I am a dog owner before a trainer. I stress about leaving my dogs in the care of someone else. I have never boarded my dogs. I have invested many hours into their care and training and I simply don't trust anyone to care for them where they will be just one of many dogs. There are dogs that do well in boarding and there are others that come home with stress induced, bloody diarrhea. If you choose to board, here are some things to look for:
You should ask for a tour of the facility and be given one. It should smell clean, but not with an overwhelming odor of bleach.
Dogs that are let out in yards should be in small groups that make sense. Small dogs with small dogs; large with large; old dogs and dogs with special needs should be separated from others. Groups should be supervised by a trained person. This person should be able to read dog body language, know how to prevent fights, how to properly intervene and how to play with the dogs to encourage good behavior. This person should not do anything to negatively affect your dog. No spraying your dog in the face, no air horns, no throwing things at your dog, no hitting or kicking and absolutely no use of a shock collar. You must ask about these things -they will not voluntarily tell you how they discipline your dog. The person supervising should have a slip lead attached to him -on his belt, around his neck or at least within reach. The yards and kennels should be kept clean and fresh water and shelter/shade should be available at all times. Dogs should not be free to play for hours at a time. An ideal schedule is 30-60 minutes three times a day. Puppies and seniors should be let out for short period of times more frequently; 15 minutes every two hours.
If your dog gets hurt or sick, you should be notified immediately and be told what is going on. If you are unable to return, your dog should receive medical care with your permission. If your dog is injured, the staff should know how it happened.
Most kennels close at 6 and the staff goes home for the night. Ask how many hours your dog is unsupervised. Ask what the emergency plan is -what if there is a fire in the night? Ask if the staff knows the signs of heat stroke, kennel cough, stress.....there is so much to ask to be sure your dog is in good care.
When I find a facility in my area that meets this criteria -I will shout it out to all my clients, but the search continues.