While some people enjoy bringing their pets on vacation, this isn't always a viable option. If you've been wanting to vacay but can't seem to because you know your pup has separation anxiety, here are some things you can do to make the transition.
Do Practice Visits at the Boarders
Before you go on your vacation, take your dog to a boarding facility for a visit. If your dog is incredibly anxious, just let him or her sniff around for a bit before leaving, and be sure to give him or her a treat for being so good.
Since many boarders offer day-play areas, the goal is to work up leaving your dog at one for a few hours. These day-play areas are a great way for your dog to have fun with other dogs and get used to the facility. If your dog does well during day-play, then you can try an overnight stay at the boarders. Again, this single night should ease your dog into the idea of staying somewhere besides home.
If you don't take these small steps, leaving your dog alone at a boarders for a week can be taxing on them. While it's normal for some dogs to lose a small amount of weight while boarding, anxious dogs may not eat at all or turn to repetitive motor activity that could injure them.
Leave a Favorite Toy or Blanket
Since many boarders have dogs coming and going, the kennels themselves may be pretty sparse besides basic bedding and food. Be sure to bring a chew toy or a blanket your dog loves. The toy will give them something for them to expend their energies on while they're cooped up, and a blanket that smells like home can help them transition to a place where most smells are unfamiliar.
Provide the Boarder with a Thundershirt
You may have seen thundershirts used on dogs during the holidays, since many dogs are sensitive to loud parties and fireworks. But these snug shirts can actually be used for separation anxiety. The shirt is snug on certain pressure points, so your dog will feel swaddled and comforted. If your dog has lots of anxiety due to other barking dogs, be sure to leave a thundershirt with the facility.
If Worse Comes to Worse, Consider Pet Sitting
If your dog can become so fearful that it lashes out at others, then boarding is probably not a good idea. Instead, you may want to look for a pet sitter. Some boarders actually offer pet sitting services or will know who you can get in touch with for more info. Instead of your dog having to leave home, the pet sitter will come visit them each day or even stay the night if need be. Keep in mind though that pet sitting usually costs much more than boarding, so this option may be better for shorter vacations.