Dog boarding

Boarding kennels are the most commonly-used holiday option. Some dogs however, may prefer home boarding - where the dog will stay in the comfort of the sitter’s home. This may be more appropriate for an older dog for example, or a dog that has spent time at a rehoming centre. Some dogs may be happier in a home environment. Consider the pro’s and con’s when choosing between kennels and home boarding.


It is inevitable that you will need to leave your dog at some point, perhaps to go on holiday or away for work. It can be upsetting for both you and your dog when you have to leave him behind, so you will want to ensure he is staying in a safe and happy environment. You may not have family or friends who can look after your dog. Or you may want to consider whether your family or friends are the best people to leave your dog with. Do they have experience with dogs? Would they be aware of the dangers? Will they have the time to give your dog the walks or attention he needs? If not, you might find you need to use a kennel or find someone who offers home boarding. Your dog depends on you to choose the right place. And if you make the right choice you can feel safe in the knowledge your dog is secure and happy.


Ask other dog owners, your vet, animal shelters or trainers for recommendations or choose a registered Kennel or Home Boarder.

Research your options well in advance. Visit Kennels and Sitters in your area, or the area you are likely to be leaving your dog, well before you go away.

If you are researching Kennels, find out the opening hours and turn up unannounced for a show round. Confident kennel owners will be happy to give you a tour.

When you find somewhere you would be comfortable leaving your dog, make sure you book well in advance - particularly during the holidays when Kennels and Boarders can get booked up.

Consider the pro’s and con’s when choosing between a Kennel and Home Boarder. A Home Boarder will likely look after fewer dogs, so it will be a more homely, personal service provided it is well run by a professional. It may also be easier to work special needs into the care routine. Dogs may occasionally be left alone however they should be accompanied at night. A well-run Kennel should be a secure and lively environment with lots of social interaction and activities; however it can be a stressful environment for some dogs. There will be lots of dogs and it will be a very different environment for your dog. There may not be anyone present throughout the night.


Ask lots of questions. A professional Home Boarder or good Kennel will be happy to answer and should have nothing to hide.

Check the Kennel or Home Boarder is insured if your dog needs emergency care. Also check they have Public Liability Insurance.

Ask for references.

The Kennel or Home Boarder should ask to see proof of vaccinations. If the Kennel is not checking this, your dog could be at risk of catching something.

Check if there is a license from the council. Ask to see the paperwork or contact the council to confirm.

If you are visiting Kennels, check they are clean and dry. Check that the dogs are also clean and happy.

If you are Home Boarding your dog, check the house looks clean.

Check that any other dogs at the Kennel / House are clean and happy. Check that there is plenty of access to clean drinking water.

Check that your dog gets along with any other dogs present.

Check that any outside area is safe and securely fenced.

If the facility has equipment such as agility ramps, check that they are well-maintained and safe.

Check to see if staff removes dog’s training collars in the play area. Hazardous collars include choke or slip collars, which can be dangerous if the collar gets caught in play. Some Kennels or daycares will remove all collars or provide ones with safety releases.

The play area should not contain any movable toys, which dogs could fight over.

Check that the staff supervises group play at all time - and not from a video monitor in another room.

There should be at least one staff member supervising play per six dogs. If the dogs-to-staff ratio is any higher, a dog fight could be difficult to control and dogs could be seriously injured very quickly. There need to be enough humans to break them up and calm them down.

Any facility or home boarder you use should have a quiet-play or crate area. Most dogs, especially older ones, may need some alone time.

Some kennels will not have anyone present throughout the night. Consider if you are happy with this or if your dog would be happier with a Home Boarder, where someone will be present at night. Check with your Home Boarder where dogs sleep and ask to see the area, and likewise check that someone will be present throughout the night.

Check if dogs will be left alone for any period and ensure you are happy with arrangements.


If you have a young dog or even an anxious older dog, it is probably a good idea to get him used to being left for short periods at first.

Remember you cannot explain to your dog why you are leaving or how long you will be! So it can be unnerving for him / her.

If your dog is unneutered he may not be accepted. Depending on the other dogs in residence, if you have a bitch in season she also may not be accepted.

Being house trained may be a condition of home boarding. This can affect young puppies and older dogs that are incontinent.

Standard license conditions set by council’s state that puppies under six months cannot be boarded with other dogs.

Dogs that are aggressive toward people are generally not suitable for home boarding.

Dogs on the dangerous dogs register are not allowed to stay with home boarders.


Do not make too much of a fuss leaving your dog. Leave calmly, quickly and quietly. If you make a fuss you can reinforce the idea that something is wrong. Leaving your dog with a jumper or something that smells of you can be comforting.

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