Making boarding stress free

By Sindhoor Pangal, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Oct 6, 2015, 12.29 AM IST

With the holiday season round the corner, it’s likely that many pet parents are planning to travel. That perhaps means boarding for dogs. Here’s how you can make it much easier on your dog.

The first thing to understand about boarding is that for most dogs, it is a stressful experience. Dogs are not used to being left in an unfamiliar place without family for extended periods of time. So be nice to your dog if you intend to board her and understand that it’s going to be rough on her. Prepare her for it and be prepared for the repercussions of boarding as well.
The first thing to do is the pick the right boarding place. Boarding is not the time to socialise your dog. Socialisation needs to happen when the dog is under your supervision and in a great state of mind. So try not to pack in too much during this time and stick to basic boarding that gives your dog maximum peace and quiet during this confusing and stressful time. Pick a boarding that provides your dog with some amount of private space to retreat into during stressful times.

Boarding is also not the time for training. Learning happens best when the mind is fresh. Save training for later – when you are back, your dog has had time to settle down, return to normal and is ready for lessons. However, you do need to ensure that the training you have done or are doing, does not get reversed during boarding. So meet with the boarding staff to understand their routine. Work with them to figure out something that will not interfere with your training. For example, if you are working on leash training, you don’t want the boarding staff to use a different method and confuse your dog. It’s better to have off-leash play areas for the dog instead of leashed walks. My clients don’t play fetch with the dog. So they ask boarding staff not to incorporate any fetch into routine into their dogs when boarding.

Once you have identified the boarding, prepare your dog by visiting the place a few times ahead of the actual boarding. Leave the dog behind for short periods, a few hours at most. Let the dog get familiar with the place and gain confidence that you will be back.

On the day, pack a few essential things for your dog. Pack your dog’s bowl, a few toys, blankets and a bed. All of your dog’s medication and special meals, if any, should go along. Any special instructions – like not playing fetch – or edical instructions and emergency contact numbers should be given in writing. Emergency contacts should include your number, your vet who knows your dog’s medical history and a local contact will take the trouble to respond to emergencies.

Once at the boarding place, look at the dog’s private quarters and use the blankets to create more privacy. Remember that when a dog is boarding, the point is for the dog to be as calm and relaxed as possible. Meet the staff, talk to them kindly and demonstrate to them special instructions, if any. Don’t fuss around your dog. Leave unceremoniously. One last word of advice – avoid boarding during Diwali. Diwali is scary beyond words for dogs. Being away from you makes it much worse. Try to keep your dog with you. If you must board, try to pick a boarding, as far away from the city centre as possible.

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