How To Choose Boarding Kennels For Your Dog

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How To Choose Boarding Kennels For Your Dog

by Abigail Smith

Summer is fast approaching, holidays are eagerly being booked and for many that means finding suitable arrangements for pets. Having peace of mind that your animal is being well cared for whilst you are away will ensure that you are really able to relax.

Home boarding is the preferable way to have your dog cared for whilst you are away as it entails a one to one type of care in a home from home environment. Your dog will stay in a carer?s home getting individual care and being treated like one of the family. The advantages of Home Boarding for your dog as opposed to using Boarding Kennels are obvious- not least that your dog won't have to be confined, nor will he suffer from kennel stress. A home environment is cleaner and healthier than a kennel and there is far less chance of your dog contracting kennel cough or other dog to dog transmissible diseases.

However, Home Boarders fill up quickly and for many the summer is already fully booked. This may mean choosing a boarding kennel instead; through this article, we hope to guide you through this process. Further information on pet boarding of all kinds can be found on

A boarding kennel environment is very different to your home and factors such as: lots of dogs barking, unfamiliar smells, lack of human contact and a change of routine/lack of exercise and stimulation could potentially mean a stressful experience for your dog. From an animal welfare perspective, it is important to be aware that it is impossible for most boarding kennels to provide a suitable environment for all dogs. Very young or elderly dogs, nervous or timid dogs, dogs on medication or with disabilities (deafness, blindness, or physical disabilities), or very active dogs will not cope well with most kennel environments and it is recommended by dog welfare organisations that other types of boarding are sought for these dogs.

Construction of dog boarding establishments vary from the basic concrete and steel cages with outdoor runs, to the more modern UPVC kennel rooms with under floor heating etc. Whilst it is re-assuring to see a modern building facility, the care behind the scenes is more critical. It is extremely important that you feel confident that the staff managing the kennels enjoy being with the dogs. It is crucial that they are well trained, caring and capable and most importantly that they have adequate time to dedicate to the dogs in their care.

Visit the kennels before making a booking for your peace of mind and for the sake of your dog's welfare. Most well run kennels won't be too strict on what times you can visit and this can often be a sign of a kennel business that has nothing to hide - as opposed to a kennels that insists you only visit by appointment. The quality of kennel accommodation and degree of care varies considerably and there is no way of truly assessing the type of accommodation without paying a visit. Visiting will give you the opportunity of meeting the kennel owners or hands on staff and finding out more about how the kennels are managed.

Confining a dog in a kennel is a frightening and unpleasant experience for most dogs and for others a boring one. It is therefore important that your dog is given as much stimulation and exercise as possible whilst boarding at the kennels.

The most reliable way of choosing a kennel is by word of mouth. Some pointers that we recommend you look for or ask about when visiting a kennel are as follows:

? Ask about staff ratios; if there are few staff and a lot of dogs, this may mean that your dog will not receive one-to-one attention. Keeping kennels cleaned, dogs fed, watered and exercised is very time consuming. Ideally there should be a maximum ratio of one full time staff member to seven dogs to ensure that your dog gets some attention during the day. You should feel confident that the staff are caring and that your dog will be treated as if one of their own.

? A well managed kennel establishment should not be very noisy. This occurs when a place has too many dogs or too few staff. When you first enter the kennel area, there will probably be a lot of barking but if the dogs are receiving adequate exercise and stimulation the noise should quieten down within a few minutes. If the barking is persistent, this can often be a sign that the dogs are frustrated and are not getting what they need - this type of environment is extremely stressful for dogs, so if possible avoid leaving your dog in a very noisy kennel.

? The kennels should be well aired and dry. The area should not smell of disinfectant, nor should it smell foul. There should be adequate staff to ensure that the kennels are well cleaned on a daily basis. If the dogs are getting out enough, they will not have to regularly use their kennel area as a toilet - piles of faeces or urine can be a sign that the dogs are not getting out or that there are not enough staff. This is not only unpleasant but it is a potential health risk for dogs as disease is easily transmitted through urine and faeces. Whilst the kennels should not smell foul, a strong smell of disinfectant is not a good sign either. As dog's noses are highly sensitive, disinfectant that is very strong or undiluted can be unpleasant and sometimes cause distress to dogs particularly as they will be lying on or near to the floor.

? It is a good idea to leave contact details for someone who you trust to make decisions about your animal on your behalf should you not be contactable in an emergency. Alternatively, let your vet know that you are boarding your dog and inform them of how far your wish treatments to go should your animal become ill.

? Enquire about feeding and play routines and as to whether there are any extra services on offer, e.g. grooming, massage, and swimming ? if these are available, it is worth booking in a few treatments for your dog as these can go a long way towards curing boredom.

? There should be at least one and preferably two staff members on site overnight to provide security and to care for the dogs should there be an emergency

? Enquire about the exercising of dogs. Where are they exercised, how often are they taken out, at what time, for how long. Work it out yourself ? are the answers you are given possible with the number of staff employed?

? Look at the kennel size and assess as to whether the area constantly maintained at a comfortable temperature (i.e. similar to what your dog would be used to at home), are there high standards of cleanliness; how frequently is the kennel cleaned or bedding changed.

? Ask which veterinary practice the kennel uses and make sure your dog is fully insured. If your dog is kennelled, you will need to ensure that he is fully vaccinated and you may need to provide proof in the form of a vaccination certificate.

? Request that you take your dog to his kennel rather than handing him over in the reception area. This will give you the opportunity to ensure that he is comfortable and well settled before you go.

? It is important that your pet is easily identifiable ? you could consider purchasing a collar with your pet?s details permanently personalised on it. Ensure your dog is kept comfortable by taking along the right type of bedding as this will help him feel more secure and settled from the start of his stay.

? Ask if staff will have time to play with your dog or ensure he is given toys during the day. Ideally your dog will be fed the same food that he is used to at home and this should help him to settle. It may be beneficial to you and your dog to have a trial run for a night or two in the kennels. This is a worthwhile expense as it will provide peace of mind if you are boarding for the first time to know if your dog will settle. Arrange for this in advance of your holiday as if your dog is really unhappy or do not settle you will have time to try others before going away

? If your dog requires regular grooming, enquire if this will be maintained whilst he is in kennels or ask if this could be done daily as an extra ? for which you will probably need to pay ? however, this is money well spent as your dog will be sure of some extra attention.

? If you are boarding two or more dogs who are used to each other's company, ask that they be paired up in the same kennel if possible as this will provide them with company and re-assurance during their stay.

? Ask for references and check them out.

Be sure to book the boarding kennels as far in advance as possible to avoid having to settle for anything less than the best accommodation and care for your companion animal whilst you are away. Happy holidays!

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