For most of us pet parents, sooner or later we need the services of a doggie daycare or boarding facility. Even for those of us who try to include our dogs in everything we do, situations come up where are in need of having someone we trust take care of our dog. Whether it’s for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks, it’s important to know what to look for in a facility so your dog is safe and comfortable.
For a lot of people, the cost is the bottom line. Be sure you understand what is included in the cost. Some places charge extra for things like belly rubs or individual attention. When you compare total services, you might be surprised at what some places consider extras and other places consider a staple of good service.
Around the Clock Supervision
Problems occur at every hour of the day and night, not just during business hours. It’s important that someone be on site 24/7 in case of an emergency of any kind. Many places have someone on site only during business hours. Too much can go wrong after 6pm to have your dog left alone waiting for someone to show up at 7am. Find a place that has someone on site at every hour and who is trained to handle emergencies of all types.
What kind of play will your dog engage in during the day? Will someone interact with your dog if he isn’t so interested playing with the other dogs? What if your dog is shy and just in need of some cuddle time. How much time will your dog have during the day to exercise? What is the staff to dog ratio?
Does the kennel have a good air filtration system? When you visit the kennel, does it smell doggy? Is there a smell of cleaning chemicals? What about a fragrance? Chemical smells and perfumes can be harmful to your dog. Look for a place that has a good filtration system. You shouldn’t smell anything when you walk in.
What type of security and fencing is in place? You want to see at least two gates or doors between the dogs and the street. Do they use cameras to monitor the dogs and that you can log into and watch your dog?
What type of people work at the facility? What is the average employee tenure? Do they seem happy and like they are treated well? Are they trained in dog behavior? Do they know how to respond if something goes wrong? Is the facility licensed and bonded?
Parking Lot Observation
You might want to consider pulling into the parking lot and watching how dogs respond during drop off and pick up. Do they seem happy and excited to arrive?
Before leaving your dog for a week while you go on vacation, do a trial run. Drop your dog off for a few hours while you do some errands and see how your dog responds. If that goes well, try leaving him for a day. It’s a good idea to get your dog used to the environment so it’s easier for him to adapt to being there for a longer time.
Finding a daycare/kennel that you trust is worth the extra effort. Asking for referrals is always a good place to start. Read online reviews and pay attention to how the management responds to criticism. Visit a few different places in person and compare how they look, smell and feel. Talk to the staff and watch how they interact with your dog. It can take a little work to find a good boarder, but the peace of mind of knowing your dog is safe is very much worth it. Start early and establish a relationship so when you are truly in need, you have a go-to place that you and your dog are comfortable with.