10 Things You Must Know When Boarding Your Dog – An Insider’s Guide

#1 Indoor/Outdoor Access

The single most important thing to look for is that a dog can relieve itself when it needs to and not have to wait to be walked. It costs virtually double to build a facility like this so most places don’t do it. Waiting to be walked depends on staff remembering to walk them and walking them frequently enough, if at all.  Staff usually leave at 5 and don’t return until the next morning. It could be 15 hours or more! That’s way too long to wait, not healthy and miserable for the dog. Many dogs won’t eliminate on a leash. Not being able to eliminate when needed causing UTI’s, constipation, diarrhea and discomfort. Some kennels don’t even walk dogs; they just expect them to eliminate in their kennels. Poor dogs, trying to hold it until they practically explode. No matter how cute it’s decorated, it’s still a miserable cell if you can’t relieve yourself when you need to. Look for a kennel that was designed with a dog’s comfort in mind. 

#2 Get Out Of Kennels Into Fresh Air and Sunshine!

Make sure the facility takes dogs outside to play and take walks.  It’s imperative for a dog’s physical and mental health to spend time outdoors every day! Being indoors 24 hours a day causes stress and depression. Make sure the outdoor areas are artificial turf that is cleaned and sanitized daily and there are stimulating things for dogs to do while outside. Don’t select a place that puts dogs out on grass, dirt or gravel because they harbor untold diseases and fleas.

#3 Safety- Make sure fences are made from welded wire – not cyclone.

Dogs can chew through and unwind cyclone fencing. Make sure all doors and gates have a double entry system (2 doors or gates at each point of entry) so that if a dog gets past one gate, the next gate will prevent it from escaping. Make sure there’s cement under all fencing and gates so pets cannot dig out and become lost in an unfamiliar area.

#4 Separate Cleaning Staff Using Non-Toxic Products

There should be little to no urine or feces in kennels and common areas.  Facility should have a team just for cleaning. If cleaning is put upon people covering several other positions, it can’t be done thoroughly and disease can spread.  Ask to see what kind of cleaning products are used. They should be using a hospital grade disinfectant that kills surface bacteria. Bleach can burn dog’s lungs, paws and mouths.  Ask if you can drop by unannounced. The answer will tell you volumes about how well the facility is run and how the dogs are treated.

#5 Climate Controlled With Air Sanitizer

Most contagious diseases are air borne which means that they travel through the facilities’ air conditioning and heating system.  Make sure the boarding facility has a UV Air Sanitizer installed in their heating/cooling system. These are expensive pieces of equipment that kill air borne germs. The facility should have a sign indicating that they have one in use in each building and that the bulbs are within date. 

#6 Limit Number Of Dogs Playing Together

Don’t be fooled by videos of dozens of dogs playing in a yard or pools full of Golden Retrievers. If you’ve had any experience with dogs, you know that fights break out and when they do, all breeds of dogs jump in the fray. It’s hard enough to separate two dogs in a fight but 3? 6? 10? It’s a recipe for disaster. Instead choose a place whose policy it is to only let two dogs play together and ALWAYS under supervision.

#7 Activities Beyond Play Yard Time Designed Just for Dogs

Dogs need to exercise AND get mental stimulation every day. Pick a place that offers many interesting activities like: Agility, ATV rides, Dock Diving, Doggy Puzzles, Lure Courses, Massages, Nature Hikes, Paddle boarding and Swimming. Make sure you see a staff that is large enough to not only feed and medicate twice a day but spend many hours loving and playing with the pets.

#8 All Inclusive Or Nickle and Dime You

Many places appear inexpensive at first but then when they total up all the extras, it costs way more. Many places today don’t provide dog food or treats, charge you for special diets and administering your medication as well as for activities. Pets need to be busy while you’re away. Be sure that you’ve accounted for all the extras before you compare the final cost. All Inclusive resorts know how many pets they need to entertain a day and are staffed accordingly. Resorts with optional plans often have staff running on a shoe-string attempting to cover the random request for an activity. Often you don’t know if your pet got the activity or not.

#9 Open Every Day and Someone Always There

Dogs need care 365 days a year so look for a place that has staff on site 365 days a year.  Be wary of places that are closed on weekends. You’ll be much happier if you can drop off your pet any day of the week or pick it up whenever you get back. Dogs need quiet time and rest at night so being open at night isn’t necessary, just make sure that there is a staff member on duty or someone lives on site.

#10 Really Love Animals or Just a Business

Does the place donate significant time and resources to needy animals? This speaks volumes about a business. People who help animals show that animal welfare is important to them. It’s much more likely this type of business will go over and above the call of duty to make sure that your pet is well taken care of, even if it’s not always profitable.

By Vicki Nourse-Owner/Operator of one of the Nation’s Premier Animal Care Facilities Serving North East Texas. Caring for large and small animals for more than 30 years.

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