It’s Not Just Pet Boarding, It’s Pet Pampering


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“I am going to have to board my dog.” It’s a thought that can paralyze any pet owner who has ever had the misfortune to be struck by it. It’s a pit in your stomach, a dreaded guilt—knowing that while you’re on vacation, your beloved pet will be cared for by the strange (albeit capable) hands of someone they don’t know. You envision them in tight quarters, peeking between bars, then resigning themselves to a week-long nap. Or maybe two.

It’s enough to send you running to the butcher shop for bribes. How can you possibly leave your fur baby with a complete stranger to go off to have fun yourself? While he sits waiting for you, stuck in a place that can’t possibly compare to the comforts of home?

Well, if you haven’t boarded your pet lately, then get ready for a pleasant surprise. Boarding your pet is nothing like the dreary scenario you’ve imagined, at least not anymore. These days, when you go on vacation and leave your pet behind, chances are he’ll be having as much fun as you are. Maybe more! Swimming and running, soft beds and soothing music … all the activities and amenities a dog could want await at boarding facilities throughout San Diego County. All you need to do is a little research and some personal investigation.

Plan ahead, give yourself plenty of time, and consider the following when you’re researching possibilities for boarding your pet while you’re away.

Tips for Choosing a Pet Lodge

Book early. Quality boarding centers book up quickly for the busy holiday period, so don’t wait to book your pet’s stay. Many require a one-day test run to be sure your pet will acclimate well to boarding. This is something you want to be sure goes smoothly before you book a spot. Never assume your pet will be okay—try it out for a day first.

Pay attention to requirements. All certified, responsible boarding facilities will ask you about your pet’s vaccinations and may even require proof of shots. This is something you’ll want to know before you get there, so you can have all your papers and avoid delays when dropping off. Specifically for dogs, staff may ask about your pet’s comfort level with other canines, health history, and any medications.

The one-day test run can work out any kinks in the plan, as it helps familiarize your dog with the facility, which can significantly lower her stress level while you’re away. Consider leaving your dog with a comforting item from home, such as his dog bed or a favorite chew toy.

Traveling should be fun, and you certainly don’t want to be worrying about your pet while you’re gone. Anytime you have to leave your pet for an extended period of time, it’s normal for one or both of you to have some separation anxiety. In my opinion, these are all signs of a healthy pet/owner relationship. One thing can significantly help lower your own anxiety is feeling confident that you’ve selected the right boarding facility to care for your pet.

Trust your instincts. How many times have we heard this advice? Well, it’s good advice for all kinds of situations, including boarding your pet. In fact, your first impression of a kennel may be your best indicator. Is the company hesitant or happy to give you a tour? Does the facility seem clean and orderly? Is it a comfortable temperature? Do the kennels look cozy and well kept? Are staff friendly and available? All these first impressions may tell you early on whether you’ve found a location you should consider.

Where to Board?

North County. The Animal Keeper Poway provides dog, cat, bird, and pocket pet boarding. I boarded my dog at this facility once and had a good experience. When you walk in, you can tell they take pride in their clean, climate-controlled and calm facility. They emphasize training and education to ensure that staff follows advanced safety protocols and practices prevention (as opposed to intervention). All team members are certified pet care technicians, as all new employees are required to attend a pet care certification training program. Animal Keeper has been providing pet care for over 35 years and is highly ranked in San Diego County. They offer tours of their facility and encourage potential customers to take one before arranging for their pet to be boarded there.

City of San Diego. Dog Days in the downtown area is somewhat new to the game, founded in March 2010 by knowledgeable owners Jeff and Tammy. Both are passionate about providing a cage-free environment, which is rare among boarding facilities. Dog Days prides itself on allowing the dogs to satisfy their physical and social needs in a supervised environment, with separate rooms for large and small dogs, as well as grooming and walks for an additional fee. This facility accepts only dogs.

South County. Another cage-free boarding facility is Camp Run-A-Mutt in Chula Vista. Here you’ll find top-of-the-line indoor/outdoor areas and a fun, safe, supervised environment for your pet. Camp Run-A-Mutt provides 24/7 supervision of its large facility, with more than 16,000 square feet of play area for your dog. One of the things that sets this facility apart is that you can log on anytime and watch your pet online on their “Mutt-Cams.” They offer full dog grooming and obedience training. They do require that you board your dog for one test day before leaving him overnight, so be sure to stop in or call ahead of time to make all your necessary arrangements.

This holiday season, take time off from work and enjoy a change of routine for some much-needed stress relief. And make sure you enjoy your travel to visit family and friends by finding the right boarding facility to keep both you and your pet relaxed and comfortable while you’re gone.

Additional Boarding & Daycare Options

Best Friends Pet Hotel


Dr. Boyd’s Pet Resort

Paradise Pet Care \

24 Hour Dog Daycare

For more San Diego resources, see page 124.

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