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