In a perfect world, you would be able to take your dog on holiday with you. If that isn’t possible, you don’t have friends or family your pooch can stay with or a home boarding company can’t fit you in, a kennel is your only option. If you’re nervous or worried about leaving your dog in a kennel, taking the following steps will help to put your mind at ease.
Do your homework
Word of mouth is one of the best way to get high quality kennel recommendations. Asking friends, neighbours, vets and fellow dog walkers can help you find a good local kennel. Failing that, going to pet shops, visiting pet-related websites and reading reviews online can help you sniff out a suitable kennel for your dog.
After you’ve done your homework and chosen a kennel for your dog, book early. You don’t want to miss out by being too slow, and the most reputable kennels typically enjoy a lot of visitors over Christmas and the summer months.
Go and visit the kennel
If you’re still in two minds about where to take your dog, most kennels don’t mind visitors popping in without an appointment.
Good kennels will be clean, secure and well ventilated. When visiting, you can also ask specific questions about what they’ll do in an emergency, exercise regimes and more. The staff of any good kennel should be happy to answer any queries that will help put your mind at ease.
Preparing to take your dog to a kennel: food and treats
To help your pet feel comfortable, pack something that smells like home such as their favourite toy or blanket. Stick to one or two items, though: staff won’t want to take responsibility for a suitcase full of toys and things will inevitably get lost.
If you have a dog with special dietary requirements, it is best to let the kennel know and bring some suitable food and treats with you. For those with dog's that have sensitive stomachs and allergies, it is also recommended that you bring their grain free or sensitive dog food with you -as it can't be guaranteed that they have it.
It is also important to leave precise instructions that outline how much food your dog eats. If your dog eats at certain times of the day, include these details in your instructions too. It's important to maintain your dogs routine as much as possible whilst you are away, or they are in a different environment, as it can be an extremely stressful time for them. Read more about the importance of a routine here.
Preparing to take your dog to a kennel: medical conditions
Before taking your dog to the kennel, make sure all its vaccinations are up to date. This includes kennel cough, which isn’t always covered by regular vaccinations, but is extremely contagious.
It’s also a good idea to tell your kennel of any injuries or illnesses your dog may have. Also, pack all the required medicines that they need, with clear instructions on how and when they should be taken.
If you own an un-neutered bitch, make sure she’s not in season. Some kennels have isolated kennels for dogs on heat, but many don’t and will not accept dogs that are in season.
If you’re feeling bad about leaving your furry friend, it’s not a good idea to feed them special treats or take them on an extra-long walk to make yourself feel less guilty. Your dog will pick up on any changes in their routine and you could transfer your anxiety onto them.
Stay as calm as possible and when it comes to saying goodbye, make it quick. A drawn out send off with lots of cuddles and pats is only likely to make things more stressful for you and your dog.
Provide contact information
Before departing, give the kennel your holiday contact information. Although it’s unlikely, your kennel might have questions about your dog that only you can answer. If it’s going to be impossible to get in contact with you while on holiday, try to provide the number of a friend that’s prepared to go on standby in case of emergency.
Try not to worry
After you’ve put the effort into finding a good kennel and ensuring they’ll be comfortable, it’s highly likely that your dog will have a great time. Playing with other dogs and going for walks means they’re likely to have lots of fun and a nice little holiday too.