Placing your pet in a boarding kennel is a good alternative to taking your pet with you when you travel or leaving her with friends or neighbors. Learn how to find a quality kennel and prepare your pet for the experience.
Your pet depends on you to take good care of her -- even when you have to be out of town. Friends and neighbors may not have the experience or time to properly look after your pet, particularly for longer trips. So next time you have to leave your pet behind for a while, leave pet care to the professionals, such as a pet sitter or boarding kennel.
A facility specializing in care and overnight boarding allows your pet to:
Potential drawbacks to using a boarding kennel include:
Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow Pages under "Kennels & Pet Boarding." Once you have names -- even ones you got from reliable sources -- it's important to do a little background check.
First, find out whether your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards.
Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to the American Boarding Kennels Association (719-667-1600), a trade association founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of pet care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, ABKA offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets ABKA standards of professionalism, safety, and quality of care.
Check, too, with your Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are considering.
After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet's special needs (if any). If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.
On your visit, ask to see all the places your pet may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:
Be sure your pet knows basic commands and is well socialized around other people and pets; if your pet has an aggression problem or is otherwise unruly, she may not be a good candidate for boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current on vaccinations.
It's also a good idea to accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding your pet for an extended period.
Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your pet's medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup.
When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet. Finally, have a good trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return.