No pet parent will willingly board his GSD in a pet hotel even for a day, right? But what about the business trips and emergency out of town travels which pop up so suddenly, that you absolutely got to go and don’t have anyone to look after your furbaby once you’re gone. Not all of us is lucky enough to have friends or family in town willing to take care of our pets in our absence. Pet boarding seems to be the only option under such circumstances. But you yourself need to have some peace of mind while traveling which can be ensured only if you’re confident about your pet hotel selection. Here’re a few tips to test whether a particular kennel is going to be ideal for your GSD.
1. Kennel Owner’s Reputation
All GSD owners know these special dogs can’t be left behind in cookie cutter hotels like the ones offered by pet store chains. Specific kennels, highly experienced in handling GSDs and in understanding their unique needs, need to be located. The owner’s reputation needs to be checked and it needs to be confirmed by the kennel that they’re actually comfortable handling GSDs and not just other smaller dogs with less specific needs. If your GSD breeder or the trainer your dogs work with, runs a boarding service, nothing better than that: you know her and she knows your dogs. It’s ideal !
2. Get the rules & regulations clarified early on
GSDs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check with your kennel if daily walks and play sessions in the daycare are available. Kennels normally charge a bit extra for these services above the regular boarding fees, but these are services your GSD needs. Many kennels also have video camera installed in the play area and video streaming is available on their website so that you can see your GSDs play and check how they’re doing whenever you can access the internet during your travel.
3. Look out for the neighbors
As we’ve two unneutered GSDs with very high drive, we make sure they’re not placed in presence of other GSDs. Presence of other smaller and calmer dogs in the surroundings is okay; if you’ve multiple GSDs you can board them together if they’ve a good mutual rapport. But the presence of unknown (and older bullying types since my boys are technically still puppies) GSDs can induce pack behavior and disturbance and should best be avoided. There may be circumstances when this can’t be avoided entirely; in that case let the handler know of your dogs’ high drive and temperament.
4. Check the food served and breakfast/dinner schedules
If the kennel’s differ substantially from what your GSDs are used to, leave a bag of their food behind and let the handler know their usual feeding schedules.
5. Take a tour
Most kennels will tell you that pet owners have restricted access and are not allowed beyond a certain point while some allow a tour of their facility. During the tour you can take a look at the designated cage, whether they’ll have a door open in the back so that the GSDs can go out and relieve themselves, does the whole area look clean or not: the more confident kennels with nothing to hide will let you take a tour, provided you don’t disturb their other canine guests. Ask if you can meet with the dog handler so that he’s not an absolute stranger to you and decide whether you can trust this person to take care of your babies when you’re gone.
6. Do a mock trial if you’re a first timer
This is applicable when you’re doing it for the very first time. Before you go out on your actual trip and are still IN TOWN, leave your pets for a day or two at the kennel as a practice run. That way they’ll get to know the environment (somewhat) and won’t feel totally alienated during the actual stay a few days later. Also, when you go to pick them up, they’ll at least get a feeling you didn’t abandon them for good and in the end they’ll always get to be home with you. In case of any adverse reactions, since you’re still in town, you can make tweaks in the boarding plans if required.