Kennel stress in dogs is a reality. Any change in routine can create stress in dogs. When a dog is taken to new surroundings with unfamiliar people and pets, it's natural for the dog to feel ill at ease. Doing whatever you can to ease the transition will help alleviate the stress your pet (and you) may experience.
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Symptoms of Stress
Sometimes simply the lack of space or unrecognisable scents in a kennel can be enough to send even the most relaxed dog into hyperventilation. Severe stress, however, has significant symptoms. First and easiest to monitor is food consumption. If the dog lacks an appetite for an extended period of time, this could be stress-related. Another obvious sign is shivering, or shaking involuntarily. The dog may appear restless and agitated, unable to focus on even basic commands. In addition, there may be bouts of diarrhoea or constant itching.
Find the Right Kennel
One of the most important steps you can take to minimise your dog's stress is to find the right kennel. Visit a few with your dog and see how the staff interacts with him. Ask if they are licensed and if a veterinarian is on staff. Make sure the kennel is clean, well ventilated and not too crowded. Note the staff-to-dog ratio: Do they have enough help for all the dogs they keep? Also, make sure there is plenty of exercise room. Some people opt to leave their dogs overnight for a trial run.
Another way to help minimise your pet's stress level is to pack some familiar items from home. Packing up your pooch's (unwashed) bed, favourite toys and maybe even an unwashed article of your clothing is recommended. Your dog will appreciate the reminders of home and hopefully feel a sense of security while you're away.
Minimise Your Own Stress
Dogs are sensitive beings that can pick up on their owner's moods and feelings. If you're running around the house like a maniac, packing and yelling, this will put your dog under stress before you even leave for the kennel. Try to maintain a calm approach with a happy attitude--this will be better for you as well. If you're running late and just can't control your frustration, consider putting your pet outside or in a room away from you until you are ready to go.
When leaving your pet, it's best to make a quick exit. It's also a good idea to have one of the staff members play with your dog while you slip out unnoticed.
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