Whether you are planning a lengthy family vacation or you need to be away for a significant period of time for work, deciding what to do with your furry friend can be somewhat stressful. Afterall, we view our dogs as valued members of our families, so you always want to make sure your dog is properly cared for while you are away.
Asking trustworthy friends or relatives to look after your pooch is not always an option, which leaves you with the choice between hiring an in-house pet sitter or going with a long-term boarding facility.
See our related article on the Best Airline-Approved Dog Crates for when kenneling is not an option and your dog is joining the family vacation.
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To help you determine the best option, we are going to go over some of the pros and cons of boarding your canine companion at a long-term dog boarding facility.
We will also offer some quick tips you can follow, which will help you find the best dog boarding kennels. If you decide to go the pet boarding route, reading this guide will help you find a facility you can trust.
The Pros and Cons of Long-term Dog Boarding
While some people worry their dog will become anxious and uncomfortable if they are forced into an unfamiliar environment, especially without their owner and family being present, long-term dog boarding facilities actually offer some benefits over other options for long-term dog care.
Your Dog Will Be Safe – For starters, if you choose a reputable and accredited kennel, you can remain confident that your dog will be safe while you are away. Professional boarding kennels are designed to ensure that none of the dogs under their care will be able to run away or escape, which can be an issue if you leave your dog with an in-house sitter.
Staffed by Trustworthy Individuals – The staff at a reputable kennel will also know how to care for your pup or your older dogs, which means it understands their exercise, grooming, and dietary requirements. Many facilities will even have you leave food when you drop your dog off, so you will know that they are being offered a familiar and nutritious diet.
In most cases, professional boarding kennels hire employees that are also dog lovers. Knowing that the staff will respect your pet and give them the attention they deserve can provide you with really valuable peace of mind while you are away.
They Offer Set Routines – Most boarding kennels also have a pretty standard daily routine for the animals under their care, which can be really beneficial for dogs. Dogs do really well with routine and rarely enjoy surprises, so having a schedule that involves regular feeding, socialization, and exercise times can help reduce any anxiety they might be experiencing.
The Opportunity to Socialize – The best dog boarding facilities understand that dogs are incredibly social animals, so they will screen dogs before they are boarded to make sure they can behave in a safe manner around other dogs.
If your dog enjoys socializing and playing with other dogs, a boarding kennel can be an opportunity to spend time with new dogs and people in a controlled and safe environment. While nobody will be able to replace the bond you have with your dog, the opportunity to play with other dogs while you are away can be a fun and exciting experience for your canine companion.
While long-term dog boarding kennels can be a really useful resource while you are away, they do have their faults.
An Unfamiliar Environment – Right away, the biggest issue many pet parents have with leaving their dog at a boarding kennel is the fact that it is an unfamiliar environment, which can cause plenty of stress and anxiety for certain dogs.
As mentioned, dogs are creatures of habit, and they tend to do better with routines and when they are in familiar environments. If you have an anxious dog, the combination of being away from you and being forced to stay in an unfamiliar environment can trigger serious episodes of stress and anxiety.
Some dogs will refuse to eat and will show visible signs of fear and aggression when they are unfamiliar with an environment. If you have an anxious dog, or one that is susceptible to bouts of depression, you might be better off hiring a trustworthy pet sitter that will come and visit your dog at your home while you are away.
The Risk of Illness – While the best boarding facilities screen dogs to ensure their vaccination record is up to date, your dog will still be exposed to germs and potential infections if they are staying in a busy kennel. Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection that is spread in kennels and other dog boarding facilities.
Parasites, such as fleas and mites, can also be spread from one dog to another at a boarding kennel, so it is always a good idea to inspect your dog’s coat when you are reunited.
If you have an elderly dog, or a dog with a weakened immune system, perhaps a crowded boarding kennel would not be the best option.
What Should You Look for in a Long-term Dog Boarding Facility?
One of the best things you can do if you are interested in finding a long-term dog boarding kennel is to ask your veterinarian for recommendations. Most vets will be familiar with local kennels and will be able to offer their advice.
You should also read online reviews for local clinics, as other dog owners will be sure to share both their positive and negative experiences when it comes to something as important as long-term dog boarding.
Beyond that, the following are useful tips:
- Ask about the kennel’s certification and accreditation standing. This will ensure the facility is safe.
- Book an appointment to tour the kennel before you leave. Ask the staff questions about the daily routine for dogs under their care and make sure the facility looks clean.
- Ask about the daily exercise routine. Are the dogs able to play and is there an outdoor exercise area?
- Ask if there are overnight staff and how many employees will be present at any given time.
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