8 ways to prepare your dog before their first boarding experience

Bringing your dog to a boarding facility for the first time can feel like a big step.

This is about entrusting your fur baby to someone else, and ensuring they will have a positive experience while you’re away.

Preparing your pooch for this new adventure is really important.

And as pet parents, we’ve got some proven strategies that can make this transition smoother.

So, here are 8 essential tips to prep your dog before their first boarding stint.

1. Start with a day visit

Introducing your dog to a new environment can be quite overwhelming.

Just like us humans, dogs too need some time to adjust to new surroundings.

So, before you plan a long stay for them at a boarding facility, start with a short day visit.

A trial run, if you will.

This gives your furry friend an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the place, the people, and the other pets.

It’s like giving them a sneak peek of what their stay would look like.

And it’s not just for the dogs.

It gives you, as a pet parent, an opportunity to observe how well your dog is adjusting to the new environment.

So, start with a day visit.

It’s a small step that can make a big difference in your dog’s boarding experience.

But remember to keep it genuine.

You don’t want to stress out your pet unnecessarily.

2. Pack their favorite things

I remember when we first decided to board our golden retriever, Max, overnight.

We were worried about how he would react to the unfamiliar surroundings.

After all, he was used to his fluffy bed and the squeaky rubber duck he always carried around.

So we decided to pack his favorite things along with him.

His bed, the rubber duck, even his favorite blanket.

It was as if we were packing for a child going to summer camp.

And guess what?

It worked!

Having familiar items around him helped Max feel at home in the new environment.

He was less anxious and settled in much faster than we had anticipated.

So, from my personal experience, I suggest you pack your pet’s favorite things.

It might just be the comforting touch they need in an unfamiliar place.

3. Update their vaccinations

Boarding facilities often house a large number of pets.

And just like human children in a school environment, this close proximity can lead to the spread of diseases.

That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date before their boarding stay.

Did you know kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is one of the most common illnesses dogs can contract at a boarding facility?

It’s highly contagious and can spread quickly among dogs in close quarters.

But the good news is, it’s preventable.

Most boarding facilities require proof of vaccination against kennel cough and other common pet illnesses.

4. Maintain their regular diet

Dogs thrive on routine, especially when it comes to their meals.

A sudden change in their diet can cause stomach upset and stress, which is the last thing you want in a new environment.

So, when preparing for your dog’s first boarding experience, pack enough of their regular food for the duration of their stay.

This way, the boarding facility can maintain your pet’s normal feeding schedule and diet.

It’s a simple step, but one that can significantly contribute to your dog’s comfort and well-being during their stay.

Remember, a happy tummy makes a happy pup!

5. Provide comprehensive care instructions

No one knows your dog better than you do.

You’re familiar with their quirks, their likes and dislikes, and most importantly, their health and care needs.

Before you board your dog, make sure to provide the facility with detailed care instructions.

This should include information about their diet, exercise routine, any medication they’re on, and general behavior tendencies.

The more information you provide, the better equipped the staff will be to care for your dog in a way that closely mimics their routine at home.

After all, the goal is to make your dog’s stay as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

And clear, comprehensive care instructions are a crucial part of achieving that goal.

6. Say your goodbyes outside

Saying goodbye isn’t easy.

And when it’s to your furry friend, it’s even harder.

But here’s something to remember: dogs are incredibly intuitive.

They can pick up on our emotions, even when we think we’re doing a good job of hiding them.

So, when it’s time to drop off your dog at the boarding facility, try to say your goodbyes outside.

Do your best to keep your emotions in check and maintain a calm, positive demeanor.

While it may be hard for you, it’s important to remember that your dog looks to you for cues on how to react.

A stressful goodbye can make them feel anxious and scared.

On the other hand, a calm and relaxed demeanor can reassure them that they’re safe and everything is okay.

7. Trust the process

I’ll be honest.

The first time I had to board my dog, I was a ball of nerves.

I kept imagining all sorts of worst-case scenarios.

What if he doesn’t eat?

What if he gets scared?

What if he thinks we’ve abandoned him?

But here’s what I learned: Trust is key.

Trust in the professionals who run the boarding facility.

They’re experienced in handling all types of dogs and situations.

Trust in your dog, too.

They’re more adaptable and resilient than we give them credit for.

And most importantly, trust in yourself.

You’ve prepared your dog for this moment.

You’ve done your research, followed all the steps, and chosen a reputable boarding facility.

So take a deep breath.

It’s normal to worry, but remember to trust the process.

It will make the experience less stressful for both you and your dog.

8. Plan a post-boarding reunion

After your dog’s first boarding experience, it’s important to reconnect and reassure them of your return.

Plan a special activity or treat for when you pick them up.

It could be a walk in their favorite park, a game of fetch, or a special meal.

This post-boarding reunion not only serves as a happy welcome back but also helps reinforce the idea that even if you leave for a while, you will always come back for them.

Every dog is different and may react differently to boarding.

But with proper preparation and a lot of love, you can ensure their first boarding experience is a positive one.

Love is the key

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is this: Love your dog unconditionally.

They might take some time to adjust to a boarding facility.

They might come back a bit different.

They might even seem a little distant.

But with your love and patience, they will bounce back.

Because for them, there’s no place like being by your side.

Love is truly the key to making their boarding experience a successful one.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Nomadrs to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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