First Time Boarding Your Dog? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!

Boarding your dog for the first time can be stressful and emotional. It can also put a damper on your travels, worrying about whether your dog will be happy and properly cared for. The key to making sure both you and your pup have an amazing experience, is doing your research and knowing what to expect.

If you are considering boarding your dog for the first time, here are some insider tips to make sure you and your dog are stress-free while you are out of town.

Picking The Right Facility For Your Pup

Every pet is an individual and it takes special consideration when determining what type of facility is right for them. Before picking a boarding facility, it is important to take your pet’s needs into consideration.  Do your online homework to find a facility with good reviews that offers the services your pet requires. For example, if you have a high energy dog, daycare and enrichment programs are important or if you have a dog with severe health issues than a veterinarian office might be a better fit. After, you have found your top choices, be sure to tour the facilities and meet the staff. Ask questions while you are there about routines, requirements, cost, and any concerns you may have.

Book Your Appointment in Advance

Getting your dog acclimated to their new friends is a process. When you find your perfect facility, it is likely others found it too! Do not risk waiting till the last minute and finding out they have no availability. Book your dog’s staycation  in advance to assure they have spots available.  Especially if it is over a holiday.

Be Open and Honest About Your Dog’s Behavior & Needs

Dog care facilities are dependent on the information you provide them with to help care for your dog in your absence. Be sure to provide the facility with a complete health and medical history, as well as any behavior quirks.  If your dog is reactive on-leash, gets along better with smaller dogs, or sometimes has minor seizures, these are all important things to tell the facility before you leave your dog. Because these dogs are going to be temporarily living in close quarters with one another, all boarding facilities require vaccinations. Be sure to update your dog on all vaccines, especially Bordetella, Rabies, Parvovirus and Distemper.

Try Out Daycare Before Their Stay

Familiarizing yourself and your dog with your facility of choice helps you, your dog, and the team who will be caring for them! Before their staycation, try them out in daycare a few times to better acquaint them with the facility, the staff, and the regular daycare dogs. This also helps to get them accustomed to the daily routine like the feeding schedule and knowing that you will be coming back for them. The Dog Stop offers your first day of daycare free for this very reason, as well as to be sure your pup is a good fit before you invest in it.

What To Pack

Always check what the facility provides for your pup – bed, blanket, food, medication, etc. and what you can bring – toys, bed, blanket, food, treats, bones, leash, harness, etc. The AKC offers this top 5 things to pack when boarding your pup.

The biggest item to bring is food. It may be tempting to use the facilities food because it is usually included in the boarding fee, but upset stomachs are not fun for anyone to deal with.  Your dog is already being put in a new environment that may be stressful for them, adding a different diet can cause more issues.  Put the food in a re-sealable container or plastic bag and bring enough for the duration of your dog’s stay. Leave instructions as to how much kibble your dog gets per day and what time of day they usual eat.

Things to leave with your pet usual varies.  Everyone wants to make their dog feel at home, but a favorite toy or blanket should be brought with caution. It may not be a good idea to bring toys that would pose a choking problem, like rawhide chips or ropes.  It all depends on your dog and how well they do with these items at home.  If your dog has ever had an issue with these things, it would better to leave them at home.

Update Contact Information

Make sure you provide the best contact information on file & a good alternative form to be contacted in case emergencies. If you are traveling to a place with limited phone reception or opportunities to take a phone call, you will want the staff to have a way to contact you, and that’s usually email. Other alternative forms could be leaving the phone number of the hotel/resort you are staying at or that of a local family member that knows your pup. Dog care facilities often use email to distribute essential information such as holiday hours, vaccination reminders, and report cards (you don’t want to miss these!).

Upgrading Their Stay For The Best Experience

If the facility provides extra treats or activities for your pup’s first stay, spoil them with one! Not only will this help them enjoy their stay more, but it will also make you feel more comfortable about leaving your little one too. Most facilities offer additional activities and services for a charge. For example, The Dog Stop offers Dog Stop Delight that include peanut butter kong treats, cuddle time, leash walks, and more. Here’s a sample menu. If you are going for an extended period of time, it could also be nice to book their grooming appointment during their stay. This way, they are guaranteed to come home smelling fresh with their hair and nails done.

Get The Most Out Of Your Facility

Now that you have your dog’s staycation all squared away, be sure to check with your facility to see what other perks they might have available. Sign up for email updates, reward programs, and find out if they partner with any other local businesses. The Dog Stop has both a ReTail and ReFurral Rewards program that allows you to earn FREE daycare and boarding whenever you shop at the Stop or refer a new friend! Also, The Dog Stop facilities have pup cams that allows you to check in on your pup while your away. Finally, see if they have any technologies that make booking in the future easier – an app, text message updates, etc.

Hopefully, the above information has helped prepared you for boarding your pet. Your pup will have a great time during their first boarding experience, and if you use these tips to than you’ll feel ready, too! Now, go enjoy your vacation knowing that your dog will be having a wonderful time as well!

If you need boarding for your dog, The Dog Stops welcome you to take a tour of our facility and see if we’re the right fit! No appointment necessarily. To check out The Dog Stop locations, which are popping up all over the U.S., click here.