By Jennifer Scheiber
Owner, Sugar Maple Farm K-9 Boarding and Daycare
Whether traveling for a family vacation or scheduled business trip, we've seen a lot of tears when new and seasoned dog moms and dads leave their fur baby with us. We totally understand it's an emotional time. Even though the initial anxiety can be difficult, when trusting your fur baby to the right caregiver and the right boarding facility, that initial anxiety soon becomes enjoyment and peace. Knowing your fur baby is in the right hands is everything! Here are some tips to help you select the perfect dog boarding facility.
Consider your dog’s needs and personality. Every dog is unique, so it’s essential to find a boarding facility that best suits their individual disposition. If your dog is energetic and loves socializing with other dogs, look for a facility that offers group playtime, an outdoor or covered play area and plenty of space to interact with other like-minded pooches. Conversely, if your dog is more reserved or has special needs, such as health issues or anxiety, opt for a facility that offers private accommodations and personalized care and attention.
Do your homework. Everyone uses the internet. Proceed with caution. Read reviews closely as they can be easily generated with AI and posted to boost ratings. Also, online pictures can be outdated and embellished.
Once you've narrowed your choices, scrutinize their websites. Do they look generic and corporate? Is that a reflection of the atmosphere your doggy will be exposed to?Look closely at pricing and services included in those prices. Not all boarding prices include medication administration, treats, and even feeding and walks/interaction with their human caregivers. These additional fees can add up.
Don't take other dog parents' recommendations as gospel. All of us have unique needs and values. Recommendations can help narrow the search, but always ensure your facility requires an in-person visit with you and your fur baby to ensure a good fit for everyone.
Visiting the facility is crucial. Arrange a tour of the dog boarding facility before making a final decision. Clean is king! During the tour, pay close attention to the cleanliness and overall condition of the facility. Ensure that the dogs are well-cared for and happy and that the staff demonstrates knowledge and genuine care for the animals. Take a look at how many staff are present to monitor the play area.
In our experience, 20, 30 or even 40 dogs with only one maybe two staff is not conducive to a positive and healthy guest experience. Potty time, feeding, walking, and general care will suffer. God forbid a fight breaks out among the guests. Do not settle for little to no staff during the day and, more importantly, at night. We've found no more than 10 doggies per one staff provides our furry guests the love, care, and attention they deserve.
Observe the size and security of dog runs or play areas, as well as the availability of shade and fresh water. All dogs should be vaccinated! A reputable boarding facility will require vaccination for not only Kennel Cough but Bordetella, Rabies, and Distemper.
Insurance, insurance, insurance. Dogs get sick. Dogs play hard and can sometimes get injured. It is paramount the facility is properly insured to immediately aid your doggie. A local veterinarian and/or pet hospital should be a phone call away.
Trust your instincts. At the end of the day: trust your gut feeling. If something feels off or if you aren’t fully confident in a particular facility, continue your search. Choose a dog boarding facility where both you and your pooch feel comfortable and where you have peace of mind knowing that your beloved fur baby is in capable hands.
In conclusion, selecting the right dog boarding facility is vital for the well-being of your furry friend. Take into account your dog’s unique needs, do your research, visit the facilities, consider their compatibility with your requirements, and trust your instincts. With these steps, you’ll be able to find the ideal place to ensure that your dog is safe, happy, and well-cared for while you’re away.