One of the biggest dilemmas dog owners face when going on vacation, traveling for work or going into the hospital, is figuring out how to have their dog cared for in their absence. If you have a small dog, older dog, handicapped pet or one with other special needs you will probably be even more concerned. Let’s face it, no one can replace you in the eyes of your canine companion, but if you do a little homework, you should be able to find a solution that keeps your dog happy and healthy and gives you some peace of mind.
A quick search of Yelp in the Sacramento area for dog boarding and kennels and you will find more than 400 businesses listed. Twenty years ago you would have only found “kennels” but now the names have been changed to sound more appealing. While some still call themselves a kennel, others use terms like “resort”, “spa”, “hotel”, “camp”, “bed and biscuit” and other names that are meant to conjure a place we ourselves would like to go on vacation.
But unlike human accommodation where these terms actually mean something specific, the same does not hold true in the dog world. A “hotel” may be a warehouse filled with kennels and a camp may be someone’s living room. With human hotels we have many web sites and trusted rating systems based on unbiased secret shoppers as well as customer reviews to tell us something about the rooms we are booking. There is no equivalent rating systems for dog boarding. Sites like Yelp can give you some idea of problems a business may have had, but these reviews are not very accurate as people can easily stack the decks with stellar reviews that were paid for (just check Craigslist) or from friends. It is up to you as your pets guardian to figure out what each business offers and to decide what will be a good fit for your dogs personality and needs.
When looking for a place or person to watch your pet, the first thing you need to do is ask the basic questions:
1. Who? (will be watching your dog)
2. What? (dogs/children/other animals will be around your dog)
3. Where? ( will your dog be during the day and night)
4. When ? (will the dog get food/water/walks/playtime or personal attention) and
5. How much? (will you get charged for the services).
With summer coming, many people in the Sacramento area will be facing this dilemma in the next few months. In a series of articles over the weeks leading up to summer, I will attempt to help dog owners sort through the options to find the best fit for your furry friend and for your peace of mind.