How to Pick a Good Boarding Kennel for your Dog

By Laurie Darroch –

If you need to leave your dog in a boarding kennel while you’re away on vacation or a business trip, it’s important to do your research to find the one that best suits your needs. Not every kennel provides all services. Some facilities are very basic and others have all the extras. Be aware that costs may be all inclusive, or the kennel may charge extra fees for each special service. The additional costs can be considerable if they tack on all the extras above the basic lodging and feeding costs. Here are some tips on finding a good boarding kennel.


One of the best places to start when you are looking for a boarding kennel is word of mouth from people you know and trust. Our dogs are family members. Finding a kennel that fits your specific parameters and is also appropriate for your dog is similar to finding the perfect daycare for your child.  It may take a while to locate the right one.

It is a good idea to research potential boarding kennels as soon as you get a dog, just in case of an emergency or sudden leave from home. Who better to ask than people you know who’ve used kennels for their own pets?

The phone book may list kennels and you can call around to get information, but an online presence is more likely to give you the information you need and will usually list their services and prices. They may even have a blog and place for customers to write reviews of their services.

Your vet is also a good resource for possible board and care facilities. With a large list of clientele, a vet may know the pros and cons of any local kennels. Some vets even have their own boarding facilities. Be sure to check for licensing and experience. Also make sure you know what their individual rules are about required shots and licensing for your dog.


Check out the facilities in person. They may sound wonderful on the phone and might have a great website, but in person they can be less than stellar. You need to check with them to see what sort of sleeping areas there are for each dog, e.g., if they get their own area or are put in with other dogs.

Not all kennels include play time or exercise time. Ask if they spend play time with your dog, or give the dogs a place to move around. Some kennels charge extra for individualized play time, by day or session.

Kennels may or may not offer food in an inclusive care package at their kennel. If your dog has a specific diet, you need to see how they will accommodate that, or if you need to bring your dog’s favorite food from home. The same goes for any medications your dog is taking. How do they handle that?

If your dog has a special bed, security blanket or toys, find out if you can bring them when your dog stays there. Those items may help with anxiety about being away from you and home.

Find out how they deal with emergency situations in case your dog needs extra care while you are away. Ask if they have specific vets they work with, and get their names.

Trial Run

Being away from home and loved ones might be very traumatic for your dog. They do not really understand why they were left in a strange place. Kennels may offer trial runs or shorter visits to see how your dog does in the new surroundings. You want a place that makes your dog feel secure and at home.

Visiting prospective kennels allows you to get a real feel for each one. If the employees seem bored or unwelcoming, that might tell you they are going to put the same lack of care into watching over your dog. Before you start calling or visiting kennels, make a checklist of all your questions and concerns. You can keep track of all the information you gather that way.

Once you choose a facility, make a list of emergency contacts, how you can be reached, and any special instructions to bring with your dog when it’s time to go for a kennel stay. Do your research and prep work to ensure some peace of mind knowing that your beloved dog is in good hands while you are away.