There may come a time when you will have to be away from home for several days. When this happens, you will need someone to care for your dog. Traditional boarding kennels are not always the best choice because your dog may not get enough attention.

While it may seem like a logical idea, boarding your dog in a traditional kennel while you’re away may do more harm than good. Dogs left in the kennel often go through undue anxiety, physical issues, and behavioral changes associated with feelings of abandonment.

Here are 5 reasons traditional kennels may not be the best solution for your dog:

1. Dogs experience stress the same way humans do.

Stress in dogs can manifest itself in many ways. Being left in an unfamiliar place with strangers and other dogs is very stressful for your dog. They don’t know why they are there or what will happen to them. He or she may become withdrawn or depressed, refuse to eat, or self-mutilate as a coping mechanism to help them deal with the situation.

What does a stressed dog look like? Dogs can get scared and become stressed over any number of things. Some triggers include a car backfiring, fireworks, thunder, car honking, and other loud noises. They may also get stressed around other dogs if they are used to being alone. These things can show up as stress clues and you should know how to identify them. What might this look like? Worried, obsessive licking or cleaning themselves, tail tucked between the legs, pacing, panting, or avoidance behaviors.

2. Your dog may not get enough opportunities to empty their bladder.

Dogs can get used to doing their business on a schedule but it takes time for them to get used to it. Inconsistency in potty breaks can result in accidents or the dog holding their urine out of fear of being reprimanded for soiling their sleeping area. Adult dogs need to empty their bladder 3 to 5 times per day and puppies need to go more frequently. Holding urine for extended periods of time has been linked to urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

3. Your dog can be exposed to illnesses from other dogs.

Although your dog may be perfectly healthy, he or she will be in contact with dogs who may not be. Kennels are notorious places for contagious diseases like kennel cough, canine distemper, rabies, parvovirus, and canine influenza. Diseases are spread by direct contact and by sharing food bowls and other contaminated items. Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a respiratory infection that is highly contagious and spread by touching noses, airborne droplets (coughing), and sharing food dishes.

4. Dogs can become traumatized after boarding.

Boarding kennels are staffed with a bunch of different people, and not all are pet lovers. Dogs are naturally fearful of new situations and it takes time to build trust with caregivers and others. When a dog is in a kennel, he or she is in a place unfamiliar to them with people they don’t know and other dogs who are barking and whining which causes them to be fearful. They don’t know why the other dogs are barking or why they are not at home with you.

Trauma can manifest as behavioral changes, aggression, crouching, ears pinned back to the head, and heavy panting. If you notice these behaviors after bringing your dog home take them to the vet for an assessment.

5. Your dog may be in their kennel several hours per day.

Unless there is a doggie version of the Hilton, most likely your dog will be in their kennel for some parts of the day. The length of time will depend on the facility and its staffing schedules. It may be necessary for your dog to be confined for several hours a day until more staff arrives to care for the dogs.

What questions should you ask the boarding kennel staff?

The first question you should ask is how many caregivers are there on a daily basis, and are there enough staff to supervise playtimes to minimize bullying and fighting between dogs. Someone should be watching the dogs at all times while in the play area.

You should also ask how long your dog will be left in the kennel and how often he or she will get the chance to exercise or relieve themselves.

Will the caregiver spend time playing with the dogs or giving them individual attention?

Alternatives to Boarding Kennels

What can you do if you don’t like the idea of your dog being left in the kennel? Here are some alternative ideas:

  1. Hire a house or pet sitter
  2. Let them stay with a friend or family member
  3. Hire a dog walker to come 2x per day

If you do not like the idea of sending your dog to a kennel there are other alternatives available. Is there someone the dog knows that would be willing to let them stay with them until you return?

Another alternative would be to hire a pet sitter. This could be for all day or just a few hours per day. If you have a doggie door and automatic feeder your dog would just need companionship for an hour or so a day. You would feel better about your dog being at home where they are comfortable and that a caring person is looking after them and giving them attention.

A kennel can be a scary place for some dogs and is known to cause signs of stress. It is preferable to use alternatives whenever possible, but if you must use a kennel be sure to ask questions and make an unannounced visit to see how the dogs are being treated. 

The Doglando Experience

Of course, we offer overnight stays as a service, but we do it differently. To protect our dogs’ total wellness, we only offer overnight stays for the dogs enrolled in our Enrichment program, because we know your dog will be safe, happy, and feel at home to be with us.

Every dog’s mental, emotional, physical, nutritional, and intuitive health is of utmost importance to us, and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to provide for every dog as though they are our own.

At Doglando our primary goal is to help dog owners become more aware of the needs of their companion canines.