Choosing the right Kennel

Choosing the Right Kennel

For a family vacation to be truly enjoyable, the right kennel can keep mom, dad and the kids from worrying if the family dog is safe and well taken care of. Kennels have evolved from a cramped cage and a water bowl to luxurious condos where you can check the online doggie cam and watch Fluffy take a nap in her cot while Lady and the Tramp plays on the TV. Whether or not your dog needs fresh baked, gourmet treats after a massage is up to you. However, there are several basics you should watch for when selecting the right kennel.

Check to make sure they are a member of the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA), formerly known as the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA). This group promotes professional and ethical standards of care and safety and even inspects and accredits facilities and has a certification program for the operators. Look for these certificates and any state licensing that may apply. For more information, check the PCSA website at: www.petcareservices.org .

Visiting the kennel ahead of time is a prudent step. Some pet care facilities have online virtual tours that you may wish to see first. Upon arrival, look around. What is your general impression? Is the building and grounds clean and well maintained? While there is at least a bit of doggie odor in the cleanest of kennels, is it overpowering or reeks of old urine? Refrain from visiting in the first or last hour of the day. Kennels are bustling at these times feeding the dogs and cleaning runs and your visit may inhibit the workers and overly excite the dogs.

Bringing your own feed and/or treats will minimize the stress of a change in diet. However, the right kennel will note the type and amount for your dog on an information card and mark the container of feed specifically for your dog. However, if you feed your dog only once per day, it is a good idea to go with twice per day if that is what the kennel does. The stress on your dog seeing and smelling other dogs getting dinner is simply overwhelming and may cause additional anxiety.

Allowing you to bring your dog’s bed and perhaps a toy or two is also a sign you have found the right kennel. You may even want to bring along a towel or old T-shirt you have worn to comfort your dog with your smell. Make sure the bedding is clean.

The right kennel will want to know about any health or behavioral issues and be willing and able to administer the correct medicines. Make sure dosages are labeled and easy to read. Some kennels will charge for this service, others do not saying they don’t want the owners to make the decision whether to include their pet’s meds based on a financial matter.

Dogs need additional physical outlets while you are gone. Exercise minimizes stress and relieves boredom. Look for a kennel that offers some level of exercise for your dog in either a secure run, or on walks. View the exercise pen. Is it well maintained? Are feces picked up quickly after dogs are let out? Are there toys and water available? If dogs are let out together are there enough workers to watch the dogs and maintain safety?

In some states kennels are required to refuse service to dogs that are not current on vaccines. Basic vaccines are rabies, DHLPP and Bordatello. The kennel should make note of the expiration dates and ensure that there is compliance. The right kennel will also be able to transport your dog to your veterinarian if urgent care is needed. You should leave contact information with them in case your authorization for services is needed.

The workers in the right kennel truly love dogs. Watch them for a moment as they work. Are they energetic? Do they pause a moment to make each dog feel special? The right people caring for your dogs can make all the difference in his stay.

The right kennel is not always the most convenient and may not be the least expensive, but it is the kennel that cares for your dog as if he were their own. It’s like summer camp for Fido. They are overjoyed to see you again, but return home healthy and happy. When you have found the best facility, stick with it. Recommend it to your friends. Travel at peace, knowing your beloved dog is in good hands.