The date has been set—you're going on a trip with friends and family! But hold up. Who's gonna take care of the dog?

This is where dog boarding facilities enter the picture.

And if this is your first time considering trying them out, you must be wondering what to expect in dog boarding. Will your dog be okay with it?

Before putting on those shades and your beach OOTD, let's first discuss what dogs do at boarding, what to do before boarding your dog, how boarding a dog works, and, ultimately, what to expect in dog boarding.

dog boarding what you need to prepare

What to Expect in Dog Boarding?

The idea of dog boarding has actually been around for quite some time now. In the 90s, to be exact.

Apart from giving us the best music, icons, and fashion styles, the 90s has also seen a rise in fur parents willing to spend more money to pamper their dogs.

And one way of showing dogs how to have a good time is through boarding facilities made especially for them!

To know what to expect in dog boarding, first, you got to know how it exactly works.

How Does Dog Boarding Work?

Basically, dog boarding is where owners send their pets to temporary lodging for whatever reason.

Think of it as a doggy daycare or a pet hotel. You pay the facility a certain amount of fee to house and feed your dog for a certain amount of time.

Depending on how long you will be away, some dog boarding facilities care for dogs for days or weeks.

Doggy daycare, though, works just like a regular child daycare. Parents drop off their kids (the regular ones or the furry ones!) for a couple of hours a day while they go to work.

And just like any other human hotel, dog boarding facilities or doggy daycares also have different amenities and activities you can check out.

It depends on how you want your dog to be taken care of while you're away.

However, if your dog has special needs medical-wise, you may want to check with your vet if they also offer boarding services.

If it's sick, it's important that it can still get continuous professional attention even without you physically present.

What Do Dogs Do at Boarding Facilities?

Another question you may also be asking is: What do dogs do at boarding facilities?

Lots of playtimes, for sure!

Some facilities have a fixed schedule when they feed the dogs, let them go potty, and socialize with the other furry tenants and staff members.

Some even have special playgrounds where dogs can run around obstacle courses or swimming pools where they can splash away the heat. Talk about keeping them fit and happy!

But just like children who have different temperaments, not all dogs like to socialize with other dogs.

Think of them like kids crying for mommy or daddy in daycare. So it's not their fault that they get anxious!

Good thing that there are dog boarding facilities that cater to the needs of introverted dogs.

The shy types can still have their special play session but mostly with a staff member instead of other dogs.

Whether yours is extroverted or introverted, don't worry about it getting too tired, though. The dogs will still surely have nap times in between their play sessions.


Benefits of Dog Boarding

Apart from the obvious reason that somebody will take care of your pooch while you're away, there are also other benefits to getting your dog boarded once in a while.

  1. They learn to socialize with other dogs. Playtime and exercise combined!
  2. They get the proper nutrition they need by being fed high-quality kibble and wet food.
  3. They are mentally stimulated. They can even learn new tricks, who knows?
  4. They are safe and secured while you're miles away from each other. No doggy breakouts, for sure!
  5. They will be taken care of in case of emergencies (heaven forbid!)

How to Pick the Best Dog Boarding Facility for Your Pooch

The number one thing you should trust in looking for the perfect boarding facility for your dog is your instinct.

Sure, each facility has its own branding, its own style, and its own marketing pitch.

But you know your dog better! You know what it needs and what it will enjoy the most.

Here are the easy steps to know how to pick the best dog boarding facility for your pooch:

1. Ask for Referral

The first step you can take is to ask for a referral.

Ask your vet for his or her recommendation. Or maybe you know someone who's had experience in boarding their dog?

Their firsthand experiences are important to know what to expect when boarding your own fur baby for the first time.

Once you have the initial details of the boarding facility, schedule a visit. It's always best to see it personally with your own two eyes rather than just rely on what's on their website.

2. Ask the Right Questions

Have a look around while asking these questions:

  • Are they certified or a member of any professional organization?
  • What are their requirements for accepting a dog for boarding? Which vaccinations are needed? Do they screen dogs for ticks and fleas?
  • Are the facilities safe and secured for the dogs? Are the sleeping areas comfortable?
  • How many dogs can they accommodate at a time? How many are currently on board?
  • What kind of activities are they gonna have the dogs do? Can they accommodate introverted dogs or those who are not comfortable socializing with other dogs?
  • Are the caretakers trained enough to care for different types of breeds all at once?
  • Is there enough access to clean water? How about the temperature and ventilation?
  • Should you bring your dog's own food, or do they have a good selection of dog food?
  • In case of emergencies, are there trained staff to do pet first-aid? What are their evacuation plans, just in case?
  • Are they open 24/7? Will you be able to call at any hour to check on your dog? (Especially if you're going to be in a different time zone!)
  • How much are the daily/nightly rates? Should you pay prior to boarding your dog or once you pick it up?

