Being separated from the pack is difficult for a dog. When put into a kennel environment, the stress can multiply exponentially. If little Fido can't tag along for the festivities and he can't stay with familiar friends or family, consider this list of important points when choosing a dog kennel:
- Consider the price – don’t necessarily look for the lowest price you can find, but consider everything that is included for what you are paying. Most places will draw you in with a low room charge, but then you’ll find they charge for "extras" - bathroom breaks, 10 minute play sessions, walks, etc.
- How many bathroom breaks does your dog get? - Your dog should be going to the bathroom outside a very minimum of 4 times a day. Anything less could cause harm to your dog if they are forced to hold it or set back their potty training by relieving themselves in their kennel.
- Get him some exercise - If your dog is dog friendly, it might be beneficial to get them some play time with other dogs. This helps them blow off steam and makes it easier for them to sleep.
- Make sure the playroom environment is right for your dog. My right hand guy Donovan has had wild success in some playrooms and horrible failures in another. Find out the dog-to-staff ratio (10-12 dogs per human is ideal, with a max of 15 dogs per human) and make sure your dog doesn’t get overwhelmed. Even the best dog can get in a fight or be stressed if they don’t feel safe or comfortable. Also, don’t forget that not every dog is meant for such large dog social groups and don’t see that as a failure as a dog parent.
- Is there an exercise option available outside of play time? Many places will do nature walks or treadmill time for your dogs. Physical exercise is an important part of your dog’s happiness and you don’t want it neglected while you are away.
- Find a good training option at the kennel. Even if your dog is well trained – most dogs benefit from doing a little work in the day. It is also a good way to get positive interaction with a human being. However, make sure you ask about training methodologies and techniques to ensure they are in line with your own training philosophies.
- When you find a kennel you like, take your dogs there for regular, short intervals of time before going on a long vacation. If you can make them a part of your extended pack, then your dog will be much more comfortable when boarding.
- Don’t buy into kennels that will treat your dog like a coat to be stored in a closet. You should be suspicious of any place that will even allow you to pay a small charge for your dog to sit in a room and only go to the bathroom twice a day.
- Use your instincts. Find a place you trust and that feels good.