What’s the Appropriate Age to Place a Puppy in Kennels?

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to put a young puppy in boarding kennels. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go as planned, and sometimes circumstances leave you with no other choice. I personally had to board my puppy, Claude, when he was still young due to a family bereavement that required us to be away for seven days.

How Soon Can You Board a Puppy?

One of the most common inquiries about this topic is how early you can board a puppy and at what age they are eligible to go into kennels. While there are some general common-sense guidelines, there is also more practical advice based on scientific knowledge. In this article, I’ll provide my personal opinion on the matter, along with the reasoning behind it, and share insights from professional boarding kennels.

The Suitable Age to Board a Puppy

Most boarding kennels do not accept puppies younger than four months old, provided that they have received their vaccinations. However, it is preferable to wait until the puppy is six months old, as they would have matured further by that point. If someone were to ask my opinion about when puppies can go into boarding kennels, I would always recommend waiting until they reach six months. Even then, there are some important considerations to keep in mind regarding how early you can board puppies.

Is It Safe to Board a Six-Month-Old Puppy?

You can confidently place a puppy in kennels once they have reached six months of age (24 weeks), given that they display good behavior, have been socialized with other dogs, are toilet trained, and have stopped biting and teething. At this age, they should have developed some level of independence. However, if your puppy experiences separation anxiety, even at six months old, it may still be too early to board them. In such cases, hiring a pet sitter who can provide constant attention and reassurance may be a better alternative.

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Puppies in kennels
Note: At six months, puppies can go to kennels, but you might still not think it suitable for your own dog.

In my opinion, puppies younger than this age may struggle in boarding kennels and are more likely to experience stress, which can result in behavioral changes upon returning home.

Is Boarding a Four-Month-Old Puppy Safe?

Theoretically, you can board a four-month-old puppy, as most puppies would have received their first and second round of vaccinations by this point. Usually, puppies receive their first vaccinations at around 10 weeks old, with the second round administered two to four weeks later. By three and a half months, a puppy should be fully vaccinated and ready for socialization with other dogs.

The importance of full vaccination cannot be overstated, as all boarding kennels require dogs to be vaccinated before their stay. This serves to protect them from illnesses and prevent the spread of diseases to other dogs. Commonly covered by vaccinations are parvovirus, canine distemper, leptospirosis, and infectious canine hepatitis. However, even if your puppy is fully vaccinated at this age, they can still contract bugs, fleas, ticks, or even kennel cough while in boarding kennels due to their weaker immune systems, making it inadvisable to board a puppy at this stage.

Handy Hint: Here’s a list of potential illnesses that dogs can catch when staying in kennels, despite being vaccinated.

Can You Board a 12-Week-Old Puppy?

Some boarding kennels may accept 12-week-old puppies after they have been fully vaccinated. However, when it comes to boarding a puppy this young, I would personally advise against it. I remember how dependent my own dog was on us when he was that age, similar to looking after a baby or toddler. Dogs, much like children, seem to form secure bonds with their caregivers, seeking them as a source of comfort and security. Taking this into account, leaving a 12-week-old puppy in a kennel for seven days while you’re away would not be ideal. Research even suggests that dogs miss their owners when placed in kennels, and this sentiment may be more pronounced in puppies. Furthermore, staying in kennels at such a young age could have a lingering impact on the puppy’s well-being.

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Puppy too young for boarding
Note: This puppy is three months old, which I believe is too early for boarding.

Reasons to Avoid Boarding Puppies Too Young

To summarize the points I’ve discussed so far, here’s a checklist of reasons why you should wait until your puppy is at least six months old before putting them in kennels. However, please keep in mind that even at this age, boarding may not be suitable for certain puppies based on their personality and character.

  • Puppies should be fully vaccinated before entering kennels.
  • Puppies with separation anxiety should not be boarded.
  • Puppies have a weaker immune system and can still get sick, even when vaccinated.
  • Puppies are more vulnerable to boarding kennel stress.
  • Puppies should have exposure to other dogs before entering kennels.
  • Puppies should establish eating and sleeping routines before being boarded.

Minimum Age Requirements Vary Among Facilities

When researching local boarding facilities, you’ll find that each may have different policies regarding the minimum age for boarding puppies. It would raise concerns for me if a boarding kennel has no minimum age requirement or sets it lower than 12 weeks. Ideally, I would choose a facility that only accepts puppies at six months of age or older.

Socialized puppies for boarding
Note: Puppies should only be boarded once they are socialized with other dogs.

Other factors to consider when making a decision about boarding your puppy include:

  • The facility’s reputation and reviews from other pet owners.
  • The cleanliness and safety of the kennels.
  • The staff’s qualifications and experience.
  • The level of care and attention provided to the boarded puppies.

While compiling this guide on the appropriate age to board a puppy, I came across several specific questions that people were asking on dog owner forums. I found these questions frequent enough to warrant explicit answers:

Can You Board a 9-Week-Old Puppy?

It is not recommended to send a nine-week-old puppy to boarding kennels. They have only recently been separated from their mother and would have spent just a few days in their new home. Subjecting them to the unfamiliar surroundings, other dogs, and various stimuli in a kennel environment is both cruel and unnecessary. Additionally, they have not yet completed their vaccination schedule, as the earliest puppies can receive their first vaccinations is at eight weeks, with the second round administered two weeks later. Boarding such a young puppy would be highly irresponsible, given the high risk of illness, including potentially fatal diseases like parvo.

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Can You Board a 10-Week-Old Puppy?

Boarding a puppy at ten weeks of age is not advisable. At this point, it is unlikely that they have completed all their vaccinations, they may not be accustomed to socializing with other dogs, and they have a weaker immune system. Placing them in a boarding kennel environment can contribute to increased anxiety in the puppy.

How Early Can You Board Puppies?

As previously mentioned, some boarding kennels may accept puppies as young as 12 weeks old, while others have a minimum age requirement of four months.

Exploring Alternatives

If you find yourself in a situation where you need someone to care for your puppy before they reach four or six months of age, I would recommend considering a dog sitter who can stay at your house. This alternative offers several benefits:

  • The puppy will be in familiar surroundings.
  • Continuity in toilet training and sleep routines can be maintained.
  • The puppy will not be exposed to the risk of illness from contact with older dogs.
  • The puppy will be less likely to experience separation anxiety.
  • The sitter can provide the necessary attention and care that boarding kennels may not offer.

Conclusion

Boarding kennels implement minimum age policies to safeguard the well-being of puppies. Younger puppies are more susceptible to airborne viruses even without direct contact with other dogs. Ultimately, when you decide to bring a puppy into your life, it entails significant responsibility. If you plan to go away within the first three to four months of having a puppy, it is worth reconsidering your options.

Handy Hint: If you want to prepare your puppy for their first boarding experience, make sure to read these essential guides.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is based on personal experience and professional expertise. Always consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for specific guidance tailored to your puppy’s unique needs.

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