Worried about boarding your four-legged, fur child for the first time? Well put those worries to rest! This article will tell you honestly about the pros and cons of using a boarding facility.
The Upside of Boarding
Believe me when I say boarding staff has pretty much seen it all or heard it all. Boarding facilities have protocols in place to handle just about every possible situation involving your pet. Your pet decides to be picky and not eat?- We have ways to entice them to eat. Your pet all of a sudden develops an upset stomach and having the runs?- There are ways to fix that. Does your pet have separation anxiety and get nervous in a new place?-Not to worry, we know how to be patient and kind with all animals to help build up their trust and make them comfortable.
When you board your pet, it isn’t much different than sending your human child to a babysitter. Boarding facilities do not hire just anybody. We hire dedicated individuals who love animals and will treat yours like we would our own. Employees are professionally trained to take the best care of your pet as possible.
Your pet needs medications while you are gone? No sweat! Staff members are trained how to give appropriate medications at the correct times. Many facilities can even give injections to your pet if needed, i.e. if your pet is diabetic or has any other medical condition that requires injections. This may cost extra, but know the staff member giving the injection has been professionally trained how to administer it so error is extremely unlikely.
Have you heard the expression “No news is good news”? Well this is the case with many facilities. While every place is different, we all know that you are leaving your pet for a reason, whether it be work related, family emergency, vacation, etc., and do not want to bother you. However, like any loving parent, we know it is impossible not to worry about your fur-child. Do not hesitate to phone/email us for updates on your pet to put your mind at ease. Believe me when I say, it happens all the time so we do not mind at all! Documentation is kept on how your pet is eating, playing, their personality, etc., so we will be more than happy to update you on how your pets stay is going
The Downside of Boarding
With all positives, there are, of course, some negatives. As I said earlier, taking your pet to boarding is like taking a child to a babysitter. Just like a clumsy 2-year-old, it is always possible your pet will go home with an extra scratch or bump. While it is extremely uncommon for an animal to get an injury while boarding, it is a possibility. It might be something minor like a scratch on their nose they got from the fence or something a little more serious such as a bite from a fellow boarder or your dog contracting and illness like Bordetella bronchiseptica, more commonly known as ‘Kennel Cough’, due to their vaccinations not being up to date. While unlikely, anything is possible.
While boarding staff gives your pet as much attention as possible, it is admittedly less than a pet sitter could offer. While we wish our job only consisted of playing with your dog all day, snuggling up with them, and giving them all kinds of love, this is actually only a part of our daily responsibilities. There is cleaning, feeding, walking, watering, more cleaning, medicating, laundry, bathing, more cleaning (you wouldn’t believe how much cleaning goes on), and other daily tasks to complete throughout the day. Also keep in mind there are usually anywhere from 20 to 100+ other pets that stay at boarding facilities on a daily basis, and we want to make sure all the boarders get taken care of properly. We want all of the pets to feel loved, but keep in mind when there are 50 others to love on too; it makes it hard to not feel guilty when we give one pet more loving than the other. At some places, playtime with other dogs or a game of fetch is included in boarding cost, but at other facilities, you can pay for extra playtime or an extra long walk for an additional fee if desired.
What Boarding Facility Employees Wish You Knew (But Don’t Want To Be Rude and Tell You)
While many places understand, and even encourage you to bring your pet’s belongings to make them feel more at home while boarding, please do not bring the whole house and their entire toy box. We know you want to make Fru-fru as comfortable as possible while you are away, but bringing fifteen toys, three blankets, and an old shoe is a bit excessive. The perfect packing list includes a bed or blanket, a couple toys, and treats/ bones.
Some, but not all, facilities will offer to feed your pet a facility provided food at no extra cost to you. You’ll have to check with each facility since they all differ. If you want to bring your own food, go right on ahead and bring it! However, be mindful of the boarding facilities instructions on bringing food. We do not give you instructions to be annoying and inconvenient, it is just that some facilities have plenty of room for you to bring Sir Fluffykins’s entire 15 pound bag of food, but other facilities have limited space and ask you to only bring enough, plus a little extra, for the duration of their stay.
Please, please, please tell us at check in if your pet has something physically wrong with them. Something as simple as a scratch on Shadow’s right ear will get noticed by one person or another and we will be alarmed thinking he got it while boarding. Or if it is something more chronic, like arthritis which causes Buddy to have a really hard time getting up and he sometimes needs a little assistance, let us know so we aren’t surprised or worried. When you have worked in a boarding facility for a while, you see both minor and major health issues and know the seriousness of each situation. As I said, we treat your pet like our own so we worry for them too.
If your dog can jump fences, climb fences, or dig out from under them, let the staff know when you drop off BEFORE we take your pet to the back. In many facilities, when dogs arrive, they get taken to the back to go outside to do their ‘business’, and the we don’t necessarily stand there and watch them—no different than when you let your dog out in your own backyard without supervision. With this being said, if your dog is a Houdini and can somehow make a great escape, let us know immediately! If we know you fur-child is a sneaky escape artist we will be able take extra precautions to ensure your dog stays safely on the property.
All boarding facilities require your pet to be up to date on their vaccinations not only for their health, but for the health of the other boarders as well. While this can be inconvenient, it is extremely important to comply with the rules. The best way to know if your pet is good to go for their boarding stay, either physically drop off a copy of your pet’s vaccination history beforehand, or fax or email a copy to the facility sometime before your pets stay. Please note: it is YOUR responsibility to get the vaccinations to the boarding facility.
The most important thing boarding employees want you to know: we will love your pet! We will take the best care of them as possible no matter what their needs might be. Getting greeted by wagging tails, dog kisses, and purring cats are just a few benefits we receive on a daily basis. Having your pet stay will only add to the fun!
Still Not Convinced?
If you are still unsure about leaving your pet, many facilities offer day boarding. With this option, you are able to leave your pet for just one day or night to see how they do. This will allow time for you to adjust while still being in town in case there is an emergency, and it will also allow time for your pet to adjust as well. Also, take a tour of the facility! You can see the different room options the facility offers to ease your fears and help you make a more confident decision about leaving your fur-baby in our very capable hands.
And remember, not all boarding facilities are the same. Just because you don’t like one, do not let that stop you from trying a different facility. You and your pet are likely to fall in love with one and become an extended family member of a boarding facility staff.