“Should I be nervous about boarding my dog?”

Let’s face it. As a dog owner, it’s inevitable that at some point you will need to take your pooch to a boarding kennel.  The thought of your pooch spending all day with other dogs and possibly catching a bug is enough to create concerns. I’d also be nervous about boarding my dog if I thought about it that way. Boarding kennels can be compared to kids’ daycares. It’s like a daycare for your dog where it gets to spend the days that you can’t be at home with it. Depending on the dog’s personality, some dogs enjoy going to boarding kennels, especially the social ones. Others, especially the antisocial ones, don’t like it. Sort of how some kids love daycare while others start crying the moment they get to the gate. So, what are the situations that would lead you to take your dog to a boarding kennel?

When you’re traveling

Traveling is sometimes a complicated affair for most dog owners especially when they can’t take their dog with them. If you are traveling for a short while, you have the option of placing your dog in a boarding kennel. There’s also the option of having a friend come, and dog sit your pooch which would be the best option. Your friend might, however, have plans of their own and dropping off your dog at their place would inconvenience them. Hiring a professional dog sitter, on the other hand, might turn out to be too expensive because they charge by the hour. This leaves you with boarding as your only option.

When remodeling

Having your dog around when some work is being in your house is not a good idea. Dogs get easily upset when their schedules get disrupted. Some dogs get stressed when they keep seeing new faces and hearing loud, unfamiliar noises. Of course, when you’re remodeling there is going to be banging noises and many faces going in and out of the house. So what do you do to shield your dog from all that commotion? You take them to a boarding kennel. Another option is having your dog stay at a friend’s house, but you wouldn’t want to burden your friend with taking care of your pooch till you finish remodeling.

Kennels & separation anxiety

It’s essential to note that boarding a dog with separation anxiety doesn’t work on all dogs. There’s something about kennels and separation anxiety. The kennel will either alleviate your dog’s separation anxiety or magnify it. It all depends on your dog’s personality, and it gets treated in the boarding facility. To understand this fully, we need to first look at what causes separation anxiety in dogs. Dogs have different triggers for separation anxiety, but a significant schedule change plays a massive role in it. Losing a family member might also cause separation anxiety especially if it was someone who had a close relationship with the dog. Constant close companionship may also cause the dog to develop separation anxiety when the dog owner leaves the house.

How do boarding kennels help with separation anxiety? Most dogs that develop separation anxiety do so because they feel alone or lonely to some degree. It only makes sense then that you find a dog with separation anxiety some companionship. If your dog is the sociable type then taking it to a kennel would help with the separation anxiety. If your dog is not too social then throwing it in a kennel with other strange dogs would only make matters worse. If your dog is antisocial, you will have to condition it, so that it associates separation with a positive outcome such as getting a treat.

Why should you reconsider boarding your dog?

 So far we have only discussed the applicability of boarding kennels in your dog’s life. Now let’s look at the risks that come with boarding your dog.

Contagious diseases – How does a dog get kennel cough?

Boarding your dog involves having it spend the entire time with other dogs whose health history you’re unaware of. With all the highly infectious diseases floating around, you’re justified to worry. One of the most contagious dog diseases is kennel cough. It got its name because it tends to spread rapidly through a kennel or in a place where there are several dogs. How does a dog catch kennel cough, you’re wondering? Kennel cough spreads through the aerosols released by a dog when it coughs. Contaminated items such as food bowls and direct contact are other ways that a dog can get infected.

How do you know if your dog has kennel cough? The primary symptom of kennel cough is a strong and deep honking cough. The cough sounds like your dog is trying to clear its throat. Other symptoms include sneezing, fever, and a runny nose. An infected dog might also develop a low appetite and become lethargic. The best bet to prevent your dog from being infected is to have it vaccinated. If your dog does get infected, you should take it to the vet the moment you notice the symptoms. Treatment varies with the severity of the symptoms but it is mandatory to keep the infected dog quarantined from other dogs to prevent the disease from spreading. Besides kennel cough, your dog can pick other contagious diseases such as rabies, canine parvovirus, canine influenza, canine distemper, and others. Although most of the communicable canine diseases are preventable, they can be fatal to your dog if it gets infected. With such diseases out there, taking your dog to a boarding kennel seems like quite a huge gamble.

Kennel syndrome

Kennel syndrome, also known as “kennelosis,” is the behavior that a dog assumes when it’s in survival mode. It comes about when a dog spends most hours in the kennel. Yes, prolonged kenneling can drive your dog crazy. Kennel syndrome manifests in either extreme aggression or extreme submission. Dogs are highly adaptable animals which has enabled them to survive for thousands of years. A kenneled dog may become aggressive to establish dominance or submissive to try and survive. Boarding facilities differ in how they handle dogs and herein comes the problem. If your pooch is in a boarding facility that kennels them for long, then it stands a chance of developing kennel syndrome.

How do you know if your dog has kennel syndrome? The first telltale sign is a drastic behavioral change. If your dog was a quiet dog and is now suddenly aggressive after boarding, then it probably has kennel syndrome. Other symptoms include jumping and spinning around in the kennel. Some dogs may chew incessantly on the kennel cage or themselves resulting in self-mutilation. Others develop depression-like symptoms like lack of appetite and lethargy. Whenever a dog with kennel syndrome is left alone in the house, they may engage in destructive behavior like scratching and chewing on the furniture. If you have to take your pooch boarding facility, make sure that the facility exercises the dogs and doesn’t cage them for long. If your dog has kennel syndrome, you might need to see a vet and a dog trainer to offer your dog some behavioral training.

Dog Traumatized after boarding

Boarding facilities differ a lot in schedules and dog handling. Taking your dog to a boarding kennel might result in unforeseen behavioral changes depending on how they interact with other dogs and how the kennel staff treats it. However, what exactly makes a dog traumatized after boarding? When you take your dog to a boarding kennel, you’re introducing it to a new environment and new people. Building trust with these people is dependent on how they treat the dog. If your dog is in a boarding kennel that confines dogs to enclosures for long, then the dog might be exposed to immense stress. Mostly, the stress is a result of the dog being kenneled with other strange dogs and the noise from all the dogs’ barking.

Some tell-tale signs can indicate whether your dog is getting traumatized by the boarding kennel. The most common telltale sign is a drastic change in its behavior and personality. If your dog suddenly loses interest in its toys and feeding, then it’s a sign that it might be traumatized or at least stressed. Other symptoms include aggression, pacing, and lethargy. If you notice that your dog has trauma, it’s imperative that you take swift action and take it to the vet. After the assessment, the vet might decide to prescribe some medication or diet regiment. You can ease the dog’s trauma by offering plenty of opportunities to play and keeping it on a routine.

In conclusion

Boarding kennels are not equal. Some kennels may do your dog right by offering it the opportunity to interact with other dogs and make some friends. Other kennels might leave your dog worse than it was when you took it there. Boarding a dog has some serious downsides and should always be the last resort. Getting a pet sitter or letting your dog stay with a friend would be far much better to the dog and you.