With all of the demands and commitments that you have, there may be a time when you must board your dog in a kennel. For your dog, this situation can be a great source of anxiety and depression. Your dog will be in a totally new place with unfamiliar people, sounds, smells, and other dogs that are perfect strangers. In order to help your dog cope with all of this stress, you can remind him of his life with you and his home. Here are some specific things you can do to remind your dog of home when you must board him in a kennel:
Bring Your Dog's Toys: When you drop off your dog at the kennel, bring a few of your dog's toys and leave them in his kennel run near his bed. Do not wash or clean his toys but allow them to retain the smells that are usually on them when he is at home. Do not give your dog new toys as that can only add to the strangeness of being away from home.
Bring Your Dog's Bed: Bring your dog's regular bed to the kennel and place it on top of the kennel bed where he will be sleeping. Do not clean or alter his bed in any way, but just bring it as it is. By setting it on top of the provided kennel bed, you will be able to mask any foreign smells that your dog can detect in the new bed. If your dog has his own blanket at home, bring it to the kennel too and lay it on his bed. All of these familiar things will remind your dog of home.
Bring One of Your T-shirts: Put one of your unwashed t-shirts on your dog's bed in the kennel. This will have your scent on it and remind him of you while he is away from home. The familiarity of your t-shirt will calm him and give him hope that you will be coming back for him soon.
Bring Your Dog's Usual Food: Bring a supply of your dog's usual food to the kennel when you drop him off. Also, bring your dog's food and water bowls and set them in his kennel run where he will be fed. Do not wash his bowls, but just wipe them out before you bring them to the kennel. If your dog has dog treats at home, bring them along too and ask the kennel staff to give him a treat once or twice a day while you are away.
Introduce Your Dog to the Kennel Staff: When you bring your dog to the kennel, discuss your dog's temperament, personality, and usual activities with the kennel staff. Stay with your dog for a while and play with him in the presence of the kennel staff members. Ask the kennel staff to play with your dog while you are away and show them how you usually play with your dog. Be completely relaxed and calm while you are talking to the kennel staff so that your dog can see that you approve of the staff and are friends with them. This will help your dog to trust them when you are not there.
When you drop off your dog, reassure him that you will be coming back for him soon. Although he might not understand your exact words, he will be able to feel your spirit and know that you are giving him love and reassuring him. While your dog is getting acquainted with this new facility, quietly leave without a formal goodbye or allowing your dog to see you leave. Call the kennel every few days to see how your dog is doing and answer any questions or concerns that the kennel staff may have. Before too long, you will return and retrieve your dog and take him home where he truly wants to be.