Although I love taking vacations where the dogs can come along, like hiking the Appalachian Trail or pheasant hunting, sometimes we have to leave them behind. I used to use an inhome service – the dog sitter would come to my house twice a day, feed my dog, play with her and take her for a walk. I had a doggie door so Teddy could go in and out as often as she needed to. It worked great for short business trips. (The lady that watched her told me on one week long trip that a week was too long, Teddy was going nuts.) I could call anytime on my cell phone and get an update. It was convenient, it didn’t stress Teddy out and I trusted the woman that came over.
However, I moved towns and the service wasn’t available in my new town so I became an expert in picking kennels. Here’s some tips and some questions to ask to get you started when you are looking to board your dog:
- Get recommendations!
- Go visit the kennel and get a tour. Do the dogs look happy? Overanxious? Starving for attention? Does it smell? (A certain amount of dog odor is to be expected but I’ve been to several that stink.)
- Does the dog have access to the outside?
- Is there playtime? Supervised? In groups? Our favorite place is also a doggie daycare so our dogs get playtime all day when we are gone. Other places charge $6 and up for 30 minutes of playtime!
- Do all of the dogs have water?
- Does the kennel provide food or do you need to bring your own? If they provide it, what is it?
- If your dog is on medication, can they give it? Will there be an extra charge?
- What are their hours? Many places restrict drop off and pick up to a short time period in the morning and evening.
- If you have more than one dog and you get a "family kennel," is it any bigger than a regular kennel?
- If your dog is a houdini like our Chase, will the outside part of the kennel be covered? What about the play area?
- What happens if your dog is injured? Or if your dog injures another dog? We discovered on one trip that Chase doesn’t like boxers. We ended up paying for stitches for another dog. (We were just extremely grateful the other dog was ok and the kennel agreed to keep Chase again!)
- Start with a short trip. When you get back are the dogs happy? Clean? (Don’t expect them to be too clean but they shouldn’t stink.)
- And most important, are your dogs happy to go back? Our dog Teddy has been to three kennels and I knew we had found the right one when instead of hiding behind me at the door, she ran to back without a backwards glance at me!
Good luck picking a kennel! Let us know if you have any additional suggestions.
Photo by Johnny Huh.