Choosing a Kennel for Your Pet

1. Inspections

Make sure you can inspect the kennel facility. A kennel operator should be happy for you to walk through the facility. Make sure you see where your dog will be kept, where dogs are exercised and where their food is prepared. All these areas should be scrupulously clean and well maintained. If possible, have a look at the dog washing areas and office. All areas of a kennel facility should be clean and tidy. Your nose will tell you how clean the kennels is.

If a kennel operator will not allow you to inspect their kennels perhaps this is not the place to leave your pet.

2. Charges

Ask how the kennels charges for boarding. You may be charged by the night or by the day. Are you charged an extra day if you pick up your pet after a certain time? Ask whether there are any extra charges. Do you have to pay extra to have your pet exercised or washed? Are there extra charges for special feeding or to give medication? Do you have to pay more to have someone play with your dog?

3. Accommodation

Kennels may be indoor or indoor/outdoor. For indoor kennels make sure they have positive ventilation that is capable of forcing in fresh air and extracting stale air. Indoor/outdoor kennels must be able to protect your dog from extremes of climate. What sort of surfaces are the dogs accommodated on? Concrete in good condition is the best surface for indoor/outdoor runs. Sand, dirt, wood chips are all prone to becoming smelly and are difficult to disinfect. Large outdoor runs will usually be grassed. These areas should be clean, well fenced and maintained and free of faeces. Bedding should be clean and made of a material that does not hold, water, fleas or smells.

Most kennels will want to make your dog share a run with another. Are you happy to have your dog share or would you prefer him to have his own space? Under Victorian law it is illegal to house dogs from different families together unless both parties sign a contract saying they are happy to allow their pet to share.

Cats should have plenty of room to move in their enclosures and be well protected from weather. Food bowls should be located away from litter trays.

4. Exercise

Do the dogs and cats get to come out of their runs? How often are they exercised and for how long each time? Do the kennels run dogs separately or in groups. If they are running dogs in groups are they supervised and how do the staff manage dogs that do not “play nicely”?

5. Feeding

How often will your dog be fed and what sort of food will they receive. Is the kennel operator happy to use food you supply? Are there any extra charges for feeding certain foods?

6. Health checks for your pet

The kennel must insist on a sufficient level of vaccination for your pet. Make sure the kennel staff can tell you what level of vaccination is required. Do the kennel staff monitor the wellbeing of your pet? What sort of things do they check. What do they do if anything appears abnormal?

Is there someone on site 24 hours a day? Is a vet always available?

7. Legal Compliance

In Victoria, kennels are governed by state government legislation which is enforced by local councils. Ensure the kennel operator knows what is required by the Boarding Kennel Code of Practice and is confident the facility meets to code. Kennel operation is also governed by the Companion (Feral and Nuisance) Animal Act of the Victorian Parliament. The operator should be familiar with the act and certain sections must be on display in the office for you to read. Kennels are also required to be registered by their local council. A current registration certificate should be on display.

8. A final note

There is no better way to decide on a kennel than to visit a few to see how they compare. Referrals from friends, Vets and other pet businesses are an excellent starting point. If a kennel is located out of town it is still a good idea to inspect before using it the first time. You will then be confident your pet will be happy and well looked after.

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