Kenneling your dog
When she had to be away from her
two Scottish terriers, McScrap and McDuff, London Ont., dog owner Linda French
researched local kennels to make sure her furry friends would get the best care.
first thing I did was take recommendations from friends that have dogs. You can
go on the Net and in the Yellow Pages and find hundreds of kennels, but you'll
never know how they'll treat your dog."
And it wasn't
just the kennel itself that had to pass her inspection: the people caring for
her dogs were also important. "Are they dog people? And by that I mean, do
they genuinely want to be around dogs? Did they seem to relate to the animal?
And did the animal warm up to them?"
To ensure your pooch gets the best home away from
home, here's what you should consider before checking him in.
away from home
To ensure a good fit for your dog, you should visit
prospective kennels. "Kenneling is not just a storage place for your dog, but
an experience for your dog that should leave Fido feeling a happy and content,"
says Michelle Crook, owner of Country Paws Boarding in London and Kitchener.
inside the kennel, try to pick up on the doggie vibe. Do the dogs look happy?
Take your dog with you -- does he seem happy to be there?
relationship between the owners and your dog should also be amicable. At Coldwell's
Bed and Biscuit Inn, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, owner Michelle Coldwell asks to
spend some alone time with each dog she boards ahead of time, as the kennel is
smaller than most.
"I have them come in for a test, where
the dog can spend a few hours meeting me and my environment," she explains.
"I need to see how they will act when left on their own. They always act
differently when mom and dad are gone."
A good indictor
that separates a caring kennel from one that doesn't is if the employees ask specific
questions about your dog. "This shows that they are thinking at a deeper
level rather than just cleanliness," says Christa Chadwick, acting director
of animal sheltering and wildlife services for the Ontario SPCA,
based in Newmarket.
The closer the kennel looks and feels
like your home, the less likely your dog will feel abandoned.
to look for
When visiting a kennel, there are a few major considerations
to keep in mind.
|What to look for: |
It doesn't have to smell like a fresh meadow, but the interior should be well
ventilated. Also, ask how the bedding is cleaned. At Northwest Kennels, in Vancouver,
for example, staff bleach their bedding to kill bacteria and prevent the spread
of illnesses. Don't be fooled by pretty wallpaper and fancy decorative touches:
"This is nice, but the kennel should be acceptable for the dog and not just
humans," says Chadwick.
"I wouldn't want my dog just thrown in the kennel, fed and left alone,"
says French. So, ask the owners how much time they will spend playing with and
walking your dog. At Northwest Kennels, which can house as many as 120 dogs at
a time, the dogs are allowed to play outside in a covered area with lots of toys
and drinking water for most of the day. When they come in, they're tired and ready
This may be a good fit for extroverted dogs, but if
your shy dog prefers to be alone, then you may want to find a kennel that offers
walking services instead.
Also, some kennels prefer to segregate
certain dogs depending on their aggression level. And some breeds, such as pit
bulls and Rottweilers, may be kept apart from other dogs.
Canada has no legislation governing dog kennels, so to ensure a prospective kennel
is up to snuff, check to see which associations or clubs it belongs to. At Country
Paws Boarding, for example, the owners have hired managers who are certified kennel
operators through the American
Boarding Kennels Association.
Other specialists to look
for include pet care technicians, animal care graduates, students in vet schools
and registered vet technicians. At the very least, employees should have
some animal knowledge, says Crook, who says she looks for staff who have "large
animal experience at zoos, stables, humane societies or the like."
Ensure the facility has proper fencing to contain your dog. If he's a jumper,
this is very important, as you don't want him to escape. And when you tour the
kennel, keep track of potential hazards such as sharp objects or anything else
that could potentially harm your dog.
Before stepping inside a kennel, ensure that your dog's
vaccinations are up to date. The big ones are rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis,
parainfluenza, parovirus and bordetella and canine kennel cough.
your dog is taking any medications or has quirky personality traits, such as being
scared of thunder or smaller dogs, tell the owners. You should also ask if you
can bring your own food, since that will ease your dog's transition to his new
environment. It also doesn't hurt to bring along a favourite blanket or toy that
has your scent on it to remind him of home.
forget to leave your contact information with the owners and bring the kennel's
contact information with you.
book and price
At Country Paws, spaces for March Break fill up in
January; the same goes for the Christmas holidays, which book up months in advance.
The rest of the year, most kennels require a couple of weeks' notice at least.
terms of cost, a one night stay at a good kennel ranges anywhere from $15 to $30.
If you have two dogs, you can often get a discount. If you want your dog groomed
or massaged, some kennels also offer these services for more money.
Chambers is a freelance writer in London, Ont.