In most cases dog owners will take their best friend with them wherever they go. Sometimes that just doesn't work though. Say you're going on a cruise. You can't take the dog, as much as they would love to go with you, they are not allowed. So where do they go while you're gone? The obvious answer would be family or friends living nearby who love your dog and that you trust to care for them. What happens when they aren't available or you just don't have someone like that? This is when you need to start looking for a good sitter or boarding kennel. If you are trusting of strangers you can find people who will, for a fee, come to your home and take care of the dog, collect the papers and mail, water plants, etc. If you choose a housesitter make sure you have the time to interview them and check references. Ask around to your friends, family, and coworkers to see who they might use and if they have any recomendations.
The other option is a boarding kennel. A lot of Veterinarians offer boarding. Not all of them have outside runs for your dog. In those cases they charge an additional fee to walk your dog several times a day. If you are going to be gone for a short period of time this isn't a bad thing. At a vets office you know that they will usually be taken good care of. The other option is a private boarding kennel. There are a lot of them out there but unfortunately they are all created equal. Before you leave your dog at a boarding kennel it is always a good idea to take a tour of the place. If they refuse to allow you in the kennel for a tour- walk away and find somewhere else. You have every right to see where your best friend will be staying. If they won't let you see, then you have to ask yourself "What are they hiding?". It might be nothing, but you don't know that if you can't take a tour. When you walk into the kennel take a deep breath. How does it smell? It should smell fairly clean. You shouldn't smell urine or any other dirty smells. Always ask questions before you make reservations. Do they have indoor/outdoor runs for the dogs? Is there heating/AC? If they have indoor/outdoor runs do the dogs get closed in at night? Do they allow you to bring toys and bedding from home? Are they willing to feed your dog according to their normal schedule? Are they allowed contact with other dogs? If you have more than one dog, can they stay in the same kennel? Do they offer discounts for more than one dog in a kennel? What shots are required before they are boarded? What hours are available for drop off and pick up? Do they charge per night or per day? This can make a difference when boarding because if they charge per night you are only charged for the nights that your dog stays. If they charge per day you will be charged for the day you dropped them off, every day they are there, and in some cases, depending on pick up time, for the day you pick them up. This can add up pretty quick when boarding a dog can cost between thirty and forty bucks a night/day! Some vets charge based on the weight of the dog as well, so smaller dogs are cheaper than larger dogs. As with house sitters, it is always a good idea to ask around for referrals from friends and coworkers. If they've had a bad experience somewhere they will tell you.
To ensure that you come home to a happy and healthy dog make sure you follow the suggestions above. There is nothing worse than coming home to find your dog is sick, has lost weight, or is suddenly afraid of things they weren't afraid of before. You wouldn't leave your kids just anywhere so don't do it to your dog either. They are your family too!
Christy Tuller is an expert on several topics and loves dogs.
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