If you’re planning a vacation this upcoming holiday season and you own a dog, the inevitable question has probably already knocked on your door: Where will my dog stay while I’m away?
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a facility to keep your dog healthy and happy during your trip. To help ease your anxiety, Meagan Karnes, animal behaviorist and general manager for the Pooch Hotel in Richardson, Texas, is offering her tips for choosing the right boarding facility.
(However, if you choose to travel with your pet, check out our holiday checklist.)
Here are 10 questions you should ask before making accommodations for your pet during the holidays.
Make sure there is a protocol in place and the facility has a relationship with a 24-hour veterinarian.
Dogs should be taken out of their kennels often for potty breaks and exercise.
Stress can be reduced through exercise, so make sure you choose a place that offers many forms of exercise. Social dogs will do well with a group play option.
Find out what products the staff uses, and ask them to describe their cleaning protocols.
Many facilities leave dogs unattended, which can be dangerous. Ask what type of formal training their play-group attendants have completed.
Make sure your pet won’t be left alone. There should always be someone available in case of an emergency.
The staff should understand dog behavior, dog care and dog training. If a problem occurs, a well-trained attendant will recognize the issue and deal with it appropriately.
The more interaction your dog receives, the less stressed he or she will be. If your dog is not particularly social, make sure the staff understands his or her personal needs.
Find out if the staff is trained to administer medications and who is responsible for administering them. It is important that management or trained veterinary technicians are responsible for this. Ask how familiar the staff is with your dog’s specific condition.
If your gut is telling you to look for different accommodation, trust it. If a facility rushes a tour, take it as a sign that it won’t have enough time to give your dog enough attention. Lean toward facilities that don’t require appointments for tours. Do a test run and sign your dog up for a few half days of day care before your vacation.