Many people offer in home boarding for dogs on craigslist, many want to do it but I’m not quite sure if they really know what they get/got themselves into because there is a lot more to boarding dogs than just cuddling on the couch with them.
1. How many dogs can you actually take in without being overwhelmed?
2. What do you do if a dog turns out to be reactive/aggressive? Do you have the room to completely keep a dog separated from the others?
3. Do you have a plan and means to safely transport dogs if you have to?
I’m going to be honest. The number of dogs I can take in, without going mentally insane and having my house destroyed is 11 and that includes my own three dogs.
If you have that many dogs in the house you need a plan:
- Lots of room
- A very good eye for stress, calming signals and behavior
- Strong Nerves
- A very good Vacuum Cleaner
When new dogs come into my home, I can’t just throw them into my pack, especially not in an enclosed space where it is hard for them to retreat and not to be backed into a corner, so the best thing you can do is to have all the dogs crated to keep the stress to a minimum and a controlled environment is a must.
So far I’ve seen everything from dogs that owned the place to dogs that cowered in the corner for the first half an hour and peed themselves. Not every dog is taking such a big change well and in that case you give them time to adjust, which is why I have started to put boarding dogs on a crate schedule.
Dogs may show behavior they might not show at home. They may be howling, whining, become destructive, reactive and even show aggression but that is okay. Not every dog is cut out to be thrown into a strange house with a bunch of strange dogs. It is important to see the signs and to remove the dog from a potential dangerous situation. If you agree to take a dog in, you are the caretaker of the dog and it is your responsibility to make sure that the dog is kept safe from any harm he can bring to himself, that can go as far as having a dog in solitary confinement because he/she doesn’t get along with other dogs to not having dog beds in the crate, not having toys or bones involved while having certain dogs outside.
The worst you can do is being blinded by the breed. A Labrador Retriever can just as much be a resource guarder as a Jack Russel, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever or Spaniel. The breed doesn’t matter, which is why you have to have a good eye for behavior, read the signs, remove the object or the dog from the situation before something happens. Best way to do it, have them have their treat while they are crated.
Since I have dogs of my own, I make sure they get their alone time with me. I have one dog that loves being outside with other high energy dogs that love just as much to run and play as she does and they more action, they better. She loves that. On the other hand my oldest dog, is rather inside with me and when it gets to much he retreats upstairs into his crate.
Upstairs is solely for my own dogs. They have their kennels in front of the bedroom. It is very important to me to create a space where they can retreat to and have their quiet time from the craziness.
The biggest challenge is to actually keep them quiet. Especially young dogs may not like being crated because it is far more interesting and fun to be outside, they may not even be used to being crated. Personally, I do not want any dog to be a nuisance in the neighborhood. Kongs with frozen Peanut Butter is a perfect solution for that. It not only keeps them occupied but it also creates a positive reinforcement for being crated, that way you can rotate them in and out and no dog ends up being crated 24/7 and has enough time outside whether it is in the yard or on the couch, cuddling with you!