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Choosing the Best Pet Boarding Option

Whether you are new in town or going on vacation, selecting the right pet care provider for your pet is an important decision. Leaving our pets in the care of another can often be an uncomfortable thought, however, taking the time to research and do some preliminary homework, can help to alleviate any lingering doubts.

Between asking your veterinarian, friends, relatives and co-workers and researching the internet, you probably have several places which are being considered. Whether you choose Pete and Mac’s or not, the following tips will help narrow down the search and lead you to a comfortable decision:

  • Compile a list, drop in for an unannounced visit and request a tour. If tours are not allowed, there is a probably a reason and not a good one. If someone’s idea of a tour is peeking through a window at a representative room, keep in mind it is not the same as seeing where your pet will actually eat, sleep and play. (Those pictures can be viewed online.)
  • First impressions are crucial; pay close attention to what you see, hear and smell.
  • Does the facility exclude guests by breed? This is an indication of the level of staff training, or rather the lack of adequate training. Facilities may, and should, exclude specific animals that are inappropriate in a group environment, but breed exclusion is a red flag.
  • While on tours ask yourself; what do I smell? The smell of wet dog, maybe from water play during exercise, is decidedly different from the smell of a dirty, unkempt lodging area.
  • What do I see? Comfortable rooms and play/exercise areas that are clean, or being cleaned? Or something less palatable?
  • Is the facility safe? Are pets’ sleeping rooms private and secure? Is the building heated and air conditioned? Is there an alarm system? Is there a visual monitoring system, like closed circuit TV? Is there someone there 24/7? How are prescription foods or medications handled?
  • What do I hear? Barking certainly, it’s how dogs “talk.” Do you hear the staff talking to the pets, interacting with the pets in their care? Is the staff giving you concrete information about how they care for pets, are they answering your questions, or are you just hearing “we just love dogs.”
  • It’s important that the staff ask as many questions as you do. To tailor pet care to your unique pet, they need to know about your pet. How large or small is your pet? Can they comfortably accommodate your furry kid? Does he or she enjoy interacting with other dogs? Health issues? Special food or medication requirements? Do you want your pets to share a room? If yes, can they be fed together? Who is your vet? Is your pet up to date on his or her vaccinations? Not all of these questions can or should be addressed on a tour, but you should expect to answer them if making a reservation.
  • Many of us want to be able to check on our pets while we are away, how does the facility accommodate this? Webcams are one way, email is another, some of us prefer to talk to the caregivers directly and have questions answered real-time. How you can check on your pet is less important than can you check on your pet?
  • Does the facility ask for your feedback after your pets’ stay? Via a follow up call, comment card, etc?
  • Is doggie daycare an option while boarding? Is so, you will want answers to a few additional questions. Are the hours convenient for how you work? Is drop off and pick up quick and easy? Is there an adequate number of staff available in the play area to care for the pets playing together? Are pets segregated by size and/or temperament? Are weather conditions moderated in outdoor play areas: is the play area shaded? Is there misting or cooling? Is there heat? Where does my dog go if he or she becomes over tired or over excited?
  • After a few visits, does the staff recognize me, or more importantly do they recognize my dog when we arrive?

The most important thing to remember is, once you have chosen the best care option, you may rely on your pet to tell you if the choice was right.

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