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Choosing the Right Kennel
© By Charlotte Mielziner
Professional Member, APDT
Certified in Canine Behavior, Purdue University
Certified Private Trainer, ABTA
Rally Judge, AKC and MBDC

For a worry free vacation, the right kennel can set your mind at ease knowing your border collie is safe and well taken care of. Kennels have evolved from a cramped cage to luxurious condos where you check the online doggie cam and watch Fluffy nap in her cot while 101 Dalmations plays on the TV. Your holiday should be so good. Whether or not your dog needs fresh baked gourmet treats after a massage is up to you. However, there are several basics you should watch for when selecting the right kennel.

Check to make sure they are a member of the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA), formerly known as the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA). This group promotes professional and ethical standards of care and safety and even inspects and accredits facilities and has a certification program for the operators. Look for these certificates and any state licensing that may apply. For more information, check the PCSA website.

Asking friends and neighbors for a referral is a good start, but make sure to ask the experts. Contact groomers, veterinarians, dog trainers and kennel clubs for the name of a quality kennel they recommend. Get details. Ask them what they particularly like about the facilities.

Visiting the kennel ahead of time is a prudent step. Some pet care facilities have online virtual tours that you may wish to see first. Upon arrival, look around. What is your general impression? Is the building and grounds clean and well maintained? While there is at least a tinge of doggie odor in the cleanest of kennels, is it overpowering or reeks of old urine? Refrain from visiting in the first or last hour of the day. Kennels are bustling at these times feeding the animals, cleaning runs, receiving guests and your visit may inhibit the workers and overly excite the dogs. Fridays and Mondays are usually the busiest days. If you are not allowed into the kennel area, consider it a good sign. Visitors can arouse the dogs and potentially carry diseases.

Bringing your own feed and/or treats will minimize the digestive upset of a change in diet. The right kennel will note the type and amount for your border collie on an information card and mark the container of feed specifically for your dog. If you feed your dog once per day, it is a good idea to go with twice per day if that is what the kennel does. The stress on your dog seeing and smelling other dogs getting dinner may cause additional anxiety.

Allowing you to bring your dog’s bed and perhaps a few favorite toys is a sign you have found the right kennel. Border collies need more activities than most other breeds. You may even want to bring along a towel or old T-shirt you have used to comfort your dog with your smell. Make sure the bedding and toys are clean.

The right kennel will ask about any health or behavioral issues and be willing and able to administer the correct medicines. Make sure dosages are labeled and easy to read. Some kennels charge for this service, others say they don’t want owners to decide whether to include their pet’s medications based on finances.

Your Border collie may need additional physical outlets while you are gone. Exercise minimizes stress, behavioral problems and relieves boredom. Look for a kennel that offers some level of exercise for your dog in either a secure run, or on walks. This may also involve an additional charge at some kennels. View the exercise pen. Is it well maintained? Are toys and water available? If dogs are let out together are there enough workers to oversee and maintain safety?

In some states kennels are required to refuse service to dogs that are not current on vaccines. Basic vaccines are rabies, DHLPP and Bordatello. Up to date vaccines protect not only your dog, but others as well. The kennel should make note of the expiration dates and ensure that there is compliance. The right kennel will also be able to transport your dog to your veterinarian if urgent care is needed. You should leave contact information with them in case your authorization for services is needed.

The workers in the right kennel truly love dogs. Watch them as they work. Are they energetic and thorough? Do they pause a moment to make each dog feel special? The right people caring for your dogs can make all the difference in his stay.

The right kennel is not always the most convenient to your home and may not be the least expensive, but it is the kennel that cares for your border collie as if he were their own. It’s like summer camp for Fido. They are overjoyed to see you again, but return home healthy and happy. When you have found the best facility, stick with it. Give them your support by recommending their service to your friends. Travel at peace, knowing your pet is in good hands.

You are welcome to use this article but please give credit to Charlotte Mielziner and Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue. Please let us know by emailing us!

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