Summer vacation is right around the corner! For some people, this means a week-long excursion, and for others, this could be one or two nights that AREN’T at home. Either way, if you plan on boarding your dog, you have a decision to make. Unfortunately, this decision isn’t always a “slam dunk”, as locating dog boarding and training providers is not an “exact science”.
The Drop-in Tour
Never plan a visit to a dog boarding facility; show up randomly so they aren’t expecting a potential new client. You’ll quickly get a gut-feeling about the place. Is it clean? Do the dogs seem happy? Does the staff seem competent?
Online Reviews & Suggestions Aren’t Always Reliable
A college friend of mine’s brother is a veterinarian. My friend is married, and her last name is now different than her brother’s. Every time someone asks for a veterinarian recommendation on local Facebook or Nextdoor pages, she lists her brother’s practice. She doesn’t disclose that she’s related when she makes the suggestion. I ended up using her brother’s practice. They were competent, but the pricing was super-high. This is the primary flaw in asking locally; people know people and have biases. It is wildly difficult to find unbiased recommendations on such forums. The same can be said for online reviews.
One guarantee about online reviews is that the business owners have asked their friends and family to leave positive feedback. Again, this muddies the waters. One way around this is to sort from the lowest to the highest ratings. Get the dirt and look for patterns. Additionally, check out this article by WTHR, an NBC affiliate out of Indianapolis. They provide a nice overview on how to spot fake reviews.
Who Should I Ask?
- If you go to a dog park, ask fellow pet parents/dog owners
- Ask your veterinarian
- Ask trusted acquaintances and friends – even if they have family or friends that run a dog boarding business, they are less likely to refer a personal connection to a bad business. Think about it – if your brother-in-law runs an awful business, would you risk your reputation? Maybe you would send a stranger his way (don’t), but a personal connection? Hell no!
A Trial Night
If it isn’t cost-prohibitive, consider trying a trial night to see if your pup does well. Almost all boarding providers will require a “meet and greet”, but this isn’t always foolproof. If you go to the trial night route, look for the following:
- When picking up, does your dog seem stressed?
- Did your dog behave normally in the hours following pickup?
- Was the provider responsive to any questions?
Things to Consider
- Do they screen for fleas?
- What are the vaccination requirements?
- How long have they been in business?
- How do they handle emergencies?
- How does the staff interact with the dogs?
Finding a dog boarding provider isn’t as straightforward as it seems, but a little bit of groundwork goes quite a long way. Good luck!
Need help finding low-cost vet care? Visit wunderpups.com/help