Pet Boarding Overview: Q&A with David Weiss

by Matt Solis


David Weiss is owner of Four Paw Pet Ranch, a Diamond Certified company.

A lifelong animal lover, David Weiss has been serving Sonoma County residents and their pets at Four Paws Pet Ranch in Santa Rosa since 2009. We asked David some common questions about pet boarding in order to gain a better understanding of the field.

Q: Why should I bring my dog to a boarding facility when I can just leave it at home?
A: To put it in a nutshell, leaving your dog at a boarding facility will keep it active and engaged. Not everyone realizes that most dogs are pack animals by nature, which means they’re social. When you leave your dog home alone, he’ll generally spend the whole day lying there, waiting for you to come home. In some cases, he might get so bored and restless that he barks incessantly or tears up your furniture. In contrast, when you bring your dog to a boarding facility, he’s around people and other dogs all day, getting exercise and practicing his social skills. This promotes both physical and emotional health, as well as good behavior and socialization.


By providing opportunities to be active and socially engaged, boarding your dog at a kennel fosters both physical and emotional well-being. Photo: Four Paws Pet Ranch (2015)

Q: How do you deal with so many dogs together in a social setting?
A: Whenever we get a new dog, we perform a temperament test so we can gauge its social comfort level. This test helps us determine whether the dog can be safely placed with other dogs or needs to be isolated. If the dog is trainable, our trainer will work with it and help it be more sociable. Some dogs can be trained to get along with other dogs, although it’s more difficult if they haven’t been socialized from a young age.

Also, our staff is trained to keep the dogs in line. As pack animals, dogs look toward a leader, so our staff takes on that leadership role, which makes a huge difference in terms of behavior. Dogs love knowing someone is in charge because it enables them to just play and not have to worry about anything.

Q: Are all pet boarding facilities qualified to administer medications?
A: Most places can give medications like pills, but in order to give shots, they need the right training. We have a rescue here at Four Paws Pet Ranch, so there are people onsite who are qualified to administer shots. It’s pretty rare that an owner needs us to administer a shot to their dog, but if that’s something you need, you should definitely find a place that’s qualified to do so.

Q: Does my pet need to meet certain criteria before being accepted at a kennel?
A: It varies depending on the specific kennel, but there are a few things that are standard at all facilities—primarily vaccinations. All dogs need to have current rabies, Bordetella and DHLPP vaccinations, and all cats need to have rabies and FVRCP vaccinations. At our kennel, we require dogs to be neutered and pass a temperament test before they can be placed in group play.


When visiting a kennel, the demeanor of both the staff and the animals can be a telling indicator of the quality of care. Photo: Four Paws Pet Ranch (2015)

Q: What should I look for when assessing a pet boarding facility?
A: First, take a look around and see if the place looks and smells clean. Of course, keep in mind that it’s never going to be perfect, as dogs tend to “go” whenever they feel like it. Also, look at the kennel’s facilities. How much space do the dogs have to run around? Are there indoor and outdoor areas for the dogs to be in, depending on the weather? For example, we have pools so dogs can play in water when it’s hot, as well as indoor concrete areas that stay cool throughout the day.

It’s also important to observe the demeanor of both the staff and the animals. Do the dogs seem happy? Do they get to run around and play? Are their tails wagging? One thing that impresses our clients is how well the staff knows their dogs, because it really gives them an idea of how much they care. So, be on the lookout for these attributes when selecting a boarding facility for your pet.