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Dog Boarding:  Six questions to ask before you decide

The most popular individual pet owned in the United Kingdom is the dog, with 24 percent of people owning one; that means that essentially one in four of us own one or more dogs.

Dogs are more than just cuddly companions. Pets can bring real health benefits to their owners, not least encouraging regular exercise. Having a dog around can lead to lower levels of stress for both adults and kids and research has shown that having a dog can be linked to lower blood pressure. But what about when you, as a dog owner, want to go on holiday? For your own piece of mind, it’s important to know just who will be caring for your dog while you are away.

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So here’s our suggestion of  what six questions to ask before you let a stranger look after your dog.

Is the boarder licenced?

Anyone boarding dogs in their home is required by law to obtain an Animal Boarding Licence from their local council. Unfortunately there are many unlicenced home boarders about. Of course, the lack of a licence doesn’t mean your dog will not be taken very good care of, but it does mean the carer is breaking the law. The licence is your guarantee that they have been inspected by the council in accordance with their animal welfare standards.

Are they insured?

Any reputable boarder should have full Public Liability and Care, Custody and Control Insurance. Most will have this, as it is as much in their own interest as yours, but always check. And bear in mind that, even if they do have insurance, it may be invalid if they are unlicenced.

How many other dogs will be boarded at the same time?The council will usually set a limit as part of the licence conditions, but some boarders will only take dogs from one family at any one time so, if your dog is nervous of other dogs, or you would like them to have 1:1 attention, this may be more suitable for you.

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Can you take your dog to meet the boarder before the holiday? You will naturally want to meet the person who is looking after your dog and see where he is going to stay. Any reputable boarder will encourage this as they will also want to meet and assess your dog as well, but I know of one national company which does not allow it.

What backup does the boarder have in the event of an emergency?

If you are using one of the various national boarding companies, do they have a local co-ordinator providing 24/7 support for their boarders? The online companies, simply because they operate online only, are unable to provide such a personal level of support.

What experience does the boarder have?

Ask them about their own experience of dog ownership, or whether they have other experience of working with dogs, perhaps with a kennels or rescue organisation, or in dog training. If your dog is a breed that has special needs, do they have experience of that breed? Question the motives and ability of someone who has no previous experience with dogs.

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