Choosing a Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

choosing a boarding kennel

Every year millions of dog lovers are faced with the task of finding reliable holiday care for their pet whilst they are away. The best kennels are often booked up months in advance, particularly for popular holiday periods, so start planning early to ensure you can find a suitable boarding facility available for the dates of your trip.

For your pet's welfare, and your own peace of mind, it is important you take the time to find the right boarding service for your dog's needs. Where possible, contact at least two or three kennels in your area and ask questions about the service they offer. Once you have narrowed down your choice, visit the best candidate(s) to see the boarding facilities in person. It is important you visit the boarding kennel before you go on holiday. You do not want to turn up the day before you are due to leave, find the facilities are not what you were expecting and have no where to board your dog while you are away.

All kennels must be licenced by their local authority and should have a current certificate on display to prove this. They may also be a member of a professional body that sets further standards such as the Pet Care Trust (PCT) or have vet references.

Some boarding kennels welcome visits without a prior appointment which is an excellent way to see what the kennel is like day-to-day. When you visit, have a good look around at the places your dog will be sleeping, playing and exercising in. Some facilities have a range of kennel sizes, so check which your dog would stay in.

Kennels should provide your pet with a sleeping area and an exercise run. Dogs should also have regular walks or access to a large secure exercise pen for play times. Check with the kennel the frequency and duration of the walks provided. A dog that does not get enough exercise will become more stressed in the kennel environment.

To minimise the danger of spreading infections, the boarding facilities should be designed so that dogs from different households cannot come into contact with each other. The kennels should be clean, tidy, light and well ventilated. A properly ventilated and cleaned boarding facility should not have any bad smells. The pens should be secure, well built and well maintained. The animals currently being boarded should look relaxed and, although dogs may initially bark and be excited, when you visit they should settle down again quickly.

Quick Kennel Check List

A good boarding facility will answer yes to the following questions:

  • Are the staff friendly, caring and experienced?
  • Is the accommodation safe, secure and in good repair?
  • Is there adequate ventilation, light and heating?
  • Do they insist dogs are vaccinated?
  • Are you asked for written information about your dog?
  • Do they have a vet on call 24/7?
  • Can they accommodate the dates you require?
  • Can they cope with any special requirements such as grooming?
  • If you have more than one dog, can they stay together?
  • If relevant, are other types of pets kept out of sight/hearing (to minimise stress)?
  • Do they have a licence?

If you are not satisfied with the boarding kennel you visit then go back to your list and visit another one. You should only leave your dog at a boarding facility you are entirely comfortable with.


When you book, the boarding facility should keep a written record of your contact details, your regular vets contact details, someone to contact in an emergency if you are unreachable and your dog's needs including any special feeding or exercise requirements and medical conditions.

The boarding kennel should insist that all dogs are vaccinated before being boarded. You will need a certificate from your vet showing your dogs vaccinations are up to date. Do not forget to take it with you! If you do not show your certificate, your pet will not be allowed to stay. Click here for more information on vaccination requirements.

Check with the boarding staff what other items you will need to provide. These may include your pets favourite toys, treats, bedding and a collar/lead. Familiar toys and bedding help your pet feel more at home. If your pet requires a special diet or has any medical conditions discuss this with the boarding staff before booking to ensure your pets needs can be accommodated.

If you are planning a long stay away, or are worried about how your dog will cope, then you may want to consider boarding your dog for a short period such as a weekend before leaving them for longer.

Carefully planning will ensure that your dog can enjoy a pleasant holiday too.

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