Putting your dog into the care of another person is worrying enough; this is particularly true with kennels. It will be an anxious time, but by having a list of questions to ask the boarding kennel, you can allay your fears a little. Getting the right answer back can also help you to make a good choice for your dog.
We’ve put our dog into boarding kennels twice in the last few years so have a good idea on what is good, what’s bad, and what questions you need to ask them before booking.
Questions to ask a boarding kennel
1. Are you licensed to operate a boarding kennels?
In the United States the licenses and regulations differ from state to state. In the UK, dog boarding kennels need to be registered with the local authority, but after an application via the UK government website.
2. Do you have insurance to cover all eventualities?
Kennels should be insured for incidents such as dog illnesses, health outbreaks, theft, accident death, dog bites, and loss of your dog.
3. What vaccinations does my dog need?
There are certain illnesses and diseases that dogs should be vaccinated against before entering boarding kennels such as canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and rabies.
4. Do all dogs who board have to show proof of vaccinations?
Don’t miss this question! They should also be able to give you the peace of mind that no dog is allowed to board without showing documentation of up to date vaccinations.
5. Can I look around the entire site?
You should get a feel for the kennels and look for signs of disrepair and neglect. If you smell bad odors then this a big no. It is a sign of bacteria and a lack of overall attention to hygiene.
6. How often are the kennels cleaned?
Kennels should be cleaned every day, with deep cleans conducted every week to avoid the spread of sickness and disease between dogs.
7. How big are the kennels?
Your dog should have enough room to stand up, sit down, stretch out, turn around, wag his tail and walk around freely. This is a legal requirement in the UK, so is a question you should always ask the kennels.
8. Do the kennels have heating and air conditioning?
Boarding kennels can get very hot or very cold. Modern boarding establishments should be able to keep the kennels cool or warm depending on the season.
9. How secure are the kennels and fences?
Your dog should not be able to escape and there should be no way for unauthorized people to enter the boarding facility either.
10. Will my dog have access to toilet and sleeping areas at all times?
You dog should have the freedom to do his business when he wants, or also retreat to his kennel for a sleep whenever he needs.
11. How many walks will my dog get each day?
Ideally your dog should be getting a couple of walks a day. If not, he should have access to exercise areas at least 5 times a day.
12. Are there outdoor and indoor play areas for my dog to use?
Your dog should have a large area in which he can run around, both outdoors and indoors in the event of weather restrictions.
13. Will my dog have access to an area with no other dogs or people if needed?
When in communal areas it’s important that your dog is able to have sanctuary should he need it. This is particularly relevant due to potential boarding kennel stress.
14. Is my dog’s drinking water changed throughout the day?
Drinking bowls are one of the most common ways that sickness spreads between dogs in boarding kennels. It’s essential that your dog’s water is changed twice a day.
15. Are the dogs in close proximity to each other?
There’s no question that your dog should have some space, and most definitely should be able to be in his kennel without seeing other dogs. His kennel should be private enough for him to relax.
16. How do you deal with dogs who have kennel boarding stress?
Most dogs will experience some form of boarding kennel stress either during or after their stay. Some dogs will have it worse than others so it’s important that staff have a plan to deal with it if it happens.
17. Can my dog eat his regular food?
It’s important that your dog’s routine isn’t changed too much, and diet plays a huge part. If your dog isn’t eating his usual food, he could develop sickness and diarrhea in the kennel.
18. Is there webcam access to my dog’s kennel?
This is certainly a nice to have but is increasingly common in modern dog boarding facilities. You will often be able to see and say hello to your dog using your smartphone.
19. What will my dog’s daily itinerary look like?
Question the kennels about what your dog will be doing and when will let you relax a bit better whilst away and gives you an opportunity to discuss any possible changes to the itinerary.
20. Can you keep to my dog’s feeding and sleeping schedules?
And the itinerary is important because changes to a dog’s routine can result in heightened anxiety and kennel stress.
21. Are big and small dogs are allowed to run and play together?
Another reason for dogs developing boarding kennel stress will be from confrontation and fear from other dogs. Ask what the arrangements are when the dogs all socialize together.
22. Are staff always present when dogs are playing together in communal areas?
Another important question to ask the kennels is whether dogs who have only just met each other aren’t left alone together for a moment. Will there always be staff supervising play areas?
23. What is the staff to dog ratio?
It’s important to know how many members of staff are working the kennels at any one time. Now you’ve hopefully had a tour, how does that number sound to you?
24. What training and certification do your staff have?
Ideally the staff should be trained and have experience. This can vary wildly, as many kennels will hire temporary staff during vacation seasons so it’s not always possible. However, there should be at least one member of staff in charge who has qualification to care for animals.
25. Can I meet the staff who will be looking after my dog?
How did the staff welcome you to the kennels and were they friendly? Small details like this can be very insightful as to how your dog will be treated during the kennel stay.
26. How often will your staff pet and play with my dog each day?
Dogs need human interaction and will need comforting and distraction when in kennels due to the strange environment.
27. Do you have an emergency plan?
What happens if there is a fire in the boarding kennels? Do they have a disaster plan on how to get the dogs to safety in case of an emergency situation?
28.Can I book my dog in for a one-night stay to see how he likes it?
Doing so will let your dog get used to the facility, and potentially reduce the chance of kennel stress, but let you test the water with them.
29. Do you have an emergency vet on available 24/7?
Sickness is all too common in dogs boarding facilities due to the close proximity of the dogs, so do they have a local vet available to come out at all hours.
30. Can I talk with previous clients
Don’t just rely on online reviews of the kennels but also ask if you can talk to people who have let their dog board there before.
31. How far in advance do I need to book?
If you are happy with what you see and hear, find out what their availability is like. The best boarding kennels can get booked up 12 months in advance of summer vacation and holiday periods.
Handy Hint: Don’t forget to pack what’s needed for a dog’s overnight boarding stay. Here’s my checklist of important boarding essentials.
I appreciate there’s a lot to take in here, and possibly far too many questions to ask a boarding kennel that you could remember. However, these questions are so important, and mean you stand a better chance of making a good decision.
For additional advice on choosing a boarding kennel, take a look at my 15 tips on what to look for once you get there.
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As well as these questions to ask a dog boarding kennel, I’ve prepared some additional guides that will answer some of the questions you have for yourself.