Pet Care Corner: Preparing Your Pet for Boarding

By Laura Elliot & Roni Davis


There are many reasons to board your pet.  Whether it is for a business trip or much needed vacation, boarding does not need to be a stressful experience.  Here are a few simple tips to make their stay and your time away more pleasurable:


Check in with Your Vet:

Boarding facilities require up-to-date vaccination records.  Make sure your pet has the required immunizations prior to your day of departure and you have a copy of the record for the facility.  If your pet requires any medication you want to have enough on hand for their stay.


Tour the Facility:

Most Kennel owners are proud to show off their facility.  Taking the time to tour the facility before you book a reservation can be very reassuring.  Make sure the facility meets your standards of sanitation, organization, lighting and temperature control.  The facility should smell good and have a cheerful atmosphere.  You should notice staff being loving and attentive to all animals in their care.


Ask about Routine, Space and Social Play:

Every pet owner has different needs with regards to how much indoor space their pet requires, how much time their pet gets to play outside and enjoy the sunshine, and if they prefer time for their pet in social play.  Every boarding facility offers a unique physical set-up of indoor and outdoor boarding space as well as different daily routines.  It is important to find a facility that can accommodate the needs of your pet.  Whether it is an older dog with hip issues who needs support getting outside and does not need to be in a social play group or a young pup needing lots of time to play and romp as well as behavioral guidance, it is important the facility has the routine, space and staffing that is right for you.


Ask about Food and Treats:

Changing a diet suddenly on a pet can be stressful to their digestive system.  Many facilities ask that you bring the pet’s food from home so as to not disrupt their diet.  Other facilities provide their own food.  If this is the case, it is a good idea to slowly introduce that food to your pet before their stay.  This gives you an opportunity to see how they will handle the new diet and gives their digestive system time to adjust.  


Introduce your Pet to the Facility and Staff:

Boarding can be a fun, summer-camp-like experience for your pet.  Getting a break from their daily routine and meeting new friends can be rewarding.  First impressions go a long way.  Bring your pet by for a visit to meet the staff and pick up a treat.  Make that first meeting fun and a feel-good experience.  Many boarding facilities offer day care.  Utilizing that service can let both you and your pet know that this new place is somewhere they will be safe and treated with tender loving care.  Short visits or stays before a long trip let your pet get to know their new friends and routines.  Before you know it they’ll be looking forward to their stay as much as you will be looking forward to your vacation.


Make their Day of Check-In Stress-Free:

Ask the staff if they permit items from home in the pet’s indoor kennel space.  Often items that smell like home or a favorite toy can be very comforting.  Plan on spending a few minutes with the staff passing on any important information that can help them truly individualize care and attention to your pet. 


Make sure your goodbyes are happy and encouraging to your pet.  If a family member stages a long or emotional farewell, your pet will pick up that energy and think there is something wrong.  Send them off with happy kisses, know they will be well cared for, and now go enjoy your own vacation and good ol’ fashion R&R!

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker