Pet boarding is a necessary evil for some families.
Between traveling, vacation and possible emergencies that come up, you’re bound to rely on a boarding facility at some point.
The first time can be a little emotional for everyone involved, including your furry friend. Here are a few ways you can help ease the tension and make the experience better for your dog.
All reputable boarding facilities will require your dog to be up to date on her vaccinations before staying the night. Some of these will include rabies, distemper, bordetella (kennel cough), and occasionally canine influenza. Call the facility ahead of time to find out which vaccines they need so you can get your pup in to the veterinarian with plenty of time to spare. Vaccinations often take a few days to become effective, so don’t wait until the last minute to have them done.
Practice Crate Training
Your dog will likely spend a good deal of time in a kennel when boarded. Practice crate training to help her adjust to the confinement. Leave her alone at home for a few hours for a couple of weeks leading up to your trip so she can get used to holding her bladder and spending time to herself. While many facilities allow dogs to roam around freely during the day, most of them will require your pup to be in her kennel throughout the night. Let her rest in her crate to sleep.
Kennels are often full of dogs of all temperaments. It’s important for your pup to be socialized so she’ll get along well with the other tenants at the boarding facility. Take her to the dog park and let her meet and greet other pups. Otherwise, dropping her off at a kennel when she’s unaccustomed to being with other dogs can be both stressful and dangerous. The friendlier she is the better she’ll be able to handle the situation and all the barking.
Don’t settle for the first kennel you come across. Boarding facilities vary greatly in terms of policies and what kind of activities they offer your pet. Some allow dogs to roam freely in a play area throughout the day while others barely let the dogs out of their kennels. Choose the one that best fits your dog’s need and personality. If she’s a loner she might better off with only a few scheduled playtimes each day. But make sure she’ll have plenty of opportunities to exercise to help ease her anxiety.
Prepare Her Food
You don’t want to change your dog’s diet when she goes to the kennel. Most of them will offer in-house food that’s capable of meeting her nutritional needs, but an abrupt change can lead to diarrhea. Pack Ziploc bags of food portioned for each meal to make it easier. If she has any treats feel free to pack those too with detailed instructions on how much she receives each day.
Update Flea and Tick Prevention
Kennels are a breeding ground for fleas and other nasty buggers. Get your dog up to date on he flea and tick prevention before dropping her off. Most kennels will require this so don’t let it come as a surprise. You’ll also want to check into heartworm prevention, especially if your dog will be outside during her stay.
Say Goodbye Quickly
A long, drawn out goodbye at the boarding facility will tip your dog off to the fact that something is amiss. Instead treat it as if you were leaving for work. A quick pat on the head and a walk out the door will suffice.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.