by Good Dog People August 14, 2022 6 min read

There will come a time when you'll need to board your dog with a sitter or at a dog boarding facility. Finding a safe and comfortable boarding facility for your dog takes careful research. And while you can never be 100% certain that your dog will enjoy his stay, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk of choosing a bad boarding kennel.

A good place to start is by asking your veterinarian, and other paw parents for the names of boarding kennels they recommend. Then, use the checklist below to help narrow down your search in finding the right place for your dog to stay while you’re away.

Doggy Boarding 101

1. Check online reviews

Online reviews left by past customers are a good way to help you narrow down the list of boarding kennels to consider for your dog. Go through both the good and the bad reviews to get the full picture of the boarding provider’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Arrange to visit the boarding facility

Always visit a boarding kennel before booking your dog in. Contact the pet boarding kennel well in advance of your trip to schedule a visit to the facility. It is crucial to have a look at the facility, meet the staff and decide for yourself if the place satisfies you and your dog’s needs.

3. Ask to see licenses and certifications

Do due diligence. All commercial pet boarding facility requires a Pet Boarding License issued by AVS. Ask to see the license when you visit the kennel, and you can choose to walk away if they can’t provide the official document. If they claim to have trained professionals managing their facilities, ask to see their licenses and certifications as well.

Doggy Boarding 101

4. Access to a local vet

Do they have 24/7 access to a local vet? This is of utmost importance if your pet has special healthcare needs. A responsible pet boarding kennel should provide 24/7 access to a local vet for medical emergencies. There is little you can do should a medical emergency happen to your dog while you are away. The kennel must be prepared to handle any medical emergencies at their facility.

During your on-site visit, determine if any of their staff is certified in pet first-aid. It is very important to find out if there are properly trained staff on the premises 24-hours-a-day. Emergencies can happen any time of the day and someone must be present to manage the situation.

5. Check the vaccination policy

Many dog boarding kennels will require their clients to be up to date with their immunisation – this may include rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and other immunisation shots. Please check the kennel’s vaccination policy and adhere to it accordingly for the safety of your dogs and other dogs staying in the kennel.

Do not forget to confirm the screening process for fleas and ticks. Some kennels will only accept dogs on anti-flea and tick treatment like this Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Treatment). Others are more flexible and will accept any dog that is flea & tick free, regardless of their treatment status. With so many dogs in close proximity, for safety precautions, you may want to consider using a natural flea & tick collar like this TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Collar to protect and defend against fleas and ticks.  

Doggy Boarding 101

6. Check the condition of the kennels

The kennel should be clean and secure. All animal waste should be cleaned up regularly and the kennel should not have a nasty stink! Take notice and be aware of the cleaning solution used to clean the kennel. Strong bleach or cleaning chemicals may cause skin allergies in sensitive dogs.

Each dog should be given a room (kennel) to rest comfortably, and the size of the kennel will depend on the size of your dog. Some will even allow multiple dogs from the same house in the same space so they can be comfortable together! The facility should have kennels of different sizes to cater to the different breeds. Your dog can only rest in a space where he can easily get up, turn around, and lay down without difficulty.

Ask if you can bring your pooch’s favourite toy, bed, or blanket. These familiar items will provide comfort and help him relax in a new environment. They should allow you to bring some items to be placed in his kennel, to help him de-stress. A small plush toy like this KONG Pudge Braidz Pig Plush Dog Toy doesn’t take up too much space in the kennel, and with the familiar scent of home, can help to calm an anxious dog.

Finally, always take stock of these other provisions – availability of fresh drinking water, temperature control, CCTV for constant monitoring, and the overall ventilation of the place.

Pet kennels will normally require that you bring your feeding and water bowls. Remember to pack them along. If you are using an electronic pet fountain at home, you may need to prepare one or two BPA-free, non-slip bowls like this FuzzYard Liquify Dog Feeding Bowl for food and water. Depending on the setup of the kennel, there may not be any electrical outlet nearby for the pet fountain.   

Doggy Boarding 101

7. Observe the caretakers

Meet the caretakers and observe how they interact with the dogs at the kennel. Are they friendly to the dogs? How many dogs will they care for at one time? This will give you an idea if the kennel is over or understaffed.

Check that the staff are also experienced and trained. Admittedly the experience and training can vary widely amongst the staff as some may be temporary hands, hired during peak season. However, there should be at least one member of staff in charge who has the right qualification to care for animals. Preferably, most of the staff should be trained in canine first aid.

8. Check the availability of an outdoor play area

Dogs must be given access to outdoor play areas. They can get pretty stressed out if they don’t have any access to outdoor spaces for a prolonged period. This is also a good time to ask how much exercise the dogs will get daily, and how often are they taken out to eliminate.

Check with the kennel if they require you to bring along your dog’s leash for outdoor walks. Most kennel will require you to provide a leash. Do bring along your dog's leash and a simple leash like this Red Dingo Classic Dog Lead will do just fine.  

Doggy Boarding 101

9. They should take an interest in your dog’s personality

There is no way a boarding kennel can provide proper care for your dog without knowing his personality and temperament. They should show an interest and ask you for more information. Some kennels may even require that you fill out a fact file about your dog which will include his personality, temperament, and medical condition. There should always be a meet-and-greet session; allowing your dog to meet his caretakers.

Schedule the meet-and-greet and bring your dog along to meet his caretakers. During the session, observe how both parties react to each other.

10. Book in one-night stay or daycare to test

It is highly advisable to book a one-night sleepover or a daycare for your dog. Doing so will let your dog get used to the facility, and his caretakers, potentially reducing the risk of kennel stress.  

Doggy Boarding 101

These days, there are more options to choose from when leaving your dog in the care of others. In addition to boarding kennels, there are dog sitters who will board your dog in their home or your own. Whichever option you choose, safety is key. Look for a secure, clean environment with friendly and experienced staff.









Katherine Khoo
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.

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