In every issue of WebMD Pets, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our July/August 2012 issue, we asked WebMD's pet health expert about how to find a good boarding situation for a dog.
Q: My family is leaving for summer vacation soon. How do I choose the best kennel for our dog?
It wouldn't be a family car trip without Fido, but if you want everyone who's along for the ride -- two-legged and four-legged -- to have fun, you need to do some prep work.
"People just jump in the car and think they are prepared," says animal behaviorist Kristen Collins, MS, CPDT, with the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. "But preparation needs to start as far in advance as you know you are going on a trip."
A: "Don't wait," says Nana Will of Gold Hill, Colo., a dog trainer for more than 20 years. Will conducts seminars to train doggy day care staffers at her facility and does consulting work across the country. "Start checking kennels out now, not right before you have to leave. Ask your friends
or your veterinarian for references. Visit the facility you're considering and get a tour," she says.
Ask the staff about the services they offer and if there are structured daily activities. Can you bring your own dog food to keep your dog on the same diet? See what the sleeping quarters are like, and ask who provides the bedding. What's their veterinary care?
Take note of how they handle the dogs and the facility's cleanliness. If your dog hasn't been at a kennel for a while, and you're leaving on a long-term vacation, it's probably best to board your dog for a night or two before you go to get him used to it, she says.