Questions You Need to Ask a Dog Boarder

Whether it’s your first time boarding your dog or you consider yourself somewhat of an expert, performing due diligence can make all the difference in your dog’s experience away from home. You want your dog to be happy, healthy, and safe while she’s in the facility. Obviously, you deserve to find a location that treats your dog like family, complete with love and affection. So, knowing how to find a company that matches your needs is essential. 

To help you find the pet hotel that matches your dog’s needs, you need to ask the following questions. 

Are you licensed to operate a boarding kennel?

Although the regulations vary from state to state, the facility your dog is using must be regulated. All dog kennels must include running hot and cold water, fresh-air ventilation, and adequate lighting at all times. Additionally, dogs need to have access to clean, fresh food, and water. The staff must also clean and disinfect any urine or feces at least once a day. Knowing the mandated guidelines can help you make informed decisions. 

Can I take a tour of the facility?

Any reputable company will allow potential clients to tour the facility when asked. Make sure to check for signs of neglect (to both animals and the facility). Pay attention to any unusual smells like bleach or harsh chemicals. The air filtration systems should ensure plenty of air circulation throughout the play areas and rooms on site. You’ll also want to pay attention to the overall condition of the places your dog will be using (like play areas and crates or kennels). 

Dog playing with a toy
Dog playing with a toy

Will my dog have access to use the bathroom or his room throughout the day?

All dogs should have the ability to use the bathroom whenever needed, particularly in a new, unfamiliar area. Likewise, dogs should always have access to a private kennel for rest or downtime. Avoid any location that restricts dogs from these places, if possible. 

Is there climate control within the facility?

Just as you wouldn’t enjoy sleeping in an area that is too hot, your dog deserves to have a comfortable spot to call home throughout his stay. Ask the staff about any heating or cooling systems within the facility (including any play spaces). Many extensive facilities are converted from warehouses and may not have air conditioning available. If this is the case, ask about preventative measures during heat waves.

Do the dogs socialize together? How are groups determined?

The last thing you want is a small dog getting trampled upon by goofy large-breed dogs. Ask the staff about any socialization time the animals will have and how the groups are determined. While it’s common for dogs to be grouped based on size, there should also be some grouping of energy levels. Inquire about the duration of all playgroups and whether they rotate them throughout the day. 

Dogs socializing
Dogs socializing

What is the daily routine at the facility?

Most dog boarding centers will have a generalized schedule throughout the week, especially if they offer daycare services. Get a general idea of the facility’s schedule to understand what your dog will be doing while in care. 

Can I provide my dog’s food?

A dog shouldn’t have his routine abruptly changed, and this includes diet too. Ensure that the staff knows your dog’s current food, any dietary allergies, and how much he eats daily. Most companies will allow the dog to remain on his food but offer a substitute if you forget to bring some (or if the food runs out during the stay). 

What are the supervision protocols for the facility?

One company may provide 24/7 supervision of the kennels, while others may lock everything up in the evening. Ask about the type of monitoring offered on-site, including any security features—question whether a staff member monitors the dogs while outside playing. If so, ask how many dogs are watched at once. 

What happens in an emergency? Do you have a vet on-call?

Most boarding facilities have a vet available, especially in a group environment like a dog boarding facility. With the increased risk of illness, injury, and emergency, having a vet available quickly can make all the difference in recovery. Ask about the vet’s hours and what happens if there’s a problem outside of that time. 

How far in advance do I have to book?

Some of the best pet hotels can book months in advance, especially during summer vacation months or school breaks. As such, it’s always a wise idea to ask about availability and booking procedures once you’re comfortable with the location.