Home Away from Home: Acclimating Your Dog to Boarding Kennel Life

No dog parent enjoys the idea of leaving their canine friend in boarding kennels.  Unfortunately, however, it can sometimes be a necessary evil.  Not everybody has family members willing to take on their pooch while they're away – and even those who do may perhaps encounter scheduling conflicts sometimes.  As such, even if you wouldn't normally put your dog into a kennel, it's important to know how best to handle the situation when it does become necessary.  That way, both you and your dog will be able to endure the situation with the minimum amount of stress possible.  Here's how:

Favourite Toys

It's absolutely imperative that your dog's favourite toys go to the kennels with them.  As such, any kennel that doesn't allow this should not be considered.  For many dogs, their toys are like children's comfort blankets or stuffed animals; they're a great source of comfort.  Plus, it will be something recognisable in a completely new environment – something which belongs to your dog.  This may help them to feel in control of the situation, even though they are out of their comfort zone.


Your dog's sense of smell is incredible, and it's one of the key senses they use to investigate and understand the world.  As such, sending them along to the kennels with some of your scent may help them to settle in there with a little piece of home.  The best way to do this is to donate an item of clothing to them for the period of their stay.  However, don't choose something freshly-washed; choose something you've already worn for a decent amount of time such as a sweater or scarf.  That way, the fabric will have had time to pick up your scent, and may hold it for longer.  Having it around may significantly comfort your dog.


The kennel is likely to give out their own treats every now and again.  If possible, though, you should send your dog along with a bag of the same treats you use at home.  They may associate the taste with home or lead them to think more warmly of the kennel helpers.

Essentially, it's about recreating as much of the sensory experience of 'home' as you can.  Of course, your dog will know they aren't home, and they will be elated to return there – but at least having some slice of home to relate to in that new and strange space, even just on a sensory level, will very much help them to fit in there.  Finally, just make sure you don't appear upset when you drop your pooch off.  Dogs take their emotional cues from their owners, and if they get the idea that something's wrong, it will be even harder for them to settle.  Good luck!