Boarding your dog or cat at a kennel whilst you go away can seem daunting. But a little preparation for a boarding kennel stay can help keep reduce any unnecessary stress on you and your dog or cat.
1. Visit the kennel first with your dog
If your dog hasn’t boarded before it’s important to visit the kennel first and ideally book them in for a short stay to help familiarise them with the new surroundings
Some kennels may offer doggy day care as well so if they do, then you are encouraged you to take your dog in for doggy day care first before you leave them for a longer stay. That way staff can assess the temperament and any special needs of your dog.
Let them know of any unusual habits or fears that your dog or cat may have, especially if your dog is aggressive with strangers or to other dogs, so the staff can handle them a little more cautiously.
2. Choose the right accommodation package to suit your dog or cat’s needs
Most kennels have different accommodation and care options for you to choose from.
At Wellington Park Kennels in Melbourne’s Listerfield for example their 5 star suites are in a quieter section of the kennel away from other dogs and have a few extra features like heating and cooling, a radio and access to their own outdoor courtyard.
If your dog or cat is prone to anxiety, has health issues or is used to a lot of TLC at home then you should opt for the options and any additional extras that will help your dog cope better whilst away from you.
There is also often share accommodation for family pets or for those that simply enjoy the company of another dog.
Some dogs also like the comfort of their own bed or toys, so you can bring them with you even if they are provided.
3. Elderly dogs
If you have an elderly dog that has never stayed in a kennel before I would recommend that you find a pet sitter that can have them in their own home, or stay in your home to help keep their routine and avoid any added stress whilst you are away. There are many local business that offer this service and also some great websites that list people who are willing to take your dog into their home.
Prior to their stay make sure that your vaccinations are current and in line with their requirements, and that flea & worming treatment is also up to date. You will need to show proof when you check in, as it’s a requirement of a kennel’s boarding licence.
If your dog is on medication, it’s important to supply it in a clearly labelled container and provide detailed instructions when you book in.
Some kennels like Wellington Park provide the food as part of the package. However, you should check as to what type of food they will be fed to ensure your dog does not suffer from any tummy issues through a change of diet.
If they are fussy or have a sensitive stomach, or are on a vet recommended diet, raw diet or a diet that differs significantly to what the kennel supplies (ie: if the kennel supplies only dry but you feed your dog a wet or raw food diet only) then supply your own as you do not want your dog to start vomiting or get diarrhoea as a result.
Check with the kennel as to what exercise is included in a standard stay, especially if your dog is young and active, or requires a lot of exercise.
At Wellington Park every dog gets at least an hour in one of the play yards, but you can book extra walks or playtime sessions. Not all kennels or pet hotels include a walk or play time in their packages so you definitely need to check all of this out first to ensure your dog can remain healthy and happy.
7. Dog obedience options
Some kennels may also provide dog training and obedience classes or one on one training as part of their services.
Again at Wellington Park Kennels, you can book in some one on one training with a professional dog trainer to help with any obedience issues you might be having. If your dog is suitable and you’re happy for them to get some extra attention and stimulation, they can take part in practicals with students from the National Dog Trainers Federation. In fact, this is where I did my dog training practicals!
8. Before you leave them
If your dog is a worrier, then it may be worth dropping them at the kennel before you start to pack for your holiday. Remember they’re constantly watching us and can feel anxious when the suitcases start to come out.
Try not to be too emotional when leaving your fur baby as they’ll pick up on it. It’s best to hand the lead to the kennel staff and quietly slip away.
Always raise any concerns you might have with kennel staff so they can help make the stay as stress free as possible for both you and your pet.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.