When it comes to caring for our beloved pets, the decision to board them can be a tough one. As responsible pet owners, we want the best for our furry companions, and ensuring their well-being while we’re away is a top priority. However, boarding your dog can be a beneficial and sometimes necessary option, but it requires careful consideration and preparation.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key aspects of boarding your pet, whether it’s for a short stay or an extended one. We’ll also delve into the differences between doggy daycare and boarding, and provide essential tips for selecting the right boarding facility and preparing your dog for a comfortable and safe stay.

Dog Boarding Checklist

Making Reservations Early: One of the first things to consider when boarding your dog is the timing. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a kennel will have space available at the last minute. Given the number of households with dogs, it’s safe to assume that quality boarding options may be in high demand, especially during peak holiday times. To ensure your pet’s spot, call the kennel well in advance, allowing time for research and vetting the facility.

Considering the Dog’s Exercise: Needs Every dog is unique, with varying exercise requirements. Younger and larger breeds often need more physical activity, while older and smaller dogs may be content with less. Understanding your dog’s exercise needs is essential when choosing a boarding facility. Some dogs thrive in environments that offer free play in a secured area. Ensure your dog’s needs will be met during their stay.

Being Upfront About Behavioral Issues: Not all dogs are equally sociable, and some may suffer from anxiety or behavioral issues. It’s vital to disclose such information to kennel operators to ensure that your dog’s stay is as stress-free as possible. Different facilities may be better equipped to handle anti-social or anxious dogs, so honesty about your dog’s behavior is crucial.

What You Need to Know About Boarding Your Pet
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Sharing Vaccination Records: Before boarding your dog, make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Most reputable kennels will require proof of vaccinations to safeguard the health of all dogs in their care. Failing to be honest about your dog’s vaccination status could lead to severe consequences, as contagious diseases can easily spread in such environments.

Informing About Health Issues: In addition to vaccinations, boarding facilities need to be aware of any health issues your dog may have. Whether it’s arthritis, an ear infection, or any other medical condition, providing this information ensures that your pet receives proper care. A visit to a pet groomer before boarding can help maintain your dog’s hygiene, making their stay more comfortable.

Using Flea & Tick Preventatives: Fleas and ticks are common parasites in dogs, especially if they spend time outdoors. Regardless of whether your dog is being boarded, using preventative medications against these pests is essential. Prior to boarding, ensure your dog has been thoroughly treated with anti-tick and anti-flea medication to prevent potential infestations in the facility.

Providing Your Own Food: It’s not the kennel’s responsibility to provide your dog’s food. Dogs have unique dietary needs, and kennels can’t stock every brand and type of dog food to cater to every individual. Abruptly changing your dog’s diet can lead to health issues. Ask the kennel if you can provide your dog’s food during their stay, ensuring a seamless transition and a happy, healthy pup.

Administering Necessary Medication: Many dogs rely on medication for various reasons, such as ear drops, vitamins, or anxiety management. Confirm with the boarding facility that they can administer your dog’s medication. Knowing your dog’s medical needs will help the staff provide the appropriate care during their stay.

Leaving Emergency Contact Info: Leaving your contact information or that of your hotel is crucial. If any issues or concerns arise during your dog’s stay, the kennel or dog sitter must be able to reach you promptly. Staying accessible while you’re on vacation is essential to ensure your peace of mind and your dog’s safety.

Do Your Research Before Boarding: a Dog Selecting the right boarding facility is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Research and gather information about the kennels or dog sitters in your area before making your choice. Read reviews from past customers, and visit the facilities or the dog sitter’s home if possible. Trusting your pet’s well-being to an experienced and reputable facility is crucial.

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Understanding Doggy Daycare vs. Boarding

One significant difference between doggy daycare and boarding is the duration of your dog’s stay. In doggy daycare, dogs are on-site during the day but do not spend the night. Their parents drop them off in the morning and pick them up at night, making it suitable for those with office jobs. In contrast, boarding is ideal when your pup’s parents will be out of town for consecutive days and require personalized and loving care for their pets.

