As summer looms just around the corner, many of you may be planning trips to go out of town. During your planning, have you considered what you are going to be doing with your dog while you are gone? Are you boarding your dog? Are you prepared? Do you have everything you need? Let’s make sure.
What to bring when boarding your dog
- ID - It should go without saying that having proper identification for your dog is an essential responsibility that comes with being a dog owner. As a general practice, it is a good idea to make sure that your dog’s identification tags stay current and up-to-date. When you are boarding your dog, this is even more important. Your dog should at the least have a tag with their name, your name as the owner, and the correct phone number to call in the event of an emergency.
- Favorite Food and Snacks - Your dog probably has at least one favorite kind of food that they are comfortable with. Since this is the food your dog, and more importantly your dog’s stomach, are familiar with, it is a good idea to bring enough of it for the duration of your dog’s stay. Boarding facilities will often have their own food on hand, but this could upset your dog’s stomach. Boarding is already stressful for your dog, so you don’t want to add any potential for illness while they are away from home.
If your dog is used to being given a treat at a certain time of the day, you can give the boarding facility instructions to do this in your absence.
- Medicine, if your dog takes any - Any good facility will be happy to give your dog their daily dose of medication, but you must provide instructions in regard to the number of doses to administer, dosage, and scheduling.
- Leashes - Most places will require you to bring a leash for your dog, but it is a good idea to provide a second leash, in case something happens to the first one.
- Favorite toys - You know which toys are your dog’s favorite to play with. Make sure that you bring those with you to the boarding facility so that your dog won’t be bored while you are gone.
- Bed or blanket - Bring your dog’s bed, or the blanket they like to sleep with. This will provide them with a place to sleep and rest that they are familiar with. This can be a great comfort in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Old shirt or something else that smells like home - Being away from you for an extended period of time can be really stressful for your dog! Bring something like an old t-shirt that smells like you. This will help remind your dog of you in your absence and provide them some comfort for their stay.
- Proof of vaccination - This one is pretty self-explanatory. Most, if not all, boarding facilities require proof that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations for the safety of the other animals who may interact with your dog.
I’ve said it a few times now, but I’ll say it again. Being away from home, and away from you is very stressful for your dog. As your time to leave begins to draw near, your dog may start to get anxious as they can sense that something is amiss. Here are a few tips to help you calm your dog’s nerves when you are preparing to board them.
Tips for your anxious dog:
Exercise - On the day that you have selected to take the dog to the boarding facility, you should set aside a nice chunk of time to give them a ton of vigorous playtime and exercise. This way, your dog will be nice and tired by the time you load them up and take them to the kennel. Ideally they’ll be so worn out that they don’t really notice what’s going on, and just crash out when you drop them off.
Make your exit swift - Once you drop your dog off, don’t linger. You want to make the part where your dog has to say goodbye as painless as possible. Most of the time when a boarding attempt goes south, this is where the error was. When you leave in an emotional state, your dog responds to that energy with fear and distress.
Aromatherapy - It seem like a strange impulse to use aromatherapy to calm your anxious dog, but it actually works! I really like PetScent dog collar clips from Ikaria for this. Basically, you clip the PetScent device to your dog’s collar, and open a little vent on the side, and your dog can get a calming whiff of two different blends, depending on your preference.
Wrap ‘em up! - Being hugged, or swaddled is a calming feeling for many dogs. Of course, you can’t be there to do that, and you can’t reasonably ask the staff at your chosen boarding facility to provide around the clock 24/7 constant physical attention to your dog and your dog alone. So instead, you should get a therapy wrap for your dog. Healers makes a great anxiety wrap that comes in front, and rear wrap versions. They are made from a breathable open cell material, and can hold heat, or cold packs for added comfort if you so choose.
Make sure that your dog has plenty to do - In general, boredom tends to breed anxiety in dogs. This effect is only going to be amplified when your dog gets bored, and you aren’t around to entertain them or take them on a walk. You should prepare for this situation, and make sure that you provide plenty of toys to occupy your dog’s time while you are gone. Entertainment of this sort comes in many varieties. You can purchase a treat mat to make your dog slow down and take their time with their food, or you could get any number of toys. If you need ideas, why not head on over to Keep Doggie Safe’s toy section and see what we’ve got to offer?
Unfortunately, boarding your dog can be an emotional time for everyone involved. However, it doesn’t have to be! Hopefully the checklist that I provided will give you some idea of what you should pack when you are preparing to take your dog for their extended stay. Taking some of the guesswork out of the packing will take some stress off of you, and will hopefully give you peace of mind that you’ve come prepared with everything your dog could possibly need.