By Angela White


Are you considering running a kennel for those who have a dog and need to be away from home? Do you need to find a place to board your pet when you travel? There are things to think about either way when you're faced with boarding dogs Houston way.

In Texas, there is no agency overseeing boarding kennels, so there are no regulations to enforce standards. This makes opening a facility easy for those who have the experience and equipment to do it right. Unfortunately, it's also easy for people who don't really qualify. You, as owner and responsibility-bearer for your pet, have to make sure you choose a reputable, dependable kennel.

Find out what experts consider the requirements for a good place for dogs away from home. A kennel should have policies in place that let customers know what to expect. This is good for employees, who will know exactly what's in their job description. It reassures owners of cherished pets that they will be cared for day and night.

Owners will want to know how big the runs are, if animals are allowed out of the run at all, and if there is a flea control procedure. No one wants to leave a dog in close confinement for any length of time, but many pet owners don't want their dog turned out with others, for instance, or 'trained' to conform with a kennel owner's idea of behavior. A kennel might be able to offer indoor and outdoor runs (for shelter from the midday sun) as well as an exercise yard where a boarder might be able to run free for an hour or so.

It's good for a facility to 'toot it's own horn', but owners need to make sure this isn't false advertising. An owner might want to drop in unexpectedly to see how things are really run, or leave the animal overnight to see how it seems to adjust to being away from you and to the new place and people. This will be reassuring if you need to leave your pet for a longer period.

It's a good idea to ask friends, groomers, and vets for recommendations, rather than relying on advertising or brief inspections. The best case is when someone tells you of a place they've been happy with for years. Experience helps when dealing with unfamiliar animals and their owners. You alone will know if you want a place where your dog will be treated like family or one with a more impersonal approach.

One thing seems sure: there's a lot of variety in kennels around Houston. Some people sound like professionals, while others seem to be auditioning for surrogate grandmother to your pet. There are sites that list kennels in the area online, if you haven't anyone to ask for recommendations. Kennels may offer references that you can check out.

Leaving a loved companion is stressful enough without making sure that the 'babysitter' is competent, caring, and reliable. You won't want to come home to a dog that smells like an uncleaned pen, or one who has fleas, or one that seems unhappy with the recent experience. If you do the research, you should find a place both of you can be happy with.




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