Planning a trip can be stressful enough; add the task of searching for a reputable kennel can be downright traumatizing. Owners who don’t have an inside track on where to go may feel overwhelmed with choices and opinions. While all dogs are unique and have their own needs, there are a few common threads to look for when searching for the perfect place to board a precious fur-baby.
Ask anyone that owns a dog for a recommendation, it may narrow the list down. Most dog owners have strong opinions, both good and not so good, about their dogs and any associations with their dogs. Check local kennel reviews on the internet. Yelp and Yellow Pages are two good places to start. Weed through the highest praise and the lowest rant, to arrive at a general consensus. Not everyone can be pleased, and some people please too easily. Look for keywords in the reviews “Clean, friendly, reasonable rates”
Once the list has been narrowed down to five good prospects, go visit them. It isn’t necessary to take the dog with; it would only stress her out. Ask for a tour of the facility. Make sure the staff is friendly and accommodating. Watch how they interact with the dogs. A happy staff makes for a positive atmosphere. Dogs are very astute when it comes to humans and their feelings.
After all, this is a kennel, there are bound to be some odors and some noise. If the odors are overwhelming, however, that will reflect on the cleanliness of the facility. Dogs noses are one hundred times more sensitive than a human’s nose, and most are incredibly particular about invading another’s territory. An unclean facility is an unhygienic one.
While on the tour look at the kennels themselves, do they should allow for adequate movement while the dogs are in them? They should also be clean and have a decent drainage system. The facility itself should be in good condition. If it looks as though it is need of repair, there is a good chance it is unsafe for dogs to be there. If the guide steers clear of the kennels, another area of the facility or flat out refuses to show a prospective client an area where their dog will be, walk away. It is a clear sign there is something to hide.
Vaccinations are a legal requirement in most municipalities anyway, the kennel in question should require all boarders be up to date on their shots (including Bordetella, which is optional in some areas). Records should be on file. Bacteria and viruses run rampant when in close quarters such as a boarding kennel. By requiring ALL dogs be up to date on their shots it greatly reduces the risk of an outbreak. If vaccination records are not requested, find another place that does require shot records to be on file.
If the facility has outdoor play areas, look for places a dog can rest and soak up the sun. Raised beds, kiddie tables, something other than the dirt a dog can stop for a moment to take a breath. Make sure there is enough room for a dog pack to run, play and retreat if necessary. Keeping a group of dogs in a small area for any length of time with no place to move or rest will cause undo stress and may lead to fighting.
As with anything concerning a fur-baby, trust the instinct. If it looks great, but something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t the place to be. It’s okay to move on and find the place that feels like a better fit. The peace of mind knowing the dog is well cared for while away is worth the extra effort of finding the perfect kennel.
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