There are several really good reasons to board your dog for the holidays, although most dog owners would rather be able to have their pooch with them over the festive season. Boarding is most often done when the owners are traveling to visit other family or to just get away and they aren't able to take their dog with them. Boarding in this case is really the only option, unless you are lucky enough to have a very reliable friend or have made arrangements with a professional pet sitter.
Boarding can also be a very good option if you have a lot of company coming to visit your home. People with dog allergies can be a problem, but with the option to board your dog this can also be managed for the short time they are visiting. Often dogs become very stressed with new and strange people constantly in their environment and this can lead to potential problems for the owner as well as the dog. The most common issue that occurs over the holidays between dogs and visitors is dog bites. Usually this involves children, and typically kids that are not familiar with being around dogs.
Children that aren't used to dogs, more specifically to dogs that are not kid friendly, are often the root cause of any dog bite issues that occur. The dog generally will signal to the children that he or she has had enough. Most dogs will try to move away from the kids, may run and hide or may even growl at the children to signal they are through playing. Children don't understand this message and instead continue to try to play with the dog, which only escalates the dog's behavior to more aggressive tactics.
Another concern with having dogs in the home when there are a lot of visitors includes the increased risk of the dog managing to sneak out a door or get out of a yard when the gate is left open. Again it is a combination of a lot of changes in the dog's environment combined by new people and individuals that don’t typically have to keep track of a dog. This can lead to a Christmas Eve spend looking for a dog rather than enjoying your company.
If you are planning on boarding a dog over some or all of the holiday season it is essential to book your kennel spot early. Many kennels, especially the ones that are well established, will have repeat clientele that routinely bring their dogs in over the holidays. This means that the kennel may have very limited room for new dogs and new clients during this busy time of year.
Always make a point of doing some research about the kennel you are considering. Your vet, groomer or even your neighbors and friends may be able to give you references for a boarding kennel in your area. Some vets also have boarding services through their offices, which ensures that your dog will be cared for by someone you already know and can trust.
Even in cases where you are using a kennel from a referral or a person you know, take the time to actually go and see the kennel before making the decision if it is right for your dog or dogs. Ask about exercise, feeding and watering schedules and also about any other special requests you may have regarding the care of your dog.
Many kennels provide indoor exercise space as well as outdoor exercise space that can be both individual or a small group play type program. Depending on how socialized your dog is either option can work very well. If you have more than one dog some kennels will allow you to combine both pets into one larger kennel while other boarding facilities won't.
Check to make sure that the kennel appears to be clean, well ventilated and in good repair. Look at the kennels themselves and check for signs of rust, damage or poorly constructed walls or floors that may pose a hazard to a dog. You should also ask about food, are you required to bring your own or does the boarding kennel stock your particular brand?
Be prepared to provide information to the kennel as well as sign several liability waivers and other documents as required by the kennel. Typically these will also include a form that allows the kennel staff to act in emergency situations to obtain veterinary help for the dog. All kennels should be able to tell you who they use as an emergency vet and this should be a 24 hour number. If you have a dog with special health concerns or that requires medication you do need to let the staff know before bringing the dog.
Some boarding kennels will not keep dogs under specific conditions. These conditions may include pregnant or nursing females and their litters, dogs that have significant medical issues or dogs that are deemed as an aggressive or vicious breed. This vicious or aggressive breed issue is determined by the kennel and may include breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Akitas or other dogs that are identified by the kennel. In some kennels each dog is assessed by the staff and they may take dogs of all different breeds provided they are well socialized and well behaved.
Always provide the kennel with a phone number where you can be reached while you are out of town or have company. You will be able to stop and visit your dog if you are kenneling him or her because of company, and this can be a great way to let your dog know he or she has not been left behind. Most dogs adjust well to being in a well staffed, professionally managed kennel. The next time your dog will be much calmer and more relaxed about being kenneled, plus you will have peace of mind that you have found a great place for your dog to be when you can't be there.