Updated: Sep 12
It no secret, if you need to go out of town and can not take your pet, there are unlimited options to decide upon. In this post I'll go over the most common, pros and cons, as well as questions you should ask potential businesses or individuals you are considering.
*Veterinary offices, Sometimes your veterinarian or a local vet may offer boarding services. Some of the pros to this choice is the access to veterinary care if an emergency arises, the cleaning protocols that are (generally) adhered to (make sure you do a walk through BEFORE booking, even if its your vet. They may do boarding in a part of the hospital you have never seen), and the convenience of them already knowing your pet if its your vet. The biggest con I've seen in the clinics I've worked at that offer boarding is time and set up. Time being that unless they have a dedicated boarding staff, your pet is being looked after by kennel techs, vet assistants, or vet techs. They are awesome people! BUT, boarders are not their first job. So your pet may be in a kennel run most of the day without much to do. Always ask which staff are responsible for the boarders and take that into consideration.
*Boarding facilities, are NOT created equal! A facility may look great online but always always ALWAYS go in person BEFORE booking! Check their reviews on google, yelp, facebook, if they have any posted on their website; better yet look everywhere. Note the dates of the reviews. Only seeing very old reviews could mean they haven't grown much or aren't doing anything noteworthy in their program. Ask them any and all the questions I will list at the end of this blog. Make sure you have enough time before your trip to thoroughly interview and vet any facility you are considering, you do not want to rush at the last minute and regret it. Pros are this is their only "job", so your pet generally gets a good amount of attention and exercise during their stay. Many places offer to send up dates or that you can check in whenever you like. These can be more fun for you dog. Cons can include over crowding and inappropriate play groups. Be sure to check their set ups and ask about staff training.
*In home sitters, It is so tempting to ask little Johnny down to the street to pop in and feed Mittens while you're away. Please, don't. Friends and neighbors mean well, but things can go wrong fast with pets (and are more likely to happen when you are gone) and then you risk ruining your relationship over it. Hire a professional. Ask them if they are licensed and insured. There has been a lot of press about some companies (rover and wag to name a couple) and their sitters losing pets, pets dyeing etc. These companies are not an employer. They are an independent contractor set up (a pro and a con actually) and the sitter chooses how much training and or background information to give. I personally did Rover for a little while and I personally paid for the back ground check and other training to be more professional for my clients. Interview as many people as you like. Again, pre-planning is key here. Don't wait so long you have to go with the first person you meet no matter how you feel about them. Do your research! They should have references ready for you to contact. Pros include your pet being home in their comfortable known environment, generally a good amount of attention when sitter is there, and not having to travel anywhere with your pet. Cons are fairly obvious but bear mentioning; theft, you may not really know how your pet is being taken care of, and if your sitter is busy they may not get interaction throughout the day, just an hour or two while they're there.
*Training board and trains, these are becoming popular as many trainers (us included) open our homes to your pets. Again, not all programs are created equal! Make sure they are licensed and insured (as we are), ask to see pictures of their set up (some trainers will not want you coming to their personal residence, but should have pictures to show you. I personally have a camera that feeds to my phone so I can show clients my training room real time) Pros are your pet comes home more behaved than when they left, they generally will send lots of pictures and updates, they are stimulating for your pet (at least they should be!), and offer socialization experiences for your pet. Cons can be price (we are working your pet most of the day, and we don't get "time off" while they are with us, so that can make the price go up), some trainers do not rotate the dogs out as often as they say they do, and you may not be able to physically see the facility.
Questions to ask anyone you are considering watching your pet:
Where will my pet be housed?
Where will my pet sleep?
Where does my pet get to go potty?
How often does my pet get to play? Is this alone, with the human, or with other dogs?
If dog play groups, how are these determined? Size? Temperament? Age?
How are fights handled?
Are any of your staff CPR/First Aid certified?
How many other dogs are there at a time?
How often will I get updates? How will I receive them?
What veterinarian do you work with? (If not a vet clinic)
What is the staff to dog ratio?
Are you insured?
Can I view the facility?
Do you have references I can check?
You can never be too thorough or careful in your search! We only board and train here at BP4T, but we have lists of many local resources we can suggest for you if you're seeking a different type of boarding. If you need any advice please reach out!
For the Dogs,