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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It was bound to happen: I'd have to board Willow because of work duties. She'll be staying with our trainer tomorrow from about noon until probably the following morning. I have a late meeting in a town an hour away, and the roads might suck in time for the trip home.

Any tips for not being a nervous wreck?

Willow is very wary of strangers; we've worked with this trainer for 4-5 private sessions so far and she'll take food from her and work with her and all, but whenever the trainer has her leash--we've been working on practicing recall by the trainer holding Willow's leash and me walking away--Willow gets really nervous about the trainer being behind her.

The trainer has 2 other dogs, one a dog-unfriendly malinois who I assume will be kept away from Willow, and a male GSD who I hope she lets play with Willow some...Willow loves other dogs. I think her dogs spend a lot of time crated, which I'm fine with (would be the same or worse if I went with a boarding kennel, I figure).

The thing I keep thinking about is how when I took Willow from her previous owner, Willow had 0 problems with me. Zero. She had never seen me before. She did not seem scared of me at all, let me pet her wherever I wanted, came to me when I called. I really hope Willow, once I'm out of the picture, will be 100% okay with the trainer. Like it's a "I only mistrust strangers when Mom's around" thing. I have no idea. I sure hope I am not somehow to blame for "making" Willow afraid of strangers. Because yeah when my friend was watching her one night, Willow hid from her and wouldn't come out all evening. But that was in my (her) home.

I'm hoping this works out because this is my plan for a 5-day conference I have in a month, and then my weeklong trip to Iceland in March.

Anyway yeah I'm already feeling nervous about this and would love to hear...anything encouraging. Do you think this is a better plan than boarding her at a boarding kennel?
 

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Having worked in numerous boarding kennels, both open play and traditional, I would definitely not put a dog with her issues into boarding kennel. They tend to be very loud and stressful places and could also cause her to backslide in all of the training you've put into her lately.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Having worked in numerous boarding kennels, both open play and traditional, I would definitely not put a dog with her issues into boarding kennel. They tend to be very loud and stressful places and could also cause her to backslide in all of the training you've put into her lately.
Yeah the kennel I was gonna use came highly recommended. Pretty large "rooms" with a dog door to an outside run, and you can bring your own crate/bedding/food/toys etc. I don't know if they allowed open play or not. But at least she'd have had lots of space. I'm still keeping them as a backup in case my trainer can't take her but yeah, definitely don't want to stress her out. It's this place: BIG SKY DOG RANCH
 

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Discussion Starter #5
do you know and trust someone to stay at your house.
Yes, but the problem is I don't trust Willow to be OK with that.

About a month after I got her, I had a long meeting out of town and asked a friend to stay with Willow just for the evening (I was gonna be gone from like 5pm-10pm). Granted, Willow had just been spayed, so maybe things would be better now than they were then. But basically my friend arrived, let her out of her crate, Willow ran peeing from the room, hid in the back room all night and wouldn't come out, wouldn't eat anything, basically was a nervous wreck until I got home. And yes, I had introduced this person to her beforehand.

Now, there's a chance it would be OK if I left while the other person was in the house, and there's a chance Willow would eventually get to know this person and be OK next time I had to do something like that. And there's also a chance Willow will just always freak out when there's a stranger alone with her in her house.
 

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Here is my 2 cents. Sabi was a stable, friendly dog. I boarded her once. No option. She was fine day one, hesitant day two, day three off her food. Day four, she growled and backed them out.
I picked her up the next day, she desperately wanted to pee and couldn't wait to get in the car. She was clingy for a week or so.
Shadow was boarded once for the day. She schmoozed treats, gave kisses and was a model of good behaviour. However, when I picked her up she literally wrapped herself around me and totally lost her mind. She sobbed, cowered, sucked on my fingers and pitched a fit when I left the room. Two days later she was fine.
At the end of the day, it's a dog. Sometimes they need to do stuff they may dislike. If you don't make a thing of it, she may be just fine. Maybe not. Then you will deal with it.
You thought she would be an issue at the check station. She wasn't. Don't borrow trouble.
 

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Just wanted to add, it is a short stay, and it will go how it will go (my guess is just fine!)...it's you I'm worried about! Leave her, it is a work thing and you HAVE to go. So go, and don't let yourself worry! If it doesn't go as well as hoped, adjust for next time. But don't let worry get in the way of being fully present for your meeting! The dog will be fine with your trainer. She/he KNOWS dogs right? IT WILL BE FINE!
 

