How To Prepare Your Dog For Boarding During the Holidays

Monday, November 19, 2018 | 


A Word From Dr. Joyce Ashamalla

How to prepare dog for boarding

The holiday season is a joyous time, but also a busy one. Gift shopping, cooking meals and getting the eggnog just right takes up a lot of time that you normally would have free. During this busy period, many pet owners have to board their animals, especially if holiday plans call for out of town travel. Both dogs and cats can be boarded successfully, but it’s important to find the right facility for your pet’s specific needs. Some people will choose a pet sitter instead of boarding, but in either case, proper preparation will help a great deal.

Dog Boarding Tips

The main objective when considering a boarding facility is making sure that all of your pet’s needs will be addressed. Here are some great tips to help make your fur baby’s boarding stay or pet sitting experience as comfortable as possible.

Plan Ahead

A lot of pet owners will find themselves with the same need to board their animals during the holiday season.  Be sure to make your pet’s reservation early so she has a reserved space. Calling Thursday afternoon for the next Saturday’s drop off will probably not cut the proverbial mustard this time of year. Beat the rush and make your plans 3-4 weeks in advance. 

What’s For Dinner?

Check with your boarding facility to find out if they provide food to your pet during their stay. Many facilities offer a highly digestible food that minimizes GI upset and is suitable for plenty of pets. Although if your cat or dog is a picky eater or a creature of habit that is accustomed to certain foods, bring the food along. The boarding facility is a new environment, but at least having her favorite chow will help your pet feel more settled.

A Piece Of Home, Sweet Home

Bring one of your old shirts or a blanket that holds the familiar smells of home to the boarding facility. Having something close by that smells like you or her normal sleeping spot will go a long way toward making her more comfortable.  Regretfully, you may not get the item back, so be sure it’s not something that you wanted to bring back home.

Favorite Toys

Most likely the boarding facility will have a lot of toys around for your dog or cat to play with, but some animals have a special toy or two that mean a lot to them. Pack a few so she can have them with her in the play or sleeping area. Having familiar things around can really help reduce anxiety and stress.


This one is probably the most important item to bring to the boarding facility. While some pets take no medication or supplements, some do and making sure that they have it while you are away is critically important. Even if it’s only for a few days, give the staff the medicine your pet takes every day because some pets have conditions that require daily medication.

Pet Documents

Many boarding places will require proof that your animal has had all of her vaccinations and shots. A few weeks before your dog or cat is scheduled to be boarded, start the process of gathering up all the paperwork you will need. If you can’t find something, the boarder is not going to take your pet, so make sure you have everything you need. Your vet can supply any missing documents by giving you a copy of their records.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease

We love our pets and want the best for them. If this is her first time at the boarding facility, ask the staff if you can take a tour to make sure the environment is clean, professional and up to the standards you would expect. When making arrangements for boarding, there is nothing wrong with getting to know the staff and going over your pet’s specific needs. By communicating with them, you are giving your pet the best possible chance to have a pleasant boarding experience.  You might feel like a pest by discussing your pet’s needs in detail, but they will appreciate how much you care by letting them know how to best watch over her.

Pet Sitter Interview Questions

We have mostly focused on pet boarding, but some people prefer to utilize the services of a pet sitter. The professionalism of these kinds of workers can greatly vary, so it’s very important that you get references and interview the pet sitter about their experience and approach. In addition, take the time to discuss your pet’s feeding and medicine routines, as well as any other special needs. It’s also helpful to print out instructions for your pet sitter to reference while you are away.

Pet boarding and pet sitting can be very successful for both dogs and cats, however it’s important to plan ahead to increase the chance for a good outcome. Bringing her food, a favorite toy, medicine, and the proper paperwork are essential. It’s also helpful to interview the people involved and go over the details of your pet’s needs to ensure that your she has a good experience while you are away.