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What is a boarding kennel?

German shepherd in a boarding kennel advice

Boarding kennels take care of your dog while you are away

© Shutterstock

For every dog owner there will come a day when you need to go away and consider who is going to look after your furry friend.

By Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS

Updated on the 20/11/2020, 13:11

Many worried dog owners will hesitate about whether boarding kennels are an option for their dog, especially if they have a nervous dog or it’s their first time staying in a kennel. But generally, boarding kennels are professional establishments, operating with trained, caring staff. There are even the options of luxury kennels and doggy hotels, if your furry friend needs an extra bit of pampering.

Boarding kennels can provide a safe and professional environment where you can rest assured that the friendly, caring staff will treat your pup with utmost care and love.

A professional boarding kennel will have no issue with you looking around before deciding whether it is a good fit for your dog, and this will help you rest assured that your dog will receive great care there. Here is everything you need to know about dog boarding kennels.

What's a boarding kennel for dogs?

A boarding kennel for dogs is a licenced establishment which cares for dogs when their owner is away. This might be for several hours a day, such as when an owner is at work, or long term, such as when the owner is on holiday.

A boarding kennel will usually house many dogs, each in individual living areas. These might be inside or outside, but with a cosy, sheltered area to sleep in. Occasionally, boarding kennels will have communal living arrangements, where multiple dogs can be in one area together. This obviously won’t suit dogs which have been poorly socialised, or that are excessively timid or aggressive. However, some dogs thrive in this environment.

All boarding kennels will have an area to exercise their canine residents multiple times a day, which might be a fenced canine play park, or staff may take dogs on a walk around the local countryside. This ensures that dogs staying there get daily interaction and exercise, and don’t become bored with their living arrangements.

Some boarding kennels offer extra services too, such as grooming and caring for dogs with health ailments. Employed kennel staff are usually very knowledgeable when it comes to caring for dogs.

Are dogs OK in boarding kennels?

Boarding kennels are not suitable for all dogs, but most kennels actively work towards having relaxed, happy dogs while in their care. Therefore, before you assume that your dog is not going to cope in a boarding kennel, it is worth visiting your local kennels in person. Ask how they actively try to prevent stress, and check if the dogs are enjoying themselves or showing signs of anxiety, such as licking their lips, hiding, flattening their ears or growling.

A good alternative to boarding kennels is to use a pet sitter, as then your dog can stay in their own environment. However, a boarding kennel offers attention and supervision all day, cared by trained staff, and a secure and safe area for your dog to stay.

While most dogs are OK in boarding kennels, especially if they have a generally relaxed character, some dogs might feel stressed by staying in an unfamiliar environment. In addition to this, dogs are in close proximity to others in kennels, and therefore if one dog is ill, your dog is more likely to contract it too, compared to if he was at home. However, this is the reason why boarding kennels usually only accept dogs who are up to date with their annual vaccinations, including the Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccination. It is also a good idea to apply a flea preventative treatment to your dog before his stay to ensure he remains OK during the time he’s there.

Are Boarding Kennels profitable?

If you are thinking of starting up a dog boarding kennel or a doggy daycare, you are likely to be thinking about finances too. Britain is a country of animal lovers, and almost a quarter of all households in the UK own a dog. All of those owners will at some point have to make arrangements for their pets when they need to go away and can’t take them, which means boarding kennels are always in need.

On average, a boarding kennel can make a considerable profit when up and running at full capacity but getting to that point can be both labour intensive and expensive. Kennels require a lot of land and buying that space with a mortgage can contribute immensely to your monthly expenses. In addition to that, every animal boarding establishment requires a licence which has different requirements depending on your region. To ensure your kennels are up to scratch you can require a considerable capital investment.

Should I tip the boarding kennel?

There seems to be a lot of debate over whether boarding kennels should be tipped. After all, most people would tip a dog groomer and probably a pet sitter in their home, and so they might feel that any professional care service for dogs also expects tips. But on the other hand, dog boarding kennels can be relatively expensive already.

Generally, dog boarding kennels don’t expect clients to tip them when picking up their dog, but it is always nice to show appreciation for how well they have looked after your dog. So, if you don’t want to leave a gift of money, a box of chocolates, bottle of wine, or dog supplies is a nice gesture. With that being said, there is nothing wrong if you want to tip the staff who have looked after your dog, and it will be gratefully received, especially as most staff don’t earn much more than minimum wage.

Dog Boarding kennels prices

Dog boarding kennel prices vary depending on facilities; however, you can expect to pay between £15-20 per 24 hours for a basic dog boarding kennels, and around £30+ for a luxury dog boarding facility for 24 hours.

Are dogs happy in boarding kennels?

One of the main aims of a good boarding kennel is to ensure the dogs enjoy their stay, as well as remain safe and cared for. Most boarding kennels will do this through providing dogs with plenty of enrichment, in the form of exercise, attention and a nice environment. You can also improve your dog’s stay by leaving him with some home comforts, such as a few of his favourite toys, his bed and something that smells of you, such as an item of clothing.

Boarding kennels are not for every dog though, and some don’t find it a happy experience. You are the best judge of how your dog might cope in kennels.

Kennels near me: Local dog boarding kennels

If you are searching for a local dog boarding kennel, it is a good idea to start by asking friends and family who also have dogs. Personal recommendation is highly valuable and will help you trust that a kennel will truly look after your dog well.

Other than personal recommendation, there are several online boarding kennel directories, such as:

Luxury boarding kennels 

If your furry friend is used to living a life of luxury at home, maybe you’d like to consider booking your dog into a luxury boarding kennel establishment. These are boarding kennels where your dog will get some extra pampering. This might be in the form of extra playtime, doggy massage, bathing, sleeping on human beds, and having luxuriously fitted-out kennel spaces.

Are boarding kennels only for dogs or are there pet kennels?

Many households own dogs and cats, and maybe even small furries and reptiles. If this sounds like your house, you’d probably find it convenient to board all your animals in one place if possible. Many dog boarding kennels also run catteries too, and therefore it is certainly possible for your dog and cat to stay at the same place (although not in the same kennel). Other pet boarding facilities are more specialised, and while they do exist, they are not usually part of a larger boarding facility which also caters for dogs and cats.