Leaving your dog in the care of a stranger can be unsettling–for you and your dog. You have promised your dog you would always look out for his best interests but will others? With the increasing number and styles of boarding kennels it is important to be proactive when making your selection. Finding a style that suits your comfort level can be time consuming. Once you speak to a handful of kennel facilities and start asking questions you may be surprised by the answers. The unsuspecting dog owner may be none the wiser and poor Sparky wishes he could tell all. There is no template for how to run a kennel and not all dog handling practices are respectable. There are many reputable kennels in the Columbus area–and some that might appear to be on the surface. Do a little homework and you will be able to leave your four-legged family member in the safety and comfort of professionals.
Here a few questions to help you get the ball rolling:
Referrals are usually a good resource. Always try to get more than one.
Do they have indoor/outdoor runs? Does this mean your dog will be confined for the duration of his stay? Is the outdoor portion actually outdoors?
Is the kennel indoors only? Are dogs taken outside to eliminate or do they eliminate in their kennel?
If dogs are taken outside to eliminate, on what surface will your dog be offered an opportunity to eliminate? Grass? Concrete? Gravel?
Can you provide bedding or a blanket for your dog’s kennel? This may simply offer your dog some of the comforts of home but it is important to ask about the flooring of the dog’s kennel. Is it temperature controlled? Cement? Plastic? Metal?
Can you provide one or two toys for your dog? Will the toys be left in the kennel or taken out for socialization time with other dogs?
How often will your dog be provided with meals? Is the schedule consistent with the schedule at home? Consistency is important for dogs. How long will your dog be left with his food? Is the time allotted enough? Will water be added to your dog’s dry food? If your dog is not used to this addition he may not eat. Will you be providing food for your dog? It is best to be consistent and not change your dog’s food while he is away from home.
Will your dog receive exercise or playtime? If your dog will be socializing with other dogs it is important to ask about supervision, regulation of temperaments and behaviors, mingling of sizes, and policy on altercations. Is the staff member who monitors the dogs trained to break up a dog fight? Is another staff member on hand to assist? It is also good to know the length of time dogs will be out for exercise and play. Extended periods of time outdoors in extreme heat or cold can be dangerous. What is the policy during inclement weather?
If your dog will be outdoors and free to roam in a yard, what type of perimeter security do they offer? That three foot white picket fence may be cute but will it really prevent Sparky from jumping over it? Are there gaps or holes in the fence line for your little dog to duck underneath?
Will your dog be taken for a walk? Will the walk take place on the grounds of the facility or in a neighborhood? Does the walk consist of being chained to a fence? A walk in the neighborhood sounds nice but think about the safety of your dog. Is the person walking your dog trained to handle any situation? Is there a possibility of being approached by an unfamiliar dog who may be unfriendly? Are the roads heavily travelled? Are there sidewalks or will your dog be walked in the road? Is the path well lit for night time walks?
What is the policy during an emergency? Ask about fire, theft, and escape emergency plans.
Ask for a tour of the facility. Observe the dogs in their kennels. Do they look at ease and relaxed or are they panting, pacing, and stressed? If your dog bolts through open doors and can manipulate even the toughest of kennel doors, ask about precautionary measures. A small kennel facility may seem quaint but does your dog have a straight shot from his kennel to the front door of the building? Observe playtime, if possible. Do the dogs look like they are having a good time or do they look dirty or exhausted? How are the dogs monitored and handled when they see you approach? Ask to see the area where your dog will play and be walked. The tour guide should be able to describe safety features and precautionary measures.
How many dogs is the facility equipped to handle? Is the facility staffed and trained to handle the number of dogs it takes in?
Pricing can get confusing. Do they charge per day, per night, or is it based on time? A high daily rate does not always translate into impeccable conditions or safety. A low rate does not always translate into inadequacy.
There are many styles of boarding facilities these days. At some point, we all need to leave our dog in the care of someone else. Do a little homework and find a caring and safe facility. You will have peace of mind. Your dog will be safe and well cared for.