The traditional image of a suburban dog owes a lot to stereotypes from movies and old cartoons such as Tom and Jerry - a dog snoozing in a wooden kennel that fits over him like a wooden overcoat.
The thing about wooden kennels is that they're hard to clean, prone to infestations of fleas and red spider mites, and... well, they're just generally outdated. Far better to get a crate - and you can read all about those in the Crate training section of this guide.
Outdoor water bowl - but no wooden kennel!
There will be times when you need to make use of that other kind of kennel - the holiday home for dogs. You might want to take a break somewhere without your pet, or perhaps there's work going on in the house that makes it handy for Fido to vacate the premises for a few days. Whatever the reason, finding a good kennels is very important.
Always check out the place before taking your dog for an extended stay there. There are some great kennels, and some that should, frankly, be closed down.
A good kennel can be a genuinely enjoyable vacation for your pet dogs
What To Expect From A Dog Kennel
If you've not been to a kennels before, you need to manage your expectations. There will always be a lot of barking and howling, and there will be a certain whiff of doggie toilet about the place. That's fine, and unavoidable.
Once you've gotten over the shock effect of meeting a whole bunch of dogs living side by side in one spot, start taking in the important important details:
- You're looking for knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff.
- They should have a demonstrably good diary system - online or wall chart are equally good - for feeding, walking and generally checking on the dogs in their care.
- The premises should be clean and tidy.
- The dog cages should be reasonably clean - obviously there's going to be a bit of poop lying around, but it shouldn't be piling up.
- A good kennels will have a choice of accommodation, from standard crate-like set ups, to heated rooms with TV, etc. Any one-size-fits-all kennels should set your alarm bells ringing.
- Staff should have a genuine affection for dogs, rather than giving the air of someone just working there in the absence of a better job.
A good kennel will provide your dog with exercise and all the fun of a good vacation
Ask questions about when and where the dog will be exercised. The staff should be asking you about whether your dog is good in company, and what his likes and dislikes are. They should have a form for you to fill out, ticking boxes and providing all the info you think is necessary for your pet to have a good time while you're not there.
Words Of Warning
If you know someone who has used the kennels before, that's ideal, as you can ask them questions before visiting the site yourself.
It is unfortunately true that the cheapest kennels will be the worst ones - unless it's a very small set up - for just two or three dogs at a time, say - and you really do get what you pay for - just like at a human holiday resort.
A certain amount of dog poop is inevitable on a kennels' lawn
So, steer clear of the big, badly kept kennels; and also steer clear of the smaller, badly managed ones that look like an afterthought at the back of a farm.
The worst story of this kind that we've heard is of a dog owner who tried to get the attention of the kennel owner by ringing the hand bell. When no one appeared, she went round the back of the very rundown set up and discovered a bonfire - with the charred bones of a dog on top, still smouldering.
A stay in a kennel is always going to be a bit stressful, first time round, and your dog deserves the best you can afford.
To find good kennels in your own particular part of the country, take a look online for local listings. Typing "Dog kennels" and the name of your nearest town into a search engine is a good starting point.