Dog Boarding – taking care of your dog while you are away

Dog boarding – sometimes you need to have your dog boarded while you are away. Maybe your friends or family are too busy or away. Some people have pet sitters, but they are not always available during the holidays. While it’s great to take your dog on vacation / trips, sometime you just can’t bring them with you. So we’ve come up with a list of things you will want to ask and do before sending your dog to a boarding facility.

dog-boardingGo Visit

We think it’s super important to visit the facility first. You’ll want to see how clean it is an how it’s maintained. Where are the dogs are kept during the day and at night? What other dogs are at the dog care facility? Do you like the dog handlers? Do they have all the appropriate licenses and training?

For our dog, we prefer a boarding facility that is cage free and has private stalls and a den for the pack. Some friends send their dog to an ranch where the dogs sleep outside like horses do in stalls. Every dog is different, so find a place that works for your and your dog’s lifestyle.

Questions to Ask About Dog Boarding Care

  • Are all dogs required to have a personality test / examination before they stay at your facility?
  • What is the dog to handler ratio?
  • Where do the dogs sleep?
  • Does a handler stay in the same area where the dogs sleep?
  • LittleBigDogAre large and small dogs separated?
  • What is the feeding schedule?
  • What is the sleeping schedule?
  • Do they have emergency procedures? Is a vet nearby or on staff?
  • Do they ask for your vet’s details and a release form so they can send your dog to your vet in case of an emergency?
  • Do they ensure your dog has all the required vaccines / shots?
  • Do they ask you to food for your dog? This is preferable as your dog can get sick if their food is changed quickly.
  • Do they ask you to bring an old t-shirt or something that has your sent? While not necessary, this can be comforting for your dog. Generally they will not want you to leave toys with your dog and they’ll probably get lost and /or other dogs might get jealous or steal the toys.
  • Will they send you photos and updates on how your dog is doing while you are away?
  • Can your dog get a bath / grooming before you pick him/her up?
  • Do you provide drop off / pick up service?

dog boardingDoggy Cam

Personally, we think it’s better if there is a doggy cam so you can log in and see your dog. The online doggy cam should be password protected so not everyone can check in on your dog. It’s a nice comfort to check in and see your dog is ok. It’s also good to know that the facility is confident in their care facility and don’t mind owners checking in.

Questions to Ask About Dog Boarding Costs

  • What is the cost of boarding?
  • Is the cost of day care included?
  • Are there costs for feeding?
  • Are there costs for dog walks / relief walks?
  • Consider getting a cost estimate for your dog’s dog boarding before you commit.

Want to check out country boarding? Check out our post Country Dog Boarding – Vacation for Your Dog!

Flying with a Dog, Not In Cabin

flying with a dogWe were recently asked for some advice on flying with a dog (e.g. a Chow) across the U.S.. Clearly a large dog is not going to be able to fly with you in the plane cabin as they’re not going to be able to fit under the seat in front of you. So you’re going to have to check them in as luggage or cargo. (For advice for in-cabin flying tips see our article: Flying with Your Dog on a Plane In Cabin.)

We did some research and got some advice from dog owners that have flown across the U.S. with a dog NOT in cabin. (There’s even an undercover video of one dog’s experience at the bottom the article.) Here’s our sum-up and tips:

Make sure your dog is eligible to fly

The airlines have different rules for the types of breeds they will transport, for example, they might not take dogs with certain types of snouts (e.g. snub- or pug-nosed dogs) or bully breeds.

You need to have a health certificate from your vet 10-14 days prior to your flight stating that your dog is in good health and fit to fly. Many airlines will require that your dog is micro chipped. You might need a letter of acclimation stating what temperatures the dog is comfortable in. Your vet should also provide a letter showing that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.

