Red Flags When Looking for Boarding Kennels
Written by: Owner of PineAcre Kennels
A kennel that offers free baths to every dog that boards is usually hiding something. They either have a facility that too small for the pet to stay out of their messes or they do not clean the kennels like they should. They probably do not change soiled bedding and dogs are usually staying in areas with bedding, water dishes, and toys used by the previous dogs.
A dog that boards for 1-4 days should not need a bath if the kennels is set up properly. No there are exceptions, every dog is different and some dogs just plain do not stay out of their messes. They may be too excited and run back and forth through their potty area and may drag it in to their bedding. A kennel should be honest with you and tell you when this happens and ask if you want to pay for a bath, or if you just want their feet rinsed.
Other exceptions would be dogs that play. When dogs play in the yard by themselves of with other dogs, they will get muddy, jump in the pool, roll on things, etc. This is normal for a dog and the kennel should rinse the mud off and they should be fine. You may want to pay for a bath though if you know you dog loves to play or if they tend to get really excited in their runs.
We always rinse daycare dogs if they are muddy. We rinse boarding dogs that are muddy or that run through their potty areas outside. We have no problem calling the client to double check if they want a bath or if they prefer to bathe their dog at home when they pick up. We do not give free baths as that is a professional grooming service. We have often had people board their dogs and comment that they smell better leaving than when they came in. This is because our bedding is always clean and our runs are kept very clean! Please beware of kennels that offer free baths to all boarding pets.
No fenced in yards
Beware of kennels that do not have any fenced in yards. This most likely means they hand walk the dogs twice, sometimes three times per day and your dog spends the rest of their time in a crate/run. This means they get no exercise. Some kennels just have indoor set ups that the dogs never leave. They use the bathroom and sleep in the same area.
No outdoor runs
Kennels that do not have indoor/outdoor runs with doggy doors are a big red flag. This means the dogs are being hand walked to go potty maybe two or three time per day, sometimes not at all. This also means the dogs are being kept in crates or small kennels where they most likely use the bathroom in the same area. Often times, these types of places are the ones that offer free baths for every dog.
Boarding in crates may not be a huge problem if the facility has multiple yards that the dogs get to play in throughout the day but this is still a red flag.
Too small of a yard or too many dogs in one yard
Beware of kennels that have too small of a yard! Dogs need space to run and sometimes to have a break from other dogs. Dogs should be able to fully extend their bodies to run.
This is also a problem with some daycare places shoving too many dogs in one small yard. If you see photos or comments of “18 dogs in the yard today”! Run Away! There should not be that many dogs in one yard unless someone is standing in the yard 24/7 watching them. Dogs may love to play but they also need a big enough space to get away from the other dogs if they need a break.
We have five different fenced in yards and our daycare groups never have more than 10 dogs in a single yard. It is too dangerous. Also, if one dog gets picked on, all the dogs may choose to join in and this is how fights happen.
No one lives or stays on site
Many boarding kennels no longer have people live on site. This is a red flag because the dogs are often left alone after dinner (around 7pm) until opening the next morning (7am). A lot can happen in that time frame! If the facility does not have living quarters, they should at least have a night staff that checks on the dogs and cats.
We live on site as well as have an apartment for an employee to stay on site. We have fire alarms set to send directly to the fire department and protocols for other natural disasters. We walk the dogs around 10pm and double check that everyone has water, no messes inside, has eaten their food, and gets night cookies before bed.
Location in a pole barn or lack of ventilation
People often thing putt dogs in a pole barn can be a boarding kennel. Barns simply do not have ventilation and proper set up for a proper boarding kennel. There has to be proper ventilation to avoid kennel cough and other diseases.