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Boarding kennels, a view from both sides.

A guide as to what to expect when you board your dog, also a look at possible problems arising from the kennels point of view, and what kennel owners expect from dog owners. These views are mine based on 13 years managing boarding kennels.

Thousands of people each year leave their dogs in boarding kennels, for the most part the dogs are fine, but kennels vary greatly and its essential for owners to check out possible places for themselves, here are a few tips.


You should be able to view a boarding kennels prior to booking your dog in, never book without looking. When visiting, telephone and ask the opening hours and would you be welcome to inspect during those times. I personally do not think that people should require an appointment, some kennels may prefer it, why? I’m not sure, if this is requested of you, please bare in mind that each kennels operate differently and none conform to set rules, so it is fair to say there is nothing underhand at this stage.

Upon your arrival, take note of the surroundings, the security, the cleanliness and overall look of the place, first feelings are generally correct. In the kennels themselves, there should be no smell, at least not a urine or dirty smell, there is no need in my opinion for a dirty smelling environment, if kennels are using the correct cleaning equipment and solutions and the kennels are cleaned regularly, there is no excuse for faeces and urine to be lying in kennels and left uncleaned for long periods of time.

The dogs themselves should appear well and happy to see visitors, you must allow for those of a more sensitive or timid nature, not all dogs will be leaping around to say “Hi” to strangers. Just take an overall view of the dogs there, if there seems an unreasonable amount of dogs that look unhappy or unwell, take that as a possible negative. Look at the bedding they have been given, is it clean, does it look wet? Do they all have water? Just normal things a dog requires each day.

Ask to see the exercising facilities. Security is paramount, it MUST be secure, especially if dogs are running loose. Do the kennels run dogs from different owners together? I personally do not like this idea at all, they are not the kennel owners dogs and they have a responsibility to care for your dog the best that they can, I do not feel running strange dogs together is the best way of doing that, some kennels and owners may disagree, however it’s a valid point to consider. How long do they exercise your dog for? Think about this, if they say 20 minutes 3 times a day and they board 60 dogs, just how long would that take? It’s an hour per dog! Is that possible? Ask about what foods are fed? Do they feed what you feed? Can they feed special diets on request and can you supply your own food should you prefer to do so. A boarding licence should be displayed and open for inspection.

A final point when viewing, ask about the kennels security, what extra precautions have they taken to ensure the safety and security of your dog whilst he/she is in their care.

The booking

So you like the kennels and wish to make a booking. There are certain things I personally believe are essential for kennel owners to know about the dogs AND the owners of the dogs they are boarding, briefly these are; Name, address, telephone number, contact number of the owners. Vets telephone number. Dogs name, age, sex, neutered or not, feeding preferences and regime, temperament, any medical problems and if so what medication are they on and instructions on giving them. All kennels should INSIST on seeing a current and valid vaccination certificate, some may keep them during your dogs stay, some kennels also insist that a “Kennel cough” vaccine is also given. When making your booking ask what exactly the charges include. Some kennels may add on extras such as insurance or VAT, make absolutely clear what you are paying for. Ask also if should there be a problem with the dog, who will pay the Vets bill? you may find yourself faced with a huge bill if this is not made clear, and whilst most good kennel will offer insurance for such circumstances, some may not. You may also wish to leave your dog with things from home to make them feel more comfortable, such as an old jumper for example or something that smells familiar, ask if this is ok and also enquire as to whether treats can be supplied by yourself and given to your dog during its stay. I think that basically covers it for the most part, please ask/tell kennel owners anything you feel necessary, the more information they get, the better job they can do.

Points from the dog’s and kennel owners view.

On arriving with your dog please respect the kennels privacy and arrive during opening hours or “drop off” times. Have with you all the necessary paperwork etc. you require. I personally think that owners should be able to take their dog to the kennel and collect from that kennel, after all you have paid for that space. I believe its no detriment to the dog at all, and a lot more comforting for owners to see where their dog is staying and put any toys or treats inside the kennel with their dog. There are some kennels that do not allow this, ask when visiting if this is the case.

In general dogs have a great time in kennels, they have constant canine and human company and get regular exercise and lots of fuss

You have just left your dog for the first time in a strange place, with strange people and lots of other dogs that seem to think life is just wonderful! He feels insecure and nervous about his new environment. I would say well over 90% of dogs cope very well with boarding for the first time however there are some that do not. Usually dogs take to it readily, a bit of fuss, a run round the paddock etc.. and they are just fine, however some dogs do not know how to deal with such a situation and problems can arise. A timid or nervous dog will normally come round and be bouncing within a day or so, its normal for a dog to be a little apprehensive at first. A dog’s means of defence is usually attack! I know that most people cannot believe their dog may be capable of biting, but believe me, ANY dog is capable of it and given the fact they are faced with such a new experience, in the presence of strangers, how can we expect them to be any different. As much as kennel owners try, there are some dogs that are just not capable of dealing with this type of situation and alternative accommodation should be sought for such dogs.

Kennels are experienced in dealing with problem dogs, but it does seem that some people feel its their “job” to board their dog which seems intent on biting them, why is this? Look at it from our point, why should we risk getting bitten? How would you feel if your dog was ill but couldn’t be taken to a Vet because of the way it was behaving? How would you feel if the kennel owner said your dog has not been given its medication because he wouldn’t eat it in a meal and because of his intent on biting, the tablets could not be put into the dog’s mouth directly? I don’t think many people would be too impressed. Its worth noting that contact numbers are imperative for such circumstances, at least then a solution may be achieved and the dog could be moved to a more suitable environment.

In general dogs have a great time in kennels, they have constant canine and human company and get regular exercise and lots of fuss, more than the thousands of dogs left for hours on end while owners are at work! They get into the routine very quickly, dogs like routine, they know what to expect and are happy with that. Kennel owners do not want problems to arise, as well as being their livelihood, dogs are their life, they have a genuine interest in their welfare and wellbeing and will do everything humanly possible to ensure a dog is contented during its stay in kennels.

These are my views alone and are a brief guide, I hope they will be of help to some people should they choose to board their dog.

Your comments and views:
Fondly Remembered
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 7,358
Female  Diamond Supporter 
25-06-2005, 08:23 AM
A very informative and helpful article
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 11,213
26-06-2005, 01:32 AM
Fantastic article! Have never had to board a dog for many years but if I do I'll come straight back to this. Thanks!
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 12,204
29-06-2005, 03:15 PM
Very helpful honest article thanks
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Lucky Star
Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 20,145
02-08-2005, 02:22 PM
Excellent article with some great tips. I shall refer to this if I ever board my dog.
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Snorri the Priest
Dogsey Veteran
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 4,963
15-11-2005, 03:53 PM
Well thought-out, well-written and informative - covers thing you might not think of beforehand!
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Dogsey Senior
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 862
04-10-2009, 06:41 PM
Really helpful, thank you.
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