Make sure there are no weather related restrictions

Due to temperature conditions, some airlines may not fly pets as luggage or cargo during the hot summer months or cold winter months depending on where you are flying from/to.

flying with a dogKnow your dog’s travel options

Some airlines make a distinct service classification if your pet is “checked luggage” or flying as “cargo”.  Delta Airlines has this distinction between “pets checked as luggage” and “cargo”. The Delta Pet First (cargo) program provides year-round transportation for pets and is designed to address the special needs of all warm-blooded animals that are shipped without their owners. So if you want to be on the same flight as your dog, remember to clarify you want your pet to be “checked luggage”. When you’re calling your airline to make you dog’s reservations, make sure you clarify the service.

Book in advance

Airlines often require advanced booking for pets as checked baggage (e.g. at least 48 hours before departure). There can be restrictions on the number of pets on a plane so you should book as soon as possible to reserve a space.

Get a direct flight

This isn’t going to be a fun trip for your dog, so you’ll want to make the trip time as short as possible – fly direct! This will also reduce the risk of any unpleasant experiences during transfers.

petmate airline kennel

Have an appropriate kennel

To transport your dog as checked baggage or cargo, you must use an approved shipping kennel, and it must ship in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. (Check out our crates/kennel section) The kennel must provide enough room for your dog to stand and sit erect — without the head touching the top of the container — and to turn around and lie down in a natural position. Some airlines require that the kennel must:

  • be constructed of rigid plastic, wood, metal or material of comparable strength with solid roofs; no cardboard kennels
  • have ventilation openings on three sides, in addition to the door opening
  • have functional handles on the kennel’s exterior to prevent tilting and any direct contact with the animals
  • close securely, but not lock, to allow personnel to open it in case of emergency
  • display labels with the words “Live Animal” in 1-inch letters on the crate’s top and on at least one side
  • display upright arrow labels indicating kennel’s correct position;
  • contain bedding, shredded paper or towels to absorb “accidents”
  • contain two dishes (one for food and one for water) attached to the inside of the kennel door — they must be easily accessible to airline agents without opening the kennel door (see also Popware Collapsible Kennel Bowls)
  • display feeding instructions and food, if applicable — these instructions should be affixed to the top of the kennel, along with shipper and consignee information

Remember to introduce the kennel to your dog in a positive way a few weeks before his flight. For example, feed your dog in his new kennel. Put some towels in the kennel to make it comfortable. Consider putting a used (unwashed) t-shirt of yours in the kennel so it has your sent on it.

flying with a dog

Arrive at the airport extra early

Allow extra time beyond normal check-in guidelines.
You’ll have to check in at the ticket counter – advance check-in, curbside or self-service check-in (e.g. online) is not allowed for you or your pet. However, checked pets will not be accepted more than four hours prior to your flight time.
You might be asked to complete a checklist with an agent. Here are a few of the questions as examples:

  • Are separate food/watering dishes securely attached and accessible without opening the kennel?
  • When was the last time the pet was fed and offered water?
  • Have you provided an original, valid health certificate for checked pets?
  • Can the pet sit, stand and rest comfortably without touching any of the sides of the kennel?

After you’ve purchased an appropriate carrier, write your dog’s name on it and include identification tags with your home address and phone number as well as the address and phone number of someone who can be reached at your destination. Carry a current photograph of your dog. If he’s lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees or the local authorities to search effectively.

Bring a leash and some treats with you to the airport and keep it in your carry on. Sometimes the TSA will ask you to remove your dog from the crate so they can check the bedding and pat down the dog.

flying with a dogWhen you board the plane

When you are boarding at the front of the plane, make sure to tell the pilot or have the attendants tell the pilot that your dog is flying down below as checked luggage. Also ask the attendants if your dog has made it on the plane. Delta actually has you fill out little ticket stubs that the baggage handlers tear off when the pet has been loaded on, and the attendant will give you the stub as proof your pet is in the plane.

Upon arrival at your destination, ask your flight crew to please alert the ground crew that you have a pet traveling down below and to please be especially careful in handling that pet.

