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by Rebecca Sanchez

3 Simple Steps to Help Conquer Your Fear of Boarding Your Pup

Let’s say you’re traveling and won’t be able to take your dog with you. What do you do? Well, somewhat similar to our previous article that covers traveling with your dog, we’re going to help you conquer all your fears of boarding. First things first, however. Do not feel guilty if you have to, or elect to, travel without your dog every now and then. Many people forego travel to exotic and wonderful places because their dog can’t go. I get it, I’ve traveled to Italy just because my dog could join me. But then Hawaii beckoned, and well, my dog had to learn to love boarding right fast!

 

Why Boarding Seems So Difficult

For some odd reason, many humans akin boarding to ‘leaving’ their dog. They attach a lot of negative emotion to abandoning their dogs to total strangers and gnash their teeth about the whole experience. Spending hours of their vacation time worrying about how their poor dog is suffering without them. Only to find that post time away, when they go to pick up their dog from the boarding facility, Fido is having a ball and is the most relaxed he’s been in a while.

Why is that?

Remember when you were a kid and you’d go to your friend’s house for a sleepover? Yup, it’s like that! Your dog is experiencing some of the most fun, freewheeling time he’s had in ages. With a whole bunch of new friends who think he’s just great! All that it takes to get your dog to love boarding is a shift in your perspective. As well as little know-how for what to look for in a good boarding facility.

 

What to Look for in a Boarding Facility

When it comes to boarding facilities there are some basic things you’ll want to consider. We recommend that you perform an online review of nearby boarding facilities to minimize your number of site visits. For an online assessment, make sure that the reviews are current and of excellent quality. You’ll want to look at the facility’s website to make sure it’s bonded, insured, and licensed by the state. If you can’t find this information, keep looking.

Also, while on the boarding facilities website check their policies. Do they comport with the way you want your dog treated, including in an emergency? Do they allow daily calls to check on the status of your dog? Do they offer video cameras so you can see your dog every now and again while you are away? Only you know what’s important to you when it comes to your dog. So, take the time to perform a thorough web-based assessment of boarding facilities, and their policies to narrow down your search.

When you are ready for a site visit, before seeing the facility, engage the owner in a discussion about the staff. You want to make sure that one or more staff members have professional care qualifications. Be curious about the staff and ask to meet them. These are the people that will be caring for your dog. Also, make sure that every staff member is pet CPR and first-aid certified. Only after you have reassurances about the staff can you go look at the facility. Why? We don’t want you to get dazzled by bells and whistles when it’s the humans that will be caring for your precious pup.  

Make sure that the boarding facility is clean. This includes the receiving area, play fields, indoor exercise areas, kitchen area where the dog’s food is stored and meals are prepared, and the kennels or bedrooms. When you look at the locations where your dog will be, make sure there are no hazards like sharp corners or heavy objects overhead that could fall. You know your dog’s habits. Compare and contrast that the facility’s design and equipment will work for your dog.

Ask questions about emergencies. Both yours and theirs. For example, what happens if your flight is delayed and you can’t make it home in time to collect Fido. Also, what do they do if there’s a fire alarm in the facility? What is their process for determining when a vet is needed, and what vet do they use. It’s important to think of these types of things before an actual emergency happens. While very unlikely, discussing them can lessen your anxiety.  

If you are interested in a special VIP experience for your pup, make sure that you ask about all of the luxuries. Some boarding kennels will provide one-on-one care for dogs, as well as private rooms, thick beds, daily leashed walks, homemade dinners, meals in a quiet location, and pampered brushing and grooming. How much fun your dog has while boarding is really up to you and the type of facility you select!

 

How to Prepare Your Dog for Boarding

The most important thing you can do to prepare your dog for boarding is to treat it as a normal, everyday event. Don’t get stressed, and remember to embrace that shift in perspective we just talked about. Think of it as a gift to both you and your dog. You can make things a lot easier by beginning to plan a few months in advance. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Trial Experiences : Most quality boarding facilities will let your dog stay for a few hours or half a day at a time. I recommend dropping your dog off at the facility while you and a friend go out for lunch or dinner. This allows your mind to be occupied and keeps the time on the brief side. After this, work up to a half day and ultimately an overnight stay. This approach allows your dog to understand that you always come back.
  • Bed Sleepers : If your dog sleeps with you, try getting him used to sleeping in a dog bed. It doesn’t have to be at night, throughout the day is fine to start. Once adjusted, take your dog’s bed with him to the boarding facility. This provides comfort and positive scent associations.
  • Health and Meals : Make sure that your dog has the ‘a-okay’ from his vet. This should include an update for required vaccinations, flea check, deworming, etc., You want to let your vet know that you are boarding your dog so that she can do the proper once-over for a facility that houses more than a few dogs. Also, if your dog requires a specific diet, then have plenty available when you take your dog to the boarding facility.

One last thing to consider is dropping your dog off at the boarding facility early in the morning. Regardless of the time your required to travel. This allows your dog to become acquainted, get exercised, meet friends, and basically get tired so sleep comes easily. Don’t worry dog mom and pup pop, your sweet dog will definitely love boarding with a little help from you. And with our tips, you can’t help but select a top-notch boarding facility!

 

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Rebecca Sanchez
Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez lives in Seattle with her husband and two dogs and is a published author, and nationally recognized leader in the pet industry. Known as The Pet Lifestyle Guru™ Rebecca firmly believes “we need animals as much as they need us!” Rebecca specializes in researching and writing about holistic dog health and nutrition, and develops DIY recipes designed to enhance a pup's well-being.


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