In this day and age, dogs have become a part of the family, and in many cases are considered to be the fur babies to their human parents. We spoil them and in return, they love us unconditionally. So what do we do when the time comes for us to go away and we must find a place that we can trust to take care of our precious bundles of joy?

Selecting the right boarding facility is the key to a stress-free getaway. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are ready to leave your baby:

1. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a trustworthy service in your area. Ask your friends, your family members, or your vet. If you go to a dog park in your community, ask the fellow dog owners for their recommendations. Use Facebook for referrals or Google “Dog Boarding” in your area.

2. It is of utmost importance that every facility you consider is insured; the majority of municipalities require boarding facilities to be licensed. Licensing ensures regular inspections by government officials, but beware, the inspectors are there to make sure the facility is run to city code, not to evaluate the standard of care. Which brings us to the next very important tip.

A number of dogs running free in the dog park.

Dogs playing freely at the dog park.

3. Visit the facility. This will help you determine which is the right one for you and your dog, and will help put your mind at ease. Remember, some facilities have waiting lists and limited visiting hours. Be sure to start your research well in advance of your getaway date. The facility should be clean and well maintained. The dogs should not look stressed out and staff must be attentive and engaged.

4. Be sure to ask the following: What are your protocols and procedures in case of a medical emergency? Fire? Dog fight? What happens if my dog doesn’t eat? Or gets diarrhea? If you don’t like the answers, or if your questions aren’t answered, you might want to think twice about leaving your dog there.

5. What type of staff is employed by the facility? There is no certification that is required in order to work in a boarding facility and different places take different approaches to their staff training. If you are looking at a cage-free facility, make sure to ask about the staff training in dog behaviour, body language and psychology, as well as their experience. Your dog’s safety will depend on it.

6. What are the facility hours? Ask about office hours (when you can drop off and pick up your dog), as well as stalling hours. Some facilities have “on site” staff only a part of the day and others are staffed 24 hours a day.