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What Do I Need To Know Before I Board My Dog?

Written by: Paige Towers

January 3, 2019

Boarding your dog while you’re out of town can be emotionally difficult. You may wonder, is my pup safe and happy? Will they wonder where I am? The good news is that once you find a reputable boarding facility or home, trips away may turn into a mini-vacation for your dog as well. But before booking that plane ticket, it’s vital to do some research about where you can board your dog, how much boarding costs, safety and reputation, and other issues. Whether your pooch acts like a lunatic or is more of a chill dog, there’s an option somewhere out there for you.

On that note, here are several factors to consider before boarding your dog:

Where Can I Board My Dog?

White Husky

Depending on where you live, there may be several options for where your dog can stay while you’re away. Traditional kennels have existed for a long time, but increasingly vary in design, routines, and company culture. Some kennels are barebones in style, meaning dogs stay in separate, basic cages and receive access to an outdoor area a few times a day. Others have a more engaged and present staff, as well as scheduled walks and playtimes.

Luxury boarding facilities have also become more widespread. Here, dogs stay in enclosed areas filled with amenities they likely have at home, such as comfortable doggie beds, toys, rugs, windows, and even couches. They’ll also likely get more treats and one-on-one attention.

Home boarding is also a popular and often advantageous option. Dog walkers and other pet professionals occasionally offer dog-sitting services in their own homes, or will come to yours. In the last decade, in-home stays have also been mainstreamed through websites where dog sitters, walkers, and boarders can create profiles and be booked for services online.

Lastly, many veterinarian offices will board dogs, particularly if your pup has a health condition or is of senior age.

How Much Does Dog Boarding Cost?

Boxer Dog

Given the prevalence and variety of kennels now, dog boarding facilities greatly differ in costs. Each kennel may also provide varying levels of amenities or additional services, such as daily walks or runs, increased outdoor time, grooming, bathing, special diets, and/or medication administration. This is why it’s important to explore the options in your area before booking your dog for even a short-term stay.

On average, it may cost anywhere from $35/night to $60/night, although kennels with more luxuries and amenities could easily reach $75-100/night or more. Keep in mind that the cost of boarding in more expensive cities will also be reflected. By budgeting and deciding what’s best for your dog, it’s easier to narrow down options, as well as secure your maximum price point.

Furthermore, many kennels offer discounts for returning visitors, long-term stays, referrals, or additional dogs. It’s always wise to inquire if there are any special deals or flexibility in terms of pricing.

How Much Does Home Dog Boarding Cost?

boxer mix with eyes closed

Like boarding facilities, home boarding also has a wide range of prices based on location, experience, amenities, and reputation. Thus, the average costs are similar to kennels—albeit a little lower—falling anywhere from $25/night to $55/night. Still, in urban ares with high costs of living, prices could rise to $65/night and higher. Some home boarders have also been in business for years and acquired a long list of repeat customers, raising their demand and subsequent costs.

When creating your budget, it’s important to analyze your dog’s needs, the reputation of the home boarder, and what their stay will be like. More affordable home boarding may signal a variety of factors, including that the person is new and less experienced, lives in an apartment or condo without a fenced-in yard, works outside of the home during the day, and/or isn’t able to exercise your dog as frequently. Another factor to consider is the number of dogs will be staying over at one time, which increases the risks of fights and lowers one-on-one attention.

What’s The Average Price Of Boarding And Training?

Boxer Mix Being Cute

While it’s more common that puppies and dogs are trained by their owners in their home or at weekly classes, boarding and training is another option for those wanting to teach their pups skills and manners. These facilities or homes are less common than kennels, but if you’re willing to drive a little ways, reputable boarding trainers are available in most areas. Your pup’s needs, the trainer’s experience and offerings, and your budget will all help determine the cost of away training. Scheduling will also play a factor. Some people choose to leave their dogs with a trainer for just a three-day weekend. Others may board and train their dogs for as long as two months.

While, like all boarding facilities, the costs vary tremendously, board training may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 for two to three weeks, or even as much as $6,000 or more for six to eight weeks. Of course, living with an instructor means that your dog will receive intense hands-on private training. That said, due to the risks and high costs, a variety of factors should be considered first. Only licensed and reputable boarding and training facilities should be considered, and training methods and schedules should be discussed in full detail. Furthermore, when your dog isn’t in a training session, it’s essential to note what their playtime and sleeping arrangements will be like. While some instructors may welcome your pup into their home, others may board dogs in indoor or outdoor kennels.

Reviews, Experience, And Safety

Dog with fur blanket

While learning the costs of various boarding options is key, the wellness of your dog should always be put first. When researching where to board your best friend, always read online reviews from past customers. If you can’t find any, feel free to ask the facility or home boarder for a few references. Inquiring about the years of experience that your chosen boarder has is also important. Although “loving dogs” is an essential trait for any pet professional to have, TLC does not necessarily translate into knowledge about what to do in scary situations. Experienced dog boarders will have a plan of action for medical emergencies, dog fights, and behavior concerns or issues.

You should also always compare the overall cost to safety risks, remembering that reputation is everything when it comes to dog boarding. Some dog boarding facilities may merely be money-making businesses, meaning that your dog’s health and happiness will not be priority number one. Other facilities offer group playtime, which may be wonderful for some dogs, but potentially dangerous for insecure or reactive pups.

Additionally, although a home environment may be more comfortable and relaxing for some dogs, whether the boarder has their own dogs or will be watching other pups at the same time should be considered. Even if your dog is sociable, the other dogs living in close quarters may be not be. Therefore, inquire about who is staying, and insist on doing a dog meet-and-greet beforehand.

Whatever the situation, ask questions about safety precautions, daily schedules, emergency procedures, and the availability of veterinary care. And, at the end of the day, take a hint from your pup and trust your instincts.

Your Dog’s Daily Schedule And Needs

Bulldog face and eyes

Lastly, when checking off a list of things to look for in a dog boarding facility or in-home stay, consider your individual dog’s schedule and needs. For instance, high-energy dogs who are used to going on two long walks or a run each day may experience frustration and stress in a kennel with limited exercise options. Dogs who spend lots of cuddly time on the couch at home may find a facility that uses cages to be alienating or unnerving. A stay in a new home that doesn’t have a similar daily schedule may also throw a pooch off. With the increased availability of dog boarding options at every price point, take the time to look around for a place that matches your dog’s patterns and personality.

If you have a special needs dog due to health, age, or behavior, you’ll also need to search for the appropriate option. Many in-home boarders don’t take pups with aggression issues, but some may specialize in isolated care for a reactive dog. The same trend applies for dog boarding facilities. Dogs with health issues should also only be boarded with a facility or person experienced in administering medication, watching for warning signs, and providing comfort.

Lastly, senior dogs also deserve a place where they feel welcomed and comfortable. Older dogs can become stressed by new living situations and thus, like all pups, should be granted the best boarding situation available for their needs.

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Written by: Paige Towers

January 3, 2019

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