Boarding Kennel Stress: Tips for boarding an anxious/nervy dog

Tips for anxious/nervy dogs
So you have an anxious/nervy dog who needs to go into a dog boarding facility, what do you do?
Leave it to the last minute and expect your dog to be ok. Yes well, you can do that. It still suprises me how many owners do, even though, they know their dog displays this behaviour.

Staying in a boarding kennels can be stressful for any dog but even more so for dog who is anxious and nervy. The wellbeing of your dog should be your main concern, so in the case of anxious, nervy dogs, dogs who need more space or dogs who have separation issues, a few visits/stays maybe required. As they need more time to adjust. Their experiences have to be good ones, depending on the dog.

Usually, the 1st visit with me entails, the owner and their dog dropping by to say hi, so their dog can meet me and we can get to know each other. We may play ball or go for a walk and in most cases I don’t even introduce the dog to the kennels.

The 2nd visit, the dog is left with me for about hour, we play or go for a walk, then I introduce the dog to the kennels. This maybe just a walk around or walk in and walk out of a kennel, depends on the dog. The 3rd visit could be a day stay or day night stay, again it depends on the dog.

I have personally found it can take between 1-3 weeks for them to become comfortable and happy in a kennel environment. I achieve very good results but it does take time, there are no quick fixes.

As with anything, there are dogs who just can’t hack a boarding kennel environment. If your dog is one of these, then you may have to look at a pet feeding service or a house sitter.

Do your homework, well in advance, visit facilities, talk to the kennel owner, are they knowledgeable and friendly do they understand dogs and dog behaviour. Just because they run a kennel doesn’t mean they are knowledgeable in all facets of dog behaviour. Your dogs welfare should be their main concern.

Ask if the kennel owner is experienced in handling anxious/nervy dogs and how do they go about introducing them to a kennel environment. Some kennels may not take them because they are not set up to do so. Also certain breeds of dogs, may not be welcome.

The best advice I can give is go with your gut, and also read “Boarding Kennel Stress in Dogs: Things owners need to know”


9 responses to “Boarding Kennel Stress: Tips for boarding an anxious/nervy dog

  1. Flora Poste

    June 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

    You clearly take the time to get to know the dog. I think that is the key as well: Charley, my dog, is a people dog and not a dog-dog, so to speak. She is not afraid of other dogs but likes to work with people. At my new kennel they understood that and found out that she very comfortable if she can ‘just hang around’ with the staff. She even attends meetings and sits in at the dog classes and ‘meet and greet’ the customers at the grooming salon. I am so lucky to have this place! Your customers are lucky with you! Johanna

    • zerobitesdogtraining

      June 13, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Hi Johanna,

      Thank you for your nice comments.
      I think its very important to get to know the dogs, makes their time with me more enjoyable and less stressful. Your dog Charley sounds like she is a bit of a character, I bet everyone loves her, I am really glad to hear you have found a great kennel, with staff who understand her. Elayne.

  2. Sergio Freddson

    March 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I think you’re right: you just have to be patient with some dogs. While it would be nice if they would acclimate faster to the kennel environment, some just can’t seem to make the transition quickly. Being patient makes the process easier for everyone though. Thanks for sharing your tips and information with us!

  3. Abethany

    June 2, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Last weekend we took our dog to the kennels, he has been before but not for a while so on my part I should have taken him to visit, but as we arrived at the reception my dog began to howl (a scared howl) that he’s never done before, if you get what I mean, I tried to sit with my dog and the last in the kennels, but he just did not want to go near her, the last time he was ok. Or so I thought, if I had another option and wasn’t going somewhere I needed to go I would have turned around and gone home, thanks god it was only one night and I got straight home, but they told me when I called he has calmed but he would not let many of the staff near him ( he’s normally a very playful cuddly dog with anyone) he loves attention, so this shocked me, he also smelt really bad of urine, and my partner had to go down into the kennel area to get him out as soon as he sore him he was fine, but it broke my heart. He’s not going back there, I will hopefully find another kennel which is smaller and not as many staff. But do you have any ideas why he was like this with the staff but isn’t with other people normally, he has stayed at family and friends houses before and settled. So it really upset me, do you think he’s remembered someone or something from previous visit, it has put me of ever leaving him,

    • Zerobites Dog Training

      June 4, 2015 at 3:31 am

      Hi there, Its hard to say whether he had a bad experience on his prior visit, although, it certainly maybe the case from the behaviour he exhibited.
      Staying with family and friends is totally different than staying at a boarding kennel. He knows your family and friends, at a kennel, its a different environment, different smells, possibly dogs barking, different routine and food. There are so many variables. Try and find a smaller kennel, where there are less dogs, and introduce him to the kennel over a period of time. He has to have good experiences. Even if you are not going away, an occasional day/night stay may help. You should ask first if they handle anxious dogs and what do they do, to make the dogs feel comfortable. if that doesn’t work you may need to look at hiring a pet sitter, if you go away again. I hope everything works for you and your dog.
      Best regards,

  4. Rondi

    June 17, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I so appreciate the time you take building up to a kennel stay! I don’t hear that too often. There is a new small kennel in town. They walk the dogs on their property 3-4 times a day. I want to follow your recommendations for acclimating to their kennel stay i.e., an hour, part of a day etc. How do you charge for your time when, initially, the client comes by for very short visits and builds from there? I have two dogs, one 30 lb and the other 8 lbs. One barks causing the other one to bark. I was going to board them together in same kennel, but would it be wiser to kennel separately? They’d still hear each other, so don’t know if it would make a difference. Thank you. Rondi🐕

    • Zerobites Dog Training

      June 18, 2016 at 7:36 am

      Hi there Rondi, thank you very much, its all about having happy dogs, so they have a good experience. Makes life easier for all. You could try kennelling them separately and see how they go. If they are together all the time at home they may whinge and bark more. Really hard to say. As for my time, initially I charge by the hour. So if client comes with their dog for say, 30 minutes, half the hourly rate etc. Then build up from there. Hope all goes well for you and your dogs, your new kennel in town sounds really good. Elayne

  5. Roy Odell

    March 31, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    This article was helpful, and I will try. My dog was boarded only for the 2nd time in 7 mos. Last night. He freakeked and chewed apart his plastic feeding bowls. He is a beagle rescue with separation anxiety issues at home also. However when I leave him at home for an hour( my limit right now) he is stressed but non- destructive. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people in boarding, plus these dogs are left alone overnight for 10-12 hours.
    Thank you for your article. At least I’m not the only dog owner alone with this problem. Roy


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