If you’re anything like me, the thought of leaving your dogs for a trip gives you major anxiety. Obviously, my preference is for my dogs to come with me but this is not always the case when it comes to traveling. There are many destinations that are not pet-friendly or it is just not realistic to bring your pup. If you have the luxury of trusted family members around who are willing to watch your dog, then consider yourself lucky. When we first got my dog, Lacy, my husband and I were newlyweds living 6 hours away from any family. Because of this, I spent many hours researching local boarding facilities that would take could care of Lacy. Here are the lessons we learned from boarding Lacy several times throughout our time living in Michigan.
All you need to know about boarding your dog for the first time ⇓
Find a Reputable Dog Boarding Facility
I don’t think I need to explain why this tip is so vital. Spend the time to do your research on the different dog boarding facilities in your area. Look at their websites, read all the reviews you can find, and ask any friends or family about the place if they have personally gone there before. Nowadays, many boarding places will have Facebook pages and you can read reviews on there as well. Look through their website’s picture galleries so you can get an idea of the play area, kennels, yard, etc. My dog’s eventual boarding facility had a very active Facebook page where they updated pictures daily and welcomed each new dog into their “pack.”
While looking through their website pay attention to these key things:
- How often do they take the dogs out?
- Are there webcams available for dog parents to check on their pup throughout their day?
- How big are the rooms (kennels)?
- Do they allow the dogs to play or do dogs stay in their rooms except for bathroom breaks?
- Do they walk the dogs or is that an additional fee?
- What does the bedding look like?
- Do they separate dogs by their size? Small breed room vs large breed room?
- Can you get daily updates about how your pup is doing?
Be sure to write down any questions you may have that is not answered on their website.
Research the Cost of Boarding your Dog
The cost of your dog’s stay will depend on several factors. This includes what part of the country you live, how many nights they will be staying, and the type of “room” option you choose. The national average for dog boarding is 30-50 dollars per night. The range can vary greatly. I have seen some places charge 25 dollars per night and some charge 85 dollars per night. Many facilities will have different kennel size options you can choose from which can vary in price as well. Lacy’s boarding facility had a “standard room” for 35 per night or a “luxury room” for 50 per night. My best advice is to go on their websites and compare costs between several places. Try to find something within your budget. Some places have a discount price if you are boarding two dogs.
Tip– budget a little extra money for any unexpected fees. The first time we boarded Lacy, she was anxious and had an accident in her kennel that night. Consequently, I had to pay extra grooming fees when I came to pick her up.
Visit the Boarding Facility in Advance
Visiting the facility in advance is a requirement for many of the boarding places but I highly suggest you visit in advance even if it’s not required. This will accomplish many things. First, it will help to ease any anxiety you might have by actually seeing the place in person. I felt much better about leaving Lacy after meeting the owner, seeing how clean it was, and being able to ask any questions I had. Many boarding facilities will have you bring in your dog for a “temperament” test and to see if your dog would be a good fit. It is important to be honest and let the facility owner know if your dog has any known behavior or anxiety issues.
While taking a tour of the facility, keep these things in mind:
- Does the place look clean?
- What do the dog rooms (kennels) look like in person?
- What does the bedding look like?
- How are they monitoring the dogs that are there?
- Is the staff friendly with you and the dogs?
- Is the staff willing to answer all your questions
- How do they do feedings?
- What is their vaccination policy like?
- How do they group the dogs?
- Do workers stay overnight with the dogs?
Make sure your dog has all necessary vaccinations
I am positive in saying, you will not find a reputable facility that does not require proof of vaccinations (this is a good thing). Check out their websites for a list of required vaccinations. Your dog will be in close corridors with all kinds of other dogs. You do not want your dog catching or spreading things like kennel cough to other dogs. Make sure your dog is protected and that you are thinking about the wellbeing of other people’s pups as well.
Your dog’s stay is booked and in the calendar. Now, what do I need to pack?
Some places will have you upload these to a digital profile in advance.
If your dog takes any medication, make sure to write down the doses and place inside a zip lock bag.
My boarding facility required us to distribute our food into bags for each day of our dog’s stay. Write down how much food you usually give your dog for each meal (1 cup for breakfast, etc.)
Emergency Contact Information
This will usually be taken down in their system but never hurts to write it down somewhere again.
This one will heavily depend on your facility’s policy. My boarding facility used their own bedding and did now allow us to bring any from home. They did allow us to bring a blanket.
T-shirt with your scent
This tip was given to me by Lacy’s boarding facility. The owner said a peice of clothing with your scent helps to ease your pup’s anxiety and brings a little pice of home with them.
Collar/tags and Leash
Many places will have their own leashes but bring your own leash to bring your dog in and out of the facility.
some dogs will have a lot of anxiety when you leave them for the first time. Many stressed dogs will lose their appetite. Bring some treats they absolutely love to help with this problem.
This will also depend on the facility. Ask if you can bring some toys for your dog to have in their kennel. Make sure it is something they cannot choke on or can have with them when they cannot be monitored.
Ultimately, do not be afraid to ask any questions you might have regarding your dog’s first stay. Many facilities will be happy to answer your concerns.
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