Boarding Your Dog For The First Time

Boarding Your Dog -- For The First Time

As you prepare for the upcoming holiday, spring break or summer vacation, you may be thinking about dog boarding facilities for the first time.   You have a number of options from pet sitters in your home to boarding them at an all-inclusive doggy day care.     Both are great options and offer your dog lots of TLC and play time.  Other options may just be boarding your dog with the vet or kennel.

No matter what boarding options you choose, there are some things you should consider doing long before you go!

Dogs are really family oriented beings and as such can become very attached to their people.  When their people leave them somewhere new for the first time, it can lead to high levels of anxiety.   This can be especially true if your dog is a rescue dog who may have previously been given up by a family or if they have spent any time at all in the shelter environment.

Stress in these environments can lead to a number of medical issues for your dog.   Like with any desensitization program there are some easy things to do in the weeks (or even months) before you head out for vacation and leave him behind.

  • Begin crate training your dog weeks in advance, so that being confined and sleeping alone is not a new experience for him.

  • Select your boarding/sitting provider weeks in advance and allow your dog to go several times for play dates and a few overnight stays. A good facility will require an evaluation in advance anyway and give you key indicators of how your dog reacted to the new environment and the staff.

    • Allow your dog to go for a couple of 1/2 day visits, building up to a full day visit, and ultimately a single overnight.

    • Get feedback from the staff after each visit on how your dog responded to the environment, to other dogs and to them.

  • Disclose everything to the staff at your boarding / sitting provider. If your dog has a history of anxiety, medical issues, fears (including Thunder, Strangers, Purple Sunglasses, etc) let them know! The more they know about your dog, not matter how silly you might thing it is, the better prepared they can be.

  • Send your dog's regular food and treats each meal that he will be there

    • There are great calming treats that might be beneficial to your dog. Discuss with your provider.

  • Send medication and specific detailed instructions for the staff

    • You might even discuss medication with your vet in advance if your dog is prone to depression or anxiety in your absences.

  • Send a mat, t-shirt, toy or other item from home that is familiar to the dog and has scents of home & you on it.

  • Leave a local emergency contact -- someone that is not traveling with you who can go get your dog from the facility if necessary.

  • Provide copies of your vet records and your vet contact information.

When selecting your pet sitting service or boarding facility -- interview them in depth

  • Ask them to describe their emergency response protocols

  • For dog breeds prone to bloat question them on their experience, knowledge of the symptoms and protocol for treatment.

  • If your dog has a medical condition --discuss it at length and be sure they are prepared to manage an emergency

  • Ask them about kenneling dogs from the same home together. Some facilities do this and so do not.

Vacation should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment.   While there are never guarantees emergencies and medical scenarios won't arise while you're gone -- taking a few measures in advance can help you prepare as best as possible.

Do you have tips you would like to recommend we include in this article -- email us!   We want to keep it current and as helpful to clients as possible.

Dana Brigman