There are a wide range of different types of facilities that can be advertised as boarding kennels. As a dog owner it is important to do some research on the facility you are using but also to know what to ask for or look for during your research. Depending on where you live there may be several different options for kenneling your dog while you are away. Knowing what you are agreeing to in keeping your dog at a kennel will allow you to enjoy your vacation or trip without worrying about your pet while you are away.
Indoor kennels are exactly what you are probably imagining right now. They are fully contained within a building that is typically heated and air conditioned. However, dog owners need to ask specifically about the air conditioning issue if they are boarding their dogs over hot summer months. Many buildings are not fully air conditioned with the grooming and office areas nice and cool but the kennel sections simply ventilated with fans. The use of large, industrial types of fans that are used in horse barns and dairy barns may be what the kennels owners are calling "climate controlled". If your dog is used to being outdoors or is short coated breed that doesn't have problems with heat sensitivity this may not be an issue. Owners of short muzzled dogs, dogs with heavy double coats or dogs with any type of respiratory or metabolic conditions or concerns should not keep their dog in these types of facilities in the hot summer months.
Indoor kennels also may be a problem since the dogs are going to be confined to their kennel area for most of the day except during specific exercise times. Indoor kennels that offer large exercise spaces as part of your dog's individual kennel area may be fine, especially for toy to medium sized dogs, but this may not provide enough exercise space for larger dogs or very active pets. To compensate for this many indoor kennels offer several dog walks a day on a leash or they may have a play area or play room within the kennel facility for dogs to access in small groups. If your dog is socialized and non-aggressive this is a great option to keep them physically and mentally active while you are away. Aggressive dogs or dogs that are not well socialized may simply not get the exercise room or space they need.
In a great many places in the United States outdoor kennels are by far the most common. These kennels typically have a barn or shed area for the dogs along with an individual run. Typically these kennels are not heated or cooled except by the natural weather, which makes them much less costly to operate but also less than idea for some types of dogs. Dogs that are used to being outdoors will do very well in these kennels since they are used to the seasonal variations normal in your climate.
One drawback to outdoor kennels is that they tend to provide less human interaction. Dogs see people two or three times a day to clean the kennel area and provide fresh food and water. Since the dogs have access to an outdoor run or exercise space they are typically not exercised either individually or in a group. They will be able to socialize, at least through the fence of the kennel, with the dogs on either side but that is the extent of their interaction.
Dogs that are highly social and used to lots of human contact and interaction may become stressed in these more isolated types of kennels. If you are planning on leaving your dog for longer periods of time you may want to make arrangements for additional walks or play time with staff to help the dog adjust to the kennel and have a positive experience.
House dogs that are not used to being outdoors at night or spending long periods of time outside may also be very stressed with an outdoor kennel. It is important to take into consideration how easily your dog makes adjusts and weigh that against any cost savings you may see with these types of kennels.
Combination kennels really provide the best of both the indoor kennel options as well as the outdoor runs. Typically in these facilities the dogs are housed within a building that is heated or air conditioned but are also provided free access to outside runs and exercise areas. These runs are individual and connect to the building through doggy doors that allow the dog to move at will between the indoor and outdoor part of their individual unit.
Often combination kennels offer the option of an outdoor or indoor play or group socialization area as well as the individual runs. For dogs that are used to spending some time indoors and some outdoors they are the closest thing to being at home that most kennels can provide. Even if dogs are not used to doggy doors they will quickly get the hang of pushing open the flap to gain access to the inside or the outside. Most of these combination kennels do close the doors and lock them during the evening as well as during bad weather.
No matter what type of kennel you choose plan to visit the kennel well in advance of leaving your dog at the facility. Ask to see the kennel area as well as the group play area of open exercise space. Look for signs of poor maintenance, dirty kennels or yard conditions or signs that dogs currently in the kennel appear stressed or highly nervous.
Make sure that you look closely at how water is supplied to each kennel. Avoid any boarding kennel that circulates water between kennel areas or allows more than one kennel to access the same water source. Water contamination is a big problem with spreading disease, especially with kenneled dogs that are already stressed.