Some of you emailed me and asked what can I do if I can’t take my dog with me so here’s an article about boarding your dog, just for you . You better hurry though because if you need reservations for Christmas the boarding facilities are all filling up quickly.
You’ve been planning a family trip for the holidays for weeks. You have booked your airfare. You’re going to have a wonderful time, right? Then why do you feel so guilty? Is it because you’re leaving your dog behind? Every year people travel and have a less than perfect time because they are worried about their best friend at home. Perhaps it’s not even a vacation. Maybe you have to travel for work. What’s the answer? Leave your dog with a neighbor who may forget to give him his pills or accidentally let him get out.
Fortunately there are other alternatives. For some people the answer is a boarding kennel. Far from being a cold, sterile prison-like environment, many boarding kennels these days offer amenities that make your pet feel like he’s on vacation himself. Some boarding kennels are almost like spas for pets.
When you begin considering boarding kennels in your area you should begin by visiting the facilities in person. Check for cleanliness. Does it look and smell clean? Is it well-lit and ventilated? Is this a place where you would like your dog to spend a few days? Is it pleasant and warm enough? Or is it properly cooled in the summer time? Are the kennel runs large enough? How are the people? Do you like them? These are the people who will be caring for your dog so your impression of them is very important. Ask if the kennel is accredited by the American Boarding Kennels Association (719-667-1600). The association can tell you if the kennel meets accepted standards and is accredited.
After you have visited the kennels in your area and chosen one you can begin to prepare your dog for his stay. You will need to have your dog’s vaccinations up to date. Kennels won’t allow your dog to stay unless he is current on his rabies vaccination. Your dog will also probably need a bordatella vaccine for kennel cough. Kennel cough is a respiratory illness similar to a cold in humans that is often spread among dogs in a kennel. It’s passed around something like the way colds are passed around in airports. There’s not much you can do to prevent them, even in the cleanest facilities, but the bordatella vaccine can lessen your dog’s chances of catching a cough, and the vaccine is recommended.
If possible it’s a good idea to take your dog by the kennel to let him see the place before you plan to leave him. Let him meet the staff and become familiar with the surroundings. Even a brief visit or an overnight stay can help your dog become accustomed to the place before his longer visit.
Remember to provide as much information as possible about your dog to the staff. Make sure they know about your dog’s medications and dosages; allergies; special food; how he gets along with other dogs; and whether or not he is afraid of certain things. Most kennels invite you to bring your dog’s food from home for him if he eats a special brand. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, such as thunder or fireworks, be sure to mention this or any other phobias to the staff. If your dog is afraid of black dogs or cats or anything he may encounter at the kennel, be especially sure to mention this fact to the staff.
You may also make special requests about who your dog is housed with or allowed to exercise with. Boarding kennels typically house two dogs of similar size in each kennel run, but they want to make sure that the dogs are compatible. If you are taking two dogs and they are friends, be sure to request that they are kenneled together. If your dog has any particular dislikes as far as other dogs go, or if he’s afraid of some dogs, make sure you mention this to the staff on behalf of your dog.
Don’t forget to supply the kennel with the name, phone number and address of your veterinarian so he or she can be contacted in case of emergency.
You can make your dog feel more at home by bringing some items from home with him. Bring a special toy or his favorite blanket. You can even take something that belongs to you, such as an old shirt to help comfort him while you’re gone. No need to wash it. You want it to carry your scent so it will remind your dog of you.
As you’re getting ready for your trip remain cheerful and calm. If you are excited and hectic in your packing you’ll alert your dog that something is going on. By the time you’re ready to take him to the kennel he’ll be feeling the stress of the trip. Instead, get his things together in advance and take him to the car as you would for any car trip.
When you take your dog to the kennel on the big day it’s important that you try to remain calm and positive. Your dog will take his cues from you. If you are emotional and tearful your dog will be upset about you leaving him. Try to avoid long, sad goodbyes. The best way to handle things is to hand your dog’s leash to one of the staff, let them distract your dog with something, and quietly slip away. Your dog will feel much less stress if you leave quietly.
If you travel a lot your dog will get used to visiting the kennel and become familiar with the staff and the whole experience. He will start looking forward to seeing other dogs and playing with the people at the kennel. Many kennel staff know their doggy guests well and look forward to seeing them again.
After a few trips to the boarding kennel you and your dog will become familiar with the whole experience. Your brief separations will not seem nearly as stressful. You can relax while you’re away knowing that your dog is being well cared for; and your dog can rest and play, knowing that you will soon be home.
Until next time…….
About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network, www.K9-University.com