Depending on your dogs’ temperament, you may want to consider introducing them to boarding kennels. It’s sad to see a dog, no matter how much they are loved, put into kennels for the first time and be unhappy while they are here. It’s a shock for even the boldest Labrador. So what can you do to help to make sure their stay in kennels is a positive one?

Introduce your dog to boarding kennels gradually

  1. Consider booking your dog in for ‘a day stay‘, just one day without staying overnight. Feed them at home and bring their bed and toys to the kennels. Offer to call the kennels at lunchtime to find out how they are doing. It gives you the opportunity to go and fetch them if they are having a bad time (not unknown)!
  2. Then book your dog in for one day plus overnight, this time take their own food, bed and toys; anything that helps them feel more at home.
  3. Then book your dog in for a weekend, again take all their home comforts and their own food. Drop off Saturday morning and collect Sunday afternoon.

I have always said that you will get a full and honest report of how your dog has been. If he tried to bite me or show any kind of aggression then I will tell you, but ultimately we’re aiming for ‘nothing to report’.

On The Day

Make sure that your dog/s have been walked before you check them in. There is nothing worse than a dirty kennel for the kennel worker and the dogs if the first thing they want to do is relieve themselves, but also they may need to but don’t want to because all of a sudden they are in a strange place. So that makes possible health implications.

Get Your Vaccination Cards Ready beforehand

… well in advance. A good kennel should have checked them at the time of booking, ask for them to be presented at check-in and stay with the dogs while they are in the kennel. Check your kennels’ rules, if it’s not on the website, then call them. If they are strict or there is something wrong with the vaccinations, your holiday is potentially ruined if the vaccines are not quite right.

Personal items

  • such as bedding (and spare bedding)
  • treats
  • toys
  • chews
  • lists or instructions for anything
  • medications

Medications

There is no point telling the person who checked your dog in, it needs to be communicated at the time of the booking in writing and a note should also be written and put on the actual kennel. I do this even though I’m the only person who feeds and gives meds.

We charge £1-3 per day depending on the med and details.

Check-in day and times

Make sure you arrive at the right time and the right day. I had a customer turn up 2 days early one time with potentially disastrous consequences for both the kennels and the dogs’ owner, fortunately, all was OK.

Paperwork/formalities

Do your kennels have a set of Terms & Conditions that you can easily find and do they look professional? Do they have a clear cancellations policy? Have they asked for all of your dogs’ details including your emergency contact details and explained how this will work? Do they know who your vet is? All these things lead to a better experience.

When your dog goes home

It’s usual for things to not be quite right for a few days, after all, no matter how nice the kennels are, it’s still not home. Keep your routine up, don’t let your dog take liberties and watch out for diarrhoea and the dreaded kennel cough. If you didn’t take your dogs’ usual food into kennels, expect their bowels to be unsettled for 24-48 hours while they get used to a different food again.

If a dog has been stressed and suffered with diarrhoea as a result of this, it’s usual for them to return to normal quickly.

Kennel Cough

During the summer months, kennel cough is something your dog might be lucky to escape, they can catch it from anywhere – not just kennels. However, in large kennels it’s difficult to avoid. At Meg Heath airflow is good and cleaning standards are high. I have a protocol for an outbreak of kennel cough and unfortunately for the offending dog we send them home as putting into isolation will not help.

So, do your dog a favour, help them enjoy kennels – it is possible, a lot of dogs are quite simply not suited to kennels. The commitment is yours, help them enjoy the experience.

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