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Boarding Your Dog: Beyond the Kennel


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At some point in the future, you’ll want (or need) to go on a puppy-less vacation or business trip and have to leave your pup in another’s hands overnight (or for many nights). Since entrusting your beloved furry child with another caretaker can be a cause for anxiety, it’s best to avoid scrambling at the last minute and rather, be well-prepared by doing your research and selecting a dog-sitter, kennel or pet hotel you’re comfortable with in advance, so you know exactly who to call when the time comes.

The most common concern about dog boarding is the idea of a traditional “kennel,” which consists of many caged animals in close quarters for long time periods with breaks included for exercise and walks in between. If your dog is used to free reign of his home, being in a caged environment can cause high stress and turmoil. Other dogs are completely comfortable in a crated setting. If you’re contemplating a kennel, make sure to visit and take a tour of the facility and get answers to the following questions:

– Does the facility look and smell clean?
– Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
– Does the staff seem caring and knowledgeable?
– Are pets required to be current on all vaccinations, including the vaccine for kennel cough?
– What is the protocol and schedule for exercise and bathroom breaks – is there an indoor or outdoor dog run?
– Are cats and dogs separated?
– Is there enough space within the kennels for your dog to move around comfortably?
– How often are pets fed?
– Are there veterinary services available?
– What about other services such as grooming and bathing?
– What are the rates?

These days, there are many alternatives to the traditional kennel, which you may want to look into to determine if they’re a fit for your pooch’s needs.

At-Home Dog Boarding
New web-based services such as Rover.com and DogVacay.com offer at-home dog boarding at vetted homes across the country. Similar to Airbnb, dog owners can search for potential pet sitters that fit their needs based on a set of criteria such as geographic location, available dates, and type of residence (apartment vs. home on a large lot of land). In-depth profiles of pet sitters are provided, complete with multiple reviews, specific services and of course, rates.

Hiring a House-Sitter
If you’re worried about Fido adjusting to any type of new environment, it may be best to hire a dog sitter who will stay at your home, ensuring your pooch’s ultimate comfort level with the familiarity of his own space. The downside? This could be a costly option. Plus, depending on the sitter, you may not be comfortable having a potential stranger stay in your residence alone while you’re gone.

Hiring a Dog-Walker
thumbnail-boarding-your-dogIf your dog is either older or doesn’t require a lot of attention and his basic needs are food, water and walks, hiring a frequent dog-walker may be a good option for you. While this can also be a costly option, you avoid the potential issue of someone staying overnight at your home while you’re not there, while ensuring that your pooch’s basic needs are taken care of. This may be ideal for low-anxiety dogs or dogs who are used to being home alone for many consecutive hours.

Luxury Pet Hotels or Ranches
While you’re on vacation, your pup could be vacationing too! If you have the extra dough, you may want to put your pup up in style with all the creature comforts. There are many “pet hotels, resorts and ranches” popping up that offer more than just your basic boarding needs. Luxury accommodations like these promote “cage-free” environments where your dog can enjoy can include amenities such as single suites equipped with real human-like beds, televisions and WiFi-enabled cameras so owners with mobile phones can check on their dogs anytime and from anywhere, day spa services, camp activities and access to acres of land to run free and socialize.