If you’re like many dog owners, the thought of leaving your cherished four-legged friend in a strange environment while you’re traveling during the holidays makes you nervous. But if a trusted friend or family member isn’t around to care for your dog — or if you’re not comfortable with a professional dog-sitter entering your home — kennel boarding may be your only option.

Dog in Kennel


Not seeing your dog every day will be difficult enough to deal with, and you’ll also want peace of mind knowing that he’s safe and sound during his kennel stay. The following tips can help make the entire boarding experience as stress-free as possible for your dog – and you!

Selecting a Kennel

Kennels can range from basic accommodations to pricey facilities that specialize in pampering pooches. A quick Internet search should reveal a list of all the kennels in your area. Your veterinarian can also be a valuable resource, and many vet offices have on-site boarding kennels where you can leave your dog for an extended period of time.

Another option is to ask other dog owners for recommendations. If possible, it’s always a good idea to visit the kennel beforehand to make sure you’re comfortable with the facility and its staff.

Regardless of whether you prefer a simple kennel or a high-end doggy resort, consider these factors when choosing a kennel:

  • Credentials – Only consider kennels that are certified by your state (if required) and/or have been accredited by the American Boarding Kennels Association.
  • Sanitation – The kennel should look and smell clean, and there should be ample ventilation.
  • Climate/temperature control – This is especially important when boarding your dog during the chilly holiday season. Make sure your dog is kept warm.
  • Bedding – Check for adequate bedding and make sure your dog doesn’t have to sleep on a hard floor. You can also ask if it’s okay to bring your dog’s bedding from home.
  • Feeding – Ask about the feeding schedule and whether it’s acceptable to supply your dog’s special food if desired.
  • Roaming room – Check out the exercise area/dog runs, and ask about the exercise schedule.
  • Access to veterinary care – One advantage to leaving your dog at your vet’s boarding kennel is that you can be sure he will receive adequate care while you’re away.
  • Additional services – Look at the availability of additional services such as grooming and bathing, particularly if you plan to be away for an extended period of time.

Preparing Your Dog for Boarding

Make sure your dog is up-to-date on his vaccinations prior to boarding, and stock up on any additional supplies you’ll need — such as food, bedding, medications and more. If the kennel allows it, bring along some of his favorite toys to make him feel more comfortable in his new environment.

Beauceron / Australian Shepherd Dog with Toy at the Park

Keep the Goodbye Short and Sweet

When dropping off your dog at the kennel, supply the staff with your contact information (and your vet’s contact information if applicable). Let the staff know if you plan on calling to check up on your dog while you’re gone.

When that heart-wrenching moment finally comes and it’s time to say goodbye, try not to make it a long, emotional parting. This could upset your dog and make it more difficult for him to adjust to his surroundings. Instead, focus on the joyful reunion when you return!

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