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Kennels & Daycare - What You Need To Know

Kennels & Daycare - What You Need To Know

Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Mama Bear

We are coming up to the Summer holiday season. If you are thinking of taking a break, take time to find the right kennel for your dog. You may decide to go for a home boarding situation. This is where your dog is looked after in someone's home. You may decide to have someone look after your pup in your home or you may decide that boarding kennels are the right fit for you.

Here's a few things to think about before you commit to a kennel:

You should be asked to go, with your dog, for a viewing. It's OK to ask questions - there is no such thing as a silly question. If you are made to feel rushed, maybe look for somewhere else. Be prepared to provide your dog's vaccination certificates as well as proof of kennel cough vax. When you go for your viewing, ask to see ALL the kennels, not just the "showroom" kennels.

If you have a very small dog, like a Chihuahua, Teacup Yorkie or a Dachshund, are they able to squeeze through or under the kennel doors? Would you be happy for your dog to be in a crate in a kitchen area? Also if you have a large breed, do they have plenty of room to lie down, turn round, is the bed area big enough, do you think they will have enough bedding?

Ask how many viewings are done each day, is there a separate area for boarding/daycare dogs to be exercised while viewings take place or do they have to stay in their rooms? Make sure your dog has the appropriate sized bowl for water - I've seen very small dogs given huge bowls of water they can't reach into, leaving them without access to water.

If the kennel offer a pick up/drop off service - ask if you can see the vehicle used for this. Are the crates secure? Who drives the vehicle, are they insured to drive it? What's the protocol if there is an accident?

This may sound like a silly thing to mention but when you are being given a tour, if there are empty kennels/rooms, are the water bowls full? There is no reason to have a full water bowl in an empty room, fresh water should be given when a dog is first shown to their room. Ask if the water & bedding changed between dogs/guests.

Daily Routine
Find out what the daily routine is, how many members of staff are there per shift? If daycare is offered, are those dogs looked after by the kennel staff? Ask if there are any other dogs that are looked after by the staff - maybe security dogs or family dogs, do the staff bring their dogs to work with them? If additional services are offered such as a "wash & blow dry" service, is this available to the general public as well as kennel "guests"?. If so, who does the washes, is it a member of the day staff or is there a separate person employed to do this?

Ask what the staff turnover is like, find out the average age of kennel staff, make sure there is always a first aider for the dogs on site.

Ask to see the feeding area, make sure it is clean, make sure there are separate fridges & freezers for dog food, make sure the staff don't keep their lunch alongside your pup's dinner! How is your dog's food stored, how do the staff know who gets what and how much? Is it decanted from the original packaging, if so, why?

Medication & Safety
If your dog needs regular medication and/or vitamins, where is this stored, how do staff know which dogs require meds, how is this recorded and who administers the medication?

If there is an accident or your dog falls ill, what is the protocol? Which vet do they use? Who pays for any treatment? If, dog forbid, your pup has an accident, insist on seeing the CCTV.

It's quite common for a dog to get an upset stomach on their first day at kennels. What do the staff do about this? Do you have to provide consent for your dog to be given anything for this - if so, make sure you find out what this is.

Ask how often your dog would be out of their room and how long for. Make sure dogs are always supervised while being exercised. Are there any low fences/hedges larger dogs could jump over or small dogs could scrabble under? If you think your dog would be better on a longline until they are comfortable with their surroundings, ask to look at them - make sure they are good quality and not just ordinary leads hooked/tied together. How far from the road is the exercise area? Ask what the procedure is if your dog were to escape.

Other Duties
Most kennels will have a secure entry system - who is responsible for letting people in & out? Do the kennel staff deal with telephone enquiries and bookings, if so, what happens if there is only 1 member of staff on duty, are the dogs left unsupervised while they deal with enquiries?

Dogs generate a LOT of laundry, especially in the winter when it's wet out. Is there someone employed to do this or do the kennel staff take care of it? Again, this may seem like an obvious thing to ask but find out if the dogs are towel dried after their exercise if it's raining? Some places don't bother with this, leaving dogs to go back to their rooms wet which in turn means their bedding is wet.

Do The Maths
For example, if the working day is 9 hours, there will be morning clean out & breakfast for the first hour, same again for dinner at the end of the day. If there are 3 viewings a day, most places allow an hour for each viewing. If visitors have to pass through the exercise area for their viewing this means the guest dogs have to be put in their rooms. Most kennels will have their "new client forms" online for you to complete but some still use hard copy forms that you have to fill out onsite. That leaves 4 hours for dogs to be exercised - that's not a lot of "out of kennel" time. Also, if kennel staff are charged with carrying out the "wash & blow dry" service, this also reduces any out of kennel time.

Look Beyond The Scenery
The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" works both ways, if it's beautiful on the outside, make sure it's beautiful on the inside too! If your dog spends 22 hours a day in a kennel, does it really matter how beautiful it is outside?

Ask around on social media, don't just look at the reviews on their own page - anyone can write those. Don't be afraid to ask people to DM you if they have had a bad experience. Your dog is family, don't take any chances with their care.

We have a very American idea of what daycare for dogs consists of and the Americans have nailed it, their daycare centres are basically nurseries for those with four paws. In the UK it can be very different with dogs being kenneled for most of the day with maybe 2 short walks/playtimes.

If you are not sure, then don't do it.