By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 04/09/2021, edited: 10/05/2022
Ever returned home from a quick errand to find your favorite shoes destroyed, your expensive couch pillows shredded, and your dog smiling amidst the carnage? Chances are your pup has separation anxiety.
This condition causes dogs to act out whenever they're separated from their humans. Destructive chewing, excessive barking, attempting to escape — these are common behaviors in dogs with separation anxiety.
If you can't leave Lassie home alone for 20 minutes, you're probably wondering how to keep them safe when you go out of town. Boarding a dog with separation anxiety requires careful planning. But as long as you follow the advice in this guide and do some research of your own, your dog's boarding experience will be smooth sailing!
We recommend working through this list well in advance of your departure date. Leave yourself plenty of time to choose the right option for your woofer and make alternative arrangements if something falls through last minute. Bear in mind that many dog boarding facilities fill up quickly during peak periods, so start the process as soon as possible.
Kennels, in-home dog boarding, 5-star pet resorts — the "pawssibilities" for overnight pet care are endless. Take your time exploring all the options available to you.
Kennels may not be the best choice for dogs with separation anxiety. Because many kennels care for dozens of dogs at a time, your pup may have to play by the facility's rules instead of sticking to their usual routine. Here are a few things that can trigger or worsen your dog's separation anxiety in a kennel environment:
changes to your dog's diet or daily routine
lots of noise and activity
the presence of unfamiliar dogs and people
In-home boarding might be preferable to a kennel. This option lets your dog stay in a boarder's home. If you're considering in-home boarding, remember honest communication is key. Tell the boarder your dog has separation anxiety. If the boarder needs to leave at any point, they won't want to return home to find their living room destroyed.
Luxury hotels for dogs are a "grrreat" way to pamper your pup. Some pet resorts offer 24/7 video monitoring, private rooms with flat-screen TVs and elevated beds, and even doggy spas. Of course, this premium option comes at a premium price. (Expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $250 per night!)
Alternatively, hiring a local dog sitter might be the best option for dogs with severe separation anxiety. Some dog sitters drop in a few times a day for meals, walks, and playtime. Dog sitters on the Wag! platform stay overnight, providing unlimited cuddles, play sessions, and photo/video updates — all on your dog's home turf!
Once you know which dog boarding options are available near you, it's time to dig in and read the fine print. (We know — it's not a fun task, but it helps ensure your dog's comfort and your peace of mind.)
The best places to start are the facility's website and social media pages. Most websites will list the rules, fees, and policies. Online reviews from other pet parents will also give you a better idea of the standard of care.
Here are a few things to look for:
standard nightly rates
holiday and multi-dog rates
add-on charges for medication, walks, playtime, etc.
If you can't find something, don't be afraid to ask.
Asking questions is an important part of the vetting process. We encourage you to spend some time brainstorming relevant questions for your dog's needs. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Do you have any experience working with dogs with separation anxiety?
Are you able to follow my dog's daily routine to help keep them comfortable?
Am I allowed to bring my dog's usual food, toys, bedding, etc.?
What exercise options are available for my dog? (fenced-in area, agility equipment, etc.)
Will you send me updates on my dog's behavior throughout their stay?
Your boarder will likely have some questions for you, too, like:
Which behaviors does your dog exhibit when anxious (aggression, destructive chewing, etc.)?
How do you soothe your dog when they're anxious?
How can we contact you in case of an emergency or problem?
Checking out the boarder's facility or home before your trip is essential for preventing destructive behaviors. If you're boarding with a kennel or pet resort, ask for a full tour of the accommodation and amenities. If you're boarding in-home, schedule a meet-and-greet with your boarder.
Bring your dog along so the boarder can interact with them and get a feel for their temperament. When the big day comes, your dog will be somewhat familiar with the new person and environment. We recommend visiting your boarder a few days before you depart so the experience is fresh in your dog's mind.
Not only can crate training calm a dog with separation anxiety, but it's also essential if you're planning to board your dog at a kennel or similar facility. If your dog has never stayed in a crate before, they won't take too kindly to their kennel.
Need a helping paw with training? Book a dog trainer near you for a one-on-one refresher course in the comfort of your own home.
No matter which dog boarding option you choose, don't forget to send your dog with their favorite comfort items. These might include:
food and drink bowls
blankets and bedding
a shirt or pillow that smells like you
Boarding a dog with separation anxiety, even for just one night, isn't exactly a walk in the dog park. But as long as you leave yourself ample time to prepare and find your pup's "pawfect" match, your dog might not even notice you're gone!
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