It can be scary to leave your dog alone overnight for the first time. As a result, you'll want to leave them somewhere safe and warm until you get back. Here, our Madison vets share some options for where to leave your dog while you're away on vacation.
Where To Leave Your Dog While on Vacation
Whether you are leaving for a business trip for a few days or heading out for a fun-filled vacation for several weeks, you will need to find suitable care for your dog while you're away. For many dog owners, deciding on the best care for their dog can be stressful and challenging. However, learning a little more about dog boarding can alleviate some of your concerns and help you choose the right boarding location for your dog.
How To Choose a Dog Boarding Facility
While not the same as being home, boarding facilities are meant to be the next best thing for your beloved dog. All boarding options should provide a safe place to stay while you're away, but other features offered can range quite a bit. From a clean, safe environment that includes lots of love and attention to summer-camp style and even doggie spas—there is a wide variety to choose from when deciding on boarding your dog. To be sure you are choosing the right place for your dog's needs and personality, be sure to visit a few spaces in your area before booking so you have peace of mind that your dog will be well-cared-for.
Dog Boarding Facility Features & Services
Often, you can get an idea of the types of features and services a facility offers by the price. Extravagant, spa-like spaces with pampering services will likely cost more than a standard facility with spacious crates and fenced-in dog runs.
Some facilities will also offer dogs one-on-one time with a staff member for outdoor play, walks, or swimming.
But keep in mind, more expensive does not necessarily mean better care.
Standard Services in Dog Boarding Facilities
Regardless of any additional features, a boarding facility may offer, you can expect the following as standard care:
- Spacious kennel to sleep in.
- Time outside of the kennel to stretch and move.
- Meals are served in the kennel.
- Time for play or walks during the day.
- Bathroom break before bed.
Benefits of Dog Boarding
Some facilities can also provide veterinary care and observation, as well as administer any medications your dog may need. This can be especially helpful with older dogs or those that require medical attention.
Other benefits include knowing that your dog will have a daily routine with food and exercise, scheduled for the same time each day. For dogs, there is also an opportunity to socialize with others—both dogs and humans.
What to Look for in a Dog Boarding Facility
Aside from price and features, there are other things you may want to consider when deciding on the best place to care for your dog until you return.
Your Dog's Boarding Preferences
It's important to keep your specific dog, and their needs, in mind when evaluating boarding options. A dog that doesn't tend to do well with other dogs or is aggressive may be better suited to a kennel whereas a very social dog may be happier in an arrangement with more interaction between dogs and people.
Pairing at the Dog Boarding Facility
Some boarding facilities will pair or group dogs together. They may be grouped by size or age or other factors. Ask about their pairing criteria so you understand the other pets your dog might be sharing space with. Discuss your dog's personality with the staff so they can make pairing decisions that suit them best. Also, inquire how any potential fights are dealt with and ask to inspect any isolation areas where dogs may be placed in the event of a skirmish.
Meals at the Boarding Facility
Dogs may not eat as much or as often in a boarding facility as they would at home due to separation anxiety, fear, or simply missing you. Some boarding options may offer meals as part of your dog's stay; if this is the case, ask what types of food they provide to ensure they are nutritious. You may need to request that they feed your dog their own food if they are fussy eaters. It is essential that your dog has access to clean, fresh water during their stay, so be sure to ask about this as well.
Supervision at the Dog Boarding Facility
Ask about the hours of supervision and who will be responsible for caring for your dog. Dogs can become very anxious when their owners leave, especially if they are in a new environment at the same time. Ensuring there is caring, qualified staff dedicated to helping your dog stay calm and comfortable will make your dog's stay more enjoyable. Some boarding facilities also have veterinarians available. If your dog needs daily medication or has any health conditions, this might be a good option for you.
Vaccinations Required for Dog Boarding Facilities
Inquire about the kinds of vaccinations that are required for admittance. This is not only important to ensure your dog has the right inoculations to stay but also informs you of how safe your dog would be. Being in a boarding facility or kennel with multiple other animals can increase your dog's susceptibility to infections and illnesses, especially if they are stressed, which can lower their immune system. Knowing that your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations—and all other animals are too—can alleviate some of your concerns.
In most cases, dogs should be vaccinated for Rabies, Parvovirus, Distemper, and Kennel Cough (Bacteria Bordetella/Canine Parainfluenza Virus).
Keeping in Touch With Your Dog While on Vacation
Even if the boarding facility has met all the requirements for a safe, comfortable stay, you should check in on your dog occasionally. Some facilities have 24/7 live camera feeds that allow you to get a glimpse of your dog at any time. Others may arrange for video calls or regular text messages to keep you updated on how your dog is doing while in their care. Regardless of the method, you should always be permitted to inquire about your dog. Also, be sure to leave contact information with the boarding staff as that would be imperative during an emergency.