Top 10 Things To Look For In A Kennel For Your Small Dog

Your dog depends on you for their daily care. If you have to go out of town, you want to put your pet in the hands of someone who has the experience and time to properly look after your pet. A boarding kennel can give your pet quality care from experienced professionals. Ask other dog owners, your local vet or groomer for recommendations. Not all kennels are the same, however. 

Important things to look for in choosing a kennel 

1. Is the kennel attractive, up to date and secure?

  • Facilities that are in poor repair or dilapidated are an indication of the standard of care your dog will receive.
  • You want to be sure your dog is kept safe from injury and cannot escape from the kennel. Look for bent wire, torn fencing or jagged edges.
  • High tech facilities may have web-cams set up so you can check on your dog from your computer.

2. Is the Kennel clean?

  • The floors and walls of a kennel should be easy to clean and stop any liquids or feces from soaking into the building materials. If liquids or feces soak into the building, it can spread bacteria and disease to your dog.
  • Look for newspapers, sand, paper shavings or gravel on the kennel floors. Anything absorbent on the floor means it can soak up liquids and feces and will smell and be unhygienic.
  • Ask about the regimen that the staff follow to maintain a clean facility. A Clean environment will help ensure that your dog comes home healthy.

3. Kennel Staff

  • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
  • If the staff is kind and helpful to you, they will likely be kind and helpful to your dog. Were they welcoming, friendly and polite? Did they take time to listen to you and answer your questions?
  • Ask the staff how many animals they usually board and how many workers are normally staffed. There should be 1 staff member for not more than every10 dogs.

4. Is the kennel staffed 24 hours a day?

  • You want to be sure that a staff person is available in the event of an emergency.
  • Most pet owners feel guilty about leaving their dog in a kennel when they travel, a polite, caring staff can give you the peace of mind that your dog will be well cared for.

5. How are the rates calculated?
Some kennels and daycares will give you options for half day and full day based on 24 hour time period, however some kennels have set cut off times, and so even though you may be within a 24 hour period, you may be billed for an additional day.

6. Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations?
Did the staff ask for proof of vaccinations? Vaccination is a legal requirement to help prevent the spread of disease. Boarding dogs that are not vaccinated is dangerous and shows a lack of interest in the animal’s welfare.

7. Where do the Dogs Stay?

  • Ask to be shown the area where your dog will be staying.
  • Are cats and dogs housed together or separately?  Are the dogs pacing and barking rather than resting?
  • Dogs should have an individual pen to sleep in that have plenty of room for food bowls and resting area. Dogs from different owners should never be placed together in pens as this creates a stressful environment for you dog and can lead to dog fighting.
  • Are there more than 20 pens in the area your dog will be staying in? If you see dogs kept in cages or add places, it is a sign that the kennels has overbooked.
  • Is the dog provided with bedding and /or resting boards? Dogs who are provided a comfortable place to rest will be calmer and less stressful.

8. Daily Schedule for Your Dog

  • How often are dogs fed? The kennel should have regularly scheduled feeding times at least twice per day. Be sure to ask if you can bring your dog’s favorite food.
  • Is there an indoor and outdoor exercise area? Your dog needs room to run in and socialize with other dogs. Make sure the kennel’s exercise area has adequate room and is supervised. Dog’s need to go out frequently during the day so be sure to ask about the exercise schedule.
  • For dogs that are participating in group play, ask what the facility’s policy is on staff supervision of the dogs. Dogs should never be left unattended. Also ask about the types of training staff are required to complete to supervise pets in a group play.

9. Potty Training
You will want to make sure that puppies that are being potty trained continue their potty training in the kennel. Explain what method you have been using to potty train your dog and ask if they can accommodate that.

10. Medications & Special Needs

  • If your pet takes medications, make sure the kennel has an established procedure in place to be sure your dog gets his medication at the right time.
  • If your dog has a special need such as blindness, deaf, medical disability, make sure you inquire as to whether the kennel is equipped and staffed to handle your dog. Some kennels do not accept special need pets.

Check in with your dog after leaving the kennel.

It should be a natural thing to ask the kennel staff how your dog did while you were away. But just as important should be how closely you monitor your dog once you pick them up and bring them home.

  1. When you first pick up your pup, how is her body language? Is her tail up in excitement to see you? Or is it tucked between her legs in fear and anxiety. If so, this can be a sign of a stressful stay.
  2. Does your dog smell of urine and/or feces. This is a tell-tale sign that staff are not maintaining the cleanliness of the kennel on a regular basis, and are likely just cleaning up in time for pet pawrents to pick up their fur-babies.
  3. When you first pick up your dog, she will be excited to see you, but is she acting terrified and over-anxious? This will be a sign that her time there was likely very stressful on her, and not a pleasant experience.
  4. If you have left for you dog for a few days, is she protective of her food when she comes home? If so, this may mean that she was likely in an environment where she was unable to eat freely. This is a sign that the staff have not facilitated a calm mealtime, which can cause your pup not to receive her proper amount of food, and or cause stress that will throw off her system. This can lead to other aggressive tendencies as well if not addressed.

Every pet owner wants their pet to be in a well-run, well-maintained boarding facility that will provide kind care for their pet while they are away. Screening kennels using these questions will help you find such a facility.

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