Summer is a great time to plan your next vacation, but not every adventure you take will be dog-friendly.
A boarding kennel can be a great option for pet owners who want to travel but need to leave their pup behind. More than 30 million pet owners use boarding kennels annually as a dependable, safe option for their pets.
Boarding your dog for the first time can be stressful. You have to leave your dog in a strange place for multiple days, and it's natural to worry whether they're happy and being properly cared for.
Luckily, many boarding facilities make boarding a great experience for both you and your dog. If this is your first time boarding your pup, read on to learn how to find the perfect facility and make boarding as successful as possible.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Boarding Facility
Choosing the right boarding facility for your dog is an important decision, and it requires in-depth research on your end.
Gather recommendations from friends and family, and research your local area to find boarding kennels with great reviews, preferably ones that are part of the Pet Care Services Association or the International Boarding & Pet Services Association.
Once you have your list of options, contact each of them to learn more about their business practices and to see if they have availability during your scheduled trip.
From this list of narrowed-down options, schedule an appointment to tour the kennel. While you tour, you'll want to evaluate the facility's appearance, staff, and how they'll take care of your pup.
While you're at the kennel, look around thoroughly. The facility should be clean, well-organized, and smell good as well. The fencing and gates should be sturdy and secure, and there should be special safety precautions in place to keep dogs from escaping or injuring themselves.
While some boarding kennels choose not to let you inside some dog-specific areas for safety purposes, they should let you take a peek inside through a viewing window. If a boarding facility takes a hard stance on their "no visitors" policy, they may not be a good fit for you.
Boarding Facility Staff
The staff should be friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to answer your questions. Don't be afraid to ask them about their health and safety training, as well as their emergency procedures.
These are the people your dog will be interacting with on a daily basis, so you want to make sure that they're caring and compassionate and that they take their job seriously.
Before you choose a boarding facility, make sure you know the ins and outs of a typical day at the kennel and how your dog's needs will be met.
While you're at the kennel, ask the staff:
- How often are the dogs fed and can you bring your own food?
- Does each dog get an individual container for drinking water?
- Do they have a veterinarian on-site or will they use your preferred vet in the event of an emergency?
- Do they require immunization?
- Will the dogs get one-on-one attention or will they primarily be with other dogs?
- How much exercise will they be given every day, and where will that exercise take place?
5 Tips to Successfully Board Your Dog
Once you've chosen a boarding facility, there are a few things to take care of before you drop your dog off. To make the boarding experience as smooth as possible for both of you, follow these five tips:
1. Make Sure Your Dog Is Crate Trained
At most boarding facilities, your dog will need to be crated during the night and even for longer periods throughout the day. If your dog has no experience with a crate, this can be a stressful experience for them.
In some cases, your dog can develop kennel stress. While some level of stress is common when a dog is boarded, dogs with kennel stress experience:
- Excessive barking
- Loss of appetite
- Constant licking of the lips
To reduce their stress, you can spend time in the weeks leading up to your trip practicing crate training with your dog.
2. Do a Trial Run
Before the big day, book an overnight stay for your pup in the facility of your choice while you're still in town. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate the kennel's services and see how well your dog handles being boarded.
For some dogs, daycare is their home away from home immediately, while others need longer to adjust. Doing a trial run helps your pup build positive experiences with the kennel before they have to be left alone for a longer period.
3. Leave Your Dog's Food with the Boarding Facility
While this might cost extra with your facility, keeping your dog on the same diet can make a big difference in their overall happiness while being boarded. Most facilities will gladly accommodate this request, but it's important to check with them ahead of time.
In many cases, all of the dogs at the boarding facility are fed the same food out of convenience, but an abrupt change in your dog's food can cause digestive issues.
4. Be Honest About Your Dog's Behavior and Special Needs
Always let the boarding facility staff know about your dog's special needs or any behavioral issues they may need to mitigate while you're gone.
If your dog is reactive, has a health condition that requires medication, or needs a special diet, these will all require the facility's staff to change their typical procedures. While many kennels will be happy to accommodate these needs, there may be additional charges.
5. Keep Your Goodbyes Calm
When you leave your dog, it's natural to want to spend time telling them, "I love you" and saying goodbye. While you'll undoubtedly miss them while you're gone, this can cause more stress for your dog, which can affect how they feel about the facility and their overall boarding experience.
Try to keep your goodbyes as calm and lowkey as possible and leave without a lot of fuss. This may be hard for you, but it will ultimately be easier on your dog.
Is Your Dog Ready for Boarding This Summer?
While leaving your dog behind may seem stressful at first, boarding your dog can be easy – and a great experience for them too! With a great boarding facility lined up and the right preparations in place, your dog can have just as much fun as you when you travel this summer.
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