It is always wonderful when you can bring your dog with you on the road, but sometimes you have to travel without them, and that usually means leaving your faithful canine friend at a kennel.
However, not all boarding services are created equal – and choosing a low-quality or inexperienced kennel operator to take care of your pup can expose them to a host of doggie dangers. Your dog is always looking out for your best interests – after all, no one can love like a dog can – so shouldn’t you do all you can to protect him or her from potential behavioral and health problems that can result from unsatisfactory boarding conditions?
Here is a quick list of some of the dangers your dog could be exposed to in a kennel, and what you can do to protect your pup from them:
- Your dog might run away from the kennel. This is not common, but it can happen at any boarding service, regardless of how well your animal is treated, because of the stress of separation anxiety. This shouldn’t stop you from using a boarding service, so long as they are a quality operation with plenty of experience, because it sometimes takes even extraordinarily well-adjusted dogs a bit of time to adapt to the change in environment.
You need to be sure that if your pup is going to try his or her hand at a Houdini-like escape, the kennel has measures in place to keep them secure. Ask lots of questions when you are interviewing kennels to find the right place for your canine friend, and make sure that your dog’s tags are fully up-to-date before you leave on your business trip or vacation in case the worst happens.
- Your dog might experience some psychological stress. If you have a dog that stays primarily indoors, they may grow inordinately anxious when they arrive at the kennel. Nothing they see, hear or smell is familiar to them, and they can respond negatively to this by refusing to eat or play with other dogs. This usually clears up quickly, provided the kennel knows what they are doing (experienced boarding services are used to this and know how to coax dogs out of their anxious state) but in extreme cases, your dog can suffer lasting effects from the stress. These can include a future propensity for anxiety (potentially making snapping or biting more likely once you pick them up,) additional drooling, paw sweat or fur shedding, or a new tendency to start marking things in the house with urine, undoing all that hard work you did to potty train them when they were puppies.
To counteract this, make sure you choose a reputable, accredited kennel, and ask them questions about how they handle dogs that get stressed easily.
- Your dog may contract an illness. Most dogs don’t spend large amounts of time around lots of other dogs – they are exposed perhaps once or twice a week at most at a dog park – so their immune systems are sometimes unprepared for the level of social (and microbial) interaction they’ll encounter at a kennel. There is an illness called “kennel cough” that afflicts dogs at boarding services because they are in such close quarters, and if the staff are not keeping a watchful, protective eye on your pup (and others that might show symptoms) then all of the animals at that particular facility are at risk. On top of kennel cough, dogs carry microorganisms around in their fur that can sicken them if their immune systems drop. When your dog is undergoing the stress of separation, they do experience a reduction in their immune function, so they run the risk of getting sick even if they are not exposed to kennel cough.
Ensure that the kennel you’ve chosen is hygienic and has policies in place to prevent kennel cough and other sicknesses. It’s also important to ensure that your dog will have plenty of room in his or her kennel, so they don’t experience extra stress that could sicken them. Lastly, ensure that your dog’s immunizations are completely up-to-date before dropping him or her off with a boarding service.