Are you worried about using boarding kennels for the first time? It’s natural to be concerned about how your buddy will cope during their stay, but once you’ve found a kennel with a great reputation, there are a few steps you can take to get your dog ready for their stay. Here are three tips:

Take Them For A Few Visits

Visiting the kennels a few times will help to reduce the anxiety your dog may feel during their first day of boarding. A good facility will be happy to work with you to ensure your dog is as prepared as possible for a change in environment.

A few short visits in the weeks leading up to their stay will allow them to get to know the kennel staff and get used to the noises. If there’s an empty bay during your visit, ask if you can sit in it with your dog. This will allow them to understand that being put into a kennel bay is not a punishment.

Create The Kennel Environment At Home

First-time boarders can find it difficult to go from having the run of the house to the relatively small space in a kennel bay. You can help your dog prepare by creating a kennel bay environment at home, which will acclimatise them to small space living in an environment they feel safe.

The easiest way to do this is to buy a dog crate or cage a few weeks before boarding them. The crate should have enough room for your dog to stand and turn, and you should use a thick blanket or soft bed on the floor of the crate to ensure they are comfortable. The crate should never be used to punish your dog as the idea is to build a positive association with the crate and normalise it for them.

Initially, just leave the crate open in your main living area and let your dog get used to it being there. After a few days, start putting your pet’s favourite toys in the crate so they will have to go into the crate to retrieve the toys when they want to play. The next step is to quietly close the crate door when you see them going into the crate, but open it as soon as they want out. This process allows your dog to see that the crate is a safe place and no big deal.

Gradually start leaving the door shut for longer periods of time, but stay in the room with your dog. Once your dog is comfortable being in the crate for several minutes with the door closed, you can start leaving the room, but build up the time gradually and start with just a few seconds. Praise your dog each time you let them out of the crate, which will help them understand what you require of them.

Pack Their Favourite Things

A favourite blanket, a few of their own toys and the brand of food they are used to will help your dog to feel more settled and less anxious. You may also want to give them an item of your clothing with your scent on it, which they are likely to find comforting.

Not all boarding kennels place an emphasis on hand-on time with their boarders, but a friendly staff member playing with your dog and giving them a good belly rub will really help them to feel safe and settled. Ask prospective kennels what their policy is on one-on-one time with the dogs.

If possible, create a plan several weeks before you need to board your dog and make the process as much fun for your pet as possible. For more information, contact a company like Cottage Kennels & Cattery.