Preparing your dog for boarding

Most people have to board their dog at some point over the course of their lifetime. It may be for 1 or 2 nights for medical procedures or longer time frames for vacation, work or family events. There are some things that you can do now to help make that transition easier on your dog.

  1. Don’t free feed – most boarding places will not be able to accommodate that schedule and it is easier for potty training if you dog has set meal times. You can ask or provide a slow feed bowl if needed. Some facilities feed their own food and others will let you bring your own. Make sure to let them know if your dog has any allergies. (I also like to feed my dogs at home with the sound of barking dogs on a soundtrack so they can learn to eat even if it is noisy).
  2. Read through any contracts carefully. Some places may require you to pay if your dog damages something, have set pick up or drop off times and some may even require grooming before attending so matting and maintaining is kept to a minimum. This also applies to intact dogs. Some facilities will not take them and ideally, I would recommend planning your trip around a potential heat cycle. Some places may require you to submit vaccination records, proof of heartworm/flea preventive and negative parasite tests.
  3. Train them-it is much easier to board a dog that doesn’t jump, comes when calls, is not crate or food aggressive and tolerates other dogs.
  4. Acclimate them to a crate. Some facilities have indoor/outdoor runs if you prefer that option but it’s helpful if your dog is not stressed in a crate.
    1. Also, if they sleep in your bed each night, a few nights before you board, you might have them sleep in a dog bed, on the floor or in their crate.
  5. Don’t make your departure difficult on the dog by crying, hugging, apologizing and becoming overly emotional. Act normal as you start the packing and when dropping off and picking up.
  6. Don’t ask the facility owner for updates multiple times a day. Most places try to update daily (usually in the evening since they are taking care of pets during the day).
  7. Research the facility you plan to use. How many dogs per staff member, experience, cleaning protocols, emergency protocols if your dog gets injured, do they ask for vaccination records? Normally you can see reviews and ratings online and you can check with family and friends for recommendations.
  8. Choose the facility that meets your dog’s needs. Some dogs are not dog friendly and/or people friendly so a kennel run will be a better option. No problem. Do your research to find the place that works best for your dog.
  9. If boarding is stressful, hiring a pet sitter is a great alternative. Again, do your research and vet the person responsible for taking care of your dog(s).
  10. Relax and enjoy your trip. When you pick up your dog maintain a calm demeanor. You can be excited to see your dog but allowing them to whine, jump and carry on creates a lot of overarousal in your dog. This behavior will ruin any training that may have been done while you were gone.