French Mastiff Kennel

Need to go out of town? A boarding kennel can give your dog quality care—and can give you peace of mind. Before loading Fido or Fluffy into the car and driving over to the nearest kennel, though, it's important to find the right kennel and prepare your dog for boarding.

leather dog collar for French mastiff

What are the pros and cons of using a boarding kennel?

Your dog depends on you to take good care of her—even when you have to be out of town. Friends and neighbors may not have the experience or time to properly look after your dog , particularly for longer trips. So next time you have to leave your pet behind for a while, leave dog care to the professionals, such as a pet sitter or boarding kennel.

A facility specializing in care and overnight boarding allows your pet to:

  • avoid the stress of a long car or airplane ride to your destination.
  • stay where he's welcome (unlike many hotels).
  • receive more attention and supervision than he would if home alone most of the day.
  • be monitored by staff trained to spot health problems.
  • be secure in a kennel designed to foil canine and feline escape artists.

How do I find a good kennel?

Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow Pages under "Kennels & Dog Boarding." Once you have names—even ones you got from reliable sources—it's important to do a little background check.

First, find out whether your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards.

Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to the American Boarding Kennels Association (719-667-1600), a trade association founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of dog care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, ABKA offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets ABKA standards of professionalism, safety, and quality of care.

Check, too, with your Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are considering.

After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your dog for specific dates and can address your dog's special needs (if any). If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.

What should I look for?

On your visit, ask to see all the places your dog may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
  • Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
  • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
  • Are dogs required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
  • Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
  • Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
  • Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
  • Are cats housed away from dogs?
  • Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
  • Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
  • How often are dogs fed?
  • Can the owner bring a pet's special food?
  • What veterinary services are available?
  • Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
  • How are rates calculated?

How do I prepare my dog ?

Be sure your dog knows basic commands and is well socialized around other people and pets; if your dog has an aggression problem or is otherwise unruly, she may not be a good candidate for boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current on vaccinations.

It's also a good idea to accustom your dog to longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding your dog for an extended period.

Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your dog's medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup.

When you arrive with your dog at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your dog has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your dog to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your dog . Finally, have a good trip, knowing that your dog is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return.