It is true that family dogs are almost as equal as the household family members, and in some houses even more so than their human counterparts! Yet, there are times when the reality and truth that dogs are merely very special created creatures that are our close and personal pets reveals itself. This occurs most poignantly when we have to take our furry little loved one to a boarding “resort” when we need to travel and taking them is just not a realistic part of the equation. This leads to the dog stressing out, which leads to other things that may not be so pleasant around the home or in their little heads and hearts.
Our dogs are very intuitive animals and know when things are happening in the home that words could not explain. Dogs hate it when their owners leave them. They get separation anxiety as they live to be with their masters. This is why when you arrive home they act as if you’d been gone a year, when the trip to the store for milk and a movie lasted only an hour.
But their pre-separation stress increases to its greatest degree when they see you and your family packing suitcases to go on a trip. Your dog knows that this is not simply a milk and movie run – you plan on being gone for a little while, like days and maybe weeks, and we know what this means in dog years! The stress in their loving little hearts starts building quickly.
The goal for dog owners is to find a pace to board their pets where the animal will get love, attention, compassion, fellowship, camaraderie with other animals, watered and fed, and generally put in an environment that will reduce stress, entertain them, and be like a camp for poochers until their masters return from their very, very long trip (remember, think in terms of dog years!).
We will look at dog stress and what it causes in your pet, how to address and reduce his stress, as well as how to best choose the right boarding facility for your loved and devoted doggie.
Dog Stress and its Effects
It has been said by some veterinarians that stress is the leading cause of sickness and health problem inherent in pets. While this may be arguable, the fact is, stress in your pet dog can cause ill-health and emotional problems just as it does in humans.
We mentioned how dog anxiety is quite strong when separation occurs between pet and owner, but there can be other factors as well. Introducing a new puppy into the home, even a new human baby (though one might be surprised to learn that many dogs feel a sense of duty to protect the newborn), a disruption in routine as many dog are lovers of routine – it makes them feel comfortable knowing that their day is predictable – it equates to their world being all right and they are in control.
Just as humans work out there stress in odd ways at times, so do your dogs. When they start doing things out of the ordinary, like pooping in the home, hiding under beds or couches for long periods of time, won’t eat, have diarrhea, or are cantankerous and moody, they may be dealing with stress.
But boarding your dog may provide the worst form of anxiety they will ever experience. If you leave home for the market, the dog stays in the home where everything is familiar and they still rule. Removing them from that environment to one that is unusual and their routine gets all messed up, and cages are there for them to sleep and abide in for long periods of time, the stress will be magnified and multiplied. Some dogs adjust beautifully after a short period of time if a new routine is in place, they are loved and cared for, and get along well with other animals. Other dogs don’t adjust well at all. Panting heavily will lead to dehydration, and when they finally get home you can expect them to drink lots of water.
Reducing Boarding Stress in Your Dog
You may wonder how this marvel can be accomplished? While there are no surefire ways to avoid stress in your dog there are surprisingly a few things you can do. According to the Catawba Animal Clinic that acts as both a vet clinic and a kennel suggests the following:
1) Bring your dog to the place where they will board at least a week or two before their stay. This will give them a little familiarity with the environment, allow them to sniff around and assess the place, and even have them play with the dogs during play period just to test the waters. If you plan on being away more than five days you may want to run a trial stay overnight to get them accustomed to the boarding home.
2) Do not rely on the kennel’s dog food – make the transition easier for your dog by preparing in advance meals they normally eat, including treats.
3) Toys, beds and shirts – If your dog has certain toys, a bed or a one of your shirts they enjoy then make sure to bring along some of these so the dog has something familiar to snuggle with that carry the smells of home and of their humans.
4) Make sure the boarder is aware of any particular health issues your dog has so they can be cognizant of them and treat them accordingly.
These simple things may make all the difference in the world when leaving your dog in a kennel for a few days. Barding them is tough on you, if you are like most pet owners, as you experience separation anxiety as well. But knowing your dog has these things and is in a good environment will reduce both of you stress.
Boarding Options for Your Dog
This will depend on whether you have short- or long-term housing needs, and what kind of health your dog is in. Also, affordability may play a factor in your decision where to board your dog. Here are a number of options to help you make the best choice for your family and your loved dog.
1) Pet Sitters – This has become more popular in recent years. This is when a person comes to stay in your home while you are gone so the dog is not removed from its familiar environment. Obviously you must trust the person as your home will be wide open to them, and your dog must get along well with them or it can be a disaster on a lot of levels. Plus, this can be quite expensive as you are paying for the sitter’s time plus their food. Additionally, they might want to negotiate other amenities. Still, it may be the best thing for your pet, but can be costly.
2) Doggie Day Care – It has become common place for many pet owners who are out of the house all day to drop their dogs off at a doggie day care center that can be a fun-filled place for a few hours for their pets. They still may suffer from some separation anxiety but they would be playing with dogs, eating and getting regular snacks, plus have lots of toys and attention. Some of these centers now extend their hours to include overnight stays.
3) Kennels – These are the no frills version of the doggie day care It is not to say that there is no playtime or interaction with other dogs and humans, but this isn’t doggie camp.
4) Doggie Resorts – If you are wealthy and are convinced your dog is not really a dog but a furrier form of human (or your dog has convinced you of this) then look into a doggie resort. These are posh poocher palaces that cater to their every whim and desire. Or, at least have well-manicured lawns for them to romp on and do their business. Everything is first class about these places, including the price-per-night.
5) Veterinarian Clinics – Veterinarian clinics, like the Catawba Animal Clinic mentioned above, offer dog boarding services. Many dog owners prefer this kind of place to board their pets because it combines the best of all the above. Plus, they get first class health care in case something goes wrong. Prices for these boarding homes are typically competitively priced.
Revenflo writes extensively about pets and their health, their role in our life and how to take care of them. For years the Revenwriters have been serving nonprofit companies through our educational arm called the Hive.