Tips for Boarding Your Anxious Dog: How to Help Your Pooch Feel at Ease While You’re Away

Leaving your furry friend behind when you go out of town can be worrisome, especially if your dog suffers from separation anxiety or gets nervous being away from you. However, with some preparation and by choosing the right boarding options, even the most anxious dog can have a comfortable stay. This article provides tips to help ease your pup’s worries so you can travel with peace of mind knowing your dog is in great hands.

What Is Separation Anxiety and Why Does My Dog Have It?

Separation anxiety is a common issue for dogs that exhibit distressed behaviors like barking, destroying items, or going to the bathroom inside when they’re left alone. Dogs with anxiety may pace, vocalize, or even injure themselves while anxiously awaiting their owner’s return. Understanding why your pooch acts this way can help you better accommodate their needs when boarding them.

anxious dog boarding

How Can I Help My Anxious Dog Feel More Comfortable in a Kennel?

Leaving an already nervous dog to stay in an unfamiliar kennel with other dogs and unknown people may heighten your dog’s separation anxiety. That’s why it’s important to make thoughtful preparations to help your dog to feel as comfortable as possible. Here are some tips:

Take Your Dog to Meet the Kennel Staff

Schedule meet-and-greets beforehand so your dog can get familiar with the kennel facility and staff who will be caring for them. The more at ease your dog feels with the people and place they’ll stay, the less anxiety they’ll endure.

Try Short Practice Runs

Start by leaving your anxious dog at the kennel for just an hour or two before extending to overnight stays. Getting them accustomed to brief stays sets them up for success.

Keep Routines Consistent

As much as possible, stick to your dog’s regular routines for feeding times, potty breaks, walks, etc. Consistent schedules are comforting. Be sure staff know your dog’s unique schedule and needs.

Leave a Comforting Personal Item

Let your dog take a favorite toy, bed, or worn t-shirt with your scent to help ease anxiety and remind them that you’ll be back soon.

What Boarding Options Work Best for Anxious Dogs?

Traditional boarding kennels may not be the best fit for all dogs, especially those with separation issues. When boarding your anxious dog, consider options where they’ll get more personalized attention and feel less overwhelmed.

In-Home Pet Sitters

Having your dog stay in their own home with a pet sitter often leads to less stress than boarding them elsewhere. The familiar environment is key in keeping anxious pups happy.

Single-Dog Boarding

Reputable boarding facilities may offer special suites for one dog at a time, reducing overstimulation. One-on-one attention from staff can also minimize anxiety issues.

Small-Scale or In-Home Boarding Kennels

Some independent pet sitters even open their own homes to just a few dogs at a time. The cozy, less chaotic ambiance of a real home with constant human interaction is ideal for many anxious pups.

How Do I Choose the Right Boarding Situation for My Dog?

The option you choose depends on your dog’s unique needs and separation anxiety triggers. Here are tips for finding the perfect fit:

Schedule a Meet-and-Greet

Assess how your dog reacts to the facility and staff before committing. Gauge their comfort level and address any concerns immediately.

Provide Background Information

Be sure to talk openly about your dog’s separation anxiety and what specifically tends to stress them out when you’re gone. Also provide info on dietary needs, medication routines, etc. The more staff knows, the better they can ease anxiety.

Ask Questions

Inquire about supervision schedules, emergency protocols, dog-to-staff ratio, etc. Detailed questions will help determine if the boarding situation is right for your anxious dog.

Trust Your Instincts

Go with your gut. If a facility doesn’t seem sensitive to your dog’s needs or doesn’t ease your own worries about leaving them, it probably isn’t the right fit. Keep looking for a place you and your dog feel 100% at ease with.

What Can I Do to Prepare My Dog Before Boarding?

Taking steps to get your anxious dog gradually used to brief separations can make longer boarding stays less traumatic.

Practice Short Solo Stays

Start leaving your dog alone for short periods to build their independence. Use puzzle toys stuffed with treats to occupy them while you’re gone. Slowly lengthen time away.

Take Them on Visits

Let staff give your dog treats/pets on frequent visits before staying over. This builds positive associations with the facility and prevents stranger anxiety during boarding.

Introduce an At-Home Kennel/Crate

Use a kennel or crate (if they don’t already have one) at home so confinement doesn’t feel unfamiliar. Place worn clothing inside to comfort them.

Pack Familiar Belongings

Bringing items that smell like home to the boarding facility provides a sense of security. Pack their favorite toys, treats, bed, and anything else that brings comfort.

Final Tips for Smooth Boarding

Boarding an anxious dog takes thoughtfulness and preparation, but some final tips can help ensure your pup’s stay is as smooth as possible:

  • Make sure to notify staff of any specific triggers, favorites foods, medications, or other special considerations. The more informed they are, the better.
  • Start conservative with boarding duration your first few times leaving your anxious dog. Don’t jump right into week-long vacations; build up slowly as your dog adjusts.
  • Be consistent with boarding location and caregivers. Returning to unfamiliar places and people can spike anxiety all over again. Stick to what they know.
  • Don’t make a big fuss saying goodbye or when picking them up. Stay calm and give them loving praise.
  • Trust in the process. It may take a few boarding sessions for your dog to realize you do come back and they survive just fine without you! Be patient and understanding of their needs.

Boarding an anxious dog takes compassion, thoughtfulness and choosing boarding options suited to your dog’s needs. But with effort to help them feel comfortable, even dogs with bad separation anxiety can learn to stay at a kennel without undue stress. Use these tips to find the perfect boarding fit!