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Tails of Seattle: A pets blog

Your local source for news and tips about dogs, cats and other critters, featuring fun videos, reader photos, Q&As and more.

May 3, 2012 at 6:00 AM

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Trainer Q&A: Selecting a boarding kennel

Joangetty.jpgWoodinville dog trainer Joan Fetty answers this week's question.

Question: A couple needs to kennel their dog for the first time for a weekend while they are out of town. How does an owner shop for a boarding kennel? What questions should they ask? What things should they be aware of when examining the facility and talking with the operators? What kind of checklist should they craft?

Answer: Many dog owners struggle to figure out what to do with their dogs when they go on vacation and must leave their pet behind.

First, start planning early because many boarding facilities book months in advance.

Begin by talking to friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, dog groomers, veterinarians, dog-training schools and dog-equipment stores for ideas and references.

Consider the age of your dog: puppies and elderly dogs often do not do well in large boarding facilities, so you might have to consider other options, such as hiring someone to stay in your home with your dog.

Talk with your breeder; some breeders will take in their puppies while you are gone. And many veterinary assistants will care for client dogs in the home.

There are also experienced small home-boarding kennels that take just a few dogs.
Explore all your options.

Remember dogs stress in new places, especially when left alone.

Make a list of what is important to you and for your dog:

-- Are the kennels clean and do they smell fresh?

-- Will my dog have adequate supervised time alone with kennel help?

-- Will the kennel meet my requirements for feeding?

-- Can I be assured my dog will not be boarded in the same run with a strange dog?

-- How and where will my dog sleep?

-- Is there strong and ample fencing?

-- Is there any indication -- or even hint -- that my dog will not be safe?

-- How are boarded dogs combined for playtime? How much supervision will they have?

-- How long are dogs caged when alone?

-- Is there someone at the kennel 24-7?

-- What proof of shots and other health/vet screenings will be required of all boarded dogs?

-- Which vet or emergency vet do they use when needed?

-- Do their references check out? (Always ask for references.)

-- If I choose a large kennel, I should plan to drop in unannounced and ask to visit.

Consider the size of the kennel: large, overbooked, popular facilities can be more stressful; places with lots to do may be more than your dog can handle.

Remember, you can always phone and check on your dog when you are away.

Joan Fetty

Joan Fetty founded Positive Dog Training in 1986 in Woodinville. Fetty has been involved in various aspects of dog training and competition for more than 30 years. She and her dogs hold titles in the United States and Canada in hunting retriever events, tracking trials, obedience and rally and herding. She is a certified National Association of Canine Scent Work instructor.

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Do you have a question about pet behavior? Ask now! We'll pose some of your questions to a local trainer in an upcoming post.

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