How to Prepare for Your Dog's First Boarding Experience

As COVID-19 restrictions relax, more and more people will start planning vacations. If you are eager to leave home but have a new dog, you may be looking at kennel facilities. If you've never boarded your dog before, here are some ways to prepare for that experience.

Look for a Facility with a Yard

Some boarding facilities and veterinarian offices have kennels, but they may not have much of a yard or place for dogs to roam. Because of location constraints, the faculty may only be able to take your dog for a short walk or out for bathroom breaks. While smaller facilities can work for short-term boarding, they aren't ideal for longer boarding periods since your dog will feel cooped up in the kennel. Look for a facility that has an exercise yard and that hosts a doggy daycare. Your pup will get more socialization and feel less separation anxiety when he or she can play with other dogs and get outside the kennel each day.

Begin Crate Training as Soon as Possible

You may not have time to finish crate training before your dog's boarding, but it's never too late to start. Crate training is important because it teaches a dog that the cage is a safe location. Your vet or a boarding professional can offer you advice on how to crate train your pup. Usually, you'll want to drop treats inside the crate and keep the door of the cage open so your dog only has positive associations with the area. Eventually, you'll reach the point where your dog can sleep in the crate overnight with the door latched. Crate training is perfect practice for boarding.

Double-Check Your Dog's Vaccines

Infections, like kennel cough, can spread easily spread from one animal to another. You don't want your dog to get sick and feel miserable while you're away, so make sure his or her vaccines are up to date. In fact, some facilities may turn you away if your dog hasn't had certain vaccines, so it's important to find out what's required before assuming you can drop your dog off.

Consider Practice Stays and Early-Morning Drop-Offs

Like crate training, there are other ways to ease your dog into the routine of boarding. For instance, before a long trip, you may want to schedule a one-night stay for your dog. This short stay will help your dog get used to the facility, but the stay won't be so long that it will trigger too much anxiety in your pup. If you don't have time for a practice stay, consider scheduling a morning drop-off time at the boarding facility. Early-drop off times can help your dog get used to the staff, become familiar with the facility's scents, and expend some energy before going into a kennel for the night.

Reach out to a local pet kennel to learn how to help your dog have a great experience while you're away.