Mandy, owner of the East Sussex branch of Animals at Home and dog behaviourist, tells us the benefits of booking your dog in with a home boarding service.
1. What are the benefits for a dog, of staying at a dog boarding home compared to the alternatives?
A dog boarding home is a home from home for dogs. It is a family environment rather than a kennel, where dogs are matched to compatible families so that the dog's normal daily routine can be followed as closely as possible.
2. What advice would you give to owners who might be nervous about leaving their dog with someone else?
We always have an introductory session with the owners, their dogs and the host family, which helps to put owners' minds at ease as they can see where their dog will be staying and meet the family who will be looking after them. During boarding, we will keep the owners updated with texts, emails, photos and posts on social media so that they are never too far from their fur babies.
3. How should an owner prepare for leaving their dog with a sitter, what should they bring with them?
We like to keep the dogs on their usual food so we ask owners to provide all of their dog's food for the duration of the stay along with feeding bowls, beds and any other day-to-day things like toys, chews etc. We also need to see their up-to-date vaccination records and all dogs need to be microchipped to comply with UK law and must have a well fitted collar with an ID tag (we always add our own Animals at Home ID tag which has our contact details on it).
4. Have you ever found that a dog gets upset or anxious after the owner has left?
For some dogs the first 24 hours are a settling in period, after that the dogs all settle – we have never had a problem with any being upset or anxious. It's a bit like dropping your child off at nursery for the first time, usually it's the owners who are more upset!
5. How do Daisy and Woody get along with the four-legged house guests?
Daisy is a well balanced, sociable dog and she has five years experience of us boarding dogs. Our new dog Woody, who we have had for four months, is also very sociable and has no problems with other dogs in his home. We promote a calm household and this helps the dog guests settle in quickly. We all go on pack walks a couple of times a day too, which all of the dogs really enjoy, it's great for their socialisation.
6. What happens if there is an emergency?
We do our utmost to avoid emergency situations, however if one were to arise, the client is contacted and kept informed at all times. Last year we had a dog staying with us that fell ill with gastroenteritis and needed to stay at the vets for 48 hours. During this time myself and the vet kept the client informed at every stage. Luckily with the right medication and fluids (and a great vet!) the dog fully recovered. The owners were so grateful that they then changed from their original vet to the one we used to care for their dog.
7. Do you have any memorable furry house guest moments?
Too many! We feel truly honoured that our clients trust us enough to leave their fur babies in our care. We have our regulars who we really bond with. There are inevitably times when dogs we know and have looked after cross over the rainbow bridge – this is always a really heartbreaking time for everyone as we have such a gr