When deciding where your pet is going to stay when you’re going on holiday you have two main decisions to make; what kind of place do you want them to go to and which one are you going to pick? Whatever decision you do make, it is important to be organised and book as soon as you book your holiday. You would be surprised how quickly places get booked up and even more surprised about the number of people who ring looking for dog boarding only a week or so before they actually need it. Sadly, we have to turn many potential customers away as they have left it too late to contact us and we are already fully booked.
The type of boarding you choose for your dog is fairly simple. Do you want your dog to stay in the more traditional type of kennels, where they stay in a run or do you want them in a more homelike environment? Home boarding is becoming ever more popular and there are plenty of companies out there offering up their homes for your dogs whilst you enjoy your holiday.
Once you have made this decision you need to start finding the right company and people for you and your dog. Ideally you want to get recommendations from people you know who have left their dogs with someone before but this isn’t always possible. A good place to start would be a search engine to find companies in your locality. It is always busy in the run up to a holiday and the last thing you want to be doing is going on a two hour round trip to drop your dog off before you go away.
As home boarders, when people contact us about boarding we always need key information about the dog before we can say yes to them staying with us. With three children under 10 and two of our own dogs we can only board friendly, non-aggressive dogs. As they are staying in our home with us we also wouldn’t have room for larger breeds of dog so this also has an impact on whether we can board them with us or not too.
If we are able to have a dog to stay with us we always offer a pre visit. This is where we go round to meet the dogs and owners and have a good chat. It allows the dogs the chance to meet us before staying and allows us the chance to meet them and get a bit of an insight into their needs. It also allows the owners the chance to ask as many questions as possible; what do they need when they come to stay, where will they sleep at night, how much do we charge, are the dogs walked too? As an owner you need to be completely at ease with what we offer otherwise it will have a negative impact on your holiday. If you aren’t completely satisfied that the place you have chosen is the right decision for you and your dog then keep looking.
If a dog or owner is particularly nervous we will offer a range of options to help settle their nerves. Some owners like to come around and see the house for themselves. This helps to reassure them that their dogs are going to be in a clean and safe environment and also allows them to picture where the dogs will be for the duration of their holiday. Sometimes owners will ask if their dog can stay a night here or there in the run up to their trip away. This helps to give them an idea of how their dog will react when being left. We also have some owners who have asked us to walk their dog in the run up to their holiday in order for us to form that bond with them before they go. Most companies will offer options like this, however it is likely that this will be at a charge so you may need to factor this into your decision.
When dropping a dog off for boarding it’s a little bit like dropping your child off at school on their first day. The best thing to do is to hand over all the equipment and the dog at our door, give them a quick cuddle and stroke to say “so long” and then to leave as quickly as possible. This avoids prolonging the agony which, 95% of the time, is worse for the owners than the dogs! In all of our experience we have only ever had to send one dog home who didn’t settle and this, thankfully, was on a pre-holiday trial visit.
The most important thing though, when leaving your dog, is to try not to worry. Don’t worry if they mess on the floor or they bark to go outside. Don’t worry if they chew things they find on the floor or even shred their bed. True pet sitters won’t be phased by this, they will have seen it all before and will be properly insured against all eventualities. If you have found the right people to look after your pet you will be happy in the knowledge that for however long you are away they will be welcomed into a new home and loved, but that when you come home your furry friend will be as happy to see you as you are to see them.
* What do I need to send with my dog?
You will need to send all completed paper work with your dog if we've not already had it. This is important for a number of reasons but mainly as it has your contact details on and information on what your dog eats. We also ask you to fill in a vet release form too. This gives us permission to take your dog to the vets if needed whilst you are away. It's a rare occurrence, bur can happen so it's always best to send it.
You will need to send enough food for your dog to eat for the duration of his visit. You may want to send some extra just in case. All the running and playing can mean they are a little more hungry than usual. Likewise don't worry if you get some food back. Sometimes dogs go off their food when they're away from home. Rest assured they are offered their food frequently if they aren't eating and will eat when they get hungry.
It can be nice to send your dog's bed with him as then he has a home comfort with him, although this is not necessary as we have our own beds and a very comfortable sofa too!
Your dog may sleep in a crate. We do have a spare crate, but it is only small so have a chat with us about this and we'll let you know if a crate is needed.
Toys are not needed. They can be a cause of tension between different dogs and are likely to get lost around the house. There is always another dog or human to play with so your dog will not get bored during his time with us.
*What should I do when I drop my dog off?
Try and stay as calm and natural as you can. Dogs can sense our emotions and may fret if they pick up that you are worried or upset. Ideally the best place to leave your dog is at the front door. We always keep our own two dogs out of the way when a dog first arrives. This gives him time for a sniff and to settle in before being bombarded with two balls of fluffy madness aka Luther and Lola. After a while we will introduce the dogs to each other and keep an eye on them all as they say hello. We will endeavour to send a text and let you know how your furry friend has settled in.
*Do you keep in touch with me when I'm away?
We try to send texts or emails to you to let you know how your dog is getting on. We recognise that this is often your time away to relax so try not to bombard you. When we can get your dog to sit still for long enough we also try to take photos to send so you can see how he is doing. You can, of course, also send us a quick text to see how he is.
*When can I pick my dog up?
We aim to be as flexible as we can. We recognise that sometimes flights are delayed or traffic is bad so don't worry if you can't make the exact time you told us when you booked. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how you're getting on. If you're really delayed we can always keep your dog for another night so don't panic!
*Can you give my dog medication?
Yes. If you are happy to trust us with your dogs medication then, of course, we are happy to administer it. Please make sure it is clearly labelled so we know what to give and when and it is no trouble to us.
*Will you feed my dog raw food?
If you normally feed your dog raw food then we will happy continue this when you are away. We have a large fridge freezer set aside for dog food and feed one of our own dogs raw food so it is not an issue. We would rather your dog carried on eating what they normally do then have to change to dry so we are happy to accommodate your usual feeding routine. Just make sure you have left clear instructions either with the food or on your booking forms.