Let’s address who this guide is for and who it isn’t for right off the bat.
This guide is for dog owners that know that they want:
Therefore, this guide is written for you, a dog owner, that recognizes that the most important thing when choosing a boarder is that you and your dog are happy! This realization came to me back in 2009 before opening LV Dog Resort in Las Vegas when I myself, boarded my chihuahuas at my trusted vet because boarding choices were limited (luckily things have changed and more dog boarding facilities have popped up in Las Vegas and around the country). I had left town for a family holiday trip that was cut short because I couldn’t bear the thought of my chihuahuas being stuck in a cage for a week. I flew back just so that I could take care of them myself and guarantee that they would both my chihuahuas and I would be happy during the holidays.
There are several ways of finding a dog boarding facility that include both offline and online search methods. Regardless of how you find boarding facilities that make it to the final round, it is important that you do more research so that you can board your dog knowing that they will be safe
If you already have friends or family that own dogs, you are already off to a great start. Simply ask them if they have boarded their dogs at any of the local dog boarding facilities. This is typically the best place to start since their first hand experience can help you narrow boarding facilities down.
What would happen if you found a seemingly great boarding facility that friends or family told you to completely avoid? Of course, with any recommendation you should still do more research about that specific dog hotel and take a tour of the facility if possible
You likely already use social media whether that is Facebook, Twitter, etc so why not use it to get answers from people you might not have thought to ask? The chances that a friend you haven’t been in touch with has gotten a dog and gone through the process of finding a boarding facility on their own. Log onto Facebook or Twitter and post a status update or tweet asking, “What dog boarding facility would you recommend?”
The way I see it, the more suggestions that you can get to narrow it down, the better.
You can also use Google to search using a search like “dog boarding *cityname*”. Back in 2009, typing in “dog boarding las vegas” didn’t yield nearly as many results. You can use this type of search for any city or even use your 5-digit zip code to find only the closest results if distance is a deciding factor for you.
Google Maps and Google+ Local can also help in your search by providing results based on your location and also showing you Google Reviews that Google has compiled from around the web.
Yelp is also worth mentioning since it has been one of the leading business directories that most people use to find their next restaurant, plumber or dog boarding provider.
Note: Yelp has come under fire in past months due to their user-generated review policy. Although negative reviews are typically a sign of poor products or service be careful to not ignore a business because they have a single negative review showing at the top of the page. If you want to get a complete picture of the dog hotel you have pre-selected, you need to read their complete Yelp page to get an idea of what most people’s dog boarding experience has been with that facility.
Tip: Take each review with a grain of salt! Here are 3 things to look at when their is a Yelp review that raises some concerns about the boarding facility.
Most of these things you might not be able to find during your online search and will instead need to physically tour the hotel before making a decision. However, there are dog boarding hotels that make their website or social media pages actually useful for people doing this type of research. My dog boarding website as an example, has actual pictures of the different dog boarding suites, indoor and outdoor play areas so that people can see the hotel before they even visit.
Pictures really are the easiest way to visually scan different dog boarding facilities that have made it up to this point.
You should be able to find pictures of the facility areas, boarding rooms etc on their website.
Note: Make sure that the pictures match up and that the images aren’t stock photos. There are really great stock images out there that could leave you really disappointed when you walk into a facility that looks nothing like what the website showed it as.
A lot of dog boarding facilities that you come across will have very basic websites and this isn’t necessarily a negative. It could very well be the case that they acquire most of their dog boarding customers from offline marketing such as TV, radio or bill boards and therefore the website never became a priority.
There is still a way!
You can usually view a lot more pictures on their Yelp business page that customers have uploaded on their behalf in order to get a better visual of what the facility looks like as a whole.
How big is the community area? Is there even a play area? If you don’t see pictures of an indoor or outdoor play area that might be a clue that your pet might be stuck inside of a kennel during their entire stay.
You should be looking to find whether the facility has indoor and outdoor areas. Indoor areas should be large with plenty of room for the dog to run around. You should check outdoor areas to see that there aren’t any gaps in the wall or fence where your dog, especially if it is a small dog, can run out of.
Most likely, you won’t want your dog sitting in a small cage similar to those found at the found. Look for what the kennel or dog boarding room is made of.
I’d recommend that you find a dog boarding facility that has actual rooms and not just basic fence cages with shared walls. You typically want to avoid fence style kennels since they very often have shared fence walls with other dog guests. It may or may not become an issue but keep in mind that shared fence walls make it easy for your dog and their neighbor to quickly get into a barking competition.
Rooms should have soft bedding or materials that are elevated off the ground to avoid urine or feces coming in contact with their bedding. Rooms should be spacious and should be size appropriate for your dog breed.
Note: Most dog hotels will have different room types and sizes and most offer a “standard room” that should be a good fit for most dogs. If you think that your dog or dogs might need more room during dinner or bedtime, I’d strongly suggest getting a bigger room. Both you and your dog(s) will appreciate it.
Touring the Facility
TIP: You should always tour the facility prior to dropping off your dog at a new dog boarding facility for the first time. Waiting to the last minute to check out the facility might leave you feeling stuck with a facility where your dog won’t be happy at. Do this and avoid worrying and stress during your dog’s boarding time.
Remember: Not all facilities will offer tours but most should be willing. If there is a facility that won’t let you tour the facility proceed with caution. A no tour facility might raise some red flags for dog owners like yourself but there can be some very valid reasons for a limited or no-tour policy. The most important one being the safety and well-being of dog guests at the facility. We all know very well how excited dogs can get when a new human or dog walks in. It also serves to protect staff and the business from liability or potential accidents.
Taste doesn’t really, and shouldn’t, be a sense that you can use to review a facility.
As you go around the hotel touch things to see how they feel for more insight into the level of attention and care that the hotel actively provides
What types of things are most important to you when it comes to finding the right dog boarding facility? Leave a comment below to begin a discussion.