For those of you have been honest about yourself and your dog’s personality and have concluded that both the two-legs and four-legs will be happier if the four-legs stay home, there are many dog-friendly options for boarding.  Traditional boarding kennels usually have an area for each dog with an attached run or exercise area. The place where the dogs spends most of his time may be a comfy, roomy area, or something more like a crate.  Whether it’s a loving staff, convenient location, or cost consideration, make a list of things essential to you, and be sure to visit any facility you consider using in advance of your travel to make sure the kennel meets your expectations. Four basic requirements to look for:

  1. Security…look for kennels with security systems and adequate fencing heights to prevent escape. Check for double gates that prevent your dog from slipping out when another dog is being moved.
  2. Supervision…dogs should be supervised at least most of the day. Staff should be trained to understand basic dog behavior, and recognize signs of distress or illness.
  3. Safety …dogs need a safe, temperature-controlled enclosure that is protected from outside elements. There should be walls or barriers to ensure that your dog cannot be stressed by other nearby dogs.
  4. Sanitation…Dogs need clean beds and toys, and fresh food and water daily. Many dogs are stressed in a new environment and may have accidents. It is important that kennels be kept clean.

Kennel owner Barb Gibson offers the following tips:

  • Make a “test run” at the facility of choice for just a night or two. It is worth paying for a short stay that might reveal any potential issues before you leave for an extended trip. Some dogs find it difficult to adjust to the unfamiliar.
  • Be upfront and honest about your dog’s habits and quirks.  If your dog is a barker, or a biter, or if he’s prone to chewing, tell the staff. The more they know about him, the better care they can provide.
  • Make sure your dog has two forms of ID. His collar should have an up-to-date, well-secured tag, and he should be implanted with a properly registered microchip ID or tattooed with information that can quickly lead a rescuer to you.
  • Take your dog’s regular food with him, so that he will eat his own food and have his own routine. A change of food or an addition of treats can induce gastrointestinal upset. Pack his bag to include his blankets or bed, favorite toys, and anything that will make him feel more at home.
  • Make sure you provide clear instructions for feeding and any required medications. Give specific guidelines on what you expect of his activity, playtime, and interaction with other dogs. Also be sure to provide good contact information in case of an emergency.

Experts agree that if you experience a dirty facility or inattentive staff that you should run, not walk, to another facility. It is reasonable to expect a burst of barking when a human or dog travels through the kennel area, but continued barking likely points toward a bigger problem such as a lack of exercise, lack of mental stimulation, inadequate potty opportunities, or an overall high stress/anxiety level.  If you see inappropriate handling such as physical or shouted “corrections”, find a different facility. Experienced dog handlers don’t need to hit or “alpha-roll” dogs, ever! If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with a facility, regardless of its glowing recommendations, trust yourself and your ability to know what’s best for your pet.  All boarding facilities are not equal, and your gut instinct is usually right!  Peace of mind is important while you’re on vacation, so research boarding kennels carefully!