Boarding Your Dog When you Go Away

by Black Hawk Pet Care
Specialists in Pet Nutrition
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When you make the decision to take your pet to a boarding environment for care, it is important you make it as easy as possible for your pet & of course for you. It’s also important to understand it doesn’t have to be unpleasant or distressing.

Some people still think it’s ‘cruel’ to leave their pet at a boarding kennels or cattery but that is far from the truth: people feel this way because they are trying to imagine how their pet will feel, based on human feelings, if left at a kennel or cattery.

Pet owners also feel unsure because they are the ones going away & wonder how their pet is coping.

We can’t stress enough the importance of the settling in process for all pets to ensure they feel happy, safe & content while in the care of the Boarding facility. It is not enough to think because someone operates a boarding kennel & cattery they know how to care properly for pets in a boarding environment. This is when experience is really beneficial – Kennel owners pay attention to each pet, understand how pets, individually, react & behave in a boarding environment. They notice the signs of discontent & do something about it to help each pet settle, relax & feel content & safe whilst in the kennel.

So, the best thing for your pet is to establish a relationship with a boarding place & take the time for your pet to adjust.

Pets do adjust & learn routines; they do get to know their temporary home whilst you are away. They see it time & time again: the first time a pet comes in they are slightly hesitant, the next time they come they remember so they relax much quicker, 3rd time “oh I know you – I can do want I want here?”.

That’s the emotional side covered, now for the practical side.


  1. Does your dog have a favourite toy, blanket? Have it ready to bring.
  2. Make sure you have the current vaccination certificate ready to show on arrival
  3. The best thing for your pet is to settle him or her in their new environment the day before you set off on your holiday or work time away – less stress for you & your pet. If you can’t come the day before, allow plenty of time so you are not rushing.
  4. It is also best for your pet to come to the kennels in the morning, particularly for the first visit, as it gives him or her the whole day to settle in & get to know their new surrounds
  5. Don’t feed your dog for a minimum of 4 hours before you bring him or her in; nerves, excitement or a bit of anxiety can cause diarrhoea which is not very pleasant for your pet


  1. Ensure your dog is on a lead or in a pet carrier when you arrive
  2. When you arrive, if you have a small dog, resist the temptation to carry your dog in – put him or her on a lead & walk in confidently
  3. Be relaxed, don’t hug or cling to your dog – this sets off alarm bells for your pet; “my owner is worried, I need to worry”.
  4. It is very important to remember your pet will always prefer to be with you – that is his or her first priority. He or she might look at you with pleading eyes, he or she might try to follow you as you leave – this is all normal. But remember as soon as you leave the settling in process starts, it does not mean your pet is going to be sad whilst you are away.
  5. When you return your pet is going to be really excited to see you – this does not mean he or she has been sad whilst you have been away. Most pets get really excited when you return home from work or shopping, sometimes even when you come back from the mailbox.

This is one of the most endearing qualities of a pet – they are always happy to see you when you return.