If you own a dog, you strive to give it excellent care through proper nutrition and exercise and with clean, comfortable surroundings. Then comes vacations — last-gasp summer trips, fall leaf-peeping weekends — that do not include the four-legged child. So what can you do to make sure you are replicating the home situation through overnight boarding?
Tour the facility. Reputable facilities should be eager to show you how they care for dogs. Steer away from those that won’t. (If your dog has never been boarded before, you might want to try an overnight stay to see how it acclimates. You could also enroll your dog in day care at the same facility.)
During your tour, ask about training that the pet care associates receive and if they know pet CPR. Check to make sure there’s always an associate in the building, even at night when dogs are sleeping. Avoid those that put dogs in their quarters and lock up for the night.
Ask (or see) what the boarding and sleeping area looks like. If you are boarding multiple dogs, ask if they can be together. That will help bonded dogs from the same family feel safe away from home.
If they don’t allow you to bring dog food, ask what type of food is provided. Most dogs would rather eat what they are used to eating. A change in diet could upset the stomach or stress the dog.
Ask if there are any optional services to make your pet’s stay more fun, such as private play or walks. How will they keep in touch with you about your dog’s stay? Owners should be able to call or text the facility and receive a progress report on their dog during business hours. Some facilities may send a photo of the dog during its stay or give you access to a webcam if your dog is enrolled in day care play.
To ensure the best stay, you need to be prepared, as well.
• Book early. When you find a facility that meets your needs, make sure you book your dog’s stay early and confirm as your trip gets closer. Many boarding facilities get booked. Knowing their business hours is also important. If you return after hours and cannot pick up until the following day, you probably will have to pay for an extra night.
• Provide up-to-date vaccination records. Most boarding facilities require certain shots, and without proof that they are up to date, they won’t let your pet stay. If your pet is on any medication, don’t forget to pack it along with specific dosing instructions.
• If you will provide your dog’s food, make sure you bring enough. Bag the meals individually, and mark them with the days and times the food is to be provided.
• Bring some small comforts from home. Bringing a few of your dog’s toys and treats can help reinforce the feelings of being at home and help make its stay more pleasant. Having things with them that smell like, or remind them of, home is a great way to keep them more relaxed.
• Make sure your pet is outfitted with updated identification. In the rare event that your pet requires professional care or gets free, it should have an updated collar with ID tags and contact information.
• Provide emergency contact information. The contacts should be local and should know that they maybe be needed to make decisions or pick up your dog in your absence.