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8 Tips For Boarding a Dog with Separation Anxiety
Ways to make the experience of staying at a kennel easier for your anxious dog
Going into a boarding kennel can be stressful for any dog, but even more so for a pup who gets separation anxiety. If your dog suffers from this condition, being separated from you for such a long period of time could cause him some major stress and discomfort. However, some options exist for making this time much easier on your four-legged friend.
Explore Other Options
Before you commit to sending your pooch to a commercial boarding kennel, think about any other options available to you. Would you be able to hire a pet sitter? Is there an in-home boarding facility nearby? Do you have a friend or family member who’d look after Rover, either in your home or their own? These kinds of options can make your time away a lot less distressing for a dog with separation anxiety.
Work on Coping Mechanisms
Before you go away, spend some time working on your dog’s separation issues. Start by leaving him alone for short amounts of time and gradually build this time up. You may find it useful to talk to your veterinarian or a dog behaviorist to give you some help and advice.
A dog with separation anxiety should feel somewhat less stressed if he has some reminders of his home and human family. Make sure you send him with as many of his own belongings as possible, such as his bed, his favorite toys, and his food and water bowls. Also send an old shirt or pillowcase that smells like you.
Talk to the Kennel Staff
Before you make a final decision about where to board your dog, talk to the staff at the kennels and let them know about your concerns. If the staff is knowledgeable and caring, they should have their own methods for dealing with dogs with separation anxiety. For instance, they might offer to give your pooch some extra attention during his stay.
Inspect the Premises
Make sure that you have a look around the boarding kennel before taking your dog for his stay. A good, quality facility is more likely to meet your dog’s needs and have members of staff that will take good care of him. Ask if the staff have training or animal care qualifications. Ask to see the kennels to gauge whether the dogs boarding there seem stressed or unhappy. When you first enter the kennel area, they will get excited but they should settle down quickly.
Exercise and Socialization
Getting plenty of exercise can go a long way when helping a dog to be less anxious. Make sure that whatever facility you choose will offer your dog enough exercise. Ideally, he should either be getting a couple of walks each day or several hours in a large exercise pen. Also ask about socialization with the other dogs. If your dog is friendly, he might benefit from making friends and playing with some of the other dogs boarded there. However, if they do let dogs socialize, make sure the staff take precautions and give them an appropriate amount of supervision.
Give Him Something to Do
If your dog can keep himself entertained, he’ll be less likely to get stressed and anxious. Provide him with some toys he can play with on his own, such as puzzle toys or treat dispensing balls. He may also like to have some things to chew on, whether they’re chewy treats or heavy duty chew toys. Chewing will keep him busy, but may also offer some degree of comfort.
Lauren Corona is a freelance writer from merry old England. She specializes in writing about dogs and other critters. Lauren lives near Oxford, with her gorgeous Doberman, Nola. When she’s not tapping away at the keyboard, you’ll find her walking in the woods with Nola-dog, raising money for the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, cooking vegan food, making zines and writing about herself in the third person.