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Holiday booked! Now where will my dog stay?!

Jim Suswain
Friday, May 19, 2017

In an ideal world we would all be able to take our dogs on holiday with us or have a friend or family member who is able to look after our faithful friend when we go away. Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world and very often as dog owners we require care for our pets when we go away. This article is intended to provide dog owners with an overview of the dog care services available to them and what to look for when assessing these various options.

Traditional Kennels

Far and away still the most well known option available to dog owners are kennels. There are a huge range of kennel services operating across the UK presented and marketed in various ways. The key thing to bear in mind here is that whether they are one of the self styled "dog hotels" with luxury bedding, televisions etc or a less glamorous more "traditional" kennel, they are typically providing the same service - an isolated room for your dog with limited socialisation and exercise opportunities.

Kennels may be fine for some dogs but for many it will be difficult adjusting from family life to the more isolated kennel environment and for many owners it can be difficult to leave their dog in this situation. From the many conversations I have had owners of rescue dogs are often particularly keen to avoid using kennels as it can undo a lot of the hard work they have put in to build a bond with their pet and cause old anxieties to resurface.

In terms of cost kennels can often appear cheaper than other services but I would also urge owners to check what is included in the published price. Many kennels have started operating what one of my friends calls a "penny pinching" service whereby they charge for additional services such as extra walk time or human interaction for your dog. While researching this article one kennel I found charged £8.00 for an additional hour long walk in addition to the daily charge, while another charged an additional fee for one to one time with your dog.

If you are looking at using a kennelling service then it is imperative that you visit the kennels, talk to the staff and ideally speak to other owners who have used this facility and get their feedback on the service. As the Kennel Club state on their website "The best advice when considering leaving your pet with a kennel is to visit the establishment on your own and have a good look around and chat with the owner or staff. If you like what you see then you may wish to try them out, the best endorsement of course would be from any friend or family member who had already used their services."

Home Dog Boarding

A dog ready for holiday!

Home dog boarding is exactly what it says; your dog will stay in someone's home while you are away. The standard provided by home boarders varies greatly. Done well home boarding gives your dog his own holiday in a loving environment allowing you to relax and enjoy your own holiday. Done badly, as it often is, this service can compromise your pet's welfare as some individuals/companies try to cram as many dogs as possible into their own home (effectively an unregulated kennel), some prevent you from seeing where your dog will be staying whilst others try to deliver this service alongside others such as dog walking reducing the level of attention your dog will receive.

The Kennel Club provides the following recommendation when using this type of service; "So that you can relax whilst you are away, it is essential that you meet the pet sitter in advance of leaving, check any references, insurance cover and leave up to date contact details." I would take this one step further and say that if you are going to use home boarding for your dog you should insist that you AND your dog meet the person who will be caring for your dog in their home prior to the board taking place. This ensures that when the board commences your dog is familiar with his holiday surroundings and both you and the carer are completely happy. In addition to this many local councils interpret the Animal Boarding Establishments Act of 1963 to mean that individuals and businesses require a license to provide this service. If you live in an area where this is the case then it is a legal requirement for dog boarders to have this license and you should check that they have this in place.

Dog Sitting

Often confused with dog boarding dog sitting is when someone comes into your home to stay with your dog while you are away.

From your dog's point of view this can remove the stress on your dog as he isn't relocated and remains in familiar surroundings while you are away. However, this service has other issues most obviously being are you happy to have a stranger living in your house while you are away? Clearly it doesn't need to be said that if you are planning to use this type of dog care you should do thorough research and ensure that the person you use is reliable, trustworthy and well recommended. I have heard one story of an owner who used this type of service having the only copy of their wedding video replaced with a national soap opera by a pet sitter who was an avid fan of that programme!

Some dog sitting services do not live in and simply commit to visiting your home on a daily basis to check on and walk your dog. This is a very different service as it will mean that, although your dog stays in his own home, he will be left alone for long periods which is clearly not ideal, potentially bordering on cruelty. UK law states that a dog sitter (and owner) can be prosecuted under the Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960 if, through being left for too long a period, unnecessary suffering is caused to the animal.


Hopefully this has provided you with a clear insight into the services available to you the next time you have to leave your dog. No matter which service you use my overriding advice would be make sure that you visit the premises where your dog will be staying with your dog, if your dog will be mixed with others that he is well socialised with them prior to your holiday and to make sure that the company/ individual you plan to use complies with all legal requirements for the service they offer. If you have any doubts about the service please don't proceed with the holiday! I wish you and your dogs very happy holidays!

Jim Suswain is a Director of Wagging Tails, a home dog boarding company that provides dogs with their very own holidays while their owners are away. For further information please visit the Wagging Tails website .