The holiday season is here and it’s inevitable that at some point you are going to have to part with your pooch for an overnight (or a few). We know…the thought is horrifying and the guilt is unfathomable. As I always say to the dogs, “parting is such sweet sorrow”. ‘Cause ya know, it’s totally normal to quote Shakespeare to dogs.
If we’re being honest, the boarding process is stressful. It’s hard to simultaneously plan your vacation as well as your dogs and the guilt of leaving them can affect the joy of your pending vacation.
So, how do you make the process easier on you and your dog and most importantly, how do you know which boarding facility is best for your dog? It’s simple…you ask.
You know your dog better than anyone and knowing the right questions to ask can lead you to finding the perfect spot for your dog to stay while your away. Not every facility is one size fits all, so here’s a few questions to ask to and things to do to find the right fit or your dog:
- What are the overnight accommodations? Many dogs have earned their way out of the “cage” phase of their lives and some dogs have extreme anxiety about being in confined spaces like cages. Asking what the accommodation situation is will guarantee you’re putting your dog in an environment they can adapt to and be comfortable with. Your dog should have his own place to eat and sleep and to get some “down time”.
- How much play time is offered? If you hate the thought of your dog being in a small cage all day, only being let out for brief bathroom breaks and walks, then a veterinary office probably isn’t the best fit for your dog. Most dogs tend to be nervous when they’re away from home, so having an appropriate amount of mental and physical stimulation will give them necessary balance.
- Can you accommodate special needs and dietary restrictions? You chose your dogs food brand for a reason, because it’s right for your dog. If a boarding facility won’t allow you to provide your dogs own food you could be risking them not eating, or getting diarrhea from the sudden change in diet. If your dog eats raw and a facility has no fridge…it’s not a good fit. Different breeds and dogs have special needs, some need more limited play time, others need medication, etc. Be very clear about your dogs special needs up front and be sure the facility can legitimately accommodate your dogs special needs and aren’t trying to pacify you.
- Ask around-Dog people are normally friends with other dog people, so consult your people. Ask your veterinarian, your friends, do an online search, read reviews, peruse their social media sites, and then give the facility a call and ask all the burning questions you have.
- Check it out-go to the facility prior and check it out. Most boarding facilities require some sort of pre-requisite “interview” for the dog before overnight stays can be made, so leave yourself (and your dog) enough time for that process. Don’t be shy when you’re touring the facility, ask the questions you have and be sure you’re comfortable with the answers before you walk out the door.
- Meet the people-Ultimately it’s the staff who’s caring for your dog so it’s important that they care ABOUT your dog. As a dog person, it should be pretty evident if the people caring for your dogs are putting on a show, or if they really love them.
- Set realistic expectations-Not every dog is comfortable in a “boarding” environment on their first day, in fact…few rarely are. There are a lot of sounds and smells and the first few visits are sensory overload. You have to realize that your dog may be an observer on their first day and might be a wallflower and that’s perfectly acceptable. Think of how you felt your first day of school, or even worse…your first day of Junior High, when you had to find a place at a lunch table. That’s how your dog feels…times 5 million sensory receptors.
- Learn from the staff-Yours isn’t the first dog the staff has come in contact with, and as you can imagine they’ve probably seen just about every scenario you can imagine (and then some) so if they have suggestions and input on how to make your dog more comfortable during their daycare and/or overnight boarding stay take them into consideration. Likewise, if you have questions you think no one else has asked…don’t be embarrassed to ask, we love to learn from you and learn about how to better care for your dogs!
Holiday boarding is booking up fast! If you haven’t made your reservation for a FREE day of play and a holiday stay, contact us today! 586-445-9663