How to Prepare Your Dog For Boarding

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Boarding your dog can be a stressful time for both you and your pooch. If you take the time to prep ahead of time, however, there’s no reason the time your furry friend spends being boarded can’t be both fun and stress free. To help make sure you’re prepared ahead of dropping your dog off, call ahead and find out any specific rules or regulations your kennel or vet has for dogs who are boarded. Oscar E. Chavez, DVM, MBA, Member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, says the following are a few of the steps you’ll most likely need to take to help put everything in place before the big drop off occurs.

For Her Physical Health

Medically, you’ll need to make sure your dog is up to date on her vaccines before you board her, says Dr. Chavez. “This includes the famous Bordetella bronchiseptica, aka Kennel Cough,” he said. “In fact, most boarding facilities will require proof of Bordetella vaccination within the last six months, and a current Rabies vaccine.” Timing is everything when it comes to these vaccines, too. It’s easy for pet parents to lose track of vaccine dates, which could cause a last-minute, stressful rush to the vet. “While some boarding facilities will be satisfied with a last-minute vaccine, it’s important to note that your pet only mounts an effective immune response several days following the vaccination, so if you do it all at the last minute, they may not truly be protected,” says Dr. Chavez.

Additionally, just because your pet has had all her vaccines doesn’t mean she’s totally in the clear for avoiding common boarding ailments (like Kennel Cough or fleas). “Just like the flu vaccine, no dog vaccine is 100% effective, so it’s worth doing what we can to maximize their efficacy,” says the vet. Other things to keep in mind when it comes to your dog’s health include: flea prevention, de-worming and preventative care. “Many dogs are flea allergic,” says Dr. Chavez, “and the April, May, June season is the worst for it. I see owners come in and spend over $200 on treatments for flea allergies (antibiotics, etc.), when it could have been prevented. Don’t let the boarding facility become a source of fleas for your home unnecessarily.”

For His Mental Health

Physical health prep before boarding is important, sure, but don’t forget the psychological preparation, as well. “In short, don’t make it a big deal,” says Dr. Chavez. “Research has shown that domestic dogs are better than any other species on reading human cues and body language — so if you’re anxious, he will be anxious, as well.” Instead, try to stay calm and make things fun. Consider how you would talk to your kids excitedly about going to Grandma’s for the weekend, and use that same thought process to gear your dog up for getting excited about being boarded.

It doesn’t hurt to drop off food for your pup (in fact some kennels require this), along with a few of his favorite treats to help him feel more comfortable, too. If you’ve properly prepped your pet, a couple days of being boarded can actually be a fun experience where she’ll get to meet and play with new people and puppy friends. And after all, absence makes the heart grow fonder … so just think of what your reunion will be like when you’re finally back together!

Cheryl Lock is an editor at Studio One. Her work has appeared online at Petside and Pet360, as well as in print in publications like Parents, Family Circle and Runner’s World. She lives in New York with her adorable rescue cat, Penny, and a rabbit named Nugget.

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