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Your trainer (an experienced person who knows large working dogs and likes dogs) is going to be better than typical kennel staff**, so I think you made a good choice. I am sure Willow will be a bit uncomfortable/nervous since it's her first visit, so it's good that it will be a short one. I'd continue to do short visits (maybe 1-2x/month?) to get her used to it, and I think it will be fine!

My dog has grown more and more comfortable with each boarding visit, and now has his special favorite people there who know his name. He even has a few dog friends there. Don't underestimate your dog's ability to adapt!

** Aside from the owner and her #2, nobody who works at our kennel seems to be older than age 25...All of the workers are young cheerful animal-loving folks but I'd say they are not pro dog experts in any way!

I wanted to add that an experienced trainer like yours will shrug off behaviors like being growled at, can handle a fearful dog, etc. An average petsitter may freak out when presented with anything but the typical tailwagger. So again, I think you made a good choice. Since she likes other dogs, she may also do fine with the open-play style kennel as well (but make sure they screen their dogs for aggressive behaviors, and that all dogs are vaccinated!!)
 

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Yeah the kennel I was gonna use came highly recommended. Pretty large "rooms" with a dog door to an outside run, and you can bring your own crate/bedding/food/toys etc. I don't know if they allowed open play or not. But at least she'd have had lots of space. I'm still keeping them as a backup in case my trainer can't take her but yeah, definitely don't want to stress her out. It's this place: BIG SKY DOG RANCH
I looked at the link to the kennel. First choice for me would be with the trusted trainer but if that fails the kennel that you linked wouldn't be bad because of the dog door access to the outside for potty. The main reason that I said I wouldn't put her in a boarding kennel is because in most of them the dogs have to be leashed and walked past all of the other barking dogs in order to get to the relief areas. I would also say that if you can find out far enough in advance whether or not your trainer will be available to keep her during you Iceland trip, to take her to the kennel for a trial run over a weekend or something so that the first time she goes there it is not for an entire week.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, I just picked her up.

She did well, I guess. I talked to the trainer for a good while afterward and she said Willow actually kinda got more nervous as time went on--said she was OK mostly last night, but this morning she wouldn't go to the bathroom or eat her breakfast. The trainer's other dogs tried to play with her and Willow was really hesitant. She did say eventually this morning Willow was taking treats, but yeah, wouldn't pee or drink water. As soon as I brought Willow home she peed, pooped, and drank a tooooon of water and I fed her breakfast.

Another weird thing and I've seen videos of this too...when I first showed up to pick her up, Willow was skittish of me and had to sniff my hand for a couple of seconds before she realized who I was, and then got all happy. I'm always surprised dogs don't like...instantly know who their owners are when they see or smell them.

The trainer told me what she kinda already suspected, that Willow is just a very insecure dog, not a lot of confidence. She said she was really cuddly and sweet with her and her husband--even put her head in her husband's lap--so that's good, I guess, that she's not aggressive or so aloof that she just hides. But clearly not comfortable with the situation.

So...I hope things go better next time, when I'll have to leave her for 5 days. At least then Willow will have been there before, know a bit of the routine, and hopefully will adjust a bit faster. But still...I'm happy and I'm not happy. I feel bad for Willow that she's so insecure and I wish there was something I could do about it, but the trainer said it's probably just in her DNA and she'll always be nervy. So...I'll do what I can for her, give her as much structure and stability as I can, but leaving her like this is always going to be worrying.
 

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Maybe send her there regularly for short stays to help her acclimate? I have done this with several nervous dogs who came for daycare regularly to get used to it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Worth a try. Its an important life skill for her to tolerate being separated from you or cared for by someone else
 

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She needs to go there often.
And maybe other places, too. Being ok with boarding is an important life skill, and she won鈥檛 get used to it unless she gets more exposure to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah. The kennel has doggy daycare so I could take her there on occasion. And my trainer probably isn't going to be around forever... her husband is a postdoc scientist at the local research lab and usually those terms are only five years. So yeah, might only have a couple years left with her as an option. Hopefully by then I'll have some friends Willow is comfortable enough with that they can come over and house sit.
 

