Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Searching for place to board your dog? Look for these things

Liam is happy to be with his toys
Happy to be home again with all of his toys.
On occasion, I have to go out of town and Liam can't come along. Typically this happens only once or twice per year, and typically I'm only gone for a day or two. Liam is a high-energy dog, so hiring a dog sitter to come and let him out two or three times per day isn't an option. He would go stir crazy and we'd come home to a ruined house. Similarly, I am not certain we could leave him with friends or family, as he likely wouldn't be comfortable staying home alone in their houses when they go to work.

So, that means dog boarding facilities are the best choice.

When I am shopping for a temp home for Liam, safety is the primary concern. I look for facilities that are open 7 days per week. If a facility is closed on the weekends, it's difficult to ensure that the dog is being adequately cared for during that time. I also look for kennels that allow the dogs to play during the day, to ensure that Liam doesn't hurt himself by trying to escape from a cage he's tired of. And, I make sure that the dogs are temperament tested, to make sure the dogs Liam is playing with are less likely to hurt him.

We had been using the same kennel on our last two vacations, but a change in location, staff and policies made that facility less than ideal. We traveled 45 minutes out of our way to deposit him in a facility that didn't treat him in the manner we expected and that we were promised. So, the search was on for a new kennel.

I searched online ranking agencies to read user reviews and polled my friends. By coincidence, I met the staff of a few local dog daycare facilities while I was out with Liam, and they provided me with some background on their facilities. In addition to sounding great, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and they all had lovely dogs themselves. So I thought I'd give them a shot.

Today, Liam went in for his 4-hour temperament testing. As I dropped him off, I was worried. He shook and shook (something he never does) and held that tail pointing straight down to the ground. But I hoped he'd overcome his fear and the playfulness would return. There were four other pugs there, so I figured this would help. When we returned to pick him up, we were told he'd done well and was welcome back at any time. Liam seemed cheerful, confident and exhausted. This is exactly what I wanted.

So we have a new kennel all picked out! Here's hoping your search will be similarly successful.