9 Things to Remember when Boarding Your Dog

March 29, 2013

This Friday, I am dropping Romeo off at a Seattle dog boarding kennel for the first time. The hardest part for me is not leaving him at the kennel but knowing our best friend won’t be coming along on our adventure. Jeff and I are visiting our favorite biking trails in Kelowna, BC.

Boarding a dog is not for everyone. It probably isn’t worth it if you are going to feel guilty and worry about your dog the whole time you are gone. But if you’re like me and don’t have anyone to watch your dog while you are away, boarding is the only other option besides never leaving town.

Romeo is a lucky dog and gets to tag along almost everywhere. I’ve taken him on dozens of road trips over the last year. I knew when I got a dog that I wanted him to take part in as much of my traveling as possible, but I also knew I would have to board him from time to time. I chose a kennel that is right for Romeo by touring it and asking the right questions first.

Thankfully, I chose what is considered to be the best dog boarding in Seattle, Washington. The owner of Stella Ruffington, Dianna Young, shared tips for pet boarding to help minimize disruption for animals. Their goal is making sure pets are provided with a safe, healthy environment during their stay.

For those in need of quality dog boarding services, here are 9 ways to make the boarding experience easier for you, your dog and the kennel staff:

1. Tour the dog boarding kennel ahead of time.
When I leave for a trip, I am usually rushed and behind schedule. I don’t want to tour the kennel and have second guesses about it on the morning I drop my dog off. That is why I took time to tour a few Seattle dog boarding kennels in advance and choose the best one. There are bad kennels out there, but there are also really good kennels and everything in between. Find the one that is right for your dog by taking the time to schedule a tour.

2. Make sure the kennel staff is aware of your dog’s special needs.
Writing out a short list might be helpful if your dog is on medication or has allergies. Don’t go overboard. They don’t need to know that your dog eats at exactly 7:40 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. and gets 3 biscuits two times a day with peanut butter and a slice of cheese. But they do need to know if your dog has seizures, is food aggressive or is scared of thunder.

3. Feel free to bring your dog’s food.
A good kennel will encourage this because dogs have sensitive stomachs and might get sick if they suddenly eat a different brand of food. I will bring enough of Romeo’s food in a sealed container with a little extra in case I am gone an extra day. I won’t bring in a whole 40-pound bag for the staff to lug around.

4. Bring a special toy or blanket for your dog.
I will bring Romeo’s blanket for him to sleep on while I am away. It is reasonable to bring something like a bed, toy or blanket from home that might make your dog feel more comfortable. I am bringing a blanket instead of Romeo’s dog bed just in case he gets bored and destroys it or gets it muddy after playing outside. But I’m not getting out of control and bringing 15 different items for the staff to keep track of. Romeo will be busy watching and playing with all the other dogs anyway.

5. Leave a phone number where you can be reached.
I will give the staff my cell phone number and also a friend’s number in case I am out of cell phone range and they need to contact someone in the Seattle area. I want the staff to be able to contact me or someone who knows Romeo if there is an emergency or if they have a question about my dog.

6. Respect the kennel’s pick-up and drop-off hours.
I also don’t expect the kennel staff to make special arrangements for me so I can drop my dog off or pick him up after they are closed. I won’t show up unannounced to pick my dog up early. Instead I will call and let the staff know so Romeo will be ready when I get there. I won’t arrive late, either. There are other clients coming in and the kennel might not have extra room for my dog.

7. Make the departure quick.
There is no sense in making the goodbye more stressful than it needs to be. It will only make it worse for Romeo if I am anxious or excited because he will pick up on my energy and think there is a reason to be anxious. If I am calm, my dog will be calm. It’s best to just quietly hand the leash over and be done with it.

8. Don’t worry if your dog is tired when he comes home.
If my dog comes home tired, I know it’s because he has been busy watching and playing with dogs all day. Once he’s home is the time to catch up on sleep because he won’t have to keep his eye on 20 other dogs. It is also common for a dog to eat less while staying at a kennel, so I wouldn’t be too worried if Romeo lost a pound or two. I would be worried, however, if he came home sick, really dirty or lethargic for more than two days.

9. Call and check on your dog, but don’t be a nuisance.
I probably won’t call and check on Romeo at all while I am gone, because I will only be gone three days. But calling once or twice during your trip to check on your dog is fine and probably a good idea. Just don’t be that obsessive mom or dad who calls every day or more than once a day! Trust that the staff members are doing a good job. Remember, they are all dog lovers too!

Again, I want to thank the good folks at Stella Ruffington. The owner took the time to answer all of my pre-boarding questions, as well as gave me a tour of their Seattle dog boarding facility. She also provided these expert tips that I shared in this article. Overall, I am fortunate to have discovered Stella Ruffington. Hopefully for those living in other areas of the US, you will be able to find a dog kennel as professional, clean and safe as I did here in Seattle.

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