KENNELING YOUR DOG
This will be a short topic but none the less important one for someone who wants to start kenneling their dog for holidays etc.
Firstly a quick note about which kennels to chose. Like most things in life there are good and bad kennels out there. My best advice here would be to go by personal reccomendation and then go and have a look for yourself. Take a reccomendation from someone you know well or from a respected body, like your trainer or vet. Still go and have a look for yourself though. Any good kennels would have no problem what so ever with you coming to have a look before making any decisions about using them. Do not just turn up at the door of an unknown kennels that you have not been reccomended to, or had a look at yourself, and leave your dog for two weeks. You and your dog may well pay the price for it.
So, you have found yourself a good kennels and you have already taken a look for yourself. When looking you checked out the state of the kennels: that they are comfortable enough for your dog (look at size of kennels, size of runs, provision of water, provison of heating if in winter, happy dogs),that they were clean enough, safe enough (no obvious dangers), that the staff were all knowledgeable and dog friendly, that there was provision for daily decent walks while your dog is there, and there will be adequate control while your dog is being exercised (so your dog does not come back to you with injuries). Check also that there is comprehensive vet cover should it be needed, that they are fully insured, and just that the general feel of the place to yourself is good, that you are you happy with it! Remember you will be looking for a kennels well before you intend to leave your dog in one.
Like all things new that we want to introduce our dog to it needs to be a gradual affair. After you have found your ideal kennels take the time to speak to them and tell them you want it to run smoothly. Start by taking your dog to the kennels for a visit, take a kong and some nice stuff and spend a bit of time playing in one of the kennels, make the whole thing a jolly affair and on your way there be normal, no saying "it will be alright, there there it's only the kennels".
After a couple of visits you can try leaving your dog for an afternoon, then a night and so on. It might cost you a bit more than just turning up and dropping your dog off, but your dog and you will benefit from it. When you drop your dog off take some of his favourite toys with him, his own bed, some of his favourite chews etc. Try not to mollycuddle your dog too much when you eventually leave them, you want it to be seen as a normal event for them. If you have tried the odd day in kennels before leaving them for some time then they will know that you will be coming back.
If your dog is a puppy and it will be some time before you first decide to kennel them you can still spend time getting them used to your chosen kennels as they grow, have a few visits (work it out with the kennels), this will also be another good association and learning for your pup, any good kennels will want your dog to be happy while there and should give you that time to get them liking the place. For an older dog too, if this is to be their first time in kennels, you still want to take the time as for all of the above,
A quick mention about food, personally I think it is wise to take some of your dogs own food with you for them to eat while there. A drastic quick change of food will almost certainly cause digestive problems (unless you have a cast iron guts labrador, ha ha ) and make your dogs stay less enjoyable or possibly cause behavioural changes (normally takes longer though). If your dog is on a special diet (no wheat for instance) then definately take your own food that he or she is used too and tell the kennels of any food preparation/routine that has to be done, if they don't want to do it look elsewhere.
If you take the time and make the effort your dog will not mind going to kennels, many dogs actually enjoy the experience and look forward to it but again take the time to find a good kennels and get your dog used to them.