By Diane Laratta
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. You just finished making reservations for a long-anticipated cruise. The kids are staying with their grandparents, and you are looking forward to this vacation. A cold nose bumps your arm. You look down, and it dawns on you … you forgot to make arrangements for the dog! You’ve never needed to board him before. Where do you start?
The ideal situation is finding someone to stay in your home. The dog will be comfortable in his own surroundings and will do better kept to his usual schedule. The mail and newspaper will be brought in. And the house will have that “lived in” appearance.
But not everyone can find someone to pet sit in their home. What are your other options? There are bonded pet sitters who come to your home two or three times a day to let your pet out and feed it. Cost for this service varies. This service can work well as long as the pet is comfortable with the pet sitter. What we don’t like about this service is the fact that the pet is left alone for long periods of time — especially at night. If an emergency were to crop up, the pet may be in distress for hours.
Neighbors or relatives may offer to keep a pet in their house or come into your house to let the pet out. If the relative or neighbor knows the pet, taking the pet into their home could be a viable solution. However, I have rescued more than one lost pet when it escaped from someone who was “watching” it for another family.
When a pet is moved into another environment, it may become confused. Its schedule is upset. Its pack has been rearranged. We are also concerned when teenagers offer to watch a pet. My own daughter at 17 years was more interested in what her friends were doing than taking care of the dog she promised to watch.
Boarding kennels are set up to safely care for dogs while their owners are away. Like everything else, there are good and not-so-good boarding kennels. To find a good boarding kennel in your area, ask your friends, neighbors or veterinarian who they use to watch their dog.
A good boarding facility should be clean and invite you to inspect it before you board your dog. There may be a mild “doggie odor,” but you should not smell urine or feces. The yard or runs should be free of feces. The area the dog will be sleeping in should be disinfected between visiting dogs. Bedding should be washed and bowls scrubbed. Fencing should be secure and escape proof. Some dogs are talented escape artists. Check the bottom of the fenced area to be sure a dog can’t get under it. Is the fence high enough to discourage jumpers? Some dogs can climb out of anything, so a run with a top is ideal for that type of dog.
We prefer a boarding kennel where someone is onsite at all times. Many kennels have a room where an employee spends the evening to monitor the dogs. Again, this is important in the event of an emergency.
Prices vary widely depending on the location and type of kennel. Kennels that offer luxury items charge more than kennels that don’t offer perks. Some boarding kennels charge extra if medication is given or if you bring your own dog food. It is much easier for a kennel owner to feed all the same food than to feed each individual dog its personal diet from home.
The number of times a dog goes out daily can vary from two to four trips. We wouldn’t settle for anything less than three trips and four are better. Dogs should be fed twice a day, more often if it’s a very young pup or has special needs.
When you call to make reservations for your family pet, have a list of questions ready. The kennel owner should be pleasant and willing to answer your concerns. You want to enjoy your vacation and know that your pet is being well cared for in your absence. Last but not least, don’t wait until the last minute to book a reservation. A good boarding kennel will fill up quickly, especially on holiday weekends and during the summer months.
Diane Laratta has been actively involved in the sport of purebred dogs for more than 35 years. She owns and operates The Hollowell Academy of Dog Training & Grooming. Questions concerning choosing a dog or about dog training/behavior may be sent to her at 201 E. Kiracofe, Elida, OH 45807 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.