We need to board our 7 month old pup Maisy for the first time at Christmas for about 2 weeks (unfortunate, our entire family is a plane ride away and I don't want to fly her in cargo, so must do). What's everyone's advice about what to look for in a boarding situation? Specifically, what about "cage-free" (where dogs socialize together all day in a "home-like" setting) versus more traditional kennel/runs (where each dog has it's own indoor/outdoor kennel space, approx 5x20 feet, where they spend all day except for 1-2 half-hour walks or group play times? The cage-free seems more social and fun, but could also be stressful having to negotiate all the play/hierarchy all day and night. Maisy is used to 4-5 hrs or naps/quest time in crate at home, and also sleeps at night in crate. She's also well-socialized and loves to play with other dogs, we spend a lot of time in dog parks. Not sure which setting would be most comfortable for her. Re food: some kennels I've spoken with provide food, but I'm assuming it's definitely better to send my own food tat she's used to (it's already an unfamiliar situation, why complicate it?). We live in NYC and are considering boarding in Westchester or Fairfield County, CT if anyone knows of specific kennels to recommend. Other things to consider? Thanks for your advice!! Katherine
We have only had to board HK twice and only for one or two nights. I am not familiar with the NYC area for this topic. Most of the Camp Bow Wows, have large open play areas where they group dogs by size or personality. They also have anap time in the morning and afternoon when each dog goes to its kennel for nap. (I wouldn't call it a nap, because there are always a couple dogs keeping everyone awake.)
Taking your own food, portioned out in meal sized bags is a great idea. Take a favorite mat and a couple toys also.(They stay in the dogs kennel.)
Okay, all that said. I pressure all friends and family before doing this. We used to have a neighbor with a teenager. The kid loved animals, and HK got to stay home. She was fed, taken out for her bathroom needs, and palyed with when she got home from school and again in the evening. Hey! The house got checked too!
Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.
Check out each kennel you are considering and let your nose be your first tguide. A well maintained kennel should be esentially odor free.
I always provide my own food because an abrupt change in diet can really upset their GI tact.
Make sure your bordetella booster and all other shots are up to date. You will probably be asked for the records.
Duke and Freckles at their country home
Yup, I agree with the posters above.
I'm hoping some people from the area chime in here, they might have suggestions.
I would call and get info about pricing, sizes of the cages, etc. And then I would go visit - but don't tell them you're coming. Go and see where the dog would be staying, how clean it is, etc.
Definitely bring your own food, toys, etc. I would maybe suggest against a dog bed just because I've seen so many dog beds ruined in kennels because the dog pees/poops on it or spills their water/food. Maybe some blankets/towels that you don't mind getting yucky.
What are their dog-staff ratio?
What are their policies if a dog gets hurt?
How many dogs in a group together?
Are the dogs separated into groups with similar size/temperament?
Do the dogs have to pass a temperament test?
How much attention do the dogs get on days they are closed, such as xmas?
How are the dogs disciplined, if necessary?
Can you bring your own food and toys and treats?
Can you call to check on your dog? (When boarding, we always call at least once a day.)
Do they have web cams?
Can you go see where your dog will be playing/sleeping?
Be warned to check on kennels that say they have a "play yard" and play time. There is one by me whose "day care" and "play yard" was BS.
The "yard" was about a 10x10 kennel. WOW what fun. They were charging you extra for it! The dogs were kenneled most of the time.
Now days I think you can find quality cage free or semi cage free home boarding. Ask around.
I board dogs here from time to time. Dogs are rarely crated unless I am working. I charge the same (actually less) as the boarding kennel where dogs are left alone at night.
The other doggie day care in the area simply just throws your dogs out in a huge yard. Unsupervised, no one plays with them or entertains them.
I've kenneled Puff several times during her first three years when I've flown back East to visit family for a week at a time. The last 5 years, I've driven and taken her with me.
The kennel I use and favor is owned by a breeder who shows her many championship Boxers (Holly Lane). Her dogs stay there and unused facilities are available for boarding dogs like mine. It's air conditioned and heated as needed.
