Boarding can be stressful for pets and their owners. Fortunately, an increasing number of boarding facilities recognize that a pet’s emotional wellbeing is equally as important as their physical comfort and safety. Fear Free Certified professionals who staff boarding facilities have taken steps to create a positive and calming environment that pets enjoy, rather than fear.
Here are a few reasons why you should choose Fear Free boarding for your pet.
#1: Fear Free boarding recognizes pets as individuals
Fear Free Certified boarding and day care facilities get to know your pet’s likes and dislikes, so they can provide a personalized and emotionally safe experience. You’ll be asked about your pet’s temperament and behavior, favorite activities, and what they dislike. This not only ensures your pet has fun, but helps the team avoid upsetting your pet and accidentally triggering their fear or stress.
#2: Fear Free boarding facilities encourage pet pre-stay visits and trial runs
Suddenly uprooting your pet from their routine and environment and dropping them off at an unfamiliar location with total strangers can cause severe stress and anxiety, while gradual introductions can help pets acclimate and feel right at home.
Fear Free boarding facility teams encourage pre-stay happy visits (i.e., bringing your pet to the facility for a casual meet-and-greet), day-stays, and sleepovers or one-night stays. These brief visits help pets acclimate to their surroundings without an extended stay and help them feel confident in the facility.
Lastly, Fear Free boarding facilities invite owners to tour their indoor and outdoor spaces to see where the pet will be housed and explain their care. This can help you feel more at ease on drop-off day, which will help your pet relax.
#3: Fear Free boarding facilities consider your pet’s sensory experience
Dogs and cats experience the world through their powerful olfactory (i.e., smell), visual, and auditory senses—they can perceive stimuli that people cannot detect. Unfortunately, these heightened senses also make them more likely to react to their new surroundings with fear, anxiety, or stress.
Fear Free Certified boarding professionals thoughtfully manage the pet’s sensory experience. They have made strategic, intentional choices about their facility’s design, function, and day-to-day operations, including:
- Visual barriers to create private spaces and avoid visual contact with other pets or people
- Sound-proofing and calming music to dull ambient noise and settle anxious pets
- Clean runs, cages, and condos outfitted with cozy bedding
- Soothing pet pheromones or aromatherapy to promote calmness
- Gentle low-stress handling to transport pets to and from their housing
- Non-slip flooring to provide a comfortable grip for young and old pets and minimize injury
#4: Fear Free boarding facilities cater to cats
Fear Free boarding professionals believe cats deserve a safe, private, and comfortable place to stay, so their facilities provide dedicated spaces for cats separate from dog-friendly areas. Cat-friendly spaces are also free from harshly scented cleaning products, loud or sudden noises, and busy activity, which could trigger unnecessary stress and negatively affect the cat’s health.
Instead, Fear Free Certified boarding professionals provide gentle and attentive one-on-one care that is tailored to the cat’s personal preferences. For example, reclusive cats are closely supervised but given their space, while social felines receive regular playtimes, enrichment opportunities, and petting.
#5: Fear Free boarding facilities provide tailored enrichment opportunities for pets
Pet stress and anxiety is commonly caused by boredom, so Fear Free boarding facilities offer daily activities that engage pets mentally and physically and burn off excess stress or nervousness. These interactions are designed to suit the individual pet’s interests, energy, physical ability, and emotional health (e.g., pets who need reassurance or confidence-building). Activities may include:
- Supervised play with other similar-sized friendly pets
- One-on-one attention from caregivers
- Puzzle toys and games
- Sniffing walks (i.e., decompression walks) to explore and destress
- Relaxation exercises (e.g., massage, petting)
- Confidence-building (e.g., obstacle courses, sniffing out hidden treats)
- Individualized training
#6: Fear Free boarding facilities prioritize comfort and healthy sleep for pets
Quality sleep improves your pet’s emotional and physical health. Unfortunately, many pets struggle to rest in the traditional noisy, frightening, and unfamiliar boarding environment. Fear Free boarding centers promote healthy rest by:
- Permitting owners to bring comforting items — Familiar toys or blankets that smell like home can reassure nervous pets.
- Dimming lights at night — Darkness at night ensures a natural circadian rhythm.
- Providing adequate daily activity — Exercise helps pets feel physically and mentally satisfied and ready to rest.
#7: Fear Free boarding facilities respect your pet’s care schedule
If your pet requires a special diet, medication, or dietary supplements to manage their anxiety or other conditions, Fear Free Certified caregivers will administer the items according to your pet’s treatment schedule, using low stress techniques. A consistent routine not only ensures your pet’s veterinarian-prescribed treatment is maintained, but also provides comfort through predictability. Pets who can keep their normal routine and anticipate future events feel calm and confident rather than nervous, stressed, or helpless. If your pet requires advanced care, such as diabetic monitoring or mobility assistance, Fear Free boarding facilities are veterinarian-supervised and staffed by trained veterinary caregivers.
Boarding shouldn’t be scary for pets or their owners. Fear Free Certified pet boarding and day care facilities provide a positive, safe, and restful experience for pets of all shapes, sizes, and personalities.
If your pet struggles with separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, or travel-related stress, Veterinary Behavior Solutions can increase your pet’s comfort and quality of life. Contact us to schedule a consultation.