Many individuals who choose to board their dogs while they are on vacation often experience feelings of guilt. Dogs are often considered cherished members of the family, and leaving them behind can evoke a sense of abandonment or failure. But, here are many reasons why you should never feel guilty about boarding your dog:
- Just as pediatricians recommend occasional breaks for parents, taking vacations or days away without your pet can provide you and your family with a chance to reconnect and rejuvenate. It allows you the freedom to enjoy activities without the constraints of caring for your dog’s needs.
- Most boarding kennels today have veterinarian technicians who can administer medications to your dog as needed and in the correct dosages. Some even have on-site veterinarians or arrangements with nearby clinics in case of emergencies, ensuring that your dog’s health is well taken care of.
- Many kennels offer spacious dog runs or large outdoor yards where your pet can exercise, play, and socialize with other dogs. These facilities provide ample opportunities for your dog to have fun and enjoy their time away from home.
- Your dog may actually have a great time at the boarding kennel, possibly even more enjoyable than going on vacation with your family. They get to engage in activities, have the company of other dogs, and explore new environments, offering them a fulfilling and stimulating experience.
Consider the alternative from a dog’s perspective:
- Being confined in a hot, crowded car.
- Limited walking breaks.
- Sleeping in different places each night.
- Waiting outside attractions while you’re indoors.
- Comparatively, staying in a boarding kennel with a spacious outdoor play area and the opportunity to interact with new furry friends.
By recognizing these factors, you can alleviate feelings of guilt and be reassured that boarding your dog can provide them with a safe, enjoyable, and engaging experience while you are away.
5 reasons why traditional kennels may not be the ideal choice for your dog:
- Dogs experience stress like humans.
- Dogs can become stressed when placed in unfamiliar environments with strangers and other dogs. They may feel anxious, withdrawn, refuse to eat, or resort to self-mutilation as a coping mechanism.
- Insufficient opportunities for bathroom breaks.
- Inconsistent potty breaks can lead to accidents or dogs holding their urine due to fear of reprimand. Adult dogs need to empty their bladder 3 to 5 times a day, while puppies require more frequent breaks. Holding urine for extended periods can result in urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
- Exposure to illnesses from other dogs.
- Kennels can be breeding grounds for contagious diseases like kennel cough, distemper, rabies, parvovirus, and influenza. Direct contact and sharing contaminated items can facilitate the spread of these diseases.
- Potential for traumatization after boarding.
- Being in an unfamiliar place with unknown people and barking dogs can cause fear and stress in dogs. They may exhibit behavioral changes, aggression, crouching, pinned back ears, and heavy panting. If these behaviors are observed after boarding, a vet assessment is recommended.
- Extended confinement in the kennel.
- Dogs may spend several hours per day in their kennels, depending on the facility’s staffing and schedules. This confinement is necessary until additional staff arrive to care for the dogs.
Questions to ask boarding kennel staff:
- How many caregivers are present daily, and is there sufficient staff to supervise playtimes and prevent conflicts between dogs?
- How long will my dog be confined in the kennel, and how often will they have the opportunity to exercise and relieve themselves?
- Will caregivers spend time playing with the dogs and providing individual attention?
Alternatives to boarding kennels:
- Hiring a house or pet sitter.
- Allowing your dog to stay with a trusted friend or family member.
- Hiring a dog walker to visit twice a day.
- Exploring the option of someone familiar to the dog accommodating their stay until your return.
- Hiring a pet sitter for either full-day or partial-day companionship, especially if you have a doggie door and automatic feeder.
While boarding kennels can be stressful for some dogs, it is advisable to consider alternatives whenever possible. If using a kennel is necessary, it is essential to ask questions and make unannounced visits to assess how the dogs are being treated.