Dogs can make excellent travel companions, particularly on camping or road trips. You’ll both enjoy sharing the adventure, and you’ll save money on the costs of someone else caring for your pet.
However, bringing your dog along on your travels isn’t always possible or practical, particularly if you’re flying or visiting loved ones with other pets or small children. Plus, lots of hotels and restaurants are not dog-friendly at all. Sometimes you’ll have to be apart — and that’s when you’ll want to know how to prepare your dog for boarding.
Types of boarding options for dogs
Your dog may have special circumstances, like a very anxious nature, particular health concerns or a special diet to consider when choosing the right boarding option. So, what are the choices?
Board your dog with your veterinarian
This is an excellent choice if your dog has particular health concerns or needs to take regular medication. You’ll know that your dog will receive care from qualified professionals trained to notice potential issues and act appropriately, if needed.
Board your dog at a kennel
Kennels often have a bad reputation, but many now operate more like five-star hotels than doggy prisons. You can select add-on services like grooming, special treats or enrichment activities beyond the daily walks and playtime with other pups. Of course, these come at a premium price.
The cost of boarding your dog varies by state and depends on the type of facility you choose and the options available. For example, some top-notch doggy hotels and spas provide their guests with their own room, whereas cheaper options may just have a crate to sleep in.
Hire a dog sitter
If your dog is very nervous about new places, it might be kinder to let them stay at home and hire a dog sitter to watch them. Dog sitter prices vary, especially as their services can range from a visit of an hour or two to their staying at your home for the duration of your trip. They may also bring in your mail, water your plants and provide security for your home.
Dog boarding preparation tips
Once you’ve made your choice, follow these tips to ease the transition when it’s time to leave for your trip.
Start your research
Research various boarding facilities or dog-sitting services well ahead of time to find one that suits your dog’s needs and preferences. Read reviews and ask for recommendations from trusted friends or your veterinarian.
Schedule a visit
Once you’ve short-listed a few potential options, schedule a visit. Check out the facility firsthand, interact with the staff and observe the cleanliness of the premises, the size and condition of the kennels or rooms, and the general atmosphere. Talk to the staff, and ask questions about:
- Their company policies, including what happens if a pet gets sick or tries to escape, their emergency protocols and overall ethos
- The daily feeding schedules and whether these can accommodate your pet’s needs
- The exercise routines, including how large the group is and if they separate the dogs by size or temperament for walks
- Any other specific requirements your dog may have
If possible, bring your dog along for a day visit or leave them for a few hours before coming back. And watch for signs of kennel stress. If you’re planning on using a dog sitter instead, have them meet your pet, and ask lots of questions about how they’ll ensure the health and happiness of your pooch while you’re away. You can also ask for references and speak to other pet parents about the services they received.
Update vaccinations and medications
Before leaving for your trip and boarding your dog or arranging a dog sitter, visit your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on all their pet vaccinations. Not only will this help protect your dog, but it will also protect the other animals at the boarding facility. You may also be required to provide proof of vaccinations to the management.
Pack essentials and familiar items
When packing for your dog’s boarding stay, include essentials such as food, treats, medication, bowls, leash, and a collar with identification tags. Bring your own dog food from home even if the kennel provides it, as some dogs may get stomach upsets from a change in diet. If your dog requires any medications, make sure you provide enough, along with detailed instructions for the staff. Pack enough for the duration of their stay, plus a little extra to account for unforeseen circumstances like if they’re unwell or your travel is delayed.
You may also include some familiar items from home, such as their bed, blanket, or toys. These items can provide comfort and make your dog feel more at ease in the new environment. If your dog is staying at home with a sitter, make sure you leave detailed instructions so they can find anything they may need.
Provide background information and instructions
Inform the staff at the boarding facility about your dog’s feeding schedule, dietary restrictions, behavioral issues, medication dosage, exercise preferences and any other specific needs they may have. Clear communication will help the staff take better care of your dog and address their individual requirements.
Prepare for separation anxiety
Even in the best boarding facilities, your dog will miss you and will be thrilled to see you when you return. Separation anxiety is common among dogs when they’re away from their owners. A few things you can do to prepare your furry friend:
- Help your dog cope by gradually introducing them to shorter periods of separation before the boarding stay
- Leave them with a trusted friend or family member for a few hours or overnight to help them adjust to being away from you
- Provide the boarding facility with an item that carries your scent, such as a piece of clothing, to provide comfort and familiarity
Pets Best is here for you and your best fur buddy
As much as you love your dog, sometimes you need to leave them behind to go out of town. Boarding is an affordable option for peace of mind while you’re away, but it can cause stress for both you and your pet.
Try to keep your own anxiety and apprehension at bay. Dogs are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on your emotions. Try to stay positive and calm to reassure your dog that they’ll be well taken care of while you’re away.
With some careful planning and preparation, you can help make the process of boarding your dog as smooth as possible. Set your mind at ease with Pets Best pet wellness coverage before you leave on your trip. That way, you can enjoy your trip knowing that your dog is in good hands.