If you have never used a boarding facility for your dog before, it can be a daunting task to find a good place where you feel that your dog will be safe and happy.
Ask your veterinarian if he or she recommends any local kennels. Do an internet search of any pet hotels that the vet recommends. Are there reviews online by dog owners that have used those kennels? Do you know any friends or neighbors that have used these businesses? First-hand testimony from a dog owner who has boarded his dog at a facility is a great way to determine if it may be a good fit for your dog.
Review the information available online for the kennels. Look through the photo galleries and get a feel for the facilities. If your state requires a boarding inspection, has the pet hotel passed? Does the kennel have any complaints lodged against it with the Better Business Bureau? Once you determine which boarding facility impress you most, then call and schedule a tour.
At the time you tour the kennel, pay close attention to the smell and cleanliness of the facility. Make sure the food and water dishes are clean and filled with fresh food and water. Check to see that the dogs are provided beds and do not have to sleep on a concrete floor. These details show that the staff is diligent in taking proper care of the dogs. You also want to see if a staff member is always on the premises in case there is a health or emergency issue with the dogs during the night hours.
Another important question is if the facility requires that all pets boarded must be current on their shots. Most important is that current rabies, distemper, and bordetella (kennel cough) vaccinations are required. You do not want your dog catching these illnesses from another dog at the kennel.
Is there air conditioning and heat so that your pet will be comfortable in extreme weather? This is especially important if your dog is elderly and has no tolerance for extreme temperatures.
If your dog is younger and energetic, you want to specifically ask about the exercise areas available. Is there a safe area outdoors where your dog will be taken to exercise? What steps does the staff take to ensure that your dog does not try to escape? If there is bad weather, is there an indoor area that your dog can be taken to get sufficient exercise?
As soon as you realize that you may need to board your dog, you want to start researching facilities as soon as possible. You do not want to wait until the last minute and be forced to choose a second-rate kennel for your dog because you are crunched for time.