For people with pets who also travel, figuring out who is going to take care of your pet is crucial and very stressful. I had known about dog boarding, but I had never given it much thought, because my parents were always available to watch my dog, Winnie. But what happens when family or friends are unavailable or not the best option? When I began planning my husband and I’s latest trip to Michigan, I came face to face with this question and it terrified me.
Since my parents were not going to be able to watch Winnie, I had to think of a plan B. My plan B was for a different family member or friend to watch her, but I struck out on that front too. I was extremely overwhelmed and stressed, because my only other option seemed to be dog boarding.
What Is Dog Boarding?
Dog boarding is a service where other people or organizations watch your pet while you are gone. This service usually includes housing, feeding, and exercising for your pet. Many dog groomers, veterinarians, and day-cares offer this service.
Why Can Dog Boarding Not Be A Good Idea?
During my research, I came across many very negative reviews. I read stories about dogs who came home sick, bruised, hurt, or scared. Some reviews were about dogs who died a few days after coming home because of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Other reviews claimed their requests about when to feed their dog or who to keep their dog away from were not honored. I read so many stories about dogs not coming back as the same happy pup that was dropped off.
Bottom Line: Some dog boarding businesses are not reputable and do not care about your animal. Many will leave your dog in a kennel alone for days or will leave them in a yard with aggressive dogs. Dog boarding is not always a safe environment for your pet.
How Can You Tell If a Dog Boarding Facility is Reputable?
I highly recommend doing A LOT of research before trusting anyone with your pet. See if they have a website or a Facebook page; if they do, scour that baby with a fine tooth comb. Look for pictures of their facilities or for dogs in their care. Find a phone number or email and talk to them – ask them about their services, explain your fears – see if they seem genuine about taking care of your pet and easing your fears. Do a drive by if possible or look them up on Google Maps – make sure their facilities match the pictures online. Ask around and talk to people who have used their services. If possible, schedule a tour to take a look at it before you book and meet the people who will be caring for your animal.
Some Red Flags:
- No website or Facebook page
- Bad reviews on Google or Facebook
- No pictures of their facilities or facilities are dirty and unkempt
- No pictures of animals in their care or animals look unhappy, super dirty, or hungry
- Not offering to give tours
- Accepting too many animals at one time (overcrowding)
My best advice: Do your homework and don’t trust the business’s word for it, ask around.
After reading so many negative reviews, I was thinking about cancelling my trip. I wanted my pup to be safe and was convinced that dog boarding was not going to provide that option. While surfing social media, I came across a post about someone else who was looking for a reputable place to board their dog. Many people were posting places not to take your dog, but only one place was mentioned to take your dog (and it was mentioned by multiple users).
I began researching this business and quickly realized their passion and love for animals. There were many pictures available of their puppy barn as well as animals while in their care. I reached out to them expressing my concerns and they were quick to respond and explain exactly how they do things and what they offer. My favorite feature was the daily Facebook updates including a blurb and a picture of how your pup and how they were doing. Their prices were reasonable and their facilities were clean and dog friendly.
Blue House Boarding
Blue House Boarding was such a blessing in my search for someone to watch over my sweet Winnie! They provided wonderful services and went above and beyond to accommodate my baby. When I went to pick Winnie up, she wasn’t even ready to leave, but instead wanted to keep playing with her new friends.
My favorite part about Blue House was that it didn’t feel like a kennel or a jail. They designed their puppy barn to feel like a living room, so dogs would feel less scared while visiting. Winnie’s first night, I received a picture of her smiling face watching Finding Dory to let me know that she was settling in just fine.
Another positive note is that they don’t just accept hundreds of dogs. They have the capacity to watch 6 dogs at a time (plus their own pets). They provide your dog with a personal stall including two bowls and a bed instead of putting the dogs in kennels. I don’t have a problem with kennels, but I think that in the dog boarding business their abilities can be abused.
The whole time Winnie was in their care, I knew she was safe and taken care of, not to mention having a good time! I was so happy that I had done my research, talked to Blue House ahead of time, and made a good decision in choosing a family owned and operated small business that genuinely has a passion for pets!
My first experience with dog boarding was wonderful, but I definitely believe it was because I researched and communicated. I didn’t trust any website at face value. I think dog boarding can be a wonderful thing for those who do not have family or friends who can watch their pet. Watch out for red flags and do your homework!
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