5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

I recently touched on how stressful it can be to prepare for a family vacation. While visiting my local Coinstar machine to cash in for a Starbucks Gift Card is certainly a fun item to check off my to-do list, there’s definitely one thing that has always caused a knot in my stomach. That one thing is the uneasiness I feel (and probably a bit of guilt) at having to leave our dog Socks. In the past he’s had our sweet girl Jenna to keep him company as they were both usually cared for here in our home when we traveled as a family, but Jenna died last year so Socks is our only pet right now. Unfortunately we don’t have someone to take care of him here in our home this year, so a few months ago I started to research boarding options in our area. Not only has he hardly ever been boarded, but he’ll also be alone so I wanted to do a quality search and hopefully ease my mind while also finding someone who would take really great care of our 4-legged family member.

Finding a Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

Hopefully some of the steps I took will help someone else who wants or needs to board their pet, but is feeling just as anxious about it as I am. Here are my best tips when searching for a boarding kennel for your beloved pet.

  1. Search, search, search! I’ve always loved the internet and this has been one of those times it came in really handy. I was quickly able to find a kennel not too far from our home that has a professional website and not only includes several photos of the property, but also a few helpful reviews from others who have boarded a pet at the facility.
  2. Contact the kennel directly either by phone or email. I did both so that I could explain our situation and share a little bit about Socks while also getting a feeling about the people who might be caring for my pet. Fortunately, I got the response I was hoping for, which was an owner who was not only sensitive to his needs but also willing to offer me advice to make it as easy on all of us as possible.
  3. Visit the boarding kennel. By this I mean drive to the location and ask to see where your dog will actually be kenneled. A reputable place should not turn down this request because if they do it’s a big red flag in my book.
  4. Do a trial run. We are going on vacation for over a week, which means Socks’s stay at the kennel will be just as long, so rather than just drop him off at a new place the day before we leave, I decided to take him for a couple of shorter stays a couple weeks apart before we leave. I can’t tell you how much this decision has eased some of my anxiety. The first visit was for one night and the second was for two nights. Both times the staff and kennel owner said he did a great job and even though he was definitely happy to see me when I picked him up after each stay, I could also tell he didn’t seem too stressed. Huge relief.
  5. Find a kennel that offers opportunities for your dog to exercise. Imagining my dog in a small cage for over a week is heartbreaking, so knowing he can get outside regularly offers me definite peace of  mind. The first thing that drew me to this particular kennel was a photo on the website of the HUGE fenced in play yard on the property. Even better was that I learned they also have a walking trail and I was assured Socks would be getting plenty of exercise each day, which would include either playtime in the yard (with or without other dogs – my choice) or a leashed walk in the woods. I’m pretty sure that’s more than he gets with me at home and I’m also sure he’ll love every minute of it.

Knowing that I’ve found a clean kennel where Socks will be treated with a lot of love and attention while we’re gone relieves a great deal of  my stress as I cross things of my travel preparation to-do list. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to drop him off at the kennel before we leave, but at least I know he’ll be in good hands.

*Edited to add these photos sent to us from the kennel while we were on vacation. Socks was definitely very well taken care of, but he was also really happy when we picked him up and brought him home. Choosing a Boarding Kennel for Your Dog



  1. Thank you so much for this! Just thinking about kenneling our dog is stressful. We do love our fur-babies don’t we?
    Deb Wolf recently posted..Thankful Thirty – What Did You Miss?My Profile

    • We love them a LOT, Deb! I hope my tips are helpful!

    • Hey Cathy

      Its a great post and really like the way you have addressed the things.

      Its been always a issue that where we should leave our dog during vacation but after reading this blog I really feel that these vacations will be very relaxed for us and for our pup too.

      Thanks buddy 🙂

  2. i definitely intend to be thorough in my search for a proper kennel for my new favorite dog in the entire world! great tips–thanks!
    grace recently posted..thanksgiving ninjaMy Profile

  3. Its always such a hard task. That’s why we normally try to take them with us!
    Kari recently posted..Gifts for the ImpossibleMy Profile

    • I’ve considered taking Socks with us on a trip, but I think it would be more stressful than leaving him at the kennel. Fortunately (for him) we don’t travel a whole lot and always take him with us when we go on day trips as long as it isn’t too hot outside.

  4. These are great things to consider. I really appreciate this advice. I also feel so much guilt when we go on vacation and leave the other furry family member at home. It’s nice to know they are also off somewhere having a vacation! We have a great “kennel” in our town that is set up like a home, complete with bed!

  5. Search, search search seems so important. It is all about doing your research so that you find the perfect place for your special pet.

