Dogs in Distress: Reducing Anxiety at the Pet Hotel

It’s no secret that most of us absolutely adore our dogs, and wish they could go everywhere with us. Unfortunately, though, occasions sometimes arise where our furry friends aren’t welcome to tag along, like a vacation to a posh resort or a business-only trip. It’s at these times that finding a trusted ‘home away from home’ for your pooch is especially important; in addition, helping your dog to become comfortable with the idea of being apart from you is the best way to give you both peace of mind when you’re away.

Although most pet hotels do their very best to make your dog feel at home, it’s not unusual for our four-legged family members to feel stressed about staying in a new place; the sights, sounds, routines, textures, and people are all new and unfamiliar to them! These poor pups might bark, pace, shake, hide, stop eating, or may even have digestive problems caused by the stress of being away from their owners. With some advance preparation, though, most dogs can overcome their anxieties and many even look forward to the next stay at their favorite pet hotel, so let’s take a look at some ways to help your pup cope with the stresses of staying in a new place.

Find a facility that you absolutely trust

This is more important than many dog lovers realize; our pups are highly perceptive animals, so if we’re even mildly uncomfortable about leaving our pet somewhere, many dogs will pick up on that uncertainty and may become anxious themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about the pet hotel staff’s experience and training, their daily routines, and whether they can accommodate any special needs your pup might have – if the hotel won’t work with you to make your pup as comfortable as possible, it’s time to look elsewhere for kennel care.

Take your dog for an introduction tour (or two!)

Most of us would hate to stay in a place we know nothing about – the same goes for our dogs! Take a guided tour of the pet hotel and bring your pup (and some super tasty treats) along for the ride. Stay calm and upbeat with your pup during your visit, let your pooch explore, sniff, and become comfortable with the sights and sounds of the hotel, and don’t forget to give them lots of praise and rewards to help them build a positive association with coming to the hotel.

Try a trial run

Before you leave your pooch for a long stay, gradually accustom them to the pet hotel experience with a few shorter trial stays – no more than a few hours to start with, if possible. Bring your something your dog really loves – like their favorite toys or chewy treats – for them to enjoy while they visit. Short initial visits are great way of helping your pup get to know the pet hotel without the prolonged stress of being separated from you for a long time.

Bring home to the hotel

Your tail-wagging friend will be much happier with an environment and routine that’s as close to their own as possible, especially if they’re in their senior years or this is their first time away from home; bringing their own bed, toys, food and treats will make the pet hotel feel far more familiar for them. If your pup has any special needs (such as more frequent potty breaks, for example), write out your dog’s routine for the staff to follow. Don’t forget to include important information like your vet’s contact information and any medical needs!

Regardless of how happy and well-adjusted your pooch seems at the pet hotel, most dogs are going to experience some amount of anxiety when you leave. By choosing the right pet hotel, preparing your pup, and staying calm yourself, however, your dog will soon learn to relax and enjoy their experience away from home (and so should you!)

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