Tips on Picking a Place to Board Your Dog Overnight

We would all like to take our dogs everywhere we go, but sometimes it’s just not feasible. So, we have to make that guilty decision to [gasp] leave our beloved dog overnight at a kennel, our vet’s office if they have the facilities or in my case, a spa.

Usually I’d leave Toby at my vet’s office, a place I’ve been going with my family since I was a baby. So, they have my complete trust. But, last summer having to find a new place in upstate New York to attend a wedding was so nerve-racking! I was asking everyone for suggestions — including a group of women on the train in Manhattan who I overheard say they owned dogs and lived in Saratoga Springs. So, I asked them, and that’s how I found Milton Manor Pet Spa and Resort, where Toby stayed this past weekend.

Here is the process I went through before I was comfortable letting Toby stay there:

** Google Them – Search the web for their website, reviews and anything else you can. Also search their name in Google News to see if they’ve been in the media lately — for either good or bad things.

** Ask Everyone You Know If They’ve Heard About Them – E-mailed everyone you knew in the area who has a dog, and asked them if they  heard of the place. Picking up groceries? Ask the cashier. Having a drink at the local bar? Ask the bartender.

** Visit the Facility Well Before Your Pet’s Stay – Call the facility, explain you are thinking of boarding your dog there overnight and ask when a good time would be to come by to check out the location. If they tell you it’s not possible or something they do, find a new place.

** What to Look for During Your Visit – Dogs can be messy. With that in mind, look for boarding areas that are mostly clean, do not smell and have secure cages. Watch how the staff interacts with the dogs, as well as with you during your visit. Look at the dogs. Are they covered in poop, or does it seem the staff keeps it well maintained.

** Ask Lots of Questions – Do they have a security system that goes off if the dogs get out or someone were to break in? What is their policy on medical care if your dog gets sick?  How many hours of the day is there someone at the location? Do they have an on-call vet? What time do they feed the dogs? What is their policy on giving medication?

** Hang Around Outside the Facility – After your tour, stand outside the place for a while and ask the people going in and out about their experience with the location. Explain it is the first time you are leaving your dog here and want to hear from other people who leave their dogs there.

The most important thing about picking a place is making sure you have complete trust in them, and that they will treat your dog like their own. Milton Manor ended up being absolutely amazing. They were so open, answered all my questions and I fell in love with the place and staff.

Anyone else have suggestions to share? Where are some of the places you leave your dog when you do out of town?

                  Toby had a good time at Milton Manor, but was very happy to be home.

2 thoughts on “Tips on Picking a Place to Board Your Dog Overnight

  1. Hi – my complements on a very well thought out post. Good information. I've had some experience looking for proper boarding facilities.

    Expanding on one of your points:
    – How many hours of the day is there someone at the location?
    Sometimes its OK if there is no one there late at night. Generally I prefer to have some one at the facility or "at home" in the case of kennels with homes attached. During the summer in Phoenix or the winter in Minnesota, if power or heat source fails, what can happen to the boarders is unthinkable.

    – What is their walking/playing/socializing schedule?

    – Do they take in red zone dogs? If so, are they mixed with the general population? This has become a specialty service that is mostly handled well, but you should know in advance (especially if you have a small or shy dog), the noisy guy could be in the room next door.

    – TVs in the dog's room is IMHO a waste of money. Dogs are social animals. I prefer when my dogs have a day camp instead of a blaring TV tuned to Animal Planet. Look for the total experience, especially if boarding for more than just a weekend.

    Like your blog – we'll be watching!
    Stop by when you get a chance.


  2. I bought a dog last week from a dog and puppy website called as e-dogsite. He is just seven months old. When I had bought the puppy I got many tips from the trainer even on this topic through this same website. What I want to suggest is to keep your pet at your neighbor’s house provided they should have any pet at their home. Even I kept my puppy for one night at my neighbor Robert's home.

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