When you need to find a boarding facility for your dog, you want to be able to leave them in a safe, clean shelter with friendly, well-trained staff. Here, our Austell vets share important aspects of care when it comes to boarding for dogs.

When searching for dog boarding kennels in your area, it's critical to consider the needs of both you and your pooch. Fortunately, whether you decide to leave your dog at home or a boarding facility, you've got more options than ever before. 

If you choose to use a boarding kennel for your dog, understanding which questions to ask and what to look for will help you find a safe, clean shelter with staff who have the training needed to care for your pup. Your veterinarian, groomer, dog-owning friends and family or neighbors are all potential sources for recommendations on dog sitters or boarders. 

What to Consider: A Dog Boarding Checklist

In this list, we'll cover what to look for or actions to take to find a boarding facility that will suit both you and your dog.

  • Schedule a visit with the dog kennel or sitter for you and your dog well in advance of your trip. 
  • Do your research. Find out whether the commercial dog boarding kennel is a member of a professional organization or is certified. If you're interviewing a dog sitter, ask how long they've been doing it and how many repeat customers they've had. Also check a couple of references. 
  • Ask what immunizations are needed. Many kennels will require Bordetella vaccinations, as well as hepatitis, distemper, rabies, parainfluenza and parvovirus. Are dogs also checked for ticks and fleas?
  • Look for clean, safe and sanitary conditions. At any facility that routinely provides boarding for dogs, there should be enough places for the dogs to exercise and sleep. These areas should be securely fenced and have pleasant, non-slip surfaces. Are you allowed to see every area of the kennel or residence that your dog will have access to? Are these places safe and devoid of hazardous chemicals and materials?
  • Meet with the caregivers and watch how they interact with your dog. How many dogs will each staff member look after at once? How much exercise will your dog get, and how frequently will they be taken outdoors to relieve themselves? What kind of training and education do the training, caregivers and staff have in caring for animals?
  • Check for things that will help keep your dog comfortable, such as temperature control, fresh drinking water, shelter and ventilation. 
  • Find out what happens if your dog has any healthcare needs or emergencies requiring medication and/or veterinary services. Determine if the pet care provider is certified in pet first-aid.
  • Evaluate the staffing situation. Is there a night shift - does someone stay overnight at the dog boarding facility you are considering so your pooch will be monitored 24/7? Is there an evacuation plan in case of an emergency?
  • Observe the handling of the dogs. Is any interaction allowed with other dogs? How well is this supervised?
  • Is there a night shift? Will there be someone at least in earshot of the dogs in case something happens? Are there cameras monitoring the dogs at night in case something happens?

How to Prepare Your Dog for Boarding

If you've never temporarily trusted your dog's care and safety to someone else before, you're bound to have questions, such as, "if you are boarding a dog, who is responsible for the health and safety of the dog?" 

The staff's training and experience at the dog boarding facility you ultimately choose will be key to your dog's safety and comfort during their stay. 

Of course, you have some responsibilities when it comes to boarding your pooch as well. Consider this list of things you can do to make boarding your dog easier.

  • Understand the rules and policies of the boarding facility. Before boarding your dog at a new facility, inquire about its policies, procedures, and services. For instance, what kind of food do they feed the dogs, what items can you bring from home (toys, blankets, etc.), what their emergency procedures are, and if they can administer your dog's medication? Inquiring about the policies, procedures, and services provided by the facilities can assist you in determining the best home away from home for your dog.
  • When you drop off your dog, keep your emotions in check. Dogs are experts at reading their pet parents' emotions. Your dog can tell if you are stressed, overcompensating, or saying goodbye. This will be reflected in your dog's mood and behavior, making it more difficult for them to relax once you leave. Keep things simple, short, and positive to ease the transition.
  • When your dog first arrives home, he or she may exhibit a variety of behaviors. It's critical to understand that your dog may act strangely in the first few days after returning from the kennel. Your dog may be clingy, lethargic, or suffering from diarrhea. They may even consume more food or drink than usual. This, however, is a normal reaction to your dog's excitement at returning home. However, if things do not improve after a few days, contact your veterinarian.

Are kennels bad for dogs?

Whether your dog will do well at a dog boarding facility or kennel depends on the conditions of that specific kennel.

Each area your dog will have access to should be kept clean and sanitary, and the staff should be able to demonstrate that they have the experience and training necessary to care for your animal. Safety protocols, infection control measures, staff-to-dog ratio and regular exercise and activity standards are also important. Kennels are not inherently bad for dogs, but there are many factors to consider when deciding which dog boarding kennel or facility to trust with your pooch.

Other Considerations

Determine the daily/nightly rates and whether they include walks, individual attention, medication administration, and bathing. What is the checkout time, and how much are late fees charged? What about the cancellation policy? Some establishments demand a fee for late cancellations.

Consider a brief overnight stay before an extended stay if your dog has never been boarded before. Even a few hours of canine daycare can be an excellent litmus test. This will make your dog more comfortable with the experience and provide the caretaker with a greater understanding of your dog's needs. It will also allow you to monitor how your dog behaves when you pick them up.

Standard & Medical Boarding for Dogs & Cats at Bullard Animal Hospital

Our team at Bullard Animal Hospital understands that you may feel some anxiety or stress about the prospect of leaving your dog while on vacation or away from home - especially if they are sick or are recovering from a surgical procedure. We'd like to help ease those worries by offering to provide your dog with all the care, love and attention they'll need while they're here at our dog and cat boarding facility

Your dog's climate-controlled kennel will be routinely cleaned and disinfected, and your pup will be walked on a regular schedule. Our facility is monitored 24/7 and your dog will have a comfy, cozy bed to sleep in. They'll also be able to venture out to an outdoor play area. We are able to make special accommodations for dietary needs. 

We can also look after any medical needs your pet may have, including administering medications. Each pet is given individual case and cats are kept in a separate boarding area. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you looking for a safe, comfortable and welcoming dog boarding facility for your beloved canine companion? Contact our Austell vets to learn more about our services.