Written By: Dr Gwen

For some dogs, going to the kennel is like going to doggy camp, but for others, the change of routine and familiar things and people is a recipe to stress … and sickness.

Finding a boarding kennel that reduces the stress on your dog, enables you to feel free to enjoy your holiday without worries that your best friend is having a bad time.

To help you find the right boarding kennel for your best friend (and you), here are a few questions and things to think about:

  • Look local first and expand your search if you can’t find the right kennel. This saves the environment and if your dog does not appreciate travelling, a short trip is preferable to a long car ride.
  • How are the dogs housed? Are the kennels in a climate controlled space. What’s the flooring made of? Is bedding supplied.
  • How many people are on staff. Some dogs are not the happy go luck types and meeting many new people can be stressful.
  • Are there recreation areas for the dogs to exercise? A place to swim?
  • Are the dogs allowed to socialize with each other. Socializing may be the best or the worst thing to happen to your dog. It depends on his/her personality.
  • How frequent are the dogs checked on? Hourly, throughout the day? Two to three times throughout the night?
  • Are there web cams so that you can have a virtual visit with your friend?
  • Is barking an issue? How does the kennel operator reduce barking?
  • Can small and nervous dogs be separated from larger or more assertive or aggressive dogs?
  • What does the kennel operator do if the dog is nervous, aggressive or just extremely exuberant at the kennel. What techniques does the kennel operator uses to calm a dog? Would these things work for your dog?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about food allergies or sensitivities? If there are special food needs, ensure the kennel knows about it.
  • Does the kennel provide food or do you supply the food?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about the most recent vaccines (especially Kennel Cough) and deworming treatments and flea prevention. If this health care is required for your pet then the risk of transmitting disease is much lower.
  • What does the groomer do for old, arthritic dogs to keep them comfortable?
  • How hard is it to book dates for a kennel stay?

Tips to Make Your Dog’s Kennel Stay seem like Doggy Camp.

  • Go to the kennel before booking a stay for your dog. Check out the facility and see if there are any things the kennel operator can do to make the pup’s stay fun. Bring your puppy hungry and have a few of his/her favourite treats to ‘break the ice’. This short and fun visit helps make future visits go much easier.
  • If car rides are a recipe for car sickness, we have to work on that before you travel to the groomer. The last thing a nervous dog needs is to combine scary things. Ask us how to train your dog to tolerate or even love the car.
  • You may want to pack some familiar things for your dog. Toys, favourite treats, bedding and maybe an old shirt of yours that your recently wore to give your dog olfactory (smell) comfort.
  • If your dog is on a special diet, bring enough of it to last the stay. Last last thing a dog needs is a diet change when he/she is already stressed.
  • Give the kennel instructions for vet visits if necessary and ensure kennel operator has your contact information or contact information of someone you trust to make decisions about your dog’s care in case of an emergency.