6 min read

How to Choose a Great Boarding Kennel


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For many pet parents, it’s hard to leave your pet behind. Whether you’re headed to the beach for a well-deserved vacation or off on a business trip, it’s important to find the perfect place for your pet. You may be more comfortable leaving your pet with friends or family, but there will likely come a time when your go-to pet sitter won’t be available. The benefit of choosing a dog kennel from the start — aside from constantly having to plan your time away around other’s schedules — is that when that time comes, your pet will already be familiar with the boarding kennel you have to take them to. Choosing the perfect dog kennel and continuing to take your pet there will make it easier for you to leave your pet when necessary — not only for you, but also for your pet. There are nearly 9,000 kennels throughout America and Canada, serving around 30 million people each year. 

Aside from the large dog kenneling option where there are numerous dogs housed in one place, are in-home boarding services. Wag!, for example, offers pet parents the option of having a canine-loving, vetted caregiver look after their pet in their own home, or sending their dog on a vacation of their own. Taking your dog to the vetted and background-checked dog sitter’s home allows your dog to be boarded in a completely one-on-one environment. An added bonus is that with either boarding experience with Wag!, you can expect daily photos and texts that update you as to how much fun your pooch is having. 

So, how do you choose the ideal boarding kennel arrangement for your dog?

Do your basic research on kennels

The first thing you should take into consideration is location. How far are you willing to go to leave your pet? A quick Google search will give you a list of kennels near you, but The Humane Society recommends asking someone who is familiar with your pet — such as your veterinarian, trainer, or groomer — for a recommendation. A neat option with a service like Wag! is that the boarder can come and pick up your dog if you need them to.

Once you’ve got a list of boarding possibilities in your area, complete with recommendations, it’s always a great idea to look for reviews. There are numerous online sites that offer consumer reviews. Additionally, check out the kennel’s social media sites to see if there are any consumer reviews and rankings offered there. If the kennel is listed with the better business bureau, check their rating and see what information they have listed.

Check the place's qualifications

Before you delve into services offered, or even tour the facility, it’s important to determine that the boarding kennel is doing everything it needs to be doing. In many states, there are required licenses and certifications that kennels must have. Even if there aren’t requirements in your state, there are licensure courses that kennels can take. Just like when choosing a doctor, you want to make sure you’re leaving your pet with someone who is well-equipped to handle any problems and care for them in the best way possible.
Questions to ask:

  • Does your state have any required licensures or certifications?
  • If so, does the kennel meet these requirements?
  • Do they have any further training that isn’t required?

Your preferences in a kennel

Once you’ve found some kennels or in-home boarding services that are up to par, it’s important to consider what specific things your pet will need during their stay. Many kennels offer a variety of services to help make your pet’s stay as comfortable as possible — however, these services sometimes come at an additional charge. Knowing exactly what your pet requires allows you to determine which kennels offer these services and accurately compare pricing between kennels.

We all want the very best for our pets, but it’s unrealistic to spend way out of your price range every time you have to go out of town. It’s important to set a realistic budget and stay as close to it as possible. The price for overnight boarding will vary depending on geography; services offered, and any special requests or services that have an additional charge. There are also some luxury pet accommodations that will cost more for each night. The best way to determine pricing, though, is to compare the kennels that you have left on your list. Go to their website and see if they have pricing available or give them a call and see what they can tell you. A hotel is a great option, but if it’s not in your price range, then it’s not the best option for you.
Questions to ask: 

  • Does your pet have any special requirements, such as a need for one-on-one attention or special medical needs?
  • Do you want any special services for your pet, such as grooming, bathing, or training?
  • What is your budget and what is the bare minimum service required for your pet?

Making the visit

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few kennels or in-home boarding alternatives that fit your budget and offer all of the services you need, it’s time to make a visit. A kennel may look great in the pictures it has posted on its website, but seeing the day-to-day operations and standards is the true indicator of whether or not it’s right for your pet. When visiting the kennel, make sure to pay attention to the following:

  • The staff - These are the people who will be caring for your pet. It’s important to interact with them — don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Make sure that the staff is knowledgeable about pets currently in their care. Additionally, their attitude towards you and your pet is a great indicator of the level of care they’ll provide when boarding your pet.
    • Questions to ask:
      • What pets are you currently caring for?
      • Are there any special dietary concerns or treatments that you have to be conscious of?
      • How do you accommodate pets to make their stay pleasant?
  • Safety precautions - Take a look around. You know your pet, so you know what could cause them harm or make their stay a negative one. Be vigorous in your inspection and questioning — no question is off limits.
    • Questions to ask:
      • Is everything in a great state of repair?
      • Do they require vaccinations for all boarded pets?
      • Is there someone available 24/7, should something happen?
  • The pet's experience - Make sure to consider the kennel from your pet’s perspective. Check out their sleeping quarters, play areas, grooming locations — anywhere that your pet will be during their stay.
    • Questions to ask:
      • Where will they sleep?
      • Will there be a lot of other animals around them?
      • Is there a lot of noise in the sleeping quarters?
      • How will they be fed and watered?
      • Where will they play?
      • Can you bring their own food/water dishes?
      • Can you bring their favorite toy?
      • Will they give them their favorite treats?
  • Feel free to test them a little - They are a business, and you’re a prospective customer. There’s nothing wrong with asking them questions that will force them to stop and think or make a case for their kennel. Put them on the spot and see how they respond — this may give you some insight that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
    • Questions to ask:
      • Why should I choose you for boarding my pet?
      • What makes you better than other kennels or in-home boarders in the area?
      • How do you go above and beyond to make my pet’s stay the best it can be?

The final decision

After your visit, it’s important to take all of the factors into account and use all of the information you have to determine which kennel is the best for your pet. Take into consideration future stays, as well. After all, finding a great boarding kennel for your pet should only be something you do once. After you’ve made your decision, both you and your pet should look forward to going back, and the boarding facility should look forward to having you back.

  • Questions to ask:
    • Can you afford to spend a little more than originally intended so that your pet can have one-on-one playtime, or whatever other special services you’d like?
    • Can you save money by cutting out the training or additional services and going with a different kennel?
    • Did it feel right?
    • Do you see yourself taking your pet there for years to come?

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.