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Finding an Ideal Dog Kennel

The best way to find the right kennel for your dog is to visit the boarding kennels in your area before you need one. The day you drop off your dog is not the time to discover dirty conditions or broken fences. A reputable kennel operator will welcome your visit. If you aren't allowed to inspect the kennel, don't board there.

All the fences and gates should be in good repair, with no jagged bits of wire or metal sticking out and no holes. The pens also should be clean. You may smell a doggy odor in the kennel, but it shouldn't smell like urine or feces. Each dog should have fresh water in clean buckets or bowls, and you should see no dirty food dishes.

If you live in a large urban area, your city may have kennels with individual rooms for the dogs, innerspring mattresses, and piped-in music. These amenities, of course, cost much more than the traditional kennel with cement-floored dog runs, but your dog will love them!

Here are a few important considerations as you select a kennel:

  • Many kennels have large play areas for groups of dogs. Ask prospective kennels how they determine if the dogs are friendly and how they supervise the areas. If you don't want your dog to play with others, tell the operator before you leave your dog.
  • If your dog is on medication, ask if the kennels are willing to treat your pet. Some kennels charge extra for this service.
  • Find out what shots the kennels require. Most kennels require proof of rabies vaccination, as well as distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella (or "kennel cough" — an airborne virus that can travel rapidly through a kennel). If you don't vaccinate yearly but use a titer test (a blood test that shows the level of protection against a specific disease), ask if this report is acceptable.
  • Most kennel operators ask for the name and number of your veterinarian. If they don't ask, make sure you give it to them. Find out how they treat medical emergencies and if they have veterinarians they use, should yours be unavailable. If the veterinarian of the kennel you choose is closer than yours, you may want to give permission to use its veterinarian if time is a factor.
  • Find out if the kennel has some kind of grooming facility. The kennel may be able to give your dog a bath before you pick her up. It's also convenient to have the kennel take care of small tasks like nail clipping if you feel comfortable with this.

After you select a kennel, it's time to reserve a spot for your dog. The best time to make kennel reservations depends on the time of year you plan to board. Many kennels are booked for Christmas by mid-November. Summer is always busy, and reservations will require a call three to four weeks ahead. But if you're boarding your dog in February, the day before is probably time enough.

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