The facility has a central office and work areas. On each side are 2 similar wings; each has a central walkway and on either side of each walkway are 10 kennel and each kennel has its own outside run.
Each individual "kennel" space is inside the building, about 4'x8' (1.2x2.4 m) with a concrete floor, and has a door that slides up & down and opens to a concrete run about 4' x 40' (1.2x12.2 m). Chainlink fencing separates one run from another and also is the material for its ceiling. The doors are raised 4X/day so the dogs have access to their run and can see each other and so their kennel area can be cleaned as needed, fresh water refilled, etc.
I've always measured out Puff's food for each meal (2X/day), put each meal in a Ziplock bag, and provide several extra days just in case I'm detained. They always get my cell phone # and the # of the vet service we use.
I take Puff's bed (a large plastic tray) and put several of my well-used Tee shirts, drawers, and socks inside the pillowcase that holds the pillow that serves as her mattress. This keeps my scent with her. Also, she has a stuffed Teddy bear she loves and that goes, too. (She's never tried to destuff it.)
When you do decide on a place, since this is a first time boarding, I strongly suggest you board her there once or twice for a day or overnight so she experiences that you will return. I'll give my reasons below.
My 1st Lab, Bess, was about 2 years old and had never been separated from us when my wife and I left her for 10-14 days at another kennel. When we returned, she wanted nothing to do with us (extremely unusual, she was always very affectionate) and acted as if she didn't know us or want to know us or be around us and seemed almost psychotic. Finally, after about 3-4 days, I made her come outside with me and threw her training dummies for her to fetch.
That broke her distancing spell.
(Bess was a glutton for food but an even greater glutton for retrieving.)
Bess returned to being her normal, affectionate self.
In later years, my duties changed from working with patients and interns at the hospital to overseeing state mental health centers and hospitals so I was frequently out of town. Sometimes I could take Bess with me, sometimes she stayed at Holly Lane.
After that first terrible experience for both Bess and us, she never had that reaction again.
But it did have a helpful side. In my later therapy practice, I've had at least 4-5 patients describe somewhat similar reactions they had to long separations from their parents when they were in the pre-school age range. That experience helped me understand them (and helped me to help them understand their reactions).
When Puff was separated from me (30 hrs.) for a first time after being spayed, she showed a brief similar reaction -- friendly with other people, distant to me for about 40 minutes before she warmed up and became affectionate. I was wondering if she'd have some reaction. She did but it was minor.
Last edited by Bob Pr.; 10-31-2009 at 12:55 AM. Reason: add description of Puff's reaction; make some corrections
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Very helpful feedback everyone, thank you! Katherine
I would do a test run where you choose to go, as you will be gone for two weeks (which is long) - do a test run a month before.
Also look at booking soon, the better places often book far ahead for popular times like the holidays.
For any "at home" facility, GO SEE it, and ask LOTS of questions:
- The people in charge of the dogs, what experience do they have (with dogs, different types of dogs)
- about the max number of dogs they take at once, and staff on hand
- what type of exercise and where/how (do they exercise the dogs or except them to play together.
- how they temperment test the dogs before accepting them
We once looked at at home (in home settings). One said they went for off leash walks with the dogs in an unfenced area, and as dogs were "pack animals" they never lost one. Um..NO THANKS. We finally used another at home dog sitter. It was abit of a disaster. She was clearly only used to "easy" dogs and was at a lost on how to deal with our dog (who was a good dog but was abit uneasy in the new enviroment). He distroyed a few crates and was in the top rafters of the kennel outdoors (which had a roof).
For kennels, go visit. Ask what the daily routine is. It usually ends up costing alot because everything is extra. I paid for extra walks and some one o one time (asking they either pet him or play fetch).
And again, I know it sucks, but I really really really recommend at least an overnight or two before you leave for two weeks.
Ask around town as well, ask anyone you know or meet that has dogs, if they kennel and where.
Last edited by Tanya; 10-31-2009 at 12:29 PM.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
I agree with having her do an overnight or two before you go away so she is at least familiar with the place. I am in the same position...possibly having to board Guthrie again. Ugh. I dread it so much it makes me feel sick. And the kennel I used last year is all booked up.