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10 things to do when boarding your dog

I used to work at a boarding kennel, and let me tell you that not every boarding kennel is the same!

Some dog boarding facilities are really nice and others are really awful, so it’s a matter of doing your homework.

With this post, I hope to help you prepare the best you can, and you may also be interested in my post on 10 questions to ask before boarding your dog.

The hardest part for me about boarding my dogs is not leaving them at a kennel but knowing they won’t be coming along on whatever adventures we have planned.

Boarding a dog is not for everyone, but if you’re like me and don’t always have someone to watch your dogs while you are away, boarding is the only other option besides never leaving town.

So, I chose a facility that is right for my dogs by touring it and asking the right questions first.

What to do before boarding your dog

Once you’ve chosen a boarding faclity, here are 10 ways to make the boarding experience easier for you, your dog and the kennel staff:

1. Tour the dog boarding kennel ahead of time.

When I leave for a trip, I am usually rushed and behind schedule. I don’t want to tour the kennel and have second guesses about it on the morning I drop my dogs off.

That is why I took time to tour some boarding facilities in advance and choose the best one for us.

There are bad kennels out there, but there are also really good kennels and everything in between. Find the one that is right for your dog by taking the time to schedule a tour.

2. Make sure the dog boarding staff is aware of your dog’s special needs.

For example, I used to inform the staff that my Lab mix Ace has a sensitive stomach and not to worry if he throws up. They also know that my dog Remy will try to eat all toys, bedding and bowls!

Writing out a short list might be helpful if your dog is on medication or has allergies.

Don’t go overboard.

They don’t need to know that your dog eats at exactly 7:40 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. and gets 3 biscuits two times a day with peanut butter and a slice of cheese. But they do need to know if your dog has seizures, is food aggressive or is scared of thunder.

3. Feel free to bring your dog’s food.

A good boarding kennel will encourage this because dogs have sensitive stomachs and might get sick if they suddenly eat a different brand of food.

I always leave a little extra in case I am gone an extra day. Many boarding kennels will even feed your dog homecooked or raw food if you bring it pre-portioned. I bring Remy’s Darwin’s raw food, which is pre-portioned.

4. Bring a special toy or blanket for your dog.

I brought Ace’s blanket for him to sleep on while I was away. It is reasonable to bring something like a bed, toy or blanket from home that might make your dog feel more comfortable.

I brought a blanket instead of Ace’s dog bed just in case he got bored and destroyed it or got it muddy after playing outside.

But I didn’t bring 15 different items for the staff to keep track of. Ace would be busy watching and playing with all the other dogs anyway.

5. Leave a phone number where you can be reached.

I will give the staff my number and also a friend’s number in case I am out of cell range and they need to contact someone locally.

I want the staff to be able to contact me or someone who knows my dogs if there is an emergency or if they have a question about my dogs.

Also see my post: Questions to ask before boarding a dog.

6. Respect the kennel’s pick-up and drop-off hours.

I also don’t expect the dog boarding staff to make special arrangements for me so I can drop my dogs off or pick them up after they are closed.

I won’t show up unannounced to pick my dogs up early.

Instead I call and let the staff know so my dogs will be ready when I get there. I won’t arrive late, either. There are other clients coming in and the kennel might not have extra room for my dogs.

7. Make the departure quick.

There is no sense in making the goodbye more stressful than it needs to be.

It would only make it worse for Ace if I was anxious or excited because he picked up on my energy.

If I am calm, my dogs will be calm. It’s best to just quietly hand the leash over and be done with it.

8. Don’t worry if your dog is tired when he comes home.

If my dogs comes home tired, I know it’s because they were busy watching and playing with dogs all day.

Once their home, it’s time to catch up on sleep because they won’t have to keep an eye on 20 other dogs. When my dogs return from a trip at someone else’s house, they also crash for at least 12 hours.

It is also common for a dog to eat less while staying at a kennel, so I wouldn’t be too worried if my dogs lost a pound or two. I would be worried, however, if they came home sick, really dirty or lethargic for more than two days.

9. Call and check on your dog, but don’t be a nuisance.

Calling once or twice during your trip to check on your dog is fine and probably a good idea.

Just don’t be that obsessive mom or dad who calls every day or more than once a day! Trust that the staff members are doing a good job. Remember, they are all dog lovers too! See my post, Does my dog miss me?

10. Thank the boarding kennel staff for a job well done.

Tip the person who walks your dog out to you. Tip the person who bathed him. Send a thank you or even just say thank you and mean it. Or leave a nice Google or Facebook review of their business.

Showing any kind of gratitude can go a long way.

Remember, these people are taking care of your dog. You want them to feel appreciated so they will continue to do a good job. A tray of cookies wouldn’t hurt, either. Who wouldn’t give extra attention to the dog who’s mom or dad brings goodies every time he stays?

What have your experiences been like after boarding your dog?

Sandy Weinstein

Sunday 24th of June 2018

i have never boarded my dogs. the boarding facilities require more vaccinations than i do. i would rather get someone in to stay with my girls like i have done in the past.


Thursday 16th of November 2017

What's an average cost for boarding?

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 16th of November 2017

Depends so much on where you live. $20 to $25 per day in some smaller towns. $40 per day in larger cities. Just on average. In San Diego I pay about $37 per night.

Rosamund Aitken

Thursday 16th of November 2017

I don't have to board very often but when I do I prefer to leave my dogs in a boarding facility that has staff 24 hours, I hate the idea of everyone leaving in the evening and not coming back until morning.

April Cook

Friday 13th of May 2016

I will be traveling a lot this summer, and my puppy will have to stay behind. I am going to leave him at a kennel, and I really like all these tips you have to make the process easier. I especially like the tip to make the departure quick. I think it will be easier on me and him if I don;t drag out the goodbye! Thanks for helpful tips!

Alex John

Thursday 17th of March 2016

I have read your post and very much pleased to know about dog boarding services. I will keep your tips in my mind for future.