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Advice on boarding your dog for the first time!

20754 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Spook82
We will be going on vacation in May for 4 days so we are looking to find someone to watch our 10 month old puppy. This will be the first time that we'll have strangers taking care of our baby so I'm a bit nervous. What things should I ask or look out for when researching for places to board him? Our vet's office also does boarding, but I'm wondering if it's better to find a place that specialized in providing daycare/boarding services.

If anyone lives in the NYC area can give some good recommendations on places you have used in the past, that would be great too!

Thank you!! :wave:
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The last time Esther was professionally boarded, we took her to the doggy daycare that she'd been attending regularly for some time. That way, she could run all day with the big dogs and sleep very well at night. They even let her share a kennel at night with my daughter's miniature schnauzer, who was being boarded at the same time, so he wouldn't get lonesome.

Since then, our solution has been to just not ever go anywhere but, if the need arose, I'd use the day-care again.
Second the doggy daycare. We've boarded Biscuit at ours a couple of times; they have cage-free boarding at night. They just lay out a bunch of blankets and turn off the lights, I think. This wouldn't work for all dogs, but Biscuit is a social beast and loves it.

Do you have a dog walker? If you do, you could see if they'll put your pup up for a few days. That way your dog would be with someone they already know and (presumably) trust. I think an arrangement like this would be better than daycare for periods of time longer than a couple of days. I think it's good for dogs to have human contact.
I would look for a kennel that has an 'open' concept as well, but one that does separate the dogs at night or as needed. Reason being is many dogs do need that downtime where they're not having to worry about other dogs, unless they are very social, and you should also ask who watches the dogs at different times and so on. I applied to work nights as a cleaner at a cage free kennel and it was cleaning around the dogs as they slept, including vacuuming and other type things, for several hours during the night. I didn't want to know how that would go over with 20 loose dogs if some weren't thrilled about the noise and others decided to kill the vacuum. The same place bragged about not having any crates etc. in the building but I know not all dogs are social and some get testy so that was kind of scary.

If you go with a non kennel, as in your dog stays at someone's house, ask how they manage the extra dogs and so on. Whenever I have an extra dog, they do not go loose in the house unless I know nobody is coming, they don't go in the dog run till I know they're comfortable, and if they don't like to come to me for a treat, they don't go off leash even in the dog run. In our area we seem to have 3-4 'lost' foster dogs every month from different rescues where they slipped out the door or slipped the collar and are lost. Just be sure whoever is looking after your baby knows what they're doing!
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I worked at a vet clinic in highschool that offered boarding. Obviously I can only speak for the specific clinic, but I wouldn't recommend it. Dogs would get out twice a day for a 5-10 minute trip out back to eliminate, and then it was back in the run/cage.

I have to leave town for my brother's wedding in July, and I'm trying to get a trusted friend to take my puppy in for the two days.
We've researched around and we liked the idea of the "cageless" boarding, but like you said, I'm iffy about him being out with the other dogs at night. I think the other dogs would be too much of a distraction for him when he should be going to bed lol. I wonder if they can leave him out to socialize and play with the other dogs and be kept at the kennel at night and away from the other dogs.

We don't use dog walkers and we actually had a coworker that volunteered to watch the dog for us, but they've never had dogs before so I'm worried that they might not know how to handle him since he is still young and can be very mischievous sometimes!
I personally wouldn't go for the "cageless" boarding facility, even if they separate at night unless they can promise you there is someone watching the whole time (I would drop in during the day to check on that claim!). Just from going to doggy social I've seen how fast things can go poorly, and can only imagine how it would have gone if no one was there to separate at that very moment. But that might be me being a little paranoid.

One thing I would recommend either way is perhaps doing a doggy daycare at the same place as you plan to board (assuming they offer that) and let her stay a night once or twice before vacation. You pup might get a little familiar with the staff that way and have the valuable experience of spending a night without you instead of the first time being for over a week!
I agree with the daycare/boarding, that what I work at, its less stresful for the dogs as they get there own places for down time and sleeping..and frankly I dont think its safe to leave a bunch of dogs loose together at night. the daycare/boarding is less stressfull because they are not locked in a cage all day, dog that resist going in the kennel runs at first, usually bolt into their runs on there own in about a day, because their run = relax, instead of the run = "OMG Im locked in a cage with scary noises all around", even if not social the dogs still get yard time and social interaction with us, it REALLY helps relieve the stress.

I dont reccomend vet boarding..I have seen enough cases of dogs hurting themsleves from the stress of being locked in a run most of the day..I have seen it because the vet boarders in my area transfer those dogs to our kennel before they hurt themselves anymore.
I agree with the vet boarding. Where do you think all the sick ones go to? The vets alongside your healthy dog. Exception if the vet clinic has two different buildings. If boarding at a facility is somewhere there at night? Ask fellow dog owners where they take their dog. Ask your vet and their staff. Visit the place prior to going out of town. It might seem like a good idea to have a friend come over and watch your dog, but be careful. Make sure that person will care enough of your pet if the dog escapes. Also, don't forget to check with the Better Business Bureau. Good luck! Sometimes it is so much easier just to stay home.
I will add...at our cage-free daycare/boarding, which doesn't crate the dogs at night, they are staffed 24/7, there is always at least one person in there with the dogs. More than one person if it's a busy night. We left Biscuit there for several hours the day probably 10 times before we left her overnight.

I do think a place that had crating overnight would be better for some dogs. When Biscuit gets older, we might rethink this over time. And as I said, I wouldn't leave Biscuit there for more than a couple of days. I think that would be too much stress.
I think one of the best things to do is to go personally look at the area where your dog will spend the majority of time while you're away. I went to one 'pet hotel' only to find out that the dogs were stored in small 2ft cubed black wire cages, stacked three high and about 10 or so long. All the dogs were barking and I could tell a few were very upset or nervous/scared. I had such a bad feeling when I was in that room that I cancelled their stay.

I now take them to a vet clinic boarder where they stay in what is called in/out rooms. It is similar to the local shelter where they have an inside and an outside area with a small door flap that they can use when they want to go outside. The area is probably 15 sq ft or so in total, so they have more freedom of movement. They only get one hour a day of playtime, where they can interact with the care handlers and/or other dogs, but it is better than being locked up constantly (except for bathroom breaks).
I've had to board my 11 month old GSD twice and I chose the daycare/boarding facility she goes to occasionally. She plays all day with the dogs but at night they are in a kennel. I wouldn't be a fan of the cageless boarding, I'd be too worried about a scuffle or my dog not being able to rest easy. She loves other dogs, but I think she wants to sleep alone.
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