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I think my gsds would have been hesitant about food, etc too on a first over niter.
We've boarded at a kennel with indoor/outdoor runs (didn't do the group playtime) and boarded with our vet. I think the kennel was easier on them, the vet didn't have the outdoor run available till later on. As said above, taking them to be boarded is just needed from time to time and if familiar, hopefully will go well! Cody would ride with his back to me on the ride home (had to show me how he felt about that!) but like Willow, once he was home he was out checking the yard for whatever trespass might have happened in his absence, slurping water all over and playin with Clipper his brother! Clipper was more happy go lucky, not trilled about boarding, but all happy and romping when you came! Sounds like you may have a couple options, but I think she'll do fine!
 

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Yep I'll "third" having a few more one-day visits before you do the five-day stay.
It will be less stressful for her if she's a bit acclimated.

We had to leave Rumo for 8 days over Christmas (the first year we had him) and I was worried about it!
The kennel recommended that we bring him for doggy daycare a few times before the big stay. I think he went once a week through mid-November/December, and by the time he had his "Big Stay" he was comfortable and I was comfortable too (had gotten to know the people who work there, etc). However our kennel is pretty reasonable - if you buy a multi-visit card, each "day visit" worked out to $11...otherwise I don't think I would have paid for it...

( Funny story: After the long stay, my husband remarked that Rumo seemed resentful.(My husband was the one that dropped him off). He said that Rumo usually waves his paw at him for belly rubs, but after the long kennel stay, he stopped doing that for a few weeks! It's like Rumo was thinking: "I don't know if I can trust this guy anymore! He dropped me off at the kennel and forgot to come get me for 8 days!"
 

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Discussion Starter #17
haha...yeah luckily the kennel I'm looking at is only $10 per day for a full or half day, so I could afford doing that a few times before a longer stay. And I may have another instance in 2 weeks where I want to leave Willow for the night, so we can do that. The longer stay would then be the following week....

And...the lady is still my trainer, so we'll have a couple more sessions before we do that. I'll be really curious how Willow reacts to her the next time we train ("WHO IS THIS" or "Oh yeah, I know you").
 

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Also, FWIW, the trainer thinks it's not necessary to "acclimate" Willow to longer boarding stays with her. I think she thinks I'm overthinking it and that yeah, Willow would be uncomfortable the first night, but would adjust and be fine. I'm sure Willow would have peed and pooped and drunk water eventually. Maybe the dog-unfriendly malinois was just freaking her out (they were kept separate, but in crates in the same room; the trainer said the malinois would kinda glare at Willow frequently).

Here's a pic she sent me from Tuesday night; she and the malinois are in the crates, as far away from each other as they can get! The GSD (who's awesome and I lurv him) was trying to flirt with Willow all day and the next day and poor Willow was too nervous. She loves other dogs usually.
 

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haha...yeah luckily the kennel I'm looking at is only $10 per day for a full or half day, so I could afford doing that a few times before a longer stay. And I may have another instance in 2 weeks where I want to leave Willow for the night, so we can do that. The longer stay would then be the following week....

And...the lady is still my trainer, so we'll have a couple more sessions before we do that. I'll be really curious how Willow reacts to her the next time we train ("WHO IS THIS" or "Oh yeah, I know you").
This one hits kind of close to home for me....guys with these fearful dogs with major problems. You get what you pay for sometimes. I wouldn't be bargain shopping for boarding with a dog with significant issues. I wouldn't bargain shop period because I know the enormous amount of work that goes into doing a really good job and I deserve to be paid for that. Its what I do for a living. Rant over, sorry
 

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Also, FWIW, the trainer thinks it's not necessary to "acclimate" Willow to longer boarding stays with her. I think she thinks I'm overthinking it and that yeah, Willow would be uncomfortable the first night, but would adjust and be fine. I'm sure Willow would have peed and pooped and drunk water eventually. Maybe the dog-unfriendly malinois was just freaking her out (they were kept separate, but in crates in the same room; the trainer said the malinois would kinda glare at Willow frequently).

Here's a pic she sent me from Tuesday night; she and the malinois are in the crates, as far away from each other as they can get! The GSD (who's awesome and I lurv him) was trying to flirt with Willow all day and the next day and poor Willow was too nervous. She loves other dogs usually.
I am maybe nit picking but I don't understand putting two strange dogs so close in crates like that with no barrier. A 15 dollar crate pan will do it. And one is nasty and glaring at the other? No way. And no way would I want any dog of mine being glared at by some nasty dog in such a tight space where they can't get away.
 
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