For devoted pet parents, the idea of boarding their dog can be scary. By taking a bit of time and doing your research, it's possible to find a dog boarding facility that allows you to take your vacation with peace of mind, knowing your best furry friend is in capable hands.
Word of Mouth Referrals
Trainer Jennifer M. Lowe Davis, J.D., CPDT-KA, says dog owners should begin by asking for word-of-mouth referrals. "There aren't any third-party groups that officially certify dog boarding facilities, so you have to start with referrals," she says. "Ask your dog trainer, your veterinarian and friends who have boarded their dogs."
Check it Out
The second step is to personally check out the facilities. Visit the sites, talk to the staff and pay attention to details. Is the facility clean? How noisy is it? How many people are available to work with, walk, feed and play with the dogs? Ask about the kennel's insurance policy and read any contracts carefully before making a decision.
"Many boarding kennels also provide doggie daycare," Davis said. "Take your dog to daycare a few times before you board. Stick around and watch, and make sure the staff is in control. Some facilities have cameras so you can watch remotely via the Web. Take advantage of that if it's available."
Find a Good Fit
Most important, you know your dog best. "If your dog is reactive or anxious, being in a big crowd of playful dogs may be too stressful," Davis says. Pet sitting in your home or private boarding, such as Davis provides in her own home, may be the better choice.
In all cases, Davis stresses, "Be as specific and honest as possible. Make sure your directions are written down and taken seriously." For example, if your dog is a 'runner,' let the kennel staff or sitter know about his habit so they can take the necessary precautions. For even more peace of mind, treat your pup to the LINK AKC Smart collar. With the app, you can locate your pup when he roams and you can get an alert if he leaves his virtual fence and wanders too far. The app also delivers precise activity monitoring so you know he's getting enough exercise at the boarding facility while you're away.
Above all, Davis says, "Trust your instincts. If you have any doubts about a dog boarding kennel, keep looking until you find one you are comfortable with."