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To Board or Not To Board: A Dog Owner's Dilemma

Updated on March 10, 2013
Anakin, our 8-year-old Siberian Husky
Anakin, our 8-year-old Siberian Husky

Although there are times we'd like to take our dogs everywhere we go, it's just not always feasible. An 80-pound Siberian Husky who does not like to travel without his little Bichon Frise "brother" make for some very interesting road trips, let me tell you! While making the decision to board is sometimes hard, trying to find the perfect place to board them can be even tougher. As the dogs age, I find their boarding needs change. Not only their needs, but mine as well.

I've put together a list of pointers when searching out the perfect place for boarding. Hopefully, these tips will help take the stress out of boarding for you pet owners out there... and for your pets, too.

Anakin and Brian, a normal day playing outside together.
Anakin and Brian, a normal day playing outside together. | Source

The Boarding Facility

Word of mouth/referral is a great start to finding a boarding facility you can be comfortable with. Talk to you friends and find out where they board their pets. Ask what they like and dislike about the places they've used in the past. You can also check with your local groomers and veterinary offices. They often have their ear to the ground, so to speak, regarding the pros and cons of different boarding facilities.

Once you've got a list together of some possible places, give them a call. Any reputable boarding facility will allow you to come visit. Schedule an appointment, and take your questions with you. This is a good way to meet the staff that will be interacting with your pet. This is a good time to ask for the boarding rates as some places can get pretty pricey.

Here are some questions I've put together to ask the boarding staff:

  • What vaccinations will my pet need prior to boarding?
  • How frequently are the areas cleaned that your pet(s) will be staying in?
  • Are there outdoor runs, and how often are the dogs exercised?
  • Can you bring personal items for your pet?
  • Are there specific times you can call to check on your pet?

Think about what your dog does each day while at home, and tailor your list of questions around that. Most of all, use common sense. If the kennels stink during your visit, they're definitely not cleaned enough. Keep your pet's habits in mind while touring the facility. If you're dog is a digger, for example, it's a good idea to check the outdoor runs for sturdy fencing that he won't be able to tunnel under. My big guy eats from a raised dog bowl at home - I found out the hard way that he will not eat now unless his food and water bowls are raised. We bring his bowls with us, and the boarding facility is happy to accomodate.

If your pet has any medical issues, the time to talk to the boarding facility about those is well before your scheduled boarding dates. My Husky has canine epilepsy, and I find that is really intimadating to some people. They tend to panic, and that's the last thing he needs. If you sense hesitation on the part of the staff, that's going to play on your mind while you're away. Talk about any issues as early as you can, it'll go a long way to making the stay less stressful on you and your pet.

I'm hoping that these tips are helpful to all you pet owners out there. Best care scenario, you can leave your pets home and have a trusted friend or relative come and take care of them. Realistically, in today's crazy-busy society, it's just not always an option. Finding a great place you trust to take care of your beloved pet(s) is well worth the time put into the research process.

Finding the right boarding facility can mean a doggie vacation for your best friend!

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    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great hub here Kelly! I have never had to board one of our dogs yet and hopefully won't have to, but you have listed such good information here! You have listed a couple of things here that I would not have thought about. Luckily, I have family that takes care of the dogs if we can't take them with us. I love the picture of Anakin! He looks so much like Meisha. I can just see that sweet personality in those beautiful eyes! Voting this up, useful, interesting and sharing! :)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Interesting! A few years ago, when I was taking about every other weekend to go take care of my elderly mother, I found a dog sitter that came in twice a day at a reasonable price. It was great for an overnighter, but would be inappropriate for longer than a weekend. Great post!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Kelly this was interesting but I do have one complaint. I would like to read this again when you have about five more photos of Anakin, especially playing and hanging around with his Bichon buddy!

      He is a great looking dog, and from reading this I can tell you really care about him.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      When I was a child, we would board our German Shepard when we went on vacation. Then as we got older and our friends also got older, my parents would start hiring the responsible ones to take care of her. These kids already knew and loved her. One evening there was a thunder storm and knowing that she was afraid, the dogsitter was over there, sitting on the patio with her, holding her and calming her while his mom was sitting under their patio doing the same thing. He was our choice for dog sitting from then on. He lived just across the street and could see what she was up to through the fence.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      I worked at a boarding center this past fall and left disgusted. I was supposed to work in partnership with this trainer and boarding facility but didn't like how the dogs were kept. Dogs were stressed, had diarrhea, one dog had a broken nail and nobody seemed to care. Owners were charged extra $$$ for a walk or play time. I am now in process of opening my own pet sitting and training facility on my ranch home on 5 acres, where dogs are walked, given plenty of environmental stimuli and the one-on-one attention they crave when they're away from their owners. Both my dogs don't board well, they refuse to eat for 2-3 days so I feel the need to give other people's dogs the homey environment they deserve.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      These are great tips and excellent questions to ask. Often with the first dog you don't even know the right questions. I finally found a place that I trust and my miniature schnauzer is excited to go to so that's a good sign. They are willing to e-mail about his progress. Voted up!

    • KellyG05030 profile image
      Author

      Kelly 4 years ago from New England

      Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to read my article and leave comments and/or tips. I'm really loving everything about this site and am so happy that I decided to give it a go. I've met some really great people already. I'm so happy that these tips have been helpful - and I've gotten some great information back with information I'll definitely keep in mind when boarding again!

    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Great points. We board our babies at our long-time vet. We trust her and the staff completely, plus if anything happens, medical resources are close at hand. I would not trust my babies with anyone else. I voted up.

    • KellyG05030 profile image
      Author

      Kelly 4 years ago from New England

      Thanks, mvillecat! I completely agree, you really need to find someone you trust completely. They're such an important part of our lives!!! Thanks for the vote!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      Hi Kelly,

      really great hub that you have here about

      the best places to take your pets when you

      need someone to watch them. I love my dog which is a German Shepherd

      mixed with Child and whenever we are out of town we always have someone

      stop by to let her out and to feed her.

      thanks and voted up

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful dog! I would imagine boarding could be stressful for a pet. This is a great look into what to consider.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      I believe I have grown into a doting dogs master ! I hate boarding my boys for a week ! I'm usually more worried than they are ! Always thinking about them and can't wait to get back ! great hub !...Ed

    • KellyG05030 profile image
      Author

      Kelly 4 years ago from New England

      Oh, Ed - I couldn't agree more with you! I spend so much time with the dogs as they follow me to my home office every day that I'm almost lost without them!! Thanks for your comment!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 4 years ago from Georgia

      You have perfect timing! We just picked up our three boys from the kennel yesterday. (We'd been on a trip to Disney World.) We always feel so guilty about leaving them behind when we travel. Traveling with 2 Great Danes at 170 lbs. each and a 50-pound Basset hound is no day at the beach! We miss our furkids so much while we're on vacation that we often cut our trips short just to see our pooches. Are we suckers, or what?? lol. Great pointers here - voted up!

    • KellyG05030 profile image
      Author

      Kelly 4 years ago from New England

      Thanks, habee! We're heading to Disney World in a month! As excited as we are, we worry about The Boys... we call every day and check on them! I bet your furkids are the best of friends - that's awesome!!

    • Miller2232 profile image

      Sinclair Miller III 4 years ago from Florida

      I think dogs are human on the inside

    • KellyG05030 profile image
      Author

      Kelly 4 years ago from New England

      I think you're on to something there, Miller!! They're personalities differ just like people! Thanks for commenting.

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