SAN DIEGO, Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent study by Orbitz, 33 percent of travelers feel guilty about leaving their pet behind. To help pet parents ease their guilt during holiday travel, Meagan Karnes, animal behaviorist and general manager for the Pooch Hotel in Richardson, TX, the five-star boarding and daycare chain, shares her tips for choosing the right boarding facility. Karnes has nearly a decade of training experience and specializes in severe behavioral issues such as anxiety.
Tip #1: Ask how medical emergencies are handled to be sure there is a protocol in place and that the staff is well versed in it. Look for a facility with a strong relationship with a 24-hour veterinarian so that, in the event of a medical emergency, treatment is available. If the facility is unable to reach you while away, ensure pets will still receive emergency care as promptly as is needed.
Tip #2: Ask them to describe the daily routine for visiting dogs. Dogs should be taken out of kennels frequently for potty breaks to avoid kennel messes and to burn off excessive energy. The more potty breaks from their kennel, the better!
Tip #3: Look for amenities designed to lessen the stress of an environment change. One way for a dog to achieve mental well-being in a stressful situation is through exercise. There is truth to the saying "A tired dog is a happy dog". Choose a facility with plenty of outlets for extra energy such as ball toss games, treadmill training or other forms of exercise. For social dogs, choosing a facility with a group play option could help minimize the stress of boarding.
Tip #4: Ask how often the facility is disinfected, what is used and to describe their cleaning protocols. A clean facility will help ensure dogs come home healthy and free of communicable disease.
Tip #5: For dogs participating in group play, ensure there is an attendant supervising at all times. Many facilities leave dogs unattended in group play which can be dangerous, especially if a scuffle were to occur. Ask what type of formal training their play group attendants have completed – this is a must.
Tip #6: Is the facility staffed 24 hours a day? This ensures pets aren't left alone and someone is always available in the event of an emergency.
Tip #7: Ask about the staff's training and their general backgrounds. Having a staff well versed in dog behavior, dog care and even dog training will help them to understand and deal with dogs of various breeds and temperaments, as well as help prevent problems from occurring. If a problem does arise, a well-trained kennel attendant can readily recognize the issue and deal with it appropriately.
Tip #8: Depending on needs and personality, it's best to choose facilities where dogs receive maximum social interaction. Most dogs are social creatures - the more interaction a dog has with people and dogs (if he/she is social), the more fulfilled he will be and in turn, less stressed. If a dog is not a social butterfly, that is fine too, but communicate your dog's personal needs to ensure it can be accommodated.
Tip #9: Ask how they would handle pet medical conditions. Is the staff trained to administer medications? Who is responsible for administering medications? It is important that management or trained veterinary technicians are responsible for administering medications. If the general staff of a large facility is responsible for medicating dogs, it's common for mistakes to be made. Also, ask how familiar the staff or management is with your dog's specific condition. For example, if a dog is epileptic, ask if the staff is familiar with the signs and symptoms of an epileptic emergency and if they know how to respond appropriately.
Tip #10: Take a tour of the facility and chat in depth with the staff. Trust your gut feeling and keep looking if unsure. At the end of the day, pet parents need to feel comfortable not only with the facility but with the people who work there. Warning, if a facility rushes a tour it's because they don't have enough time to really give your dog one-on-one attention. Also, lean towards facilities that don't require appointments for tours - the staff should be proud of their facility and want to show it off. If they ask for an appointment or are hesitant to give a tour, it could be a red flag indicating there are some things they may not want guests to see. Test the waters by signing dogs up for a few half days of daycare prior to the vacation.
Owned by Petco™ (www.petco.com), Pooch Hotel is a luxury, best-in-class hotel and daycare, exclusively for dogs, that has redefined pet boarding options across the country. The hotels place a premium on convenience, extraordinary customer care, superior facilities and outstanding services. Amenities include Palace and Presidential suites with DogTV; The Club @ Pooch Hotel featuring a fitness center complete with dog-specific treadmills; spa offering paw-dicures and facials; and supervised daycare. Some hotels also offer custom swimming pools. 24-hour webcam access is available and pet parents can drop off and pick up pets 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Locations include Santa Monica, CA, Dallas TX, Chicago, IL, Hollywood, CA, Sunnyvale, CA, Boston, MA and San Diego, CA. www.poochhotel.com