Dog boarding is a popular option for when you’re taking a vacation or business trip and want to ensure that your dog is taken care of by professionals who can keep your dog healthy and happy while you are away. If you are going to board your dog, there are some things you should keep in mind; consider the following essential tips for boarding your dog to help your dog get the best boarding experience possible.

Tip: Always visit the facility in person beforehand

You should always take a personal visit to the business before you decide to leave your dog there, since a personal visit can tell you more about the facilities and staff than their website or other promotional material can. You should ask to see the actual kennels and other areas where your dog will be staying, and talk with the staff about their personal experiences and goals for boarded dogs.

Tip: Send your dog with some favorite toys and personal items

It can be stressful for any dog to be left behind at a boarding service, even dogs that don’t normally have separation anxiety. You can help your dog feel more relaxed at the kennel by sending along a few of their favorite toys or personal items, such as their bed, their own food and water bowls, a favorite blanket, favorite chew toys, or even one of your own shirts so they can have your scent nearby.

Tip: Be positive with your dog when going and leaving

You don’t want your dog to pick up on any sadness or tension, so it’s important to be very positive with your dog on the way to the boarding service and when you leave. Act excited when you get them in the car and talk about where you’re going! And instead of acting sad about leaving them, talk in positive, upbeat tones to keep their moods lifted—you might even find that

Tip: Do some extra preparation for dogs with separation anxiety

It can be tough to board dogs that have separation anxiety, but it’s not impossible, and there are some things you can do to make your dog’s time at the kennel easier. You should have a conversation with the staff at the boarding service to make sure they know about your dog’s anxiety, and ask what they can do to help alleviate it, such as encouraging playtime with other dogs, extra visits, and so on.

In addition to sending along as many of their personal items as you can, make sure you send toys that can keep their minds occupied, such as puzzle toys that keep them busy. However, be sure to consider the extent of your dog’s separation anxiety—if your dog has severe separation anxiety or has ever showed signs of self-destructive behaviors when experiencing separation anxiety, you may want to look for a pet sitter that can visit you at home instead.