Tips for Boarding Your Dog

Boarding your beloved dog for the first time? Not to worry, we know it can be nerve-racking to leave them, even for the shortest period of time. There are several things you can prepare to make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your pup! Check out these tips for boarding your dog!

If you’re a first time dog owner, it can be scary leaving your puppy or dog with a facility, but sometimes it’s necessary. However, there are several things you need to do before choosing a place. The best way to know for sure is to go visit.

Boarding facilities do not hire just anybody. Boarding facilities hire dedicated individuals who love animals and will treat yours like they would their own.  Employees are professionally trained to take the best care of your pet as possible.  Below you will find some tips and pointers to make the boarding experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible on you and your dog.

Tips for Boarding Your Dog

Plan Ahead

There are several types of boarding arrangements you can make and boarding a dog takes planning. Do you want a doggy daycare, just boarding where someone lets them out periodically, private one on one time, or something else?

There are so many options that it’s best to start planning ahead of time – well before you even need to board your dog.

Most facilities require a temperament test or evaluation before boarding if your dog will be participating in a playgroup. They will need vaccine records as well.

Planning ahead can save you a ton of headaches, especially if you find yourself needing to board your dog unexpectedly. If you already have your pup set up to go somewhere, it will be much easier.

What boarding facility should you choose?

First, to put yourself at ease, ask the staff for a tour of the facility you are interested in. While many facilities will use the terms “kennel” or “room” or “suite”, it is best to take an in-person look so you know you are comfortable leaving your dog there.

By taking a tour of the facility, it will put your mind at ease so you will know exactly what environment your furry companion is in. With this being said, if you do not like the layout of a specific facility, go somewhere else.

You are by no means obligated to go to a specific place. You need to do what will make you and your fur child the most comfortable.

tips for boarding your dog

What to pack for a dog’s boarding experience:

Once you have a facility and room picked out, next comes what to pack in your doggy’s overnight bag. It is hard to not want to pack every single one of his 15 different toys.  However, if he doesn’t really play with a toy at home, it is doubtful he will be comforted by it while he is boarding.

Pack a couple of his absolute favorite toys, a blanket and his bed. Many people even bring a shirt with their human scent on it for their pet so their fur baby still feels close to you even though you are away.

The menu options for your dog while boarding.

In regards to food and snacks, some boarding facilities offer to feed your pet a “house food” which translates to some type of general dog food. Some places require you to pay a fee for this food, other places do not. Either way, the most important thing for you to keep in mind as a pet parent is if your dog is a picky eater.

Any concerns whatsoever about him not eating well while you are away, pack his own food!  It is one less change he will have to experience during his stay. Also, some dogs get an upset stomach and loose stool if you change their food to something their body doesn’t agree with.

If you are worried your dog may fall into this category, play it safe, and pack his own food. If your dog is a vacuum with an iron stomach and will eat anything, then it’s not as much of a concern.

Special boarding accommodations

Any good boarding facility staff will do all they can to ensure your pup has a delightful stay. People that work at these places adore animals, otherwise they wouldn’t work there.  All of them will go out of their way to accommodate any quirks your dog has.

If you know he doesn’t like to eat out of a bowl and only off a plate, tell them. Or if he has been known to scale fences and escape when unsupervised, tell them. If he has some separation anxiety or thunderstorm anxiety, tell them.

This will allow the staff to understand what is going on with your pet. It also gives them guidance on how to comfort your dog and guarantee their comfort.

Does your dog have a medical condition?

Depending on the severity of your dog’s medical condition, you may want to look at boarding at a veterinary facility.  If your dog has something mild, such as seasonal allergies that make him slightly itchy, a typical boarding facility can handle it.  If he has reflux that needs a daily medication you provide, no problem. 

Most typical day to day ailments can be handled by a boarding facility.  Your dog plays too hard with a new doggy friend and limps a little?  The staff will know to rest him and not let him play so hard.  Accidentally get her nail caught on one of her toys?  Can definitely get that untangled. 

If your dog has a condition more severe, such as diabetes that requires two insulin shots daily, you may want to consider somewhere with a veterinarian on staff. Does your dog have a history of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in times of stress?  A veterinary facility is the safer bet.  If you have any questions about what a boarding facility can or cannot handle, just ask. 

What vaccinations does my dog need for boarding?

Each boarding facility will have their own requirements.  To ensure a smooth check in, call the boarding facility ahead of time to verify if you have all the necessary vaccines or not. 

The three core vaccinations includes an up to date Rabies Vaccination, Bordetella Vaccination (kennel cough), and Distemper Parvo Vaccination (DHPP).   Some facilities may also require the Influenza Vaccine; there are two strains of vaccine, H3N2 and H3N8, be sure you have the correct one or combo of the two. 

A clean fecal sample from your vet may also be required.  It is best to give the boarding facility a copy of your entire dog’s vaccination history ahead of time; this will lead to a smoother and less stressful check-in.

Drop off went well, now what?

Have you heard the expression “No news is good news”?  Well, this is the case with many facilities.  While every place is different, they all know that you are leaving your pet for a reason, whether it is work-related, family emergency, vacation, etc., and do not want to bother you. 

However, like any loving parent, they understand it is impossible not to worry about your fur-child.  Do not hesitate to phone/email the facility for updates on your pet to put your mind at ease.  Believe me when I say, it happens all the time so they do not mind at all!  

Nearly all boarding facilities keep documentation on how your pet is eating, playing, their personality, etc. They will be more than happy to update you on how your pets stay is going.


Boarding a dog is an important decision. Our dogs are our family members. We want to make sure they are well taken care of when we can’t be there. And once you find the right place, you’ll feel much more comfortable when you have to leave your fur babies.

Hopefully, these tips for boarding your dog will make it easier on you and your pup and make it an enjoyable experience.

For more tips about leaving a puppy alone for the first time – check out this article!

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Tips for boarding your dog

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