It’s okay to want the best for your dog! Ask about the training that’s required of kennel staff during your visit. Employees should have some experience and certifications under their belt. You’re entrusting your dog to them. A good kennel will understand that that’s an enormous responsibility.