  6. I have always had cats so this has never been much of an issue. But I know my dog loving friends really stress and worry over this situation, thanks for the tips!
    Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi recently posted..10 Things I Want To Teach My SonsMy Profile

    • We used to have just cats and it was SO much easier, but now it’s much more difficult to find the right care for our dog. Luckily for all of us, we don’t travel all that much (even though we’d like to).

  7. Thanks for such great tips! We have not had to leave our dogs in a kennel but if I ever do I will definitely remember your tips.
    Tina recently posted..Here are 7 Quick and Easy Family Dinner RecipesMy Profile

    • You’re welcome, Tina! We were very fortunate to not have to worry about it for many years, but it’s definitely a relief to have found a place we can feel good about bringing Socks back to in the future.

  8. It was always super picky with my dog. I ended up hiring people to come to my house. And only people that I knew that would take care of the dog.
    Brandy M recently posted..Salted Caramel Latte CupcakesMy Profile

  9. we just had an interesting time with a dog sitter. I am considering doing the kennel thing again. Thanks for the tips.
    maria @ close to home recently posted..Easy Big Game Day Snacks and Decor IdeasMy Profile

    • Oh boy, it sounds like there’s definitely a story there, Maria. I hope everything worked out and that you can find a good fit for your dog in the future. Goodness knows we should relax and not have to worry about a furry family members while on vacation.

  10. SO important. You wouldn’t just leave your children with anyone, the same goes for your pet. We have a kennel we’re happy with – did a weekend trial once, our dog came back happy, clean and most importantly healthy!
    Debra recently posted..Easy Weeknight Meal in Less Than 30 Minutes – Light Chicken Pot Pie #EatLightEatRightMy Profile

    • I totally agree with you, Debra. It makes going away on vacation that much more relaxing when we know our 4-legged family members are being well taken care of while we’re gone.

  11. Great tips. We only have cats and thankfully my parents can help us watch them when we go out of town. I woudl be so nervous to leave our pets.
    Censie recently posted..Me Time, Relaxation & Mountain AirMy Profile

  12. One of the brilliant items i’ve seen this week.

  13. I also have a very active dog. I agree with finding a care center that compliments the needs of your dog. My dog is fairly timid, but when we are out of town we don’ t have anywhere for him. If you do your research you should be able to find a doggy day care in your area. Great advice.

  14. Doing a trial run for my dog before dropping him off at a boarding facility seems like a great idea. I’ve been worried about how my dog would adjust to being in a new place while I’m on vacation. Allowing him to visit the facility and take a few short stays there would be a good way for him to adjust to a new environment before I leave in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the tips!

    • Thank you for the comment, Judy. I think having those trial visits was very important for our dog (and for me) to make us both feel more comfortable about the longer stay.

  15. The last time I went on vacation I hired a pet sitter but it didn’t go so well. I’m hoping that a boarding kennel will be a better fit for my little dog. Thanks for this info on finding the right kennel for your dog. I think it’s brilliant to bring your dog to the kennel to give them the chance to feel it out before actually leaving on vacation. I’ll try this!

  16. I am so glad that you mentioned finding a kennel that provides opportunities for my dog to exercise. My husband and I are going on vacation, and we need a facility that has options and places for my very active dog to run and play. I wouldn’t want him to be cooped up all day.

  17. I really like that tip to drop your dog off at the kennel for a few short days before your trip. That way they can get used to the place and build an understanding that you will return.

  18. I really like your tip about having your pet stay at a boarding facility for a small trial run before you leave on a trip that might be a week or longer. My husband and I are wanting to take a beach vacation before the weather gets cold. We’re trying to find a good place that can watch our dog while we’re gone. I like the idea of maybe having him stay for maybe a day or two to see if he likes it.

  19. The article makes a very good point about choosing kennels that allow your dog to exercise. After all, if you’re going to be on vacation for more than a week then you want to give your dog a chance to work out. A good kennel will have some king of play time where your dog can get the exercise they need.

  20. Finding a boarding kennel for your dog can be a very stressful experience but these tips will be very helpful for me. thanks

  21. Love the pics of the dog! So adorable!

  22. It’s good to know that you were able to find a nearby boarding facility for your dog just by simply looking online. I haven’t tried doing it yet but I personally want to pick a place where I can be assured that he’ll be taken care of. It might also be a good idea to verify first if they offer pick-up services for my pet before I trust them with my dog.

  23. Great tips! I would also recommend if your neighbor or friend can take care of the dog while you are away. I remember once I went off for a 5 days trip with my family, my neighbors themselves volunteered to host and care for my pet pug Mack, while we were away and they did an excellent job.

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    Aca Baranton recently posted..How to remove tick from dog with alcoholMy Profile

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    5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

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