Guide to Boarding Your Dog “Understanding the Dog Boarding Experience ”

Updated: March, 2022

Selected articles from and 


Boarding your dog is probably the first solution that comes to your mind when thinking about a temporary stay for your dog while traveling, business trips, hospitalization of the owner, or just any other strange situation that may occur in a human’s life.

Leaving your dog alone for the first will probably worry you a lot. Especially when you think about issues like kennel stress that your dog may have to deal with.

Your dog will be put in an unfamiliar place with many other dogs, a new diet, a change in routine and contagious diseases.

It’s like putting your child in a new kindergarten for several days on end.

Every dog is different and some are able to cope with it pretty easily while others experience it in full distress.

What should you do if you’re boarding a dog for the first time?

Shared Responsibility

If you choose to board your dog, you need to understand that boarding is a shared responsibility. A successful boarding experience depends on not only the boarding facility, but also upon how well the owner prepares their dog for the experience.

Dogs should be prepared psychologically for boarding. It’s best to start boarding them as a puppy as soon as their immunizations are complete. Puppies usually learn quickly to enjoy boarding. Some kennels offer “day-care” services so you can leave your dog for a few hours at a time. This is an excellent way to introduce your dog to boarding. After a few visits your dog accepts a kennel as a normal way of life.

The psychological preparation of a dog for boarding (and also for helping her/him develop a healthy personality) also includes getting them used to new people and experiences (socialization). This is most easily accomplished by taking him through obedience classes and occasionally boarding him.  You can also take your puppy on car rides through different neighborhoods, drive-thru, car washes and out into the country where they’ll see and smell and variety of farm animals.  Arrange play dates with other puppies and adult dogs who you know are healthy and friendly. 

Naturally, a dog who is relaxed about boarding will likely board well. A dog owner should never become emotional when leaving their dog at a kennel. If you are worried or stressed, you dog is going to sense this.  If you are stressed or worried about boarding your dog, your dog is going to be stressed when boarded.  You should also not bring out your suitcases at home the day before your trip.  These things can cause your dog to be unnecessarily upset.

Accurately represent your dog(s). Be specific about his or her needs and behavioral characteristics.  If your dog is a finicky eater and will only eat their dry food with a little bit of wet food added, we need to know this.  For your dog’s safety as the well of the safety of our staff and our other guests, we need to know if your dog is an escape artist, climber or is aggressive.  If you have multiple dogs that you want boarded together but they sometimes fight, it is important for their safety for you to let us know.

After your dog’s stay, it is important to follow up with your boarding facility and notify them of any problems or concerns with your stay.  It is also important to notify us if your dog becomes ill after returning home so we can take precautionary measures.  If problems are never brought directly to our attention, we are unable to make changes and improvements to benefit our customers.


Boarding Stress

Anytime your dog stays at a kennel, they will experience some amount of stress.  They are in new surroundings, have a change in routine, and are surrounded by strange smells and other dogs and noises (barking).  Sensitive dogs can be extremely stressed in a kennel environment. If your dog has an underlying nervous disposition, the kennel will likely be just too overwhelming for them, and they may feel anxiety about your departure as well.  Some dogs who boarded well when they are younger, may not board well as they get older. 

Signs of kennel stress can manifest in dogs in many ways; aggression, excessive barking and whining, loss of appetite, constant licking of the lips, pacing and depression. In some cases, dogs may develop a respiratory infection, or occasionally, intestinal problems like diarrhea while boarding. Also, some dogs carry viruses in their system for months and begin to show symptoms only after being subjected to a stress situation. We strive to make the boarding experience for your dog as stress-free as possible and encourage you to prepare your dog both physically and psychologically for boarding. 

During boarding, some dogs may step in their feces and/or urine and become dirty. This happens in the cleanest of kennels! Also if your dogs’ accommodations include an outside run, they may get wet if it rains and/or snows.  The bacteria that naturally feed off of oil produced by dogs also like water.  When the bacteria eat and reproduce they give off a chemical that creates a smell. If bathing is necessary, let us know that you wish to have your dog bathed on the day they are scheduled to go home. If their bedding becomes soiled, we will take it out and launder it. If your dog decides to make a chew toy out of their bed, we will remove it from their kennel run.


Seasons Affect Your Pet’s Appetite

Seasonal changes affect our pets just like they affect us. We all know that during the hot summer days food just isn’t as interesting as it is on cold winter days, especially if it is a hot meal.

Seasonal changes in daylight and temperature trigger significant hormonal changes in mammals, altering metabolism and influencing food intake. As daily temperatures rise, mammals become less active and need less energy. The lengthening of daylight during the warmer months signals this change to the most primitive part of the brain and its hormonal responses, resulting in decreased food seeking behavior and shifts in cellular metabolism.

As winter approaches, the opposite response occurs. Lower temperatures require greater energy consumption to maintain body temperature. The shortening of daylight during this time signals the same primitive brain to promote food seeking behavior and alter metabolism in order to promote fat storage in preparation for lean food sources during the winter months.

So keep in mind that when you board your pet during the hotter months of the year, typically June, July and August, that they are likely to consume less food than during the rest of the year.


Weight Loss

It is not uncommon for a dog to lose weight while boarding. Most of the weight loss is due to the stimulation being very different at a boarding facility than at home.  When your dog is home, they most likely spend their day sleeping while you are at work. At a boarding facility, just the normal activities of cleaning, feeding, caring, bathing and grooming attract high levels of excitement. They are also busy barking and playing with their neighbors. If your dog is stressed from boarding, they will also lose weight. Typically, high energy/drive dogs, like German Shepherds, Boxers, Hounds, Belgian Malinois, Vizsla, Weimaraners and Pitbull burn more calories than they can consume while being boarded. We will increase your dog’s food intake as needed.