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What to Look for When Kenneling YOUR DOG?
by Neal Seaman
Disclaimer: Due to the controversial issues presented in this article all opinions are expressed by Neal Seaman. Aldo's Acres, Jim Heverly, will not he held responsible for what is written.

We have added this section to cover all bases when a consumer decides to kennel their dog. This section is not only important for the consumer monetarily but for the well being of the dog. DOG FOOD: why would a kennel want to serve your dog a different menu than what he or she eats normally. Everyone knows that the digestive tract of dogs is very sensitive to food changes so I ask again why would a kennel pursue such a practice.
1. It saves them time and money. They (certain kennels) can pick up garbage brand dog food (such as Rob Roy or whatever) and not have to take the time and effort to figure out who eats what and serve separate meals.

2. The kennel can then also get away with raising the prices on the boarding because THEY ARE SUPPLYING THE FOOD.

Pretty simple math but the one who suffers is really the dog. He comes home with diarrhea and no one can tell me that is fun for the dog. It could take him weeks to unravel what they did to his system

3. It also shows something about the kennel who subscribes to a practice like that: either they don't know, which is a really bad sign, or they don't care, which is really a bad sign.

At our kennel the dog comes first. Bring his or hers normal dog food so they have a wonderful experience without the switcheroo and they don't have the repercussions when they get home. You also save money because our rates are lower. We don't mind going the extra distance (serving meals individually) because we know what is better for the dog's welfare.


Leaving your pet at a boarding kennel is very serious business. Not only for your peace of mind but for your pet's safety: medically, emotionally, and for your pet's physical requirements and social needs. Let's get past the smiles and polite conversation that business people (boarding/kennel owners/managers) like to jammer you with and get to the core of what they are actually going to do for your pet.

As a rule of thumb I personally would not make an appointment to visit a kennel to check it out. A kennel should have nothing to hide from perspective customers. The perspective customers should be able to peruse their pets new environment at any time the establishment is open (during normal business hours). When you get inside the waiting room of the boarding facility listen politely to what the owner/manager has to say but do not let your guard down. Give careful scrutiny to the goings on around you. You will be very surprised at what information you can pick up. A reputable owner/manager will proudly show off their establishment to a perspective client. Pay very careful attention to what you are looking at when you go for the tour.

Things to look for that are crucial to your evaluation:

1. Are the kennels where the dogs are kept in made of wood? Wood retains disease because it cannot be readily cleaned because of its absorbency. Even painted wood retains moisture. Look for chew marks or pieces of wood missing, this is a sign that the dogs that were kept in there were bored. The chewed wood is also a dangerous situation because of splinters.

2. If the runs are made of cinderblock make sure that they have paint on them. The paint should be the type that is used on boats where no liquid can get through and it doesn't chip. Check for peeling paint and chew marks on the paint. Make sure the blocks are insulated so cold and heat are not retained whereby your pet will be at comfortable temperatures. Make sure the air conditioning/heating units are sufficient to do a proper job. Remember doors for the dogs always leak and to do a proper job this must be taken into account.

3. If there are notes attached to the pen doors which have instructions on them, read them. For instance let us say you saw a note on the door that stated "do not knee this dog in the chest". This means to me that kneeing a dog in the chest is acceptable in this kennel and this particular dog, with the note on the door, was the exception. Always be on the lookout for signs of physical abuse. If they are there you just have to keep your eyes open to spot them.

4. Check out their system for getting rid of the defacatory and urinary waste. If there is not proper waste disposal this will impact your dog because your dog could get extremely sick and also be exposed to parasites. Some kennels say that they don't have a specific waste disposal system because it is cleaner that way. Don't buy that bill of goods. Think about it in your own home: what is cleaner you using your toilet or having the mess on the floor and no way to dispose of it. You trying to clean up a mess with a shovel or hose doesn't cut it. But having drains whereby the offending problem can be washed into it does. That's why the Roman's invented plumbing.

5. An excellent gauge to determine the cleanliness of a kennel is if you see waste matter that has not been cleaned up in a timely fashion. Waste matter should be cleaned up within almost immediately. If it is not cleaned up that's a bad sign (depending on how many dogs are in the kennel-if there are 50 dogs and the cleanup has started that's acceptable). Also if the owner/manager would rather shoot the breeze with you than direct someone to clean up the mess or do it himself/herself beware. I would have more respect and know my dog would be in better hands if the owner/manager said to me "excuse me, I have to clean up a run please be patient I'll be right back". Needless to say if there is an odor that is not the right kennel for your dog!

