You may be wondering what to look for in a dog boarding facility if you’re planning a trip soon.
We get it: it’s downright unnerving leaving your dog with a boarder, especially with a new dog boarding facility.
In this post, you’ll find the questions to ask a dog boarder before committing to your dog boarding with them.
Licenses Required for Dog Boarding
It’s worth noting that a dog boarding business in the United States does not require a federal license. This is all the more reason to do your own due diligence by asking the following questions of any boarder you’re considering.
Fortunately, states and also areas have requirements but they vary by state and by area.
Dog boarding facilities in the U.K. require licenses for dog boarding facilities.
You may want to check your country of residence for required licenses for a private dog boarding business.
Certifications for Dog Boarding Facilities
There are several dogs boarding certifications available. The Professional Pet Boarding Certification appears to be one of the best.
Having clarified licenses and certifications, let’s get into what to look for in a dog boarding facility, and what specific questions to ask a boarder beforehand.
Some dog boarders are luxury facilities while or others are more down to earth.
For example, Dogtopia Houston Galleria made our list of dog boarders in Houston. They have spa services complete with grooming services like nail trimming and tooth brushing. On the other hand, some of the hunting dog training schools have outdoor kennels for their boarders, which are usually labradors and bird dogs.
You’ll want to look for the overall vibe that will suit your pooch best. Your dog’s breed will likely be a factor here.
You might envision a Bichon Frisé in a luxury kennel and a Labrador Retriever like Blanco in a more down-to-earth environment, for example.
An overall vibe that resonates with your dog will be more likely to attract dogs that are of similar type and character as your own dog. This can result in more suitable playmates and new doggy friends.
Boarding Cancellation Policy
Cancellation policies will vary among dog boarding facilities. If you require the flexibility to be able to cancel your dog’s stay last minute, you’ll want to look for a boarder that allows this.
Vaccinations that are commonly required by dog boarding companies include:
- Canine Influenza
You’ll want to find out the exact requirements for any facility you’re considering since they will vary among dog boarders.
Trial Visit Policy
The more familiar your dog is with the dog boarding facility, the more comfortable she will be when she arrives for her stay.
Boarding facilities suggest a trial one night stay to test comfort level and help your pooch get to know the facility beforehand.
Cost and Extra Services
Clarify both the cost of your dog’s stay, as well as exactly what’s included.
Many dog boarding facilities have extra services at add on costs. We’ve seen everything from blueberry facials to suites with windows to daily swims as extra services.
Common add-ons are extra outings with dog walkers, special feeding requirements, and extra play time.
Flea and Tick Screening
You sure don’t want your pooch to come home with fleas. Therefore, you’ll want to inquire if screening is done for fleas and ticks. You may also want to find out if flea treatment is mandatory among the guests.
Be advised, however, that dogs often carry fleas until the flea takes that first bite. Should the flea drop off the dog before biting, it’s sure to be seeking a new furry home.
Not to state the obvious, but the cleaner the facility is the better.
Temperature and Ventilation
Is the temperature at the dog boarding facility kept as same as the temperature in your home?
Also, is the dog boarding facility well ventilated?
And if there was an electrical outage, are there windows that could be opened to increase air flow?
Are there any harsh chemical smells from cleaning products? Many dog owners don’t realize how unhealthy this can be for their dogs.
I had a black and white tuxedo cat, Cassie, that experienced an emergency asthma attack every time cleaning products were used until I realized toxic cleaners were the triggers.
This is why I particularly like products that are nontoxic, like Dr. Bronner’s and Simple Green.
Food and Water Policy
When are the dogs fed, and does this align with your dog’s regular eating schedule? If not, inquire if there is any flexibility in the feeding schedule.
If your dog has food allergies or is limited to one protein, are dogs given random treats that might be unsuitable for your dog?
Also, if you prefer your dog get only filtered water, look for a dog boarder where this is standard or possible.
You’ll also want to find out how often the water is changed, and the bowls cleaned.
Socialization with Other Dogs
Is your dog an introvert or an extrovert? Find a dog boarding facility that has a socialization schedule and policy that won’t stress your dog.
Number of Dogs Boarded
The number of dogs being boarded at any one time is a huge consideration since the staff will need to care for all the dogs.
Plus, the facilities are designed to accommodate only a certain number of dogs. Exceeding that number can lead to a crowded facility.
You’ll want to check the dog to staff ratio.
You’ll want to inquire whether anyone on the staff sleeps overnight at the dog boarding facility.
Find out how long the manager has been with the dog boarding service. Low turnover is a good sign.
Find out if there is doggy door access to an outdoor area or if dogs need to be let out. If so, inquire about how many times dogs go outside each day, and how long do they stay.
You’ll also want to find out where dog’s poop and pee, how they access that area, and how often.
Many urban dog boarding facilities will have a completely different play area set up than urban dog boarders, of course. We’ve seen some amazing outdoor play areas, however, even at dog boarding facilities in NYC and Chicago.
Regardless of the location, notice how large the play yard is.
Depending on the time of year and your location, if the dog play area is outside, check to see:
Are there shaded areas or areas protected from snow and ice?
Will the play area become muddy?
Is it clean and free of dog poop?
Are there grassy areas?
Is the play yard safely enclosed so there is no chance of a canine escapee?
Does the play area sit on a busy highway or road with toxic fumes?
Activities During Boarding
Find out what activities are available. Is there daily dog walking, and if so, how many times a day? As addressed elsewhere in this post, sometimes we see activities such as swimming and dog training.
You’ll want to look for a dog boarding facility that has many activities that are normal for your dog.
Size and Types of Sleep Areas
The sleep area may be one of the most important aspects of dog boarding.
We’ve seen dog boarding facilities provide:
- Dog kennels
- Luxury suites
- Sofas and chairs
- Dog beds
- Elevated beds, sometimes with headboards
- Sleeping with staff (seriously:)
- Community sleeping space
- Solo sleeping space
You’ll want your dog to be able to sleep in the same type of accommodation he has at home if possible.
Many dog boarding facilities have cameras so you can check on your dog while he’s boarding.
Length of Time in Business
Find out how long the dog boarder has been in business. You’ll also want to inquire if the business has had the same owner since inception. Often times, dog service businesses are sold to new owners.
How to Research Dog Boarding Facilities
We hope that we’ll be able to provide valuable information about dog boarding nearby for you wherever you live.
You may also enjoy checking out the Google reviews as well as social media channels for any dog boarding facility you’re considering.
As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.
Access to Medical Care
Inquire if there is a veterinarian on call for emergencies.
Hours and Pick Up Policy
Many dog boarding facilities don’t allow owners to collect their dogs on Sunday’s, yet this is a popular day for travelers to return home anxious to see their missed dog.
Look for a dog boarding facility with collection days that work for your schedule.
Care on Weekends
Find out if weekend and holiday services are different from weekday services and how. Many dog boarding businesses cut back services on the weekends.
Aggressive Dog Boarding
Inquire if the kennel allows aggressive dogs to board. If so, find out the level of acceptable aggression, and if your dog will be with dogs that have fought with other dogs in the past.
Cost vs Private Sitter
Summary for What to Look for in a Dog Boarding Facility
Now you have a list of what to look for in a dog boarding facility.
Like humans, dogs get very used to their schedules and accommodations. Every dog owner will want to look for the services that are important to them.
Many dog owners stress about leaving their dog with a dog boarder. One of the best things you can do is replicate your dog’s usual routines and environment as much as possible.