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dog siting on the floor in a kennel

The Easy Guide to Choosing a Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

7 min read

Going on holiday, but leaving your fluffy pooch behind? Vacations are different for pet owners. Before you can even start thinking about sandy beaches and sunny skies, you need to make sure your dog will be safe and happy while you’re away. That’s why knowing the ins and outs of doggy day care and kennels, so you can find that perfect boarding facility for your dog, is so important. It’s a dreadful prospect leaving your best friend in a place they don’t know, away from family and having to cope with new pets and new humans all by themselves. But before you think ‘there goes my relaxing holiday’, it’s good to remember that there are a few tried-and-tested ways to take the stress out of the boarding process.

Here’s what you need to know about dog boarding so that both you and your four-legged family member can have a good time, even though you’re spending it apart.

Top tips for choosing the right boarding kennel for your dog

Research, research, research

When holiday plans can’t include your lovely canine friend and it’s time to look for a dog boarding service, it’s a good idea to invest a little bit of time into looking at your options in detail. Making a list is a great start. This way you can start comparing the different dog kennels in your area and the services they offer.

It’s okay to start big, you can always narrow it down to two or three options. Don’t forget to take into consideration your dog’s particular needs and personality. While a pool and spa treatment will make many pooches wag their tails in delight, other dogs are happier with only a comfy bed and someone checking in on them regularly. What would your dog prefer?

Plan ahead of time

We are a nation of dog lovers. With so many pet parents out there and popular holiday seasons, many of us will end up going on vacation and looking for dog care solutions around the same time. This is why it’s important to start planning your dog’s kennel stay well ahead of time. That’s truer than ever during summertime, when many pets will be heading for doggy day care and long-stay kennels as owners get on their way towards sunnier destinations. Booking your holiday a few months in advance? It’s a good idea to book your pet’s kennel stay at the same time.

dog visiting a kennel
Arrange for a tour of the boarding kennel

To make sure everything is in order, visit the boarding facility before you make the final decision. There’s important information you may miss if you’re only checking a website or chatting on the phone. Are the rooms clean? Are there security measures in place? How are the dogs grouped? Plus, oftentimes you will also get a feel for the people working there too. Are they friendly and caring? If so, then you’re one step closer to that ideal boarding kennel for your dog.

Why not bring your dog for the tour too? You can investigate all the different areas together and see what your dog thinks. When the time comes to check your pet in, the place won’t seem that unfamiliar.

Arrange for a short stay so your dog can get used to the facility

This tip is extremely helpful for pet owners planning to stay away from home for longer periods of time. Boarding your dog for a couple of days before you leave for your holiday might seem strange at first, but it can actually help make the experience less stressful for your dog when the time comes for the long stay. Instead of going to the new facility for the very first time, they’ll be returning to a place they visited before and to familiar faces who probably gave them a good spoiling before leaving the last time. It will be such a different experience for both you and your dog.

Ask these important questions before you choose a dog kennel

Boarding your dog is a big decision. After all, you want to leave your best friend in good hands and in a place where they can feel comfortable and safe. And with so many different things to consider, it’s easy to feel a little bit overwhelmed. No worries. We’ve put together a handy list of things to keep in mind and questions to ask so you can make sure all the important details have been covered before making your decision.

Initial contact:

  • How friendly do they seem on the phone? Do they show an interest in your dog? Any reputable kennel should start the process by asking questions about your dog’s breed, age and temperament.

  • Do they offer a tour of the facility? They should always offer a viewing before booking.

  • Do they have any testimonials they can point you to? Make sure you also check for yourself on Google and Facebook.

When visiting:

  • Is the owner or manager available and happy to show you around? Bearing in mind, with current COVID restrictions, viewing must be by appointment only.

  • Are there any members of staff qualified to at least level 3? The new regulations state that there must be someone of this level on site at all times.

  • Do they check all vaccinations are up to date? This is a requirement under the latest regulations.

  • How clean is the facility? Smell is a good indicator as there should be no bad odours present. Kennels should be refreshed and cleaned at least twice a day.

  • How much barking or howling can be heard? The atmosphere should be calm and relaxed.

  • Are the kennels large enough? The new regulations give a minimum dog kennel size as 1.9sq.m. and height 1.8m for one dog.

  • Is there a variety of bed types? New regulations state that there should be different types of bed available and that every animal housed in the unit must have its own bed and bowl.

  • What are the reactions of the other dogs when staff are near them? They should be pleased to see them and never be fearful, but keep in mind that each dog’s personality is different and some pets are naturally more fearful than others.

  • How do the staff behave around dogs? They should show a friendly and caring attitude.

  • What’s the daily routine? Dogs must be out of the kennel for at least twice a day.

  • How are dogs exercised? Check to see what the exercise area looks like and whether temperatures or weather conditions are taken into account.

  • Is the kennel heated? Regulations state that temperatures should be at least 10 degrees Celsius and not exceed 26 degrees Celsius.

  • Is natural or artificial light offered? If it’s artificial, it needs to be on for at least 10 hours a day, so it should be on at the time of your visit.

  • How many dogs are in each kennel? Remember that only dogs from the same household can be put together.

  • How do they care for senior dogs? There must always be someone on site qualified in animal first aid on site.

  • How secure is the kennel? Check for CCTV and padlocks on doors and gates.

When coming to board:

  • Do they let your dog have an overnight stay? Kennels typically offer your dog the possibility to get used to the facility, the sounds, smells and the staff before their first long stay.

  • Is the paperwork informative? Basic information to be taken and a copy of their terms and conditions should be available.

  • Are the kennel’s licensing details on display? According to the new regulations, the licence must be clearly displayed in the reception area.

  • How do the staff and your dog react to each other? A welcoming, enthusiastic attitude is always a good sign.

  • How can you get in touch with the kennel? You should be able to call and ask about your dog during their opening hours. Some kennels might even offer to send pictures and videos too.

  • Does your vet know your dog is in a kennel? If there are any issues, your kennel should be able to contact the vet and the medical records of your pet with your prior consent.

There you have it! The next time you find yourself in the tricky situation of having to leave your best friend behind, review these tips to makes sure your pooch’s kennel ‘holiday’ is just as good as yours. Have a great time!

Next, discover our top tips for dog day care while you’re working. Or if you’ve decided to take your pet with you on holiday, here is a handy dog travel checklist to help make the whole experience smoother and less stressful for both of you.