Boarding Kennel vs. Doggie Day Care?!?

With Doggie Day Care being all the rage right now in the pet world, I asked myself, what is the real difference between an old fashioned boarding kennel and this doggie day care idea?

So, I sat down to do some thinking…

The first thing I think of is that a doggie day care is a wonderful, cage-less environment that dogs get to play in all day while their owners are away. How cool is that?!? I mean, if I was a dog I would want to be doing that… right?

Let’s back up a few years (well, more than a few, but let’s not give our age away). When I started working in the world of veterinary medicine and boarding kennels, there was a standard that was similar across the board. Boarding kennels were a safe place that you could leave your pet while you were gone. All kennels had a variety of cage sizes to meet the need of your pet. Dogs were walked and played with 3 – 4 times a day and not allowed to interact with other pets.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. Today’s pet owner wants the doggie day care, with the four poster beds, sleeper sofa’s and the closed circuit TV’s in each “room”. They want their pet to make lots of doggie friends and have lots of play dates; maybe even a tea party.

But is one really better (or worse) then the other?

Well I am going to give you my two cents (or five cents) of thoughts…

  • No matter where I leave my pet when I am gone, I want them to be clean, safe and well taken care of. I want to employees of the kennel to know what they are doing. I want the employees to know the signs of illness or injury and be able to get my pet the help it might need. I am well aware that a pet in a boarding kennel is a different animal then the pet I have at home. Kennels can be loud and full of energy. Pets can become very excited and might behave in a completely different way.
  • I may know my pet and if he/she is safe and well socialized enough to behave in a group… but I honestly don’t want to put my pet’s safety at risk while I am gone. Pets do not behave in the same manner at a kennel or day care as they do at home, if someone else’s “bad kid” starts a fight, my pet may be injured as a result. I like to know that my pet is receiving one on one attention with the person in charge of their daily care. I want them to know my pet inside and out.
  • Working in the field of veterinary medicine I have been on the receiving end of some other day cares dog fights. Although this does not happen often, it can be very devastating. And even if the odds are one in a million; if that one dog is yours, the odds suddenly don’t matter anymore.
  • Lastly, some dogs, like people (like me) are very introverted. The thought of being put in a yard full of playful, bouncing dogs, sounds like as much fun as scraping dried paint off an old chair. Frankly, I’d rather do the later; I like quiet, calm time!

Are you wondering why am I writing this article?

Not that long ago I was asked to oversee the management and marketing of a boarding kennel. I can honestly say we have one of the cleanest and safest kennels in our area.  Our employees are trained and certified in pet health care. These certifications guarantee that employees have a complete understanding of pet health care and how to recognize and handle emergency situations as well vaccination protocols and behavior assessments.

I thought for a minute… if clients want doggie day care then that’s what we will bring them.

But I think I was wrong (and I only admit that on very rare occasions!). We must strive to do what we do best… and that is focus on a safe, clean environment with a well educated staff of kennel technicians that are backed by veterinary technicians and veterinarians.

So, as always, do what is best for your pet. But think about all the options out there, and about what is most important to you and your pet.


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