Planning a family getaway? Forget asking the neighbor’s kid to feed the dog while you’re away – give yourself peace of mind and take Fido to a boarding facility. With options like daily walks, puppy playtime, special toys and treats, plush bedding and even swimming, these pet resorts make it their job to pamper your pooch so you can enjoy your holiday completely guilt-free.
Many pet resorts strive to offer a home away from home for your furry friend. Instead of traditional dog runs, they feature little rooms or “suites” with lots of light and ventilation. But it gets better. In addition to upgraded bedding, some lodging options include access to outside patio areas for fresh air and – get this – even in-room televisions and webcams. You can choose to have soothing music or even DVDs played based on your dog’s interests. Yes, really.
Outside of their luxurious sleeping quarters, pet resorts typically have ample room so your dog can stretch his legs. There are often spacious indoor areas in case the weather is bad and lots of outdoor space so man’s best friend can chase a few squirrels. Some facilities even have ponds or pools for the four-legged fans of the water.
What to Ask: Where will my dog stay?
When you’re touring the facility, check out your dog’s temporary living space. Crate-trained pets might do better in a crate, so see if you can bring yours along to give your pooch a familiar space. Ask if you can also bring a blanket or toys from home. Be sure to double check ahead of time, because some facilities limit personal items because they can get damaged or misplaced.
Activities & Amenities
A busy dog is a happy dog, which is why pet resorts offer everything from nature walks to swimming to classes. Supervised play in a group setting might be an option if your dog plays nicely with others, and daily walks are standard. While you’re away, you can have your pet work on his tricks – some pet resorts offer agility classes or obedience lessons for an additional fee. There are also options for “spa days” – deluxe grooming to pamper your pet from nose to tail.
What to Ask: What will my dog do all day?
Whether your dog is used to hanging out at home or needs three walks a day, a pet resort can handle it all. Outline a typical day with resort staff so they can offer recommendations for your precious pal, and ask for an explanation of included daily activities and those that come at an additional fee.
Part of the appeal of a pet resort is peace of mind. Staff members are trained to monitor everything from your dog’s behavior to his eliminations (really!). Some facilities offer around-the-clock care so your pet is never alone. Have a picky eater or a pup that loves to roll in mud? Accommodations can be made for everything from hand feedings to medications to bath time.
What to Ask: What happens if there’s an emergency?
Some resorts have certified pet CPR first responders on staff; others have priority care at the nearest vet’s office. Ask about resort protocol in case there’s an emergency situation.
The Working Pet Parent
If you’ve got a full-time job, chances are your pet is spending a lot of time alone. Luckily, there’s an app for that! Here are some of our favorites:
Rover: Every walker has been thoroughly reviewed with a background check. If you book a walker, you’ll receive a report including the start and stop times, a map of the distance walked, bathroom and water breaks and even cute photos and reports of your pet.
Wag!: Similar to Rover, Wag! provides on-demand access to handlers for dog walking, dog sitting or dog boarding.
If your pet isn’t keen on strangers, there’s other routes you can go. Robots like Furbo allow you to watch your pet and even feed him or her treats while you’re not home.
Prep your Pet
If this will be your dog’s first experience away from home, see if you can schedule a half or full day of doggie day care at the resort. Some places offer free sleepover sessions to test drive the experience – a good way to ease stress on the first day of your pet’s boarding stay. Be sure to book your reservation as soon as you find the best place – they tend to fill up quickly, particularly around major holidays. When you drop off your dog, bring along his food, any special instructions and contact information for you and your vet. Then give your pooch a pat, and enjoy your holiday! With so much to do, he’s going to have as much fun as you will.