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Finding the Right Dog Boarding (and How To Choose the Right One)

Finding the Right Dog Boarding  (and How To Choose the Right One)

With the holidays fast-approaching, it’s typically a time for lots of traveling as people visit family and friends throughout the globe. Although you might bring Fido along with you on your vacation, sometimes, your canine companion has to stay behind. If this is the case, you might feel a little stressed about how your pup will fare while you’re away. 

One of the most significant decisions you’ll make regarding your dog when it comes to this type of situation is where your pup will stay. If you have a trusted family or friend willing to dog sit, then that's likely your go-to solution. However, sometimes finding a boarding facility is necessary, and you might feel a little overwhelmed by all of the options. 

How Do You Find a Dog Boarding Facility?

You have a few options when it comes to finding a boarding facility for your pup. One of the best ways is to get referrals from trusted friends or family members. You can also ask your vet for a recommendation, as well as local animal shelters, dog trainers, and groomers. These different professionals likely have lots of first-hand knowledge of various shelters in the area and will know which ones are top-rated and which ones are best to avoid. 

If you need to find a facility solo, you can check local listings and Google and other online sources like Yelp. Once you find a few potential places, it’s vital that you do a thorough check before booking your dog for a stay. 

Verify that the kennel you consider meets all necessary certifications, is licensed, and you can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the kennel has any outstanding complaints. Check out reviews online as well, and get your vet’s opinion of any boarding places you’re leaning toward. 

You can also check to see if the kennel is a member of the American Boarding Kennels Association. Although this accreditation is optional, it can be a big plus when you’re searching for a high-quality facility, and it can give you the peace of mind that the facility has met all requirements and meets a key code of ethics for kennels.  

two dogs playing in a field

Choosing the Right Dog Boarding Facility

Once you find some potential options of where to board your dog, you need to narrow down your list and choose the best one for your pet. To save time, call your top three choices first and verify that the dates you need your dog to stay are available. If the kennel is full for those dates, then you might as well move on to the next one on your list. If your dog has special needs or there any extenuating circumstances, you should ask if the facility can accommodate your pet’s unique situation. If they are unable to do so, then once again, move on to the next option. 

After you’ve verified the availability and workability of your top choices, then it’s time to do some deeper investigating to make your final decision. This investigation should consist of a tour of the facilities, meeting some of the staff, and asking any questions that you have about their operations. 

What Should You Look for in a Dog Boarding Facility?

Before you book Fido for an extended stay, take a tour of the kennel. Check out the environment’s cleanliness and how well it is maintained and disinfected to ensure the animals’ absolute health and safety. Also, look for signs of ample opportunities for dog socialization, exercise, and playtime activities. Many facilities have great outdoor areas for dogs to romp and play together, and some even have impressive pools for pups that want to do a little swimming. However, it is also crucial that if you witness dogs in a group setting, there are staff supervising at all times. 

Here are a few questions you should ask when you’re checking out a boarding facility for your dog:

  • What is the daily routine for the dogs in the kennel?
  • How does the staff handle overnight care?
  • Does the staff have a regular cleaning regimen that they follow?
  • Are the staff members trained to handle large groups of dogs participating in group play?
  • What types of training or certification, if any, are staff required to have to work at the facility?
  • Is someone always present at the kennel? (There should be staff present 24 hours a day).
  • If your pup has any special health conditions, ask if there is someone on staff trained to administer medication. If so, ask to meet the person.
  • What is the kennel’s policy on handling medical emergencies?
  • What vet or emergency clinic does the kennel use?
  • Does the kennel have any type of surveillance that allows you to view your pet? (Many facilities have webcams set up in kennels and rooms so you can watch your dog from wherever you are).
  • How do the staff keep track of your dog’s special needs or conditions like medical problems or allergies?
  • Does the staff have any special way they deal with dogs with separation anxiety?

Dog Boarding Red Flags

When you take a tour of a boarding facility, it’s always good to know what to look for. Even more critical is to understand what you should NOT see when visiting a kennel. During your tour, keep an eye out for these red flags:

  • The person giving you a tour rushes you through. This could be a sign that the staff is over-extended and won’t have the proper amount of time to give your dog the attention she should get. 
  • If the kennel has deferred maintenance or an unclean appearance, this could signal several potential issues. 
  • There is no evidence of any places where dogs can play together or engage in appropriate exercise. 
  • The outdoor area is overgrown.
  • The staff can’t answer all of your questions thoroughly.

Average Costs of Boarding Your Dog

The cost to board your dog can vary widely from place to place and in different areas of the country. However, the average nightly fee is $40. If you’re boarding your pup for an extended period of time, weekly and monthly rates might be available. An average weekly rate is roughly $150, while an average monthly rate is $500. Many boarding facilities offer 10 to 20 percent discounts if you board multiple dogs, especially if your pups can share a room or crate. 

If you opt for any extras, like grooming, additional playtime, special considerations like administering medicine, and other features, then the nightly cost will go up accordingly, or the kennel might add on an extra flat-fee.

two dogs playing with a stick

Pros and Cons of Dog Boarding

As with anything, boarding your pup has some pros and cons.


  • Your pup doesn’t have to get stressed out by a long road trip or flying in an airplane (and you won’t be stressed out either).
  • While you enjoy your vacation, you can relax knowing your pup is in an environment where he is safe and sound.
  • There is a staff knowledgeable about pets watching your dog, so if anything is amiss, it can be handled quickly and efficiently. 
  • Your pup will have more attention than if you leave him home alone and simply have someone stop in periodically to check on him. 


  • Depending on your pup’s personality, being in an unfamiliar environment, and away from you might stress him out. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a con of a kennel specifically, but more so of any unfamiliar territory where your dog stays.
  • Your pup will be around quite a few other pets, and although animals typically have to be vaccinated to stay in a shelter, it does expose your pup to potential health conditions and parasites.
  • The cost could be high depending on where you go; boarding can get pretty costly compared to other pet sitting options.

When you find the facility that feels like the perfect fit, schedule a few doggy daycare sessions before your dog's more extended stay. This way, you not only get a better feel for the facility, but your pup can get used to it as well. When you send your pup for his vacation, ask if you can send a special toy, like a Rolly Canolli, to help him with the transition. Some kennels might let you send your pup’s food or water bowl, too, as these little personal touches can help your dog feel more comfortable.

For more great tips on how to take care of your four-legged pal, check out the rest of our blog! You’ll find all sorts of fun advice and information to help you learn more about your best friend.

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