Preparing Your Pet for Their First-Ever Boarding Stay: Tips for a Positive Experience

Planning a trip and need to leave your beloved pet behind? Boarding facilities can provide a safe and comfortable environment for your furry friend while you’re away. However, for pets experiencing their first-ever boarding stay, the unfamiliar surroundings and separation from their owners can be stressful. 

Pet Boarding Preparation

Boarding facilities exist to provide your pets with a safe, comfortable environment while you’re away. Follow these essential tips to ensure your pet’s first stay at a boarding facility is positive.

Boarding For Pets: A Home Away From Home

Choosing a suitable boarding facility is the first step in ensuring a positive experience for your pet. Do your research, read reviews, and ask friends for recommendations. Also, look for certifications such as the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) to ensure they maintain a high standard of care. For more details about certifications, visit the PCSA website. 

Schedule a Pre-Boarding Visit

Before your pet’s actual stay, schedule a pre-boarding visit to the facility. This lets your pet become familiar with the surroundings, meet the staff, and explore the boarding area. It helps ease their anxiety and allows them to address concerns or specific care instructions with the facility staff.

Update Vaccinations and Medications

Ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, as most boarding facilities require proof of current vaccinations. Talk to your veterinarian about any additional preventive measures or medications that may be necessary, such as flea and tick prevention or anxiety-relieving medications.

Pack Familiar Comfort Items

Bring your pet’s favorite toys, blankets, or bedding to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort during their stay. These familiar items can help reduce anxiety and secure the new environment.

Provide Detailed Care Instructions

Prepare a written document outlining your pet’s daily routine, feeding schedule, medication instructions (if applicable), and any specific preferences or dietary restrictions. Providing this information to the boarding facility ensures that your pet’s needs are met as closely as possible.

Socialization and Pampering

If your pet needs socialization, mental stimulation, or exercise during their stay, consider looking for a boarding facility with a doggy daycare in your area. This will allow your pet to meet new playmates while also providing you with the convenience of having grooming services in the exact location.

Schedule a grooming appointment before your pet’s stay to keep them clean and comfortable. A groomed pet will be more comfortable and feel better about their environment, making their boarding experience more enjoyable.

Get Your Pet Examined

It’s essential to ensure your pet is in good health before they stay at a boarding facility. Schedule a cat wellness exam or a dog wellness visit with your veterinarian to ensure all vaccinations are up-to-date and your pet is free of illnesses or parasites that could spread to other animals.

At the exam, ask your vet about preventive measures to keep your pet healthy, such as flea and tick treatments, and inquire about any special dietary or medical needs they may have.

Make a Smooth Transition

Pets, like humans, can experience separation anxiety. Help your pet feel more at ease during their boarding stay by starting with short visits. This will let them adjust to the environment gradually.

Bring familiar items such as blankets, toys, or a bed that smells like home to help your pet feel more comfortable while away from you. Also, remember to convey special instructions to the boarding staff, such as feeding schedules, medication, and emergency contact information.

Positive Reinforcement

Reassure your pet and reward them with treats, praise, or physical affection when dropping them off at the boarding facility. This will help create a positive association with the experience. However, avoid making emotional goodbyes, as this may trigger anxiety in your pet.

When you pick up your pet after their stay, continue the positive reinforcement by rewarding them with more treats and affection. This will help them look forward to their next stay at the boarding facility.


A well-prepared and informed pet parent can alleviate much of the stress associated with a pet’s first boarding experience. By selecting a suitable facility, socializing your pet, ensuring their health, acclimating them to the environment, and using positive reinforcement, you’ll pave the way for your pet to have an enjoyable stay. Now you can rest easy knowing that your furry friend is in good hands while you are away.