Holidays are a time for family and travel, but if your ultimate destination isn't pet-friendly, you might have to make separate plans for your pooch. Not all dog care facilities are created equal, so here are some questions to ask the kennel (and to ask yourself) to make sure your pet has a comfy home for the holidays.
5 Questions To Ask The Kennel
1. Is this kennel certified?
Not all kennels need a specific certification, but it never hurts to ask. There are several levels of certification a facility can have. If a place you're looking at is certified by an organization like the Pet Care Services Association, it means they had to undergo several rigorous levels of testing before they could gain the certification. Think of it as the difference between hiring a CPA to do your taxes versus your cousin Larry who is good at Sudoku. No offense to Larry, but your pet deserves certified care!
2. What will my dog do all day?
No vacation is complete without an itinerary. Ask the caregivers at the kennel what a day in the life looks like. Will they take your dog for walks or leave them in a run where they can exercise solo? Will your pup play with others or be kept alone? Questions like these will give you an idea of what Fido will be up to while you're gone, and you can gauge whether this level of activity is stimulating enough (or too stimulating) for them.
3. Will you cater to my dog's special needs?
If you have a dog that needs extra care, like a senior dog or a dog with special needs, you might want to look into a shelter that caters exclusively to those types of dogs. A kennel with lots of young dogs might be distressing to your senior or a dog with disabilities, so make sure your pup will be properly taken care of wherever they go.
4. What happens if my dog gets sick?
Make sure to check out your kennel's medical policies. Are sick dogs treated on-site, or are they taken elsewhere to see a vet? What happens if your dog gets kennel cough? Is someone at the care facility trained in emergency animal procedures? These are important things to find out when choosing a kennel.
5. What's the ratio of dogs to humans?
The golden ratio for most animal care facilities is one human to 10 dogs. With less supervision than that, dogs are likely to form packs and become hostile. Also, more humans chaperoning means someone is more likely to notice if your dog is hurt or otherwise needs extra attention.
5 Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Is my dog a kennel dog?
If your dog has separation anxiety, special needs that your house is equipped for or doesn't do well with new people, they may not be suited for a stay in a kennel. If this is the case, look into having a pet sitter come and stay at your home. This sitter can be a friend or family member, or someone from a certified network of sitters. For an anxious dog, a home stay may be the perfect gift this holiday.
2. Can I drop off my dog without making a scene?
Sometimes the hardest part of putting a dog in a boarding situation is actually leaving them there. The moment of separation can be slightly traumatic for all involved, so if you can, try not to cry or act out of the ordinary when dropping off your furry friend. Remaining calm can be the difference between a peaceful departure and a stressful one.
3. Does my dog have all its shots?
This is a good question to ask any time your dog interacts with new friends. New dogs can pass on new germs, so make sure your dog has had its vaccines and deworming updates at least two weeks prior to boarding, so the only thing they get from a stay in a kennel is lifelong friendship.
4. What does the kennel look (and smell) like?
It's a truth universally acknowledged that a place that smells like pee is not a good place to be. Make sure to tour the kennel before you commit. It should be clean and relatively odor-free, and the boarded dogs should look comfortable. Arrange a visit on a weekday so you can see the kennel in action and get a sense of how they treat the dogs.
5. Do other people like this kennel?
Most of us wouldn't go to a restaurant with bad reviews, and the same attitude should apply to your kennel. Vets and groomers are good people to ask for recommendations of good boarding facilities, because they work with pet parents every day. Most kennels also have an online review page where you can scan through user reviews before you commit.
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By Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Wholesale Tree Growers
Photographs courtesy of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.
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