How To Prepare Your Dog For Going To Boarding Kennels

For many dog owners the excitement of going away can be diminished by the stress and worry of leaving their dog in kennels. Of course, not all dog kennel stays are the result of a fun thing like a holiday either. Sometimes our dogs have to stay in kennels due to us needing to go somewhere rather than us wanting to go away for a while.

Dog behaviour expert, Nick Honor gives his top tips for helping you to ensure your dog's stay in kennels is an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

To achieve the best outcome for your dog's boarding kennel stay you require two things: Firstly, selecting the accommodation best suited to the dog’s particular needs and secondly, preparing the dog for its stay in order to avoid any unnecessary distress or anxiety.

How To Prepare Your Dog For Going To Boarding Kennels

A dog relies on its routine for security and safety and it’s essential that its diet and exercise regime in particular is maintained in order to ensure that your dog stays happy and healthy. This means that your priority should be to look for a kennel that is sensitive to your dog’s physical and nutritional needs.

If your dog is used to getting a lot of exercise, they will require a kennel  that provides plenty of off-lead walks and ball activities.

Although this can sometimes result in additional charges, it is worthwhile as it will improve the dog’s stay and give you peace of mind while you are away.

Quick Tip: Don't change your dog's food before going to kennels
You should also avoid making changes to your dog’s diet before they are due to stay in kennels. Changing your pet’s food prior to their visit to boarding kennels could cause upset, coupled with new surroundings this could be distressing for them. Keep things as close as you can to their normal routine, normal food, normal walk times etc.

You should also remember to leave your pet’s up-to-date medical records and any recent medications prescribed to them. It is essential that your dog has been given all the required vaccinations and has had any other relevant treatments such deflea-ing and deworming.

Kennel anxiety

Being boarded can be a stressful time for both your dog and for you, so once the appropriate kennel has been selected, it is important that you prepare your dog for a stay in kennels in the months and weeks leading up to their holiday, to make the process as easy as possible.

There are several steps you can take to prepare your pet for the transition from family home to kennels.

Your dog may not be used to spending long periods of time alone, so if possible you should prepare your dog by leaving them for 15 minute intervals and slowly build this up to four hours.

It is worth noting and may help your peace of mind to know that

  • Not all dogs dislike staying at kennels. Some dogs actually love it.
  • Good boarding kennels are used to looking after dogs who are anxious about their new environment.

Can you arrange a 'practice' stay at kennels to see if your dog likes it?

Many kennels are open to the idea of short ‘trial’ stays, so if arrange for your dog to stay at the kennels for a short period before going on an extended trip. This will help them adapt to the kennel environment and also give you peace of mind that they are safe, well and happy.

Spending time in an unfamiliar environment can be distressing for a dog, so packing familiar items will make a dog feel more at home. If your dog sleeps on a particular bed or has a favourite toy, leave it with them so they have the comfort of a familiar scent.

Any toys should be labelled to limit the likelihood of these being misplaced.

Before you book your dog's stay in pet boarding facilities, call the the kennels you're thinking of using and ask if you can visit for a look around. If you don't feel comfortable with the kennels, don't book your dog to stay there. It will play on your mind and make you even more anxious while you're away.

Making just a few simple plans ahead of time and preparing them for their time away from home can make all the difference and can make the whole experience easier for you and your dog.

Worth a look:

What's it like to work in boarding kennels

How do you help to prepare your dog for kennels? Let us know your own top tips!

About The Author

Nick has studied with and been mentored by some of the most eminent minds in animal behaviour including Dr Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson and is qualified in Dog Psychology. Currently working as a Trainer & Behaviour specialist with The Behaviour Company and PuppyStars Puppy Training Academy, Nick also volunteers his services for The Medical Detection Dogs. Nick holds teaching qualifications in Adult Learning – vital for educating owners about how to work best with their pets.

confessions of a dog trainer

One comment

  1. Thanks for your tips on how to help my dog prepare for pet boarding. I’ll be sure to try and get him used to being alone so that he won’t feel too scared without me. I’m headed to my sister’s for the weekend so that I can have some bonding time with her and her kids and I was planning on finding a pet boarding service for my dog since my sister is allergic to pets so I can’t bring him there. I’ll be sure to look for one that can help him adjust to the place since I fear he may have anxiety since he is a rescue and all.

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