Many dog-boarding facilities have begun using a “Cageless” style of boarding, and selling it as a benefit to you as it’s much cheaper to build or buy. The image conjures up one of dog’s playing and sleeping together in totally unity, and in complete peace. But we all know, dog’s are going to be dogs! Cageless boarding is a way a facility can save a great deal of money as you are not spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on kennels. These facilities use a large room, some with beds, some without, lots of dogs, but no where for your dog to seek shelter, or privacy. This is a receipt for disaster… eventually. Please do not be lured into this as a safe way to run your pet care facility. Big Dog Ventures never recommends this type of boarding facility to own, operate, or use for your own family pets.

Here’s the proof: Have you ever noticed if your dog sleeps while facing the door, or sleeps with their back to a wall? When your dog is tired or wants to rest, does he or she go to his dog bed, doghouse, kennel, or crate, maybe a special place under a bush in the yard? Maybe your dog finds his/her special space in a dark place in your house, like a closet or under a desk? This is because instinctually, your dog is protecting itself. In nature, dogs are den animals and feel most comfortable within their “den.” This is because dogs are predators, and their most vulnerable positions are behind them.  In a den, or protected area where the dog’s back is not vulnerable to other predators, dogs feel their safest. Dens tend to have protection on multiple sides allowing the dogs to position themselves to face the only entrance. This, in turn, makes sleep or rest as safe as possible for their natural instincts.  Therefore, they seek out spaces where they are protected from the threat of other predators. This behavior is in their DNA and cannot be changed: they must be alert to predators, for their survival. When a dog is placed in an environment without a sufficient resting “den,” it creates a stressful, anxious environment, which can then lead to a negative boarding experience.

A misconception:

“Cageless boarding dogs play more than the other dogs”

For those of you who own or are considering purchasing a cageless daycare or boarding facility: Here are some important questions you need to ask and anwser:

  1. Is there a limit to the number of dogs in one room?
  2. How many dog handlers will be attending to the dogs? (The SPCA recommends 1 dog handler for every 12 dogs.)
  3. The handler is awake the entire night in case anything were to happen, correct?
  4. Are you prepared to staff adequately at night to watch over all the dogs?
  5. If you only have one handler at night, and he/she is injured, who comes in to watch all the dogs when your handler needs to go to the emergency room?
  6. What happens if there is a dogfight?
  7. If the dogs all eat together, what happens if/when the alpha dog pushes a dog away from his or her food?
  8. What happens if there is an injury?
  9. Do I have adequate Worker’s Compensation insurance when my employee gets hurt when trying to stop inevitable dog fights?
  10. Who is responsible for the veterinarian bill?
  11. Is there a veterinarian on staff for emergencies?
  12. What are the staff’s methods of control or corrections? Or is complete chaos accepted?
  13. What type of injury are you prepared to handle? When was your last major injury or death? 

We all love dogs, we all want them to be happy, and we should all want them to be the safest they can be. Do you best not to be tempted into running a careless cageless boarding facility. Injury or death will be something you will have to answer to.