Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Choosing a Dog Kennel

on October 12, 2010

The thought of leaving Daisy at a kennel doesn’t exactly thrill us, but we have no choice. Personally, a dogsitter isn’t an option for us; we just don’t like the idea of someone having complete access to our home. That’s simply a personal preference.

Which leaves the kennel. We want a place that will treat Daisy like one of the family but won’t cost us an exorbitant amount of money. We also want to get the same Daisy back – when I was a kid, we put our dog in the local kennel for a week while we were away. In those years, there was no discussion about which kennel to choose, you just put your dog in whatever kennel was near you and that was that. Well, we did NOT get the same dog back – she sat with her back to us in the car and she didn’t interact with us for quite a while – over a week – essentially she was snubbing us. She seemed hurt and angry that we’d abandoned her like that. Thinking back, I’ll bet the kennel care wasn’t very good. I don’t want that to happen again.


I'm all suited up and ready to go!

Two places were recommended by our vet’s office, which we’ll check out soon – we’re not actually going anywhere now, but we want to be prepared and not leave it until the last minute. I made a checklist of things to check for, all recommended by experts:

1. Take your dog with you so she’ll have some recollection of the place. Her first visit there shouldn’t be the one where she’s suddenly left without you.

2. Do a “pop-in” visit – any kennel that needs notice that you’ll be coming in may have something to hide. You don’t want them on their best behavior for new clients, you want to see them “as is” – the real thing that your dog will be exposed to.

3. A “pop-in” visit will also show you whether climate controls are being used – the kennels should be air conditioned during the summer and heated during the winter. Your dog needs the same conditions she’s used to at home and needs relief from extreme temperatures and sun exposure.

4. If your dog isn’t used to being with other dogs or you don’t want him socializing without you being there, make sure the kennel offers private one-on-one outdoor playtime between a staff member and your dog, without other dogs being in the play yard.

5. Some places charge extra for “cuddle time”, extra play time, administering medicine, etc. These places usually have very low daily rates, but when you add in all the extras you may need or want, you could be looking at a far more expensive daily rate. And the services that are included with the low daily rate are usually very minimal, so check the details to make sure your dog can tolerate minimal care. One low-priced place we checked out only offered 20 minutes of human interaction per day, and every extra 15 minutes would cost more; for Daisy, 20 minutes is far too little. She’s used to much more attention, so we need a place with more human contact.

6. There is a possibility that if your dog needs veterinary attention for any reason while you’re away, the kennel could charge an hourly rate plus a mileage fee to get your dog to the vet and back. Some other kennels only use their own visiting vets, which still entails a fee but you don’t know what kind of care that unknown vet is giving your dog. Check before booking to see what the kennel’s practices are for emergency veterinary care.

7. Does the kennel accept pit bulls,  rotweilers, or other potentially vicious dogs that might view your small dog as  a target? Pit bulls, for instance, are known as great escape artists, so you need to know what other kinds of dogs are being housed there.

8. How many dogs do they accept at one time? The more “house guests” they have, the less time they’ll have to devote to each dog, depending on the size of the staff.

9. Are fences and protective barriers secure? Does the kennel smell? Is it clean? Do they check dogs for fleas, parasites, etc. that could possibly infect your dog? Do they require proof of all vaccinations? Is the staff friendly? Is someone there around the clock or only during office hours?

10. Make sure the kennel allows you to bring your dog’s favorite toys and/or bedding. If your dog is on a special diet or you don’t want him given different food or treats, make sure they allow you to do that. Some kennels charge extra for that service too.

11. Size matters. Your dog’s run should give her enough room to trot around and wag her tail – 4’x10′ is the recommended minimum for a medium-sized dog.

It can’t hurt to check potential kennels out with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against them. A perfect rating with no registered complaints doesn’t mean there are no problems with the kennel, but a failing rating can help to eliminate a kennel right away.

Some kennels offer round-the-clock Doggie Cams so you can see your dog online any time of the day or night.

If you notice, there’s one important underlying criteria here – the kennel should suit your dog’s personality and the lifestyle she’s accustomed to. If you have a rugged, outdoor dog who doesn’t need pampering or cuddling, then those things wouldn’t be of consideration to you. But a family pet who’s used to a lot of affection and attention may not be well suited to a minimalist type of kennel and could suffer from her stay, sometimes with long-term consequences.

In the end, be as careful about choosing your dog’s kennel as you would about choosing your child’s preschool or summer camp!

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One response to “Choosing a Dog Kennel

  1. tiffy40 says:

    Another option for Daisy might be an “at home” sitting in someone else’s home. We have a local dog daycare facility that matches you up with a family that would watch your dog in their home while you are away. I don’t know if you have anything like that in your area, but if you do it might be worth checking in to:) Good luck with your search.

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