The Jolly Jet-Setter’s Holiday Guide For Boarding Your Dog

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The holidays are upon us, and not everyone will be spending them with their pets (*Sniff!). If you’re taking a trip this season, you want to be sure you’re leaving your pet somewhere safe and where they will feel loved. I’ve been in the pet-sitting business for many years now and I have heard all of the horror stories. I’ve listened to tales of people boarding their pets and coming back to a sick dog, a dog with fleas or a host of behavioral issues. Take it from me – you’ll enjoy your vacation much more if you do your research for a reputable, caring dog boarding facility. Here are some tips to ensure Fido stays happy while you’re away.

Read Reviews: We love our pets like our children and will be the first to complain if something goes wrong. The Internet is at your disposal to help you find the right boarding facility. When looking into a kennel, read everything people have to say, and try to find third party reviews if at all possible. is a trusted friend in this matter.

Related:  Boarding Your Dog For The First Time

Tour the Facility:  Do not board your dog in a facility that refuses to let you see what goes on behind the scenes. Some will use the excuse “it will stress out the dogs,” but don’t let that fool you. People touring the facility quickly and quietly will not stress out the dogs any more than their barking neighbor. It’s essential to board your dog somewhere where the management is proud of their establishment and shows it off with pride. You want to be able to walk back there and see clean, well-maintained kennels.

Stay Small:  The large, corporate boarding facilities tend to be the ones where dogs come down with kennel cough during the holidays (I know, I used to work at one). It’s nothing about their cleaning standards; it has everything to do with the sheer volume of dogs under one roof. The bordatella vaccine works much like a flu shot, it helps prevent the illness it but isn’t 100 percent effective. Besides, a smaller kennel means more attention for your dog. But please, make sure they’re reputable and a legal business.

Related: 7 Questions To Ask When Boarding A Dog

Outside Area:  I don’t recommend leaving your dog at an indoor-only facility. Some of the large corporations have indoor-only facilities, and when I worked for one, people would constantly complain about their dogs having potty training issues after being expected to relieve themselves inside only. Besides, our furry friends need fresh air. But at the same time, make sure you see the outside area and make sure it’s safe.

When NOT to board your dog:

  • Senior dogs: the stress of a kennel can be too much for them
  • Dogs with anxiety issues
  • Dogs with fear towards humans and other animals
  • Dogs that have health issues
  • Dogs that require complex medications

If I just listed your dog, I highly recommend hiring a pet sitter to come into your home as opposed to a kennel. If that isn’t feasible, plan a test run at the kennel before your actual trip. That way if it doesn’t work out, you can pick him up. The last thing you want to do on your holidays is to call it short or call a friend or family member for an emergency pick up.

When searching for a kennel, make sure to find the right fit for you and your dog. It’s somewhere you feel comfortable leaving your furry BFF and won’t spend your holiday worrying about your pooch’s wellbeing. Follow my tips, and if your gut says no, it’s probably right – unless, of course, you’re a little over-protective like I am and the thought of leaving your dog just makes you want to cry because your separation anxiety is worse than theirs! Be sure to plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute, so your dog can go to the kennel of your choice and you can enjoy peace of mind during your holiday.

Rachel LeavyRachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she’s not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.