Night picture before cookies and bedtime

Many people encounter the need, at one point or another, to use a boarding facility for their dog. Whether you need to travel for work, are headed out on a vacation, or have encountered some life event that has made it impossible for you to properly care for your dog for a time – dog boarding facilities are available to help you care for your dog when you cannot.  If your dog has never been boarded before, there are a few things you can do to prepare your dog so that they have a good experience with minimized stress and maximized fun!

It is best to prepare your dog by introducing them to their new environment.  If possible, before their stay at the boarding facility, bring them by for a little visit to explore the facility and see that it is a safe and fun place.  On this first visit, do not leave your dog, just stay for a short visit and then leave together.  If your dog is familiarized with the environment they are far more likely to be at peace when you leave them.  When it comes time to leave your dog at the boarding facility, bring some familiar items for them – almost like you would leave a security blanket with a child.  Whether they have a favorite blanket, pillow, toy, treat or anything else – a small transition item will make things much easier.  Don’t just drop them off and leave immediately if your dog is anxious, stay for a few minutes so that they begin to feel comfortable before you leave.

Dog's eye view.

Dog’s eye view.

In addition to easing the transition, there are other things you can do to make your dog’s time at a boarding facility as good as possible.  Before you drop your dog off, give them plenty of exercise – take them on a long walk or run, throw a toy for them, wearing them out as much as possible.  A wound up and energetic dog will have a harder time transitioning than a dog that has been properly exercised.  During drop off, it may be tempting to be overly affectionate or dramatic since leaving your hind can be emotional for both you and your dog.  But, it is important that you act as nonchalant as possible.  Act as though it is a completely ordinary day.  Your dog can sense when you are acting strange so by keeping calm and acting as you always do, your dog will not be on alert for strange behavior.  By doing all of these things, your dog will feel more comfortable adapting to a new environment at a boarding facility while you are away.