First time boarding your dog? Many owners are understandably nervous about leaving their dogs when they go on vacation. And when it’s your first time boarding, you probably have a lot questions of how it works and what you should or shouldn’t do.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of setting up your first reservation and to make sure your dog has the best staycation (and so you don’t have to worry!).
What to do
Bring your Dog’s Favorite Toy or Two
Bring 1 or 2 toys or “babies” to have with your dog when they are resting or sleeping. Dogs like having their special items with them and will cuddle with them at night (they are so cute!).
Bring a Comfort Item from Home
A few things from home will make the area more comfy for your dog. A blanket or t-shirt smells like home and reminds dogs that they are in a safe and familiar place.
Play at Daycare Before Your Overnight Stay
If this is your dog’s first time boarding at a facility, we always recommend booking one or two days of daycare ahead of time. Regardless of how amazing the facility or staff is, it is all still new to your dog. As far as your dog is concerned, everyone is a stranger and they have no idea if they will ever see you again. By testing out the daycare, your dog will have time to be comfortable with the staff, meet some doggy friends, and get accustom to the daily routine. Plus they learn that you come back to get them.
Day care is a long day of play, and when dogs are boarding over several days, they need to keep up their energy. Snacks help dogs stay active throughout the day, and it also makes naptime fun.
Mark all of your dog’s toys, bedding and food items with your dog’s name and last initial. Like kindergarten, toys and other items can accidentally be swapped, so labeling ensures you’ll get yours back.
Book a Bath Before Pick up
If your dog is staying longer than 4 or 5 days, reserve a spa appointment before pick-up. It really doesn’t matter how clean a facility is. Five days of doggy play equals a lot of doggy slobber.
What NOT to do
Don’t be Nervous
We know. It’s hard. But when you are nervous, your dog senses your energy and will also start to feel nervous (even if he doesn’t know why!). So rest assure that you have selected the best option and care for your dog and be happy and excited, your dog will be too. Remember, they take all of their cues from you.
Don’t Bring Fancy Bedding
Pet professionals clean – a lot. But it’s still dirty because dogs do dirty stuff. Sometimes dogs like to play in their water, have muddy feet from walks, or have been mouth wrestling with friends all day. When they go to lay down for a nap, wet, muddy feet and a head full of some other dog’s saliva will be deposited on their bed. Any bedding you bring should be machine washable. Don’t want to deal with it? Ask to use the bedding at the facility. At Fitdog, we have Chill Pads from Pet PLAY.
Don’t Bring Bowls
One less thing to bring with you at drop off. Your overnight facility should have their own bowls, so you can keep your dog’s bowls at home. However, if if your dog is a fast eater or needs an elevated feeding station, bring any specialized food bowls that your dog needs.
Don’t Introduce New Food Right Before
Try not to transition your dog’s food before a vacation. Dogs frequently get upset stomachs and diarrhea when switching foods. Plus you don’t want to risk having your dog suffer from an unexpected allergic reaction while you’re away.
By following these overnight boarding do’s and dont’s, you are guaranteed to give your dog a great stay!
This article was originally published in San Diego Pet Magazine on March 13, 2014. San Diego Pets Magazine offers captivating stories and resources that promote the amazing San Diego Pet lifestyle. Twitter: @SanDiegoPets