Boarding a Dog Checklist

We like to take our dogs everywhere we go, and they usually like to go with us. But sometimes they can’t come along, and if we’re gone overnight — and we don’t have someone to dog-sit or stay with them — the best solution is to board them at a kennel.

A good boarding facility will offer tours to new clients, and most now have social media sites or even webcams so you can check up on your dog from wherever you are. Look for a place that offers daily exercise, and if you dog gets along well with others, consider a place that offers an area for dogs to play together.

Reputable boarding facilities will also require proof that your dog is up to date with all shots, and have you fill out forms with all your information, emergency contacts, veterinary information, and notes your dog’s personality and traits. Referrals are your best bet, so ask around.

Trusting our beloved pets with a stranger — even when the kennel we’ve chosen has come highly recommended by dog-owners we trust — can be very stressful for us humans. It’s like being away from your child! But while we know we’ll be back to get them, and when that will be, our dogs don’t. All they know is they’re in a strange place, with strange smells and people they not only don’t know, but aren’t us.

To make their visit easier — and to ease your own mind — here’s a checklist of key extras sure to keep dogs company during their stay:


While most boarding facilities will provide food for their guests, switching up a regular diet could upset your dog’s stomach. Compounded by the stress of being in an unfamiliar place, away from you, this could cause a lot of discomfort. Bring food he or she recognizes and already enjoys to provide something akin to the accepted mealtime routine.

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Speaking of which, don’t forget the goodies! Send your furry friend off with some favorite treats to help with the adjustment. Along with his or her vital health information, include some of the tricks and commands your dog knows, so the handlers there at the kennel will know what behavior should be rewarded with treats.

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Most kennels offer playtime — sometimes extended if you pay an extra fee. Bring along a few of your pup’s favorite toys when you check in, and maybe add a new one or two to add fun and wonder to the strange surroundings. A durable chew toy will help your dog fill those long hours in a new place.

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Some kennels provide elaborate sleeping area, and might even be able to accommodate your dog’s regular bed. Either way, if your dog has a favorite blanket to take to nap time, that will certainly help provide a sense of security.

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Once both you and your dog have survived that time apart from each other, the next time you decide to leave your friend at a kennel won’t be quite as traumatic. Your dog may even come to recognize those enthusiastic new friends and be more excited about visiting. Even so, continue to use the checklist above to help ensure the time goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Published:
  • Updated: 9/27/2018: 9:22:24 PM ET
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