Preparing your Dog for Boarding

Sending your dog to the pet sitter while you’re away can be an exciting pup-cation for her. Communication and preparation are the keys to a successful, fun, and safe experience for your dog. You can help this process by sharing as much information as possible about your pet with your sitter before the stay starts, including tips on how to cheer up your dog—sometimes something as simple as playing fetch in the yard is all it takes to make the blues go away.

In addition to communicating well with your sitter, here are some additional steps you can take to prepare for dog boarding:

Getting Your Dog Ready for Boarding

Vaccinate Your Dog


All reputable boarding facilities will require your dog to be up to date on her vaccinations before staying the night. Some of these will include rabies, distemper, bordetella (kennel cough), and occasionally canine influenza. Call ahead of time to find out which vaccines they need so you can get your pup in to the veterinarian with plenty of time to spare. Ask your dog’s veterinarian if your pet is due for any shots no later than 2 weeks before boarding time. Have a copy of your dog’s veterinary records with you to show the kennel that all vaccinations are current.

A great way to get your pup’s vaccinations updated i through mobile clinic, VIP Pet Care.

Update Flea & Tick Medicine:

Get your dog up to date on he flea and tick prevention before dropping her off. Most sitters and boarders will require this so don’t let it come as a surprise. You’ll also want to check into heartworm prevention, especially if your dog will be outside during her stay.

Dog Feeding

Prepare Dog Food:

You don’t want to change your dog’s diet when she goes to the kennel. Pack bags of food portioned for each meal to make it easier. If she has any treats feel free to pack those too with detailed instructions on how much she receives each day. If your dog takes vitamins or medication, make sure to provide the exact schedule for administering those as well.

Even though you discussed all of this during the meet and greet, providing your sitter with a little note at drop-off ensures everyone is on the same page about what your dog needs daily.


Ensure ID and Tags Up-to-Date:

 This is a smart rule to follow even in your own home, but especially before dropping your pet at your sitter’s house. Make sure your dog’s collar is safely secured around his neck and includes an ID tag with his name and current emergency contact information. If your dog has a microchip make sure your sitter is aware of it, and that the information on file is up to date.


Complete Forms & Profile Info:

Go through all of the paperwork from your sitter, and fill everything out. Make sure you include contact information, so they can reach you if any problems or concerns come up. You should also let them know the name and number of your veterinarian in case of an emergency.

Also, always make sure to inform your pet sitter of any medical history that might be important to know about, even if your pet isn’t currently sick.  What’s normal for one dog might be a big deal for another, so noting any chronic lameness, history of vomiting or diarrhea, or any other ongoing symptoms that are common for your dog to experience occasionally will let your sitter know what to look out for.  Similarly, if your dog has a history of any behavioral issues or experiences separation anxiety, talk to your dog’s caregiver about her symptoms. Be sure your dog won’t be left alone for long periods, or at all if the separation anxiety is intense.

If you are staying with us, you can complete all forms and profile information on your client portal.

Pack Comfort Items:

Pack a bag of goodies for your pet. Just because your dog is away from home doesn’t mean he needs to miss out on the things he loves most. Send along a bag filled with his favorite toys, yummy treats, and a comfy pet bed or blanket to make your dog feel comfortable at the sitter’s house.

 Send your dog with familiar items.

Be certain your dog’s bed stays with your dog while you’re away. The bed will smell like you and your home and make him more comfortable. Other comforting items include:

  • Your dog’s usual food and treats

  • One of your shirts or a pair of your socks

  • A special blanket. Purchase a dog-specific blanket about a week before you leave if you don’t have one already so it can pick up all the scents of home. Burrowing is a comforting action for many dogs.

 Provide your dog with distractions.

Choose a few new chews and toys like a KONG or other treat-dispensing toy, or a naturally-shed antler, to give your dog on the day of departure. Novelty will keep your dog more interested.


It’s important for your pup to be socialized so she’ll get along well with the other tenants at the boarding facility. Take her to the dog park and let her meet and greet other pups. Otherwise, dropping her off at a kennel when she’s unaccustomed to being with other dogs can be both stressful and dangerous. The friendlier she is the better she’ll be able to handle the situation and all the barking.

Stay calm when dropping your dog off

When it’s time to drop your dog off, don’t make a big fuss. This can end up making your dog more upset about being left at the kennel while you leave. Instead, stay calm and happy when dropping your dog off at the kennel and saying goodbye. This can help your dog feel more relaxed while being in new surroundings.

Finally, if you’re unsure about how well your pet will do while you’re away, be sure to ask your sitter at the end of his stay about how well he has done. If they seem concerned about specific areas of your pet’s behavior, you can always address them with training.


Dog with Tags

Download Checklist: Preparing for your Pet Sitter

Download our FREE PDF checklist on how to prepare your dog for dog boarding here: