Should you feel guilty about boarding your dog ?

Do Dogs Care About Kennelling or Should You Feel Guilty About Leaving Your Dog?


Many owners feel guilty about leaving their dogs into boarding kennels, especially forlong time. It seems obvious that a dog taken out of their comfort of their home where they know the routine and environment, is going to be more stressful as being in a new environment without the every ‘comforts’ of home. 

However, recent research conducted in the UK at the University of Lincoln has discovered that what owners would see as being obviously true is in fact FALSE.

Unlike previous studies which looked at the biochemical stress markers of dogs in rescue centres this study looked at dogs from houses going into boarding kennels. These dogs had fewer behavioural problems than their rescue centre counterparts and the study indicated that dogs being boarded were not negatively stressed by the experience.

Measuring hormonal responses such as cortisol and adrenaline levels indicated boarded dogs were aroused more than at home but this did not correlate with negative stress. Naturally the new environment arouses the dog but not in a bad way.

Other indicators of negative stress such as facial temperatures and a reduction in the behaviours exhibited were all reassured by the researchers and again showed they were not negatively stressed.

Dr Lisa Collins, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, said: “Many owners find leaving their dog at a boarding kennels a stressful experience.  However, this study suggests that although dogs appeared to have a higher level of overall arousal or excitement in kennels compared with their state at home, this arousal is not necessarily due to dogs experiencing kennels as negatively stressful. The emotional reasons for the behavioural and physiological responses of the dogs were ambiguous and no definitive evidence was found to suggest that dogs were negatively stressed by kennelling. 

“Our findings did strongly suggest that cortisol, epinephrine and nose temperature are robust measures of psychological arousal in dogs. Nonetheless, these measures can be easily misinterpreted and do not provide unequivocal indicators of psychological stress. Findings appear to suggest that the dogs in this study did not perceive admission to boarding kennels as an aversive stressor and perhaps, instead, perceived kennelling as an exciting change of scene, at least in the short-term.”

C.E. Part, J.L. Kiddie, W.A. Hayes, D.S.Mills, R.F. Neville, D.B.Morton, L.M. Collins ‘Physiological, physical and behavioural changes in dogs (Canis familiaris) when kennelled: Testing the validity of stress parameters’ Physiology & Behaviour DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.018