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The Chew: Preparing Your Dog For a Boarding Stay

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

We all know your pets seem to understand what it means when a suitcase comes out of the closet. Dogs especially, want to be part of the family and I won’t plan vacations unless my dog can come along.

If your pup isn’t joining the family vacation, you’ll most likely take him for a boarding stay. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your dog’s ready for his next boarding stay.

Boarding Facilities

Before your dog’s stay, visit the facility and ask for a tour. Ask how many staff members will be on-site during your pup’s stay. You want to make sure there are at least 2-3 supervisors in the facility caring for the dogs. Is it a daycare environment during the day? If not, how often do they go out for exercise and for how long?

Another important detail is inquiring into what cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant, they use. Are they pet safe? We use Simple Green disinfectant, an all-natural, animal friendly cleaning product.

Observe how well the boarding facility is organized. Does it look like personal items such as beds, blankets and leashes are clearly marked and feeding instructions obvious? Are employees engaging and affectionate with other dogs? Ask the facility if they provide any social media check ins. Bark + Boarding posts photos and videos twice a day on Facebook so that clients can check in and see their dog while they’re away.

If your dog suffers from crate anxiety, see if they offer an alternative to crating. At Bark + Boarding, we’ve built smaller rooms called “zones” for dogs with crate anxiety.

Trial Run

We recommend doing a trial run before a lengthy stay, especially if your pup is new to the environment. Book a one-night stay and ask the staff to take notes on your dog’s behavior, getting the report when picking up. Because we’re also a daycare facility and your dog will be in daycare during their stay, you should bring her in for a few days of playtime before boarding. This helps your dog to associate the facility with fun and minimizes any feelings of abandonment when they stay the night.

Arrival Day

Bring your dog on the first day of boarding as early as possible. You want to give your pup plenty of time to play before they’re crated or put in the zone for the night. By allowing for extra playtime, your pup will be tuckered out and ready for a good night’s sleep. Arriving close to bedtime can stress your dog out and they won’t get a chance to blow off some of that steam. We feel so strongly about this that we ask clients to drop off your dog before 4 p.m.

What to Bring

You should bring your dog’s usual food. Other boarding facilities may provide food, but we think it’s important to keep your dog on his normal diet with the same feeding schedule as if they’re home. Some dogs find boarding stressful and if not eating their normal diet, it can result in an upset stomach.

Bring along an item from home, such as a small bed, blanket or towel and ask the staff to put it in the crate at night. Smelling a familiar scent from home can be a soothing reminder for your pup. If your dog needs medication, make sure the staff understands the dosage instructions and provide pill pockets or peanut butter if this is how medication is administered at home.

The best way to determine if your dog is happy with your choice of boarding facility is to pay attention to their reaction when you pull up to the front door of the business. If they’re excited, you’ve found a winner. Travel safe!

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