before you board your dog.
Ask your vet, groomer, and friends for recommendations. Satisfied customers are the best reason to visit a kennel. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints or violations.
When you have a list of recommendations, call each kennel and make an appointment to visit. Listen to your instincts -- if you don't like how you are being treated over the phone, call the next kennel on your list. If you have specific dates in mind, ask if accommodations are available at that time.
What to Look For
When you visit a kennel, keep these guidelines in mind:
- The grounds should be neat and well-maintained. Owners should be eager to show you the entire facility, though be aware that some kennels will only let you look at individual kennels through a viewing window. This is acceptable: The kennel owners do not want to upset the boarders (visitors can also inadvertently spread contagious disease since they are not held to the cleanliness standards of the staff). Boarder animals should look clean and healthy. If a kennel will not let you see every part of the facility your dog will have access to, leave immediately and try the next kennel on your list.
- Kennels should look and smell clean, indoors and out. There should be a regular disinfecting schedule. Ask how often the kennels are cleaned and which chemicals are used to control parasites and disease.
- Pets should be properly supervised. Someone trained to recognize the symptoms of illness or stress should check on your dog several times a day. Ask about the qualifications and training of the kennel personnel. If your dog appears to be ill, the kennel will either contact your vet or arrange for a veterinary examination. Be aware that you are financially responsible for any veterinary bills incurred while boarding.
- Dogs should be contained securely. There should be sturdy gates and dividers between enclosures, and fencing and latches should be in good repair. If your pet has a tendency to dig or climb, inform the kennel and ask how they will cope with these proclivities.
- For safety's sake, be sure the kennel areas are free of small or sharp objects and harmful chemicals. Surfaces should have good traction, even when wet. Ask about 24-hour supervision, fire and burglar alarms, and fire safety plans.
A trustworthy kennel should adhere to basic practices, including the following:
- Rates should be posted clearly. Inquire about any extra charges that could be incurred and how they are calculated.
- Every kennel should offer you a boarding agreement or contract to sign. This document should clearly state the kennel's responsibilities and your rights. Read it carefully before you sign to avoid misunderstandings.
- The kennel should have regular business hours, and you may be unable to drop off or pick up your pet outside these hours. (Some kennels charge extra for after-hours assistance.) These hours are not to inconvenience you; rather it helps the office staff at the kennel stay informed, and keep you informed, about your pet.
- Expect kennel personnel to be neat and clean, to show an interest in animals, and to be responsive to your dog. All employees should handle dogs with confidence.
- Ask about additional services like grooming, bathing, playtime, and training that can be scheduled during your pet's visit. Many kennels offer these types of service. If you are moving, some kennels can ship your pet to you once you are settled in.