Dog trainers offer tips on boarding your pets

We spoke with three highly rated companies on Angie’s List to find out what pet owners should do to ensure their pet has a happy stay at a boarding kennel.

Greenwood: Check out the cleanliness of the facility, and make sure the employees are friendly and caring. Make sure you visit the kennel before a long boarding, especially if the dog isn’t used to being around other dogs.

Hicka: Let the people who are going to be caring for your pet meet and greet. I want the customer feeling very comfortable that they can see all parts of the facility rather than think, “Oh, my dog’s going behind closed doors.”

Petrunich: Ask the kennel what kind of play areas they have and how they divide up the dogs. Also ask if and how they will keep dogs comfortable in the summer heat. Look at where they’re going to be sleeping.

How should I prepare for my pet’s boarding time?

Hicka: You need to bring your pet’s complete vaccination history. We encourage people to bring their own food, to prevent any upsets from changing their diet, but we also have our own high-quality food here.

Greenwood: You can bring a favorite toy or any special treats your dog is used to so they feel more comfortable.

Petrunich: We encourage people to bring their dog in for a couple of hours before they actually board them, especially if it’s the dog’s first time. That way, the dog realizes its owner will be coming back. This is especially important if the dog is a rescued dog or has separation anxiety.

What should I look for in the staff?

Petrunich: Look for how enthusiastic and engaged the employees are when you first call and when you bring in your dog. You want people who are crazy about dogs.

Hicka: The animals should be tail-wagging, vibrant and happy to see you whenever you come in. Happy pets are our best form of advertising. You want to have a friendly staff, who bend down to say hello to the pets and interact.

What else should I look for in a boarding kennel?

Hicka: One of the best ways to judge a facility is if they’re affiliated with a trade association, like the Pet Care Services Association. It’s not just enough to say, “I love animals.” You need to know good, basic information about sanitation, nutrition, behavior, recognizing symptoms of disease and other problems you might come across.

Greenwood: [They should] provide constant supervision and play. We think it’s just as important for the health and development of your dog to socialize with other dogs as it is for children.


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