Tips for making the flight a bit more pleasant for your dog:

  • Consider having your dog wear a Thundershirt or other anti-anxiety shirt.
  • Give your dog a lot of exercise the day before, and prior to the flight. The more they sleep, the better. A tired dog is less likely to be anxious. If your dog gets the poops when nervous, consider feeding him fresh or canned plain pumpkin (not the pie filling) to firm up the poop the day before – it makes a case of the runs less likely.
  • Freeze a water in a dish that attaches to the crate, this way, your pet will have access to water throughout the flight, and it won’t immediately get dumped out when the pet is being moved onto the flight.
  • Consider putting a zip log storage back of dog food and a leash and duck tape it to the top of the crate. In case there is a delay or layover, your pet will have food and a leash should he need to be let out for a potty break.
  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases, dogs should NOT be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying because they can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems as the dog is exposed to increased altitude pressures. They can also alter the animal’s natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium, which can be dangerous when the carrier is moved.

Wonder what it’s really like?

Check out this undercover video shot inside the crate flying Canadian Airlines!

Jet Setting Dogs – Tumi Has Products for You!

Cloud7_Tumi_dog bed dog

We just love Tumi products. They’re so well made and beautiful. We were thrilled to see that Tumi has come out with it’s own exclusive collection of fine travel essentials for dogs that travel.

This contemporary collection was created in collaboration with the Berlin-based, luxury pet accessories label Cloud 7. It’s comprised of thoughtful, practical and durable designs that offer stress-free travel solutions for you and your dog.

They’ve started out with 4 products: a large and medium travel bed, dog carrier and travel bowl. Of course you can get all of these products monogrammed.

  • The travel dog bowl unzips and separates into two pieces—one for water (has a waterproof lining) and the other for treats.
  • The dog bag provides comfortable and secure transport for smaller dogs (up to 25 lbs.). The interior features a soft, plush and removable lining with four air vents plus a side mesh window for excellent visibility and ventilation. Top flap also unzips to reveal a mesh window. The detachable shoulder strap doubles as a leash – that is really convenient! It also has pockets for accessories and travel documents. What else could your jet setting dog need?
  • The travel bed is soft with plush wool lining and folds up into a stylish bag with leather handles.

Of course, all of this luxury does come at a price: dog bowl $95, dog bed $245-295 and the dog bag $375. But for the luxury dog that has everything, money is no object!

Cloud 7 for TUMI from Cloud 7 on Vimeo.

Kobi’s Favorite Day and Travel Dog Bag

Dog Bag

Having a great dog bag is a vital necessity when you have a busy, on the go life with your dog. We tried out a lot of different bags for Kobi, but after trial and error, we came to love the PetEgo Boby Bag and Jet Set Pet Carrier.

You can see Kobi (with his friend Kelly) in the Boby Bag here on the left. The bag is stylish and lightweight. If I have it completely closed, people are often surprised I have a dog in it. It’s durable and Kobi has never even tried to destroy it. Note that Kobi did eat through some of the bags we tried out.

The Boby Bag is perfect for running around town (e.g. going on the subway), but not big enough for longer trips (e.g. plane) for Kobi as he’s almost 20lbs. If you have a smaller pet, it would likely be great for plane travel too.


When we need to go on a longer trip or travel via plane, we bring the Jet Set Pet Carrier. This is very stylish and fits underneath the seat in front of you when traveling via plane. We have not had any issues with flying him in this bag. People often don’t notice Kobi is in this bag too. It’s roomier for Kobi and comes with a variety of straps so you can use it as a handle bag, shoulder bag, back pack or car bag. It has flaps on the side, which allows you to give your dog a bit more privacy (e.g. if they are sleeping). It also has a nice comfortable double sided floor mat which can easily be taken out and cleaned. Our neighbors even borrowed the Jet Set Pet Carrier for their dog (Kobi’s girlfriend Fiesta) when they went on a trip via plane and it worked out nicely for them.

You can get both the PetEgo Boby Bag and Jet Set Pet Carrier in our shop.