The primary distinction is the length of stay, as dogs in both daycare and boarding facilities benefit from group play activities. Boarding dogs enjoy a doggy sleepover rather than heading home in the evening.

How to Choose a Boarding Facility

Selecting the right boarding facility requires careful consideration. Your dog will spend a significant amount of time there, so it’s essential to ask the following questions before making a decision:

Assessing Kennel Conditions: Ask about the quality of the kennels. Are they climate-controlled and spacious enough for your dog’s comfort? Cleanliness and proper identification of kennels are also vital.

Get the Scoop on Care Practices: Inquire about the level of supervision available at the facility. Is there someone on-site 24/7 to ensure your dog’s well-being? Discuss feeding routines and whether you can provide your dog’s food.

Find Out the Daily Schedule: Understand the care routine for your dog, including outdoor time, playtimes, and walks. Ensuring your dog’s schedule remains consistent is essential for their well-being.

Consider the Reputation of the Facility: A facility’s reputation and experience handling dogs are crucial. Ask about the training of the dog handlers and ensure they have the expertise and qualifications to care for your pet.

Ask What’s Required on Your Part: Understand the facility’s requirements, which typically include vaccinations, identification, and age or spaying/neutering specifications. Be prepared to provide the necessary documentation.

Ask About Available Services When Boarding a Dog: Apart from the standard boarding services, inquire about additional services like walks, grooming, self-serve dog wash stations, and daycare. Choosing a facility that offers comprehensive services can be convenient for both you and your pet.

Figure Out What Pricing Includes and How to Book: Determine the cost of boarding and understand what is included in the price. Clarify the drop-off and pick-up times, holiday fees, and any available discounts for multiple dogs. Ensure the booking process is straightforward and convenient, possibly through online or app-based systems.

Get a List of Add-Ons: Consider any add-ons available to enhance your dog’s experience during their stay. This might include treats, cuddle time, seasonal photos, and grooming services, ensuring your pup receives extra pampering.

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When and How to Book Your Dog’s Stay

Booking your dog’s stay at a boarding facility should ideally be done well in advance, especially during peak holiday seasons. Facilities often fill up quickly, so calling ahead and reserving a spot is recommended. However, it’s also worth checking for last-minute availability in case of cancellations.

What You Need to Know About Boarding Your Pet
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Preparing Your Dog for Boarding

Before your dog’s stay at a boarding facility, consider the following steps to ensure they have a comfortable experience:

Facility Visit for Familiarity: Plan a visit to the facility with your dog to help them become familiar with the location. This can ease any initial anxiety they may have about staying there. Some facilities even offer on-site amenities for pet parents to enjoy.

Acclimating to Facility Food (if necessary): If the facility provides the food, help your dog transition by gradually introducing them to it before their stay. This can prevent dietary issues and digestive problems during their boarding.

Packing Essentials: Ensure you pack enough of your dog’s food for their entire stay, along with any required medications and clear instructions on their administration. Many facilities allow small comfort items like blankets or t-shirts to remind your dog of home.


Leaving your furry friend in someone else’s care is never easy, but it’s sometimes a necessity for travel or other commitments. By following this comprehensive guide, you can make informed decisions and ensure your pet receives the best care possible while you’re away. Whether it’s for a short doggy daycare visit or an extended boarding stay, being prepared and conducting thorough research is the key to a worry-free experience for both you and your loyal companion.

As a responsible pet owner, your primary concern is your pet’s safety, well-being, and comfort. By addressing all aspects of boarding, from preparation and selection to understanding the differences between daycare and extended stays, you can make informed choices and provide the best possible experience for your beloved pet. Trustworthy boarding facilities can offer a “home away from home” for your furry friend, giving you peace of mind while you’re away.

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