Boarding Your Dog
August 17, 2009
Part 1: As the manager of a Pet Hotel for several years I have some insight and tips to help you find a good safe place for your pet to stay.
Referrals are best; find a friend who likes a particular place, or ask a Vet or any dog business.
When you first call a boarding facility, make sure you ask what the business hours are. I only mention this because many people would arrive at our place after business hours and never called or checked our website to find out. I guess some people just thought because the dogs are there all the time the facility must be open to humans all the time.
Price: Some places charge by the night some by the day; some places have specific check in and check out times. If they charge by the day, they usually throw in a free bath or at least they should. Some throw in a free bath with several nights stay. Charging by the night is the best, that way you don’t have to worry about specific check in and out times and your dog can have fun all day before picking them up. Just make clear what your being charged for before any bookings. The facility I managed charged by the night and no check in or out times. We also offered (for a small fee) after hours drop off and pick-up as late as 9pm.
I used to laugh when clients would tell me other facilities needed to meet their dog before allowing them to board. What are they Dr. Doolittle? Having to meet your dog would only be if your dog was going to be socializing with other dogs, and you can’t tell a dog’s aggressive nature just by meeting them. Usually just a few questions over the phone is enough a knowledgeable dog person needs to determine a dogs aggressive nature, as long as owners were being honest. I could usually tell if something didn’t sound right. If we still had doubts about the compatibility of the dog, we would require them to come stay for a doggy day care session (minimum 5 hours). The fact is some dogs are overly assertive once they get there and then mellow out. Other dogs are really mellow when they first arrive but get more aggressive as the day goes on. There’s a process to determine which dogs are aggressive (or not) without any dog getting hurt, but you can’t tell in all cases just by “meeting” the dog.
If the facility offers doggy day care, it might be a good idea to bring them a few times or for an overnight stay. This helps them get used to the place and people before a longer stay.
Ask the manager if they can show you around. They may not be able to show you the full facility but if they have nothing to hide they should be able to show you enough to satisfy you. I’ve heard of places that say because of their insurance they are not allowed to let people in. We never had problems with our insurance. I would just ask those people, “You expect me to leave my dog here, without seeing what the conditions are?”
On your dog’s first day of boarding, when you first arrive at the facility, don’t read into your dog’s reaction. Our facility was a great place for a dog to socialize and build their confidence, but occasionally when a new dog came in, they appeared so frightened we practically had to carry them inside. After an hour or so they were running around having the best time. Dogs do adapt quickly to things, especially if the owners aren’t around. It also helps if you find a place with a knowledgeable staff and great clientele with great dogs. Hopefully the managers has a lot of experience working with dogs like a trainer, behaviorist, veterinarian and not someone who just thought it would be nice to open a kennel.
If the facility states they walk the dogs on leash twice a day and when you’re there inspecting the place, you should see dogs being walked. It’s a very time consuming process. Especially if it’s around a holiday weekend, facilities usually double or triple the amount of dogs they have, so walking dogs on leash is almost impossible during those times. Some places will still charge you for the walks but don’t walk the dogs! Our facility had 5 one hour long (off leash) group play times, even a late night play session between 8 and 9pm. It didn’t matter if it was a holiday or not. The dogs all got out and by the end of the day, they were all pooped out.
Keep in mind that the reality of group dog play sessions, on occasion, a dog can get hurt, just like kids at a playground. One dog pushes a dog who bangs into another, like when kids play, every once in a while someone gets a scraped knee.
I will post part 2 at another time. If you subscribe with just your email you will be notified when I post something new.
Boarding your dog part 2 BOARDING PART 2