Boarding your pets might be the best decision … but that doesn’t make it easier. However, knowing that they’re safe and that they’ll enjoy their stay can help relieve your stress!
Being away from our pets is never easy. But there are times when they simply can’t go with us. In those situations, knowing they’re in good hands and having a blast can help calm our worries and relieve any guilt we might be feeling. And that’s why it’s so important to spend some time finding the right pet boarding facility for your furry family members!
Though you might never intend to leave your pet behind, it’s impossible to predict when unexpected circumstances could require you to opt for boarding. It’s less stressful for you and your pet if you have a good plan in place!
Is Pet Boarding The Best Option?
Before you begin researching pet boarding facilities, consider whether another care option might be better for your pet. For example, finding a pet sitter to stay with your dog or cat would allow your pet to stay in familiar surroundings.
Some pets do better in boarding, while some prefer to stay at home. It all depends on the pet. Thinking about your pet’s personality, likes and dislikes, and comfort level around other animals should give you a good indication of which option he’d prefer.
Finding Pet Boarding Facilities
When looking for boarding options, start by asking your friends where their pets stay. You’ll probably get a couple of recommendations to begin looking into.
Next, decide if you want your pet stay at a boarding facility, or be boarded in someone’s home. In-home boarding offers more personal attention, a more familiar home environment, and generally involves no crates or kennels.
Boarding facilities are often more secure with double-gate entries and high fences. Many also offer other amenities like grooming and dog daycare, which allows dogs staying at the facility the opportunity to play with other dogs several hours a day. For pets with health issues, finding for a veterinarian that also offers boarding can be a good choice.
You might need to board your pet for a short period of time while you’re traveling together. In that case, many pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, and vacation property owners can recommend facilities in their area. Check with the staff when you book your accommodations and make any boarding reservations for your pet well in advance.
If you have an exotic pet that requires special care, try reaching out to a local society or organization for its species. They might be able to offer boarding recommendations.
Questions To Ask, Ask, Ask
When you have a boarding few options to choose from, call each one to gather additional information. The first question to ask is whether you can have a tour of the facility. If the answer is no – move on. Any place that won’t show you where your pet would stay is not a place you should leave him.
Also, think carefully about places that require you to schedule a tour in advance. It’s a good sign when the staff is happy to show you around, even though they haven’t had advance notice to prepare for your visit.
For the places that clear the first hurdle, here are some additional questions to ask:
- What vaccinations must my pet have before boarding?
- Are all the spaces my pet will have access to fully fenced?
- Is there a human onsite 24/7?
- Is the facility temperature controlled?
- Are there sufficient smoke detectors and security cameras? Is there a fire suppression sprinkler system?
- Is there a live camera feed so I can check in on my pet? Are you able to send photos with updates during his stay?
- How many and what types of other pets will my pet be in contact with?
- What procedures are in place to ensure pets get their required medications?
- What steps would be taken in the event of a veterinary emergency?
- Can he bring his own food, bed, and favorite toy?
- How often are the pets fed?
- How much time will my pet spend in his individual room or run vs. playing in a group?
- What is the ratio of pets to staff during group play?
- Is group play cancelled if the weather is inclement?
- When in his individual room or run, will he have indoor and outdoor access?
- Will he be crated at any time?
- Will he ever be taken outside the facility for walks or other reasons? (This can increase the chance of pets getting lost.)
- Is it possible to add additional services, like chews or treats at bedtime, or grooming before pickup?
Narrowing The Options
After asking all your questions, a couple of options will probably stand out. To determine which pet boarding facility is right for your pet, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
This is the time to take your tours. Allow yourself plenty of time to see each facility and ask any additional questions you have. Notice if there is adequate security to prevent pets from escaping, if the kennel is clean and smells pleasant, and observe whether the staff is attentive and caring with the animals. Ask to see where your pet will sleep, play, and be exercised. Finally, pay attention to the behavior of the animals – are they happy and content or do they seem overly anxious or stressed?
After forming your own impressions, take a look at online reviews for the facilities you’re still considering. Nextdoor.com is a great source for boarding advice.
Schedule A Trial Run
When you’ve finally selected what you believe is the best boarding option for your pet, it’s time to see what he thinks! You’ll likely need to provide his vaccination records and fill out an application. You might also be asked to schedule a pet behavior assessment, which allows the staff to get to know your pet’s likes and dislikes.
If this is your pet’s first time boarding, perhaps start by scheduling a half-day visit. If all goes well, try an overnight stay.
These trial runs allow you to observe your pet’s behavior when they return of boarding, and see how they react when you take them back to the facility for return visits.
The first time we boarded our dogs, Ty and Buster, we chose a very posh facility with televisions in each doggy suite and a gorgeous indoor/outdoor play area. It did wonders to assuage our guilt for leaving them behind! But when we returned it seemed both dogs had forgotten all their training. My guess was that their stay was a doggy free-for-all, with little regard for any rules of proper decorum.
The facility we used later was more spartan, but it had a calm energy and the dogs didn’t run amok. They weren’t watching Animal Planet on private televisions, but they were well cared for and spend most of the day romping in the big dog yard. The best part was that Buster and Ty were both happily exhausted when we picked them up, and sometimes their behavior even improved!
Myles will be going for his first boarding experience later this week. Hopefully, all goes well. Is there anything else we should consider? Leave a note in the comments below!
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