A Year Round Summer Camp for our 4-legged Family Members

Summertime means family vacations, and oftentimes that means leaving a beloved family pet behind with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. Before you take off, here are a few things to consider when selecting who and where to watch your furry family members in your absence.

According to Heather Carelli, owner of Paradise Luxury Dog Resort, here is what to look for in a facility when boarding your dog:

  • Is the facility clean and can you see where your dog will be staying? Due to liability issues, most facilities don’t give tours but should have live cameras.
  • Does the staff consist of mature and experienced people who actually spend time with your dog? If something happens or your dog gets sick while you’re away, the people watching him need to know your dog well enough to know if he is not being himself.
  • Is it a low stress environment with plenty of activity? Stress can make a dog very sick. Dogs are social; you cannot just put them in a crate and toss food at them. They need stimulation and human contact.
  • What is the policy for sick or injured dogs? Find out the protocol and who at the facility is in charge of handling emergencies.

More tips for boarding:

  1. Socialization. It’s very important to socialize your dog, not just for boarding situations, but for many reasons. Not being socialized will cause a dog great stress in simple situations like going to the vet or the pet store. Not to mention, if he gets out by accident, a non-socialized dog will not approach a human for help. A socialized dog will do better in most any situation and be much happier.
  2. Spayed & Neutered. If your dog is going to be in any cage-less environment, it is important that they be spayed or neutered. Humans may not see a difference in their dog’s behavior, but it may cause some real problems with other dogs including aggressive behavior and excessive mounting. Also, it is better for their health in the long run. Veterinarians have different opinions about when it is appropriate to spay and neuter. At our facility we require it after 6 months.
  3. Consistent Diet. It is always best to keep your dog on a regular diet. When boarded, bring his own food and make sure to give specific feeding instructions. Some dogs are not good eaters and may require a little help to get going – like some extra wet food or some chicken. Make sure to tell the facility about any food allergies your dog may have.

Summer Camp for Dogs
Paradise Luxury Dog Resort in Palm Bay is different from most boarding facilities because there are no cages. On its 12 acres and over 7,000 square feet of space for dogs, are two large houses – one for the large dogs and one for the small dogs. Their “guests” sleep in small groups in bedrooms after a long day of play.
Everyone is temperament tested before they are allowed to stay with Paradise. The dogs are free all day to play in the shady play yards and air conditioned playrooms. The staff takes the large dogs swimming in two huge ponds every morning then it’s back to the play yards. Except for pond time, they always have access to the air conditioning. Staff members are with the dogs constantly while they are at playtime.

“We all know each dog, their personality and who they’re favorite dog friends
are,” says owner Heather Carelli.

They are put up for nap time between 12:00 and 1:00 PM. All dogs are fed twice per day, unless there are special circumstances. Medications are given according to specific instructions from the parents. With a staff of 15, there is one main person in charge of a four to five person team for the big dogs and a person in charge of a smaller team with the smaller dogs. This person makes sure that each dog is eating well, taking their medications and is having fun.


A few questions we asked Heather:

Are there advantages to boarding at Paradise versus hiring a dog sitter to come to my house or dropping my dog off with a neighbor or family member?
“Yes, dogs are social. They need interaction and exercise.  Leaving a dog at home alone can be stressful…their routine is not the same. They are alone at night and not being monitored for possible bad behavior and illness.  Older dogs especially need to be monitored in a changing environment.  Avoiding stress is the most important aspect of taking care of dogs.  A family member is great as long as they are “dog people” and know the dog well.”

How many caretakers are there?
“We have 15 employees. Most have been with me for many, many years.  They are full time employees and completely committed to their jobs.  All are mature and experienced.  We are all dog lovers and treat them as if they were our own.”

Does my dog have to go for an “interview” before boarding? If so, what are you looking for to get accepted?
“Yes. Dogs need to be spayed or neutered, and at least 4 months old and done with their first round of vaccinations.  We want to make sure that the dogs are not aggressive and will get along with everyone.  We will work to help dogs get socialized.  We will also work with certain types of aggression that are easily overcome.”

Do you own another facility? If so, where?
“Paradise Playcare is my daycare and grooming facility located in Melbourne close to the Eau Gallie and US1 intersection. We are open Monday – Friday and closed on holidays. We have a 1,500 sq. ft. outdoor play area and a 4,000 sq. ft. building with plenty of indoor air conditioned play rooms. We also have an excellent groomer who has worked for me for several years. We have been open since 2005.”

Are you open year round and all holidays?
“We do close on Christmas and Thanksgiving. We are open for all other holidays but try to have shorter hours on those days.”

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about you, Paradise or pet caring advice in general?
“Dogs have much of the same issues we do. If we eat too much, or eat the wrong foods we are overweight and don’t feel well. Educate yourself about what is healthy for your dog – and it isn’t people food. A good quality dog food is the best answer. Read labels, especially when it comes to treats. Most are filled with wheat, corn, food coloring and all kinds of preservatives. Try to avoid “free feeding.” Have set feeding times for your dog so you can monitor how much he is eating.  Know your dog’s eating habits – it is the best way to monitor how they are feeling.”


Having a dog is fun and rewarding. If someone you know is thinking about getting a dog, please tell them to get educated. Have realistic expectations about the cost and time expense of having a dog. And please, please adopt from rescue groups or shelters – there are hundreds of lovable dogs looking for homes.

Paradise Luxury Dog Resort
220 Chandler Road NW | Palm Bay
(321) 728-2200 |