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Dog Boarding: All You Need to Know

By Aviram K.
September 21, 2021
6 min read
Dog Boarding: All You Need to Know
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Being a pet owner means that leaving on vacation without your pup can be a bit more complicated than it was before.

Luckily, with so many caretaking options out there, you can still enjoy a tropical resort and not worry about your puppy!

Dog boarding is one such popular option, which has its perks over some of the other choices.

Dog boarding is temporary housing for your dog while you are away. Boarding involves private kennel areas for your dog, 24/7 care from staff, and some even have designated play times with other dogs and extracurricular activities. Boarding is excellent for energetic and social dogs. But, it is essential to find a reputable facility.

In this article, we will cover everything that you need to know about dog boarding; so you can make the right decision for your dog!

Let’s start.

Table of Contents
What Is Dog Boarding?
What Happens When Dogs Are Boarded?
Is Dog Boarding Bad for Dogs?
Is Dog Boarding Good for Dogs?
How to Weed Out Bad Facilities from Good Facilities
How Long Is It Okay to Board a Dog?
How to Prepare Your Dog for Boarding

What Is Dog Boarding?


Dog boarding is a facility in which your dog hangs out with other canines while you’re away.

Boarding facilities will provide your dog with their own kennel and sleeping arrangement, staff to cater to their needs, and lots of other dogs to play with. Some facilities even offer scheduled playtime and a variety of extracurricular activities for your pooch.

Dog boarding is intended as a solution for travel when you aren’t able (or not wanting) to book a pet sitter to come watch your dog.

With dog boarding, your dog is supposed to have 24/7 supervision and a reliable schedule, lots of playtime and stimulation, and your peace of mind that Fido is having all of their needs cared for.

What Happens When Dogs Are Boarded?

Each boarding facility has a different way of doing things, so it’s best to check in with your business of choice to get insights on what they do. But generally speaking, your dogs get a nice vacation!

Many boarding facilities have individual kennels, crates, and areas where your dog will be kept.** **This is where your four-legged family member spends most of their time, complete with comfortable dog beds, toys, and freshwater. Kind of like a hotel room.

Your dog will get attention from the staffers there, from playtime to snuggles. Staffers will walk your pup and give them daily exercise.

Many modern facilities have a communal playtime and play area, where your dog gets to socialize with other dogs and romp around. Fancy boarding facilities can even have a pool and fun extracurriculars (like dog agility obstacles) for your dog.

Is Dog Boarding Bad for Dogs?


On its premise, no, dog boarding is not bad for dogs. However, boarding your pup does come with its share of risks - just like any instance of care away from you.

The primary con of dog boarding is the potential to spread diseases.

Dog-prone illnesses such as Kennel Cough are highly contagious. They can very quickly spread to an entire population at a boarding facility.

Although Kennel Cough is somewhat equivalent to a human cold in most situations, it can be life-threatening for a dog with preexisting conditions because it can evolve into pneumonia.

Therefore, it’s essential to look for a pet boarding facility that requires vaccinations and is very clean.

Another downside applies to dogs that tend to be on the more nervous or unsocial side. Staying in unfamiliar surroundings away from their person, with dogs barking and yelping everywhere, and being cared for by strangers, boarding can be a very stressful experience for some dogs.

For facilities that have a communal playtime, if your dog is submissive, they may be bullied by the other dogs there - which is not a pleasant experience. It’s important to understand your dog and properly socialize them to avoid problems.

Is Dog Boarding Good for Dogs?

Much like the answer to the question above, there are some perks to dog boarding for sure! If you have a social, active, and rambunctious dog - a boarding facility might be as perfect a vacation for your pooch as your tropical adventure is for you.

Boarding kennels help take away the stress and discomfort of airline flights or long road trips, and some time away from you can actually help certain dogs grow in confidence.

Boarding facilities will ensure your dog is expected and cared for. Your dog will receive a lot more care and interaction than just asking your neighbor to drop in.

For the social butterflies out there, there are many four-legged friends to romp and play with at the facility. You can rest assured your dog will not escape and that they will be watched well!

Ideally, the staff will all be canine professionals and certified with the proper organizations so your mind can be set to ease.

Pet sitting tends to be the alternative option to dog boarding, but pet sitting has limitations that dog boarding does not - so in some cases, dog boarding is the better choice. Pet sitters may not always be able to spend the entire span of time with your pup and may not be qualified professionals in the field either. Dog boarding facilities ensure your dog has access to constant care and should be trained pros at handling dogs the right away!

How to Weed Out Bad Facilities from Good Facilities


Not all boarding kennels are created equal. Some facilities are not well kept, the staff is not well trained, and it’s an overall chaos. As you can imagine, this is a recipe for disaster for you and your dog. Therefore, when looking for a boarding facility, make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Look for facilities that are frequently cleaned, are temperature-controlled, and are chemical-free. Also, be attentive to the freshwater!
  • Watch how the staff interacts with your dog and how your dog interacts with the staff.
  • Check the kennel’s immunization policy and avoid those that don’t require vaccinated animals.
  • Ask what services the boarding facility provides your dog.
  • Find out what protocols they have for medical emergencies with your dog.

This due diligence ensures that the facility you choose is good for your dog and that everyone has a very positive experience.

How Long Is It Okay to Board a Dog?

Longevity depends on the dog and how well your pup can adapt to their new environment and care. Generally speaking, it is discouraged to board your pup for longer than 30 days, with the average boarding span being one week.

The reason for this ranges from your pup becoming more attached to the staff than you, demanding more attention from you when home than can be feasibly given, or developing very bad anxiety from being away from you for so long.

This varies based on the individual pup, so it can be hard to pinpoint what that perfect span of time is. This is where it’s crucial to have open communication with the boarding facility you choose and have check-ins to see how your dog is doing.

How to Prepare Your Dog for Boarding

If pet boarding is the right option for you and your pup, there are five key things you should do to prepare your furry best friend for a few nights away. This is especially important if this will be your dog’s first time being boarded.

1. Visit the Boarding Facility as a Trial


Much like anything new, a trial period is a good way to gauge if something will work! Most boarding kennels have a trial where you can drop your pup off in the morning and see how things go.

This is an excellent way to put your mind at ease while traveling and get your dog more comfortable with their own little vacation.

2. Get a Clean Bill of Health

Reputable boarding kennels will require up-to-date vaccinations, both for the safety of your pup and the health of the other dogs there. So stop by your vet and get a clean bill of health before dropping your dog off at the facility. Besides, you don’t want your dog feeling unwell right when you leave!

3. Provide Your Pup’s Food and Set the Schedule


Pack up your dog’s daily meals and try to keep the routine as normal as you can. Some pet owners ask the boarding facility what their feeding schedule is if they don’t adapt to yours. If this is the case, start changing your dog’s schedule at home to accommodate the routine at the boarding facility, which can alleviate any nervous tummy problems.

4. Pack Your Pup’s Favorites and Essentials

The comforts of home always make a new place easier to transition into! In the doggy bag, you’re going to give the facility, pack up all of your dog’s favorite things.

Be sure to grab their favorite toys (best to pack a couple), maybe a blanket they favor sleeping in, and (if the facility allows) your dog bowls from home.

Also, be sure to pack more than one leash and collar. Although most boarding facilities only require one, it’s best to have an extra just in case!

5. Stay Calm


Dogs feel our emotions. A sure-fire way to start the boarding experience off on the wrong foot is being nervous and anxious about your dog going there! Your pup will immediately become concerned about why you feel that way, which will bleed into their boarding experience.

Remain calm, remain relaxed, remain confident. Don’t make your “goodbye” a big deal; everything is totally normal.

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