Even steady dogs can become stressed when confronted by new surroundings, change of diet and routine. Let alone being put into a kennel they are unfamiliar with, surrounded by strange smells and other dogs, some of which, maybe barking.
Often, owners don’t realize or it never occurs to them, that their dog may become stressed under these conditions, especially, if signs of stress aren’t noticed in their home environment or when they are out and about. A boarding kennel environment can be unique to a nervy, fearful, anxious or dog aggressive dogs.
Many kennels these days ask if your dog has been in kennels before, if not day/night stays are recommended, prior to boarding. So start conditioning your dog early, be proactive, even if you are not going away, introduce your dog to a boarding kennel environment.
- Signs of kennel stress can manifest in dogs in many ways:
Aggression – often due to fear, dog cannot be handled by anyone other than the owner (may need a few short visits so your dog gets used to being handled by someone else)
Excessive barking & whining – it’s a sign the dog is distressed and it also very unsettling for the other dogs
Loss of appetite – not eating, due to stress and/or change of diet. Change of diet, may also cause vomiting and diarrhea
Constant licking of the lips – dogs do that to try to calm themselves down
What you the owner can do to make your dog’s stay less stressful and more enjoyable:
Condition your dog to going into kennels, day stays at a boarding kennel are a good way of getting your dog used to it. If you have a kennel and run at home or some other form of containment, such as a garage, small bedroom or a dog crate, use it.
If you are a multi dog household make sure your dogs are independent of each other and can cope on their own. Separate kenneling or confinement goes along way, in helping with that. Doesn’t mean that they can’t hangout together, just means they are ok with being alone. The same goes for dogs who are too attached to their owner, they too need to be made independent.
Visit facilities, talk to the kennel owner, are they knowledgeable and friendly do they understand dogs and dog behavior. Chances are they are dog people themselves and professional at that.
If you have a nervy, anxious or dog aggressive dog or a dog who just needs space. Ask if the kennel owner is experienced in handling these types of dogs and can accommodate them. Introducing these dogs to kennels may take a bit more time on the part of you the owner and the boarding kennel owner. Some kennels may not take them because they are not set up to do so. Also certain breeds of dogs, may not be welcome.
Ask how your dog will be exercised, some kennels walk the dogs, others let them out to run in large compounds with other dogs. If they are let out to run with other dogs, ask if they are supervised in other words is someone physically present, while the dogs are being exercised. Even friendly dogs can fall out and a dogfight may ensue, so it is important that dogs are supervised, at all times.