Boarding your Dog

What To Know Before You Board Your Dog

A Guide to Dog Boarding
by Jack Russell  

Taking a trip can be stressful enough in its own right; leaving your dog behind for an extended period of time only further adds to your anxiety. In many cases, it i s difficult or impossible to find a reliable dog sitter to take care of your beloved pet. In such situations, boarding a dog may be your best option. Before you board your dog and leave for your trip, however, there are some important things you need to know about the kennel you plan on using.

Before You Board
One of the first things you want to do is find out what kennels are available in your immediate area. If price is a factor in your decision, you will want to shop around and compare prices to see which kennel offers the best rates. Remember that most kennel owners and employees are animal lovers too. They want to ensure that both you and your dog are happy. If necessary, many of them may be willing to negotiate rates that are more in line with your budget.

The next thing to do is to investigate the actual kennel environment. If possible, explore the inside of the kennel and its outside areas before you go. You want to make sure that the inside of the kennel is a clean, well-lit, and temperature-controlled environment and that the outside has room for your dog to play and get exercise. Ask yourself: Do the dogs there look happy? Would your dog? Inspect the individual cages or crates to make sure they aren't dirty and have no fleas or ticks. Observe the staff working there. Are they friendly toward the dogs? Would you feel comfortable leaving your pet with them?

After investigating the kennel space, speak to a senior member of the staff. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Are there members of staff there 24 hours a day or dogs left unattended for hours at a time? Find out how often your dog will be let out of its cage, for how long, and if they will be interacting with other dogs. Ask about the medical paperwork needed. If the kennel has no medical paperwork requirements, DO NOT board your dog there. There's a whole class of diseases that animals catch from one another when kept in confined spaces, including kennel cough. Be sure to ask if there is a vet on-staff or on-call for the kennel. Discuss any special medical needs that your dog may have. If you are still unsure, ask for the names and numbers of previous dog owners who have boarded there. Customer testimonials are one of the best ways to give you peace of mind. Any kennel that refuses to do so is probably not a place you want to board your animal. You can also look up on the internet to see if the kennel is certified by the American Boarding Kennels Association, the gold standard of the industry.

What You'll Need to Bring
How much you will need to bring to the kennel depends entirely on how long you plan on boarding your dog. You are going to need to bring enough food and treats for the entire duration of the trip. You know your dog best: how much will he or she be eating, particularly if he or she is away from home and stressed? You are also going to want to bring your dog's own food and water dishes for two reasons. One, it will be familiar to him/her and will make him/her feel less homesick. Two, it means he/she will not have to use the same dishes that other dogs have used in the past. Your dog will smell the other dogs on the dish and worse, could possibly catch germs or diseases.

You will also want to bring your dog's bedding and blanket. Since your dog will be inside a cage or crate for extended periods of time, you will want to make sure they are comfortable. Again, your dog will feel more at home if they have familiar objects and scents around. Bring along favorite toys for them to chew on and play with; dogs can get a little “stir crazy” when they are not outside and will need some stimulation inside their crates. If you wish, you can leave a piece of clothing that you have worn recently so your dog will have your scent around.

The Day of Boarding
Before you bring your dog to the kennel, pack up all the items you will be bringing. Be discreet; your dog is a keen observer of human behavior and will know something is going on. You will want to minimize their stress level as much as possible. Make sure you have all the necessary medical paperwork for your dog if you have not already provided it to the kennel. Have a few different emergency contact numbers that they can reach, just in case. Bring your dog to the kennel and as you enter it, talk soothingly to your dog. Remember that dogs are much more sensory than humans. If they have been crated or boarded before, it won't be as stressful, but if this is their first time in that environment, the sights, sounds, and smells may overwhelm your dog. Give them a few treats to reward them and pet them for a few moments as they get used to their cage, but do not linger. Drawing out the separation will just make the process more stressful for your dog, as well as yourself. If you have done the necessary homework, you should feel confident that your dog is safe, secure, and happy. Enjoy your trip knowing that when you return, your dog will never have been so happy to see you!

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