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Preparing your Pets for a Boarding Kennel

We all like to travel with our pets, and it you’re like me you almost always arrange holidays so your pets can come, but sometimes that just isn’t possible – certainly if you are travelling overseas, to a national park or non-pet friendly accommodation. If you need to use a boarding kennel for your pets, you can make it as stress free as possible for both you and your pets, with the following tips…

Choosing the right kennel 

Your first port of call will be the facility website where you can check out the services and environment (e.g. bathing/grooming, play areas), prices and availability. Most good facilities book out well in advance especially for school and Christmas holidays.

A dog visiting a boarding kennel with their family.

Once you have decided the location and budget, it’s time to visit to check it out in person (ring to book a time that is convenient for the facility staff). Note the cleanliness/any smell, staff friendliness and willingness to show you around, how they handle/talk to the animals, if the animals sound distressed, space and environment for exercise/play times. What are their rules? Do they allow you to provide your dog’s familiar bedding, toys and food? I also like to note if there are any staff yelling or showing frustration directed towards the animals, because boarding kennels are noisy, and most dogs like to join in the chorus especially at mealtimes.

Ask yourself, what is important to you and your dog?

Practice stays

Once you have decided on your facility, it’s time to book in a practice stay. Book a brief stay (possibly 2-3 nights) and see how your dog copes. Are they happy to go with the staff? How do the staff interact with your dog? How does your dog interact with the staff? Are the staff patient and do they listen to your requests? Check in with the kennel during this stay and make sure you have a backup plan if your dog isn’t coping. Did the staff provide you with feedback regarding your dog’s stay and how they coped? Does your dog look stressed when you pick them up?

It’s normal to have mild levels of stress if your dog is staying in a new environment with strange people. They may take a few days of rest to ‘recover’ from that, which is quite normal. Monitor your dog for any unusual signs or stress or behaviour. On return visits, your dog should go in happy and willingly and when you pick them up hopefully don’t look like they haven’t been saved from a desert island!

Things to take

  • Food – some kennels will feed a diet you provide for your pet, and some don’t have that option. If it isn’t your pet’s normal diet, try it out prior to your dog’s stay to make sure they like it, and it doesn’t cause any issues. 
  • Blankets and toys – your pet may be more comfortable with their own bedding and toys but check with the facilities rules. 
  • Collar/harness and leash
  • Any medications

Extra support

If you are concerned about your dog being anxious while in the kennels trying some anxiety medications or treatments might be beneficial.

Adaptil is a pheromone collar designed to help reduce stress and anxious behaviour in dogs in challenging situations

Zylkene is a complimentary feed for cats and dogs that contains a natural product derived from casein, a protein in milk. It helps pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations and can be used before occasions such as a change in their normal environment. 

Updates and happy snaps

Ultimately, your pet is on holidays too! Stay in contact with the kennel’s social media to check out holiday snaps and play times. 

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