What to look out for when picking a dog kennel

By Gemma Hopkins on 25 November 2016

You’ve booked your yearly holiday away; which means it’s time to pick a dog kennel for your beloved family pet. To ensure you enjoy a well-earned break you need the knowledge your dog is well cared for in your absence. To avoid unnecessary worry, pick kennels that leave you reassured they’re up to the job. There are key steps to finding the one:

Match the kennel to your dog

Before you start a search for the perfect kennels, take some time to think about what you need, not only what you want for your dog. Does your dog have any medical conditions that need attention whilst you’re away? Are there allergies to manage, or might anxiety be an issue? Every dog is different and nobody knows your dog better than you do. Whatever traits or habits your dog has, write them down and keep these in mind when you make your decision. Equally, it’s important kennel staff know as much as possible about your dog before they become responsible for the health and happiness of your pet.

Shortlist on instinct

Checking the practical issues is pretty straightforward: find out if there’s anything you need to provide, if fees are reasonable, and if they have availability on your chosen dates. What’s not so easy is trying to work out if your dog will be content at boarding kennels. Once you’ve made a shortlist of suitable kennels, visit them in person to inspect the facilities. You’ll know straight away if it feels welcoming or not.

Use all your senses:


Kennels should be well lit and well ventilated. If it’s dark and dingy, you won’t want to stay too long and neither will your dog. You should see plenty of large spaces for dogs to run around in, both under coverand outdoors. Sleeping areas should be separate from feeding points and every surface should look clean and well-maintained.


Kennels are naturally loud environments, but noise levels can be managed through the design of the building. Acoustic ceilings can be used to reduce the noise level and long hallways avoided, since walking past a row of dogs often causes them all to bark at once. If your dog is used to a quiet home, try smaller kennels with less dogs.


Let’s face it, no boarding kennel will smell of roses. Still, if kennels are cleaned both regularly and thoroughly, the smell shouldn’t be offensive. Look out for the systems in place to manage dog waste. Water bowls and other dog paraphernalia should be clean. This is a good sign that your dog can rest easy in a fresh environment.


Flick through any certificates, handbooks, or guest books you’re shown. If a license is needed to run the kennels, check there’s a valid certificate. Other literature produced by the kennels will present information about set schedules for eating, bathing, and exercise, plus emergency situations. Besides this, it’s always nice to see what other families thought of their dog’s stay.


You might want to skip this one, but do check they provide food your dog will happily eat.

If you feel comfortable in the boarding kennel, the chances are your dog will too.



Gemma holds an RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Cardiology and continues to work part time in practice to remain up to date and continue her interest in cardiology.

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