I'm sure you still have so many questions of your own—don't be shy and ask away!

Having these questions answered will let you know if this facility can provide anything and everything your dog needs while being away from you.

You can also check out this directory of dog boarding services across the country.


Tips for Boarding Your Dog

Now you have the boarding facility set in mind; the next step would be preparing your dog for boarding—especially if it's going to be both your first time!

Here are some tips on how to get you and your dog ready:

1. Train it to Sleep Separately

Suppose your dog is already used to sleeping by itself, well and good! You already have the tough work cut out for you.

However, if it's used to sleeping with you on the bed (like my dogs!), Then, you may want to start training them to sleep in their own bed or crate where they can't see you.

2. Check with the Vet

Secure your vet's go signal before boarding your dog. It's important that all necessary vaccinations are complete not only to comply with the facility's requirements but to also protect your pooch from any type of disease.

You also have to make sure that there are no parasites (aka ticks, fleas, mites) hitchhiking on your dog's skin.

You wouldn't want your dog to catch some during boarding, right? Surely, the other owners, too.

3. Do a Trial Run

Before D-day, why not do a trial run first? Consider dropping your pooch off for overnight boarding or even just a couple of hours at the doggy daycare.

This way, it'll have a chance to familiarize itself with the new environment and the new people. You'll also get a preview of how your dog will behave while in the boarding facility.

4. Let them Bring Over Familiar Food and Objects

Any familiar toys, blankies, or even their bed will help them get more comfortable sleeping in a new environment. It'll also help them calm down and reduce their separation anxiety.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also let it bring over your shirt to comfort your dog when it misses you.

Also, if the facility doesn't carry the same brand of food or diet your dog is into, just bring some over along with their vitamins and/or medications.

Don't switch up your dog's food with only whatever's available because it might upset their stomach.

Let the staff members know important details like doses and schedules for the vitamins and meds.

5. Drop Them Off Early

It's also important to drop them off at the boarding facility at the earliest time possible. This way, they'll have enough time to adjust once again, play around with friends, and get tired.

If you drop them off near their sleeping time, they might not be able to sleep at one and just cry all night.

6. Keep your Goodbyes Short and Simple

Sure, it's a big thing for the both of you to be away from one another for days for the first time.

But remember that when you're saying goodbye to your dog, try not to make too much fuss about it.

Show happy and excited emotions instead of anxiety. Dogs pick up cues from their human expressions, tone of voice, and actions quite well.

If you act all sad, your dog will get sad, too. But if you act positive and upbeat, they will just be as positive and upbeat as you going into boarding for the first time.

7. Leave your Complete and Updated Contact Information

The last important thing to remember is to leave your complete and updated contact information at the boarding facility.

This is especially important if you are going out of the country and your usual mobile number won't work.

You need them to be able to reach you wherever and whenever something's up.

Also, it's best to leave an emergency contact—maybe another person (a friendly neighbor, friend, or relative) who can go to your dog just in case the need arises. Just make sure they are up for it, of course!

What to Expect After Dog Boarding

You and your dog survived being away from each other for days for the first time. Congratulations!

Now that you're finally reunited, you may notice a couple of changes in your dog. It may seem too hungry, too thirsty, too clingy, or too sleepy. Don't worry, it's going to be fine.

Other owners observed the same thing in their dogs who had also just gotten home from boarding.

They worry that the boarding facility didn't feed or let the dogs drink enough water because of how hungry and thirsty they are after getting home.

But experts say this could only be because they are trying to readjust to their home life again.

They get so excited upon seeing you that they'll probably get diarrhea or vomit, especially if they ingest water or food too quickly.

Only give them food after their excess energy settles down, or at least just give them ice cubes for the time being.

If they seem too sleepy, let them rest for a while. Maybe they just got too tired from all that playing and goofing around while boarding!

Once they've recovered, try to go back again to your usual routine before. This will help your dog readjust faster and re-establish familiarity and a sense of security.

Dog at an agility training course in a dog boarding facility

What to Expect in Dog Boarding — Summary

I hope this article helps you know what to expect in dog boarding for the first time.

This only covers the general idea of what dogs do at boarding. It still depends on the program being offered at each boarding facility.

I also hope the tips on what to do before boarding your dog help you both prepare for this moment.

Just remember to enjoy your trip and not worry too much. Your dog will also surely enjoy its time meeting newfound friends while its best friend (a.k.a. you) is away for a while.

READ NEXT: The 25 Best Dog Boarding Services in San Diego, CA

Jossana started as a TV writer in 2017, until her love for dogs gets the best of her and started writing about them instead for Top Dog Tips. Jossana is the proud mama to Xavier and to mixed-breed dogs Zorro, Budak, Lucky, and Lily, who she loves spoiling with toys and treats.