How to Prepare Your Dog for Their First Boarding Kennel Stay


Boarding your dog for the first time can cause anxiety for both you and your furry friend. However, taking some time to properly prepare your dog beforehand can help ensure their boarding stay is a positive experience. This article provides tips to help you get your dog ready for their first time at a boarding kennel.

I’ll cover how to ease your dog’s anxiety about boarding, what items to bring from home, how to choose the best dog boarding facility, and key things to do leading up to and during drop-off day.
Follow these boarding preparation tips to give your dog the best chance at an enjoyable boarding stay.

Why Should You Prepare Your Dog for Boarding?

Boarding a dog can be stressful for pets who are experiencing their first time in a kennel environment away from home. Even dogs who enjoy visiting places like dog parks or pet stores can feel anxious when staying overnight without their family.

Preparing your dog beforehand helps them mentally and physically adapt to the new environment, routines, and potential doggie roommates. This leads to lower stress levels and a more peaceful stay. It also gives you peace of mind knowing you helped ease the transition.

How Can You Ease Your Dog’s Boarding Anxiety?

Some key things you can do to help ease your dog’s first boarding anxiety include:

Visit the Boarding Kennel in Advance

Tour the boarding facility so your dog can experience the environment before their multi-day stay. Meeting staff and inspecting areas like outdoor play spaces and boarding rooms helps them gain familiarity.

Create a Calm Home Environment Before Drop-Off

In the days and weeks before taking your dog to board, try to keep a calm, consistent schedule at home. Stick to their normal feeding times, walk schedule, playtime, etc. This helps avoid disrupting routines right before the boarding stay.

Bring Familiar Items from Home

Provide the boarding kennel with your dog’s regular food, treats, toys, bed, etc. Having familiar, comforting items from home helps lower stress.

Start Dog Boarding when Young

If possible, boarding a dog for the first time when they are a puppy typically causes less trauma and anxiety than waiting until mature age. Early positive boarding exposures help prevent future boarding issues.

What Should You Pack for Your Dog’s First Boarding Stay?

When preparing your dog for boarding, be sure to pack:

  • Their regular food – Avoid changing food types/flavors right before or during boarding to prevent GI issues
  • Frequency and quantity per feeding – Provide detailed instructions
  • Treats – Bring their favorite treats or chews to serve as comfort items
  • Medications – Include dosages and schedules as needed
  • Vaccination records – Most kennels require guests to have current vaccines
  • Toys and bedding – Wash bedding beforehand for cleanliness
  • Collar + leash – Must include ID and license tags
  • Grooming supplies – Include brushes, shampoo, etc. if desired while boarding

Also leave your veterinarian’s phone number and emergency pet hospital contacts.

How to Pick the Best Boarding Kennel for Your Dog

Choosing the right boarding kennel can influence your dog’s stress levels and comfort during their stay. Consider these factors when selecting a kennel:

Reputation and Credibility

Read reviews of local kennels to ensure other pet owners report positive experiences. Check ratings, complaints, and visits from associations.

Safety and Cleanliness

Tour the kennel to personally assess the facility. Evaluate play areas, lodgings, ventilation, cleanliness, safety protocols, etc. Kennels should require all boarding dogs be vaccinated.


Avoid overcrowded facilities—some boarding dogs tolerate larger groups while more anxious dogs fare better in smaller spaces. Inquire about average boarding headcounts.

Staff Experience

The best kennels have staff seasoned in observing dog behavior and managing groups. They should inform you of procedures should issues arise with your dog.


Some kennels provide amenities like obedience training refreshers, veterinary visits, grooming, specialized diets, and 1-on-1 playtimes for proper socialization.

Forget Kennels, Use WoofConnect for Home Boarding

If traditional boarding kennels make you or your dog anxious, consider the WoofConnect dog boarding app. WoofConnect provides an alternative to kennel boarding by pairing dog owners with local sitters willing to host dogs in their homes.

The service matches your dog with sitters owning similar breeds and ages for better compatibility. This allows your dog to stay in a warm, welcoming home environment versus a stressful kennel. WoofConnect dog hosts provide tailored, loving care catered to your dog’s needs. The home setting and compatible pairing helps shy dogs or those new to boarding ease into stays away from home.

What to Do on Drop-Off Day

Increase chances for boarding success by taking these steps the day you drop off your dog:

  • Take a long walk beforehand – Avoid sending overexcited energy with your dog into their stay
  • Feed a meal early in the day – Helps avoid transition GI issues
  • Time the drop-off – When scheduling, find out the kennel’s least hectic check-in time
  • Provide extra exercise and playtime on the drop-off day to tire them
  • Pack your dog’s overnight essentials in one bag for simplicity
  • Remain calm and assertive – they sense emotions! Anxiety rubs off.
  • Refrain from overly-emotional prolonged goodbyes – Be matter of fact and reassuring

Summary – Preparing Your Dog Helps Boarding Success

Booking your dog’s first-ever boarding stay may feel worrying, but taking preparative steps eases the process for everyone involved—both human and dog!

By following the tips above:

  • Easing anxiety before boarding
  • Carefully selecting a boarding facility
  • Packing essentials from home
  • Providing exercise/playtime day-of
  • Keeping goodbyes lowkey

You help lower your dog’s stress during this new adventure of boarding away from their family. A little prep goes a long way towards creating a positive experience your dog will be excited to repeat in the future!