Guide to Boarding Your Dog

The first time you board your dog can be stressful.  How do you choose the right kennel?  What should you know before you drop off your dog?  Will your pet forget you?  The answers to these questions – and more – will be discussed below.

Why Choose a Boarding Kennel?

Dog owners have numerous options when it comes to providing care for their pets during vacations or business trips.  Common options include pet sitters, leaving your dog with neighbors, and boarding kennels.  The benefits of a boarding kennel include:

  • No strangers in your home
  • No inconveniencing your neighbors
  • Leaving your dog in the care of trained professionals
  • Dedicated care to your dog’s special needs
  • 24 hour staffing
  • Emergency protocols in place

Choosing a Kennel

There are a number of considerations that must be made when choosing a boarding kennel for your pet.  

First, you must find a trusted establishment.  A great way to start is by asking friends, family, or trusted canine professionals for recommendations.  Look online for reviews or ratings, as well.

Next, tour the facility.  If possible, bring your dog so that you can see how he or she interacts with the staff.  While exploring the kennel, keep the following components in mind:  sanitation, safety, and supervision.  Each dog’s sleeping areas should be clean and tidy, and there should be adequate ventilation such that no dog or cleaning odors are noticeable.  Dog areas should be free of urine and feces, with every attempt made to clean up after messes are made.

Safety should be a top priority for the kennel staff.  Ask how emergencies are handled, including illness, injury, and natural disasters.  During your tour, look for signs that verify the safety of the facility.  Fences should be at least 6’ tall, dividers should be placed between kennels, and dogs should be supervised when outside of their enclosures at all times.  

Finally, meet with the staff and ask questions.  Are personnel trained in First Aid and CPR?  What is their experience with animals?  Do you feel comfortable leaving your pet with these people?  Ultimately, trust your gut when making these decisions.  

Preparing for your Trip

Make sure your dog will be up to date on the necessary vaccinations at least one week before your pet is scheduled to be boarded.  In addition, consider a flea and tick preventative if your pet is not currently using one as an additional safety precaution.  

If your dog has never been boarded before, or if the kennel you have chosen is new to your pet, consider boarding your pet for a short overnight stay before you leave for your trip.  This will help your dog acclimate to the new environment.  When you drop off your pet, leave an item from home, such as a favorite toy or blanket.  Avoid lengthy goodbyes that could make your dog feel anxious.  Don’t forget to leave emergency contact information in case the boarding kennel needs to reach you.

Common Owner Anxieties

When you board your dog – particularly for the first time – it can be hard not to worry about your pet’s well-being.  It is important to remember that your dog is being cared for by professional pet lovers who are dedicated to putting the needs of your dog first.  To set your mind at ease you can call the kennel once every 2 – 3 days to check in on your dog.  

Another common anxiety that dog owners have is that their pet will not remember them, or will feel abandoned.  If you are concerned that your pet will worry that you have left for good (a particular concern for dogs who were adopted from a shelter), leave an item with your scent such as a t-shirt or pillowcase.  Rest assured that your dog will not forget you, even if you are gone for an extended period of time.  Numerous studies have shown that dogs are able to remember their owners, even after years of not seeing one another.  When you return from your trip and your dog greets you with hyperactive wiggles, your fears will instantly subside.  


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