Choosing the right home boarder for your dog is pretty much on a level with choosing a childminder. You need to feel reassured that your dog will be safe, happy and fulfilled, and that you can trust the person that's going to step in to your shoes as the dog's carer while you are away.
The good home boarders are booked up months in advance. Spaces during the school holidays, bank holiday weekends and summer months are almost impossible to find if you're looking at short notice. Boarders that have been established for a while will have regulars and repeats that we will want to give priority to for being loyal, so it is often difficult to get a foot on the ladder until you've sent your dog for a trial night and a couple of short stays.
If I'm fully booked, I have a network of colleagues who are also licensed home boarders and will help you to find a good alternative.
As well as your dog's reaction and your own impressions at the initial meeting, here are some points to consider and questions to ask which may help you:
Ask to see the Animal Boarding Licence issued by the local council for the address the dog will be staying at. There is no situation in which a person can accept payment for boarding a dog without a licence and an unlicensed boarder would also not be covered by insurance.
Always make sure you go to meet the boarder at their home and meet any resident dogs that yours will be living with to make sure they are compatible. I always insist on any dogs meeting on neutral territory first, enjoying a walk to get to know each other before returning to the house together.
Arrange a trial night as soon as possible to make sure both your dog and the boarder are compatible. I always insist on a trial night before committing to a new booking.
If your dog is the active, energetic kind, ask how much exercise and play they will have. The dogs that stay with me can join me on most of my daily walks.
Make sure your dog going to be treated like part of the family. Allowed to join in with daily life, be in the same room, share the sofa. Most of my little guests sleep in the bedroom with me!
If you've enquired with a large franchise operation and you're told you can't meet the host family, walk away. This is not normal practice among good home boarders.
Make sure there is secure fencing around the garden so your dog can't escape when the door is opened. Also make sure your dog will never be left alone and unsupervised in the garden, as this is how most pets escape or are stolen.
Ask to see the emergency procedure plans, including vet provision, fire/flood evacuation plans, back up contacts and keyholders.
Ask about hygiene procedures. You don’t want your dog coming home with fleas!
Ask to see the insurance certificate from a pet business insurer which covers you in the event of something going wrong.
Ask if the boarder has done a workshop in Canine First Aid and CPR and ask to see the certificate.
Ask to see the DBS certificate issued by Disclosure Scotland (a bit like a CRB check).
Ask for references from previous clients, other dog walkers, vets, groomers and daycare centres.
Does the home boarder have a public facebook page or website for their business with reviews? If they haven’t, it may be that they aren’t legitimate or they have unhappy clients.
PROVIDING HOME BOARDING WITHOUT A LICENCE IS AGAINST THE LAW AND UNLICENSED BOARDERS CAN BE PROSECUTED, FINED AND SHUT DOWN.
(C) Copyright 2017 Rosie Littlewood. All rights reserved.