Anxious dogs and boarding – don´t let it spoil your holiday
Sometimes, boarding your dog in kennels is unavoidable. Is boarding stressful for dogs? Whilst most dogs will thoroughly enjoy the change of scenery, care and fuss they’ll receive, some may find it stressful.
If you’re concerned about your anxious dog and boarding, whether overnight or for a couple of weeks these ideas can help you both deal with the situation. We’ll also look at what to do if your dog is stressed after boarding when they come home.
Why do some dogs get stressed when they board?
When a dog goes to boarding kennels they’re put in a completely new situation in unfamiliar surroundings. There will be strange smells, different people and it could be very noisy. Your pet will be used to their home routine (walks and dinner at certain times) and the relaxing environment of home and may find the kennels overwhelming, especially if they’re already a nervous pet.
Suddenly being separated from their loving owner and not knowing when or if you’re coming back may cause symptoms such as:
- excessive barking or whining
- licking skin and pulling out hair
- loss of appetite
- pacing and trying to escape
These symptoms can occur with any dog but are more likely when boarding a dog with separation anxiety. There are ways to make your dog’s stay more comfortable and reduce their stress levels while you’re away.
Preparing for boarding if you have an anxious dog
It may be your dog’s first time in kennels, or they may have been before. If you have an anxious dog, it’s important to prepare them and the kennels in the build-up to their visit.
One important thing to consider with dog boarding for dogs with separation anxiety is the boarding kennels you choose. Don´t select one just because it’s near to your home. Word of mouth is the best recommendation – if friends or family have used the kennels and speak well of them it should be a good choice.
Visit the kennels with your dog before your trip and spend time getting to know the staff. This is a list of good questions to ask:
- where will your dog stay?
- should you bring your dog’s own food?
- how many times a day will your dog be exercised, and will they be let off the lead?
- will they have play time?
- can you bring your dog’s own bedding/toys?
When you’re at the kennels watch the staff’s reaction to your dog and how they behave with them. Are they clearly an animal lover or do they seem a bit nervous or indifferent?
If your dog suffers separation anxiety, it’s also essential to ask if the staff have experience with this and how they deal with it. How long will your dog be left on its own? Kennels can be very busy places and you should be aware that while caring staff will give your pet all the love and attention they deserve they won´t have the time to do this constantly.
If your dog doesn´t mix well with other dogs, doesn´t come back when called or doesn´t like being petted, now’s the time to mention it. When you drop your dog off it’s also a good idea to give the kennels a set of written notes on your dog, including any fears they have, such as storms or brooms. We mention brooms as some rescue dogs have a fear of sticks, having been hit with them in the past. The staff will be caring for many dogs and may not remember everything you’ve told them verbally.
How to overcome dog boarding separation anxiety?
Some people like to give their dogs a trial at the boarding kennels and book them an overnight stay before the real trip. This is an effective way to assess how your dog will take to the situation. It also gives you the chance to address any issues such as chewing up toys or not eating.
If you’re worried about your dog’s stay in boarding kennels and it’s unavoidable you could try a natural food supplement to help calm them. Products containing Lactium® are ideal to soothe your dog. If you need advice about which Lactium® product is right for your pet get in touch – we’ll be happy to help.
Don´t make a fuss when you say goodbye. A quick hug and a swift exit is the best way for both of you. It’s a bit like leaving a child at school on their first day. Once you’ve gone, they’ll probably have forgotten you (although not forever!).
What to pack
Does your dog sit and stare at you when you pack? Does he even sit on top of your luggage? Dogs are extremely sensitive and know when something different is happening. If you have an anxious dog this could make them feel even more stressed. Do the packing when your dog is out of the house, maybe when someone else takes him for a walk.
You and the kennels can decide if your dog will be happier with their own bed or if you use the kennel’s one. It’s a good idea to take your dog’s favourite blanket so they have something familiar but be prepared for them to chew it if they’re feeling anxious.
If your dog is used to a cage, and may even sleep in one, it´s a good idea to take this so they have their own territory to rest in.
You should pack toys for your dog that they’re used to (not new ones) but it’s not a good idea to put in his favourites. If you do this you may find they destroy them.
Another suggestion is to put an old t-shirt or another item of clothing of yours in with your dog’s bedding. Wear it for a couple of days beforehand and don´t wash it. This will give your dog a feeling of comfort as the clothing will smell of you.
What to do if your dog is stressed after boarding?
When you’re back at home you might find your dog seems more anxious than usual. Don’t worry, this is their way of adjusting to you being back and it shouldn´t last.
Give them plenty of cuddles, long walks, treats and attention to show them you’re there for them. They’ll also pick up on your mood too. If you’re feeling depressed after a great holiday they’ll sense this, so try and be upbeat, after all, you’re back with your best friend.
You’re probably more anxious about your pet’s visit to the kennels than they are. If you choose somewhere you’re happy with and follow the advice above you should be able to relax, as will your dog.
Contact us to learn more on Lactium®, our natural ingredient for a peaceful life!