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Accommodating your animal companions: Which option is best for you?

There are so many options for pet care it could make your head spin! So, how do you know what’s right for YOUR dog? First, there’s really no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ - unless you don’t research the facility or company you entrust your pets to. Every animal is different and dogs are no exception. What’s most important is that you know and consider the temperament of each individual animal.

Following is a brief summary of the basic differences between alternatives, and the personality types that most commonly fit well. This blog is not intended to disparage, criticize, or malign any of these choices, as all have their due place and benefits. The goal is simply to provide insights into the care you can expect your best friend to be given, and how your pet may perceive each option. As always, my priorities focus solely on the benefit to the individual animal.

Standard Boarding – Standard boarding sounds boring to us humans. In reality, for many dogs it’s more than they bargained for. Standard boarding is when dogs are boarded in kennels. Usually, there will be numerous kennels set up in a ‘boarding’ or ‘bedroom’. They’ll be safe, fed, medicated as needed, get out to potty and may even get some one-on-one time. Additionally a great many standard boarding kennels do play times and daycare groups for their regular, temperament-tested clients. This can greatly benefit highly active and social dogs.

The dogs that typically do best in standard boarding are medium-high activity types, social dogs who happily tolerate different doggy personalities and many different humans. Dogs with a very calm and well-balanced nature who won’t be bothered by the hullabaloo may also do well, though if they aren’t fans of other canines these dogs will spend a large amount of time in either indoor crates or outdoor potty areas. Either way, you can expect your pet will be well cared for in your absence, but unless extremely friendly with other dogs they may not get the ‘playcation’ that we humans envision. Standard boarding and pet resorts may even seem like the end of the world to highly fearful or reactive dogs, because they are in completely alien and stressful environments.

Pet Resorts – Pet resorts are basically exactly what they sound like to people, which to dogs can be either heaven-on-Earth…or the opposite. There are almost always pools, large indoor/outdoor kennels, and massive play groups all day long. These resorts are a sight to behold – for the right dogs. Otherwise, you may as well save a few pennies and go with standard or in-home boarding. The right dogs for pet resorts are extremely active and social. They take canine social cues well and react appropriately, in addition to reliably following human commands. Many pet resorts have a 25 to 1 ratio for human supervision, so the potential danger for reactive or insecure dogs is real. Most resorts do offer options for reactive dogs to be kept separately. They too have their benefits (an indoor/outdoor kennel, for a start), but you will pay more and your dog will often receive less attention than with standard or in-home care. Again, highly fearful and reactive dogs will often not tolerate the stress well.

In-Home Care – In home care should reflect what it is designed to be – personalized attention to your pet for the duration of the visit. This option is best suited for older, less active animals who no longer have the need or the ability to ‘run and gun’ for long periods. They are comfortable in their home environment and will not suffer from longer ‘downtimes’. Additionally, dogs who are fearful or reactive will benefit most from in-home care, as their surroundings and routines remain fairly consistent. Many pet-sitters (myself included) will make special trips and arrangements for these unique individuals. Many of these dogs have been adopted internationally, have had negative experiences or have simply had little-to-no socialization during important periods in their development.

Care in your home is also an advantage to young animals who need to potty and run off some energy while their guardian works. People who would like to come home and relax a bit can avoid having an insanely hyper pup to contend with, and those with time-sensitive medications (be sure to go over this with your sitter!!!) can rest assured that those medications will be administered properly.

Veterinary Boarding – Your pet will be kept safely; important, time-sensitive medications of any type will be administered as directed, and they will be let out during the day to potty. There are no bells and whistles here, but if your pet needs special care, safety may be your first priority. Vet boarding can be an inexpensive option, but space and personal attention may be limited, especially for larger dogs.