I have managed two large boarding kennels in the area, I won't name names and I also will never leave my own dogs in a kennel for the following 4 reasons. These are my completely honest and accurate account of what my experience has been. I have worked with some lovely people who I would gladly work with again. I have also worked with some down right scary and money hungry owners. The bottom line here is to trust your instincts and go with your gut. Its your dog and your choice.
- Boarding kennels are set up to make money. This in itself is not a problem but in this industry it can quickly become one. I once had an owner of a local boarding kennel tell me "the only way you can make money in dogs is to have a large boarding kennel or to be a vet". The way a boarding kennel makes money is by filling the kennels. I have personally seen owners fill kennels so much that dogs are spending the night in grooming crates, one establishment had an entire room full of crates for "overflow". They don't tell you this when you drop your pet off for the holiday, and I'm sure most of us would find alternate plans for our pets if this was the case. They book into overflow (30 plus extra dogs just in case there are cancellations or no shows) and if all of these 30 extra dogs show up they are just found space for, sharing a kennel with a dog they have never met or in a makeshift crate.
- Boarding kennels are busy, especially on holidays and long weekends. The minimal staff are extremely busy and even IF the staff truly wants to make a difference in the experience for one particular dog its incredibly hard when you have 4 people caring for 180 dogs.... remember more staff means more money. I worked with people who flat out didn't even like dogs and those who really loved them and working with them. Its very hard to LOVE dogs and to feel pressure to cut corners and rush dogs around to keep on track. Its very hard to do the right thing for the dog even if you want to.
- If your dog is not social its not going to get what you were promised. The "red" dogs or dogs who are not social with other dogs due to age, breed, temperament ect (I actually worked at a kennel that would flat out lie to clients, this kennel would not socialize certain breeds (german shepherds, rotties, boxers ect) no matter how friendly they were, but would tell the owners differently, even staging pictures to make it seem like the dogs had "social time"). These dogs get minimal interaction, they are often just let out by themselves and then rushed back in because the other dogs need to be rotated.
- Its stressful for your dog. Dogs get incredibly stressed when kenneled, especially if they are not kenned often, and even then its noisy, smelly, the people are strange and sometimes they don't even like dogs. And even if the kennel is not full, its clean, and the caretaker truly loves their job.... its still stressful. Especially for senior dogs, shy dogs, puppies and dogs who are boarded minimally.
If you absolutely HAVE to kennel your dog the best time to do it is in the off season (no holidays or long weekends). Talk to your friends about what experiences they have had with kennels, read the reviews (ALL OF THEM because some of the ones at the top are fake, trust me I know).
The best thing for your dog is to find a family member or friend to watch them, there are some great pet sitters that will come and hang out with your dog (which is awesome if you need to get away for one night).
Or you can be like me and not take vacations without your dog :) in fact I don't take vacations at all.... who needs to when you get to work with dogs all day on your own time, at your own pace to your own personal ethical standards. If you have questions about anything above please contact me I will be more then happy to answer your questions and help you find a solution.
Thanks for reading !!