The Ultimate Checklist For Boarding Your Dog While You’re Away


I don’t know about you but I love taking my dogs when I’m traveling. Unfortunately, not all of my travelling has allowed me to take them and I’ve had to use dog sitters and boarding kennels. Both options have pros and cons but, if you are boarding your dog, we all want a smooth stay. Which is why these checklists are so important. 

Checklist for Your Boarding Kennel

Before you start gathering all your supplies for the stay, take the time to check out a kennel. Most people use word of mouth (I know I have) but don’t rely simply on this advice. Instead, go through this checklist with your potential boarding kennel and visit them before you board.

One: What is the Staff Like?

First, watch the interactions the staff has with the animals. Are they friendly? Do they treat them respectfully? You want a boarding facility where the staff are happy and enjoy the work.

Two: What are the Boarded Dogs Like?

While you will see some dogs who don’t take being boarded well when you visit, you want to make sure the majority of the dogs are relaxed or sleeping. They should not be overly anxious.

Three: What are the Facilities Like?

Before you commit to leaving your dog at the boarding kennel, here is a quick checklist to go through when you visit:

  • They have individual private kennels for every dog.
  • Beds are raised from the ground and easy to clean; preferably trampoline beds or similar.
  • Outdoor areas have shaded spots where the dogs can socialize.
  • Large indoor areas for socialization in the event of rain.
  • Every area has places for dogs to rest, whether they are socializing or not.
  • Clean facilities free of urine and feces.

If the boarding kennel will not allow you to tour the facilities, choose a different one.

Checklist for Supplies

Once you have your boarding facility selected, it is time to put together a suitcase for your dog. This will be all the items that your dog will need during his stay.

Don’t assume it is as simple as a leash and collar; your dog will require more. Also, check with that staff for suggestions of supplies so you know exactly what to bring.

  • Bedding: While boarding kennels provide a bed, your dog will feel more comfortable with his own bedding.
  • Food: All kennels require you to bring your own dog food. This helps prevent stomach upset. As a handy tip, tape feeding instructions right to the bag or container you bring.
  • Toys: Bring two or three different toys for your dog, including one that can stay in the kennel with him and a few they can use for playtime.
  • Food and Water Bowls: This is optional but I find it makes the atmosphere more like home when the dog has his usual bowls.
  • Leash and Collar: Again, the kennel may have recommendations for the types of leashes and collars they prefer. Usually, his regular leash and collar will do.

It may not seem like much but having all the supplies ready and at the boarding kennel, will ensure a better stay for your pet.

Checklist for Boarding

You may feel that we have everything we need for boarding your dog. The answer is yes and no. Yes, you have the boarding facility. Yes, you have the supplies. However, there are a few more things you need to check off your list.

One: Contact Information

Kennels will often give you a sheet with all of the contact information on it. I recommend that you make a sheet as well. Things to include are:

  • Nearest pet emergency clinic information
  • Your dog’s veterinarian information
  • Your cell phone number, home phone number, and the number of the place you are staying.
  • The address where you are staying as well as your home address.
  • Two emergency contacts with alternate numbers for them to be reached, along with their addresses.

Two: Veterinarian Records

Most boarding kennels have a number of vaccinations that are necessary for them to accept boarders and will need the record of them. While they may not need a full vet record, it is good to give them one, especially if your dog has special health concerns or needs.

Vaccinations that your dog will need are:

  • Bordetella
  • DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus)
  • Rabies

Three: Medication Instructions

Whether your dog receives medication, supplements or has to have treatments, you should have instructions for each. Don’t drop off the medication and expect staff to read the labels.

Instead, give a full written instruction on how the medication is given, how often it is given, and the usual time it is given.

Once you have everything on your list checked off, your dog is ready for his stay at the boarding kennel. It may break your heart to leave him, but rest assured, he will be well cared for. In addition, you’ll be able to look forward to the excitement of seeing him after your trip.