Choosing a kennel for your dog is just about as personal as choosing a daycare or nanny for your child and should be given as much consideration. Here are some tips on picking a kennel that is right for your and your dog, making your pet's stay a positive experience.
There are many kennels in the lower mainland and it would be very time consuming to phone them all. If you are looking for a good kennel, start by phoning veterinarians and ask them to recommend one or two. Any kennel should be recommended by at least three veterinarians in the area before the kennel makes it on your short list. Another good idea is to ask people at the Dog Parks.
The primary concern when choosing a kennel should be the care your dog is going to receive. Look at the size of the inside/outside runs and exercise yard(s). How many times a day does your dog get out? Is it on-leash or off? With or without other dogs? Is the playtime supervised? When are the first and last walks? Ask to watch the dogs being exercised. This is advisable if leaving a dog at a kennel, which claims to exercise dogs, as opinions on what is deemed to be exercise seems to vary. Can and will they give medications? Ask their policies on dealing with emergencies, as well. All areas of the kennel should be clean, bright and well lit. How is the building heated? If it does not have floor heat (radiant), does the kennel provide a bed? There should be clean water in all the runs and exercise yards. Does the kennel have lots of staff and does the owner work/live there? A knowledgeable person should be on the property 24 hours a day. You should also ask about the house food brand and is it comparable with your own. If the dog is very young or old, or if it has a sensitive tummy, think about bringing your own food. The exercise yards should have lots of lights for the last walk at night, and the fencing should be secure-is it strong and tall enough for the big guys and tight enough for the little guys?
Having chosen the kennel, you should phone to reserve a time slot for your pet. The kennel staff should go over required shots; they should ask your dog's name, age, sex, neutered or spayed (if unspayed when she is due to come into heat), your name, address, food normally fed, your veterinarian's name and who else besides you is allowed to pick up the dog. They should ask about medical emergencies. It is a good idea to call your veterinarian and let them know "Fido" will be at the kennel for this time period and what your wishes are if there is an emergency.
Be prepared the day you drop your dog off at the kennel. The more organized you are, the less stressful it will be on your dog. First and foremost, bring up-to-date shot records. If you are providing your own food, make sure there is enough for two extra weeks, just in case you miss the plane or decide to stay longer. If the dog is on medication, again, provide enough for an extra two weeks. Will your dog need to be given its flea/heartworm prevention medication while you are gone? Be sure to write down the date that it is to be given.
The kennel should check your dog's shot records, take your food and meds and take your dog's bed if provided. Then they will reach for your leash. Now it is time for you to be strong. You've done your homework. You've done your checking. This is the right place or you would not be there. Hand them the leash and say, "Good boy/girl... have fun", then turn and walk away. Do not make a fuss. The more emotional you are, the tougher it will be for your dog. If you get upset, it will upset the dog. Dogs have fun at a well run kennel. It is like going to doggy camp with lots of supervised play time, cookies and pats; and we all know dogs love cookies and pats.
Gerry and Lisa Strutinski are the owners and operators of Willchris Kennels and their family has been involved in the boarding and training of dogs since 1954.
Reprinted with permission from Family Dog Magazine -