6. Look at the actual run areas where the dogs are being kept. Are the walls high enough so the dogs have privacy? Are the walls high enough on the outside of the runs whereby another dog cannot jump into another kennel? When the dogs are let out into the individual runs outside is every other dog let out (staggered) or are all the dogs let out at the same time? If they all let out all at the same time then disease and worms can spread through the adjourning fencing and also even though the dogs can't reach each other it is a good way for dogs to fence fight. Some kennels say that they stagger male and female even though they are next to each other. This is a poor excuse. There still can be fights and diseases transmitted through the fencing.

7. Evaluate the openings that the dog has to go through to get to the outside run. If they are too small and the dogs have to compress themselves to get through or they just make it through with their shoulders that's no good.

8. Look at the dog's themselves. If they look unhappy or bored no good. If they are barking their heads off then they are also bored and not getting the proper exercise. If they are sleeping because they have a good exercise program or they are content playing with their toys that's a good sign.

9. What is the exercise program for the dogs? If they are just let out into the outside run that sure is a lonely existence and not acceptable. If the handler/owner says the all the dogs get individualized attention ask for examples of what is done with the dogs. Does the handler/owner know the dog's personality? Does the handler/owner know what games makes the dogs happy so they can enjoy their exercise programs to the fullest? If the same basic answer is used for all the dogs that is not individualized attention and a sham.

10. Look for toys whether they be cow hooves, Kong toys, etc. Are they in the runs to keep the dogs occupied between exercise periods?

11. Are the toys bleached before they are given to the dogs. If not your dog can contract diseases and worms.

12. Is there a good ventilation system? For example pulling air from outside and then pushed out through the roof.

13. Is there a trainer on the premises so he can evaluate the dogs? The trainer's evaluation is extremely important in keeping tabs on the dogs so they can get a good exercise program.

14. Is there 24 hour veterinary care? How far is the vet? Will there be a vet on call when the primary vet is off?

15. Are the kennel's help hands washed when they go from one dog to the next dog with antiseptic soap to kill germs and parasites?

16. Check out the exercise area is it safe, is it spacious, and are there things in the area for the dog to enjoy?

17. Is somebody qualified to exercise and care for your dog or is it just somebody making minimum wage and doesn't know squat about dog psychology?

18. Are the feeding and water bowls raised off the ground? Raised bowls are more beneficial physically for the dog so the dog does not ingest air and they also take the strain off the dogs legs and feet.

19. Are the dogs in their runs laying on cold concrete which causes arthritis and other bone deformities? If the bedding is supplied by the kennel or you is it washed and cleaned regularly so cleanliness is maintained and parasitic invasion is kept to a minimum. If your kennel uses this "new wave" ideas of having furniture how is the material part kept clean? Does it disassemble for cleaning and if it does than how often is it done?

20. How are the animals handled? Are they taken out like they are a sack of potatoes and the end of a leash or are they spoken and cared for with respect and social intercourse?

21. Does the boarding kennel have a fly problem? If so that is a sign of unsanitary conditions. If the kennel has those lighted electrical fly traps I would wonder why. If a kennel is properly sanitized and cleaned then why would flies accumulate?

22. Check with your local veterinarian. He might have some insight as to which kennels are unsanitary because of the sick dogs he will get in from animals that have stayed at these kennels.

23. What is used to clean the kennel area? Is it strong enough to kill Parvo and other deadly diseases? How often is the kennel hosed down with the antiseptic cleaner? Is a power washer used to make sure the kennel is really kept clean or is a sponge used which is not the proper way to clean a kennel.

24. Are you, as a perspective customer, allowed to visit your dog at anytime during his/her boarding. Some kennels refuse to allow this because they claim it disrupts the animal and other boarders. Rubbish!

24. When you go to a boarding facility and the owner/manager tells you that their house is set up so the boarding animals can go in there and be treated like a family member watch out. You want your dog safe and mi
xing and matching with other dogs no matter how docile this expert says the dogs are can cause you nothing but grief. "I have tested the dogs with a temperament test to determine if they are compatible and can play together" says the expert who boards and prescribes to these multiple dogs playing together programs. Multiple dogs that are not from the same household (even sometimes from the same household even though rare) is an accident waiting to happen. It takes a second for a major dog fight to begin, also nobody can state for sure that the animals your animal will be associating with are totally free of disease or worms. Sarcophtic mange (is for life), worms, are among the few presents that your dog can come up with after his/her stay at mom and pops. This mom and pop attitude of sharing their house with the animals or allowing strange dogs to play with one and another allows for to many variables that can go wrong.

