As owner and operator of Almost Home Pet Farm, kennel-free boarding the best part of my day was picking up dogs in the city. Seeing all the beaming pet parents with their vibrating pups always put a smile on my face.
One-by-one the dogs would pile in the little blue van as I buckled them in their seats. Everyone loved going to the farm. It was a little piece of heaven for parents and dogs as both experienced true freedom on their designated vacation. The dogs were especially happy since they wouldn’t be alone at home or cooped up in a kennel, anxious and waiting.
Kennel-free or cage-free boarding is a popular service being offered across the country as a viable option for a home-away-from-home experience. Due to a dog’s innate social nature, most are ready for a little adventure and look forward to being around other dogs.
This type of boarding scenario offers some considerable benefits over traditional boarding for those dogs well suited to an open environment. Let’s look at a few key advantages.
An open environment is an excellent way for your dog to express themselves as an individual in a group setting.
At Almost Home, people would ask me how much outside time their dogs received. I would say, “it is up to them, they have access to going outside or being in the house from sunup to sundown. It’s their choice”. Some dogs wanted to hang inside with the indoor staff curling up by a leg or on the couch while others just wanted to romp outside and explore the woods.
The ability to make choices in a supervised environment helps bring down the normal stress and anxiety dogs feel when they are away from their parents.
SOCIAL INTERACTION AND LESS STRESS
Dogs are social creatures and most of them like being in groups. Cage-free boarding offers this type of environment. You may have visions of a large group of barking dogs but in my experience, dogs would group themselves according to energy levels including likes and dislikes. For example, playing with sticks, digging or laying in the sun.
CLEAN UNCROWDED ENVIRONMENT
Kennel-free environments help provide boarding that isn’t crowded and this decreases your dog’s chance of contracting diseases related to confinement like kennel-cough.
NORMAL FEEDING PATTERNS
Feeding your dog his normal diet while you’re away is another benefit of kennel-free boarding. When dogs stay on their daily diets they have less chance of stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. This is a win-win for everyone involved.
While most dogs are suited to a kennel-free environment, for some it can be over-stimulating. Dogs with severe separation anxiety, reactivity, dog-on-dog aggression, chronic bullying or aggression towards people aren’t a good fit for this type of boarding.
For example, a German Shepard named Maggie. When Maggie arrived at the farm, she promptly jumped up on the roof our our mini-van and wouldn’t let anyone near her. She stayed there until her parents came out to pick her up in the evening. Maggie’s family hoped that her anxiety wouldn’t be an issue if she was on a farm with all of her “friends”. Maggie couldn’t deal with being without her family and was better off staying at home with a pet sitter she was familiar with.
This is just one example of a dog not suited for kennel-free boarding. Most facilities will require an interview determining if your dog is suited for an open environment. They might also have to do a trial stay (as in Maggies case) if they are unsure how your dog will do.
If you think your dog would be a good fit for kennel-free boarding, I encourage you to look for a business in your area and take your dog for a visit. Most facilities book up early so it’s good to plan ahead. Interaction with other dogs keeps canines from feeling board and destructive while you’re away.
By: Rita Hogan