Dog Boarding 101

Pro tips on when, where and who to board your pup with

By Lindsay Shostal

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There are a few different options for dog boarding. The key is to decide which is the best fit for your dog. Be sure to start your research into dog boarding with plenty of time, as it can be a bit of a quest to find the perfect fit for your pooch and your vacation schedule.

If you are often away then planning a strategy when your puppy is young is important. Your dog’s overnight caregiver will become like family and will develop a long lasting bond with you and your dog. Find the right one and you’ll know your pooch is comfortable and happy in a home away from home.

Kennels

Finding a kennel-based facility is best done through referral. Talking to other dog owners with a similar breed is the best resource. Your dog’s breeder may also offer kennel-based boarding, so be sure to ask.

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Kennels usually have scheduled play and walk times after which the dogs are put in segregated areas (crates, cages, small dog runs) for feeding, sleeping and nap time. They are often located outside of city boundaries, which means they provide a lot more space and fresh air. Often this means the dogs have huge, grassy play areas to romp around in that are safely fenced in. I find kennels are best for confident dogs that love to play with dogs of all sizes.

Vet Boarding

Vets often offer boarding. This gets your pup a crate or cage, with specific walk times. This is a good option for last minute boarding, as they’re often able to accommodate emergency requests. Importantly, this is also the safest option for intact males or females that are in heat. The individual crates ensure they’re always in a secure and protected space. This benefit is also a downside though. If your dog thrives on socialization or isn’t accustomed to sleeping or spending large periods of time in a crate you should look at other options.

Home Boarding

Home boarding is done in a service provider’s home (some will even dog sit in YOUR home). This low stress option is perfect for dogs who may suffer from separation anxiety or don’t appreciate change. Visiting dogs are treated like part of the family, and the caregiver can ensure their stay is as stress free as possible by following a similar lifestyle and schedule that the dog is used to. Home boarders can be trickier to find, and often book to capacity months in advance. You won’t find any last minute bookings here.

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7 Pro Tips for Finding the Perfect Place to Board

  • Where do the dogs sleep at night?
  • How many dogs will be boarding at the same time?
  • What do they do/where do they go when you’re not home?
  • Will you be driving/taking them in the car? If so, how are they restrained?
  • Are you able to feed a special diet? And if so, how do you deal with food aggression issues?
  • What is your emergency protocol?
  • Most importantly, make sure you visit the facility or home where your dog will be staying. Physically go and see. If they don’t allow you in the areas where your dog will stay, run, don’t walk away!

Finding the perfect place for your pooch while you’re away sunning yourself on a tropical beach can be a stressful one, so start your process early. Go with your gut. If you’re not feeling it, it’s OK to walk away. After all, we all want what’s best for your dog.