My personal opinion is when you go to a kennel and it is stated that their policy is their boarding guests will be temperament tested and then they will be able to "PLAY" with other dogs sends up a red flag to me. I believe that are not considering the horrible outcome that can come from a mix like this. I can only come to a couple of conclusions as to why they do it:
1. they don't have the proper amount of land area to be able to initiate a safe and workable exercise fields
2. they are lazy and want the dogs to tire themselves out by themselves so their job is easier
3. they don't have the expertise to be able to pull this constant switching of animals from kennel to safe area back to kennel again
4. they don't care or know what they are doing or the ramifications of such actions
It really doesn't matter what the reason is but the fact that there is a right and happy way for your dog to be treated or the wrong way whereby harm can come to your dog.

25. The last point I have to make is very important. Do you know how many people over the years have told me that they were breeders, dog trainers, and on and on. I have found very very few people throughout my career know very little about dog's minds and how they work. How many dogs have they trained? Have they ever dealt with sharp/shy animals and how did they rectify the problems? Do they know when it is proper to initiate use of a pinch collar? Now for the piece de resistance-how much attack work or tracking work have they done? How does this impact on Rover your couch potato? Very much because one cannot understand the the full psyche of a dog unless one is able to eclectably draw from many disciplines. Tracking and protection work lays bare the dog psychology and one can draw inferences and information from those experiences to evaluate other dogs personalities whether they are working animals or not. The owner/manager of the perspective kennel you are thinking of using: WHAT ARE THEIR CREDENTIALS-WHAT HAVE THEY REALLY DONE AND SEEN? DON'T BE AFRAID OF ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS BECAUSE IT IS YOUR DOG THAT WILL SUFFER IF THE QUESTIONS ARE NOT ASKED. I personally have trained over 20,000 dogs and I have barely scratched the surface in what I know about dogs. I have trained in every discipline that is imaginable and I am still learning about dogs and their psychology. DON'T BE AFRAID, ASK THE QUESTIONS.

I have to commend Jim Heverly and Aldo's Acres. I have witnessed him over the years breaking his back from early morning (5 AM) to late at night (10 PM), 7 DAYS A WEEK, running constantly putting dogs in separate fields for exercise. Caring for every one of their needs, passing their kennels after exercise period is over and giving them homemade cookies, chicken, steak, (which by the way he personally cooks for them) and other goodies so they never know that they are alone. So they always know that his place is friendly and they are loved.

At Aldo's Acres every dog is rotated to an individual field at least twice a day. This is so they can have the freedom of exercise and when they return to their individualized kennel area they are tired and they get a restful sleep. When they wake up and they are ready to go out again and play they again are taken to their own exercise area. You never ever hear Jim's dogs barking out of boredom, running the fence line, chewing fences, or trying to escape. This goes on all day at Aldo's Acres, the dogs are catered to and they have so much fun they are never home sick. No chances here of catching worms from another dog, no chances of fighting over toys, individualized exercise and no accidents. Nobody except God can predict when there will be a dog fight. No testing in the world can determine this. It can happen over a blade of grass and no one is fast enough to stop it. Who would want to, every dog is precious and should be protected as best as humanely possible. Aldo's Acres is the only kennel I have ever seen where the dogs literally try and break the windows of the cars they come in to get back into the kennel. Incredible!!. I personally have seen people come in to drop their dogs off and inadvertently the dog has escaped from the car, and run as fast as they can into Jim's kennel. As far as I am concerned the dogs have given Jim a 5 star rating with their actions.

This by no means is a complete list of items to look for or question from the perspective boarding kennel you are thinking of using. But it is sure a good start. Above all use your common sense. Check out at least three kennels before you make your decision. Use comparison shopping methods and remember above all keep your dog's well-being in mind. If you have questions or concerns do not hesitate in emailing me.

Disclaimer: Due to the controversial issues presented in this article all opinions are expressed by Neal Seaman. Aldo's Acres, Jim Heverly, will not he held responsible for what is written.

Written by Neal Seaman

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