There are many things for a Pet Owner to do in order to find a DoD Boarder and prepare their pet for their "deployment." Our DoD Pet Owner Resources will help guide you in finding the perfect DoD Boarder and using our networking resource successfully.
Understanding What DoD Does
Dogs on Deployment is a networking site; we do not arrange boarding between Pet Owners and DoD Boarders. It is the responsibility of the Pet Owner to contact DoD Boarders in their area and choose one that will be the right fit for their pet. Contact any DoD Boarders in your area who you believe might be suitable for your pet(s). If there are no DoD Boarders in your area that are compatible, please email
to notify DoD to continue to recruit DoD Boarders in your area. There is no guarantee that every Pet Owner will find a DoD Boarder through our network, but using our site proactively will increase your chances of finding the right DoD Boarder.
Don’t Wait Till the Last Minute
As soon as you find out that you are to deploy, if you have any doubt about your pet’s living situation in your absence, list your pet on DoD. The more time you have to contact DoD Boarders, the more interviews you will be able to conduct, which increases the chance of finding the perfect DoD Boarder and allow time for you and your pet to develop a relationship with them before you deploy. Waiting till the last minute can be hazardous to you and your pet. It takes time to find the perfect DoD Boarder, and the more time you have, the better. Don’t risk having to put your pet in a shelter or permanently rehome them because you waited until the last minute to list your pet.
Contacting DoD Boarders
Contacting and interviewing potential DoD Boarders will be the most time consuming part of preparing your pet for your deployment. Do not settle when it comes to who is going to care for your pet. Contact as many DoD Boarders that fit your boarding criteria. In your initial email, ensure you tell them as much information about your pet, the situation which is causing you to need a DoD Boarder and your anticipated boarding dates. The more information you provide them upfront, the less questions they’ll need to ask in response.
What to Ask
You will be leaving your pet in the care of someone else; it is important to know the family who will be watching your pet. Consider asking the following:
- Who lives in the household?
- Are there other pets? How are those pets with new animals?
- How do they discipline their pets? How will they discipline your pet?
- How many hours a day will your pet be left alone?
- Where will your pet be during the day? Alone? At night?
- Are they planning any long trips during the boarding dates? Where will your pet go if they go out of town?
Meet and Greets
Once you’ve talked with a potential DoD Boarder over the phone or email and believe they might be a good fit for your pet, schedule your first meet and greet. Do this in a non-threatening environment; someplace your pet will not feel territorial or uncomfortable. Good places are dog parks (if your dog is well socialized) or just a regular park. Let the DoD Boarder observe your dog. Don't feel obligated to force your dog to meet the DoD Boarder. Perhaps bring some treats for them to give your dog. Allow the dog to come to the boarder, not the other way around. If your DoD Boarder has other dogs, this would be a good time to meet to check for compatibility.
Next, invite your DoD Boarder to your home. Make sure your dog is accepting them into their territory. If your dog is growling or barking uncontrollably and irregularly, your dog might not be comfortable with them and may need more time and meetings. On another date, meet the DoD Boarder at their house. This is a great time to allow your dog to explore their new home. If the DoD Boarder has other pets, it might be best to keep them in a separate room to avoid territorial problems. Let your dog sniff, play with the DoD Boarder and get comfortable.
Schedule a weekend for the DoD Boarder to watch your pet as a “trial run.” You want to make sure your dog is completely comfortable with this family (and you too). Let them watch your dog for 1-2 nights, this way they can talk to you about any problems they might have encountered. The point of this is to one, get the dog comfortable, but also highlight any problems the DoD Boarder might have with your dog. This can also help decrease the chance that the DoD Boarder might become overwhelmed with your pet's behavior AFTER you're gone, and be stuck with a pet they can't handle. This is the DoD Boarder's chance to determine if your dog is a good fit in their house.
Screening their Background
At some point, consider asking for the DoD Boarder for an employer reference. If they have pets, ask for a veterinarian/boarding/groomer reference. If they’re a renter, ask for their landlord and check to make sure that having an additional pet at their property will not be a problem. At your discretion you might even want to ask for a background check.
Before you deploy, ensure you have gone over our example DoD Boarding Contract with the DoD Boarder, and each of you retains a signed copy. Download the DoD Boarding Contract here.
Another consideration might be getting a Power of Attorney for your pet in your absence. This can usually be done for free at base-legal.
Prepping your Pet
Keeping your pet updated on vaccinations is important to its health. Ensure before you leave your pet for an extended period of time that they are current on all vaccinations and licensing. Leave a copy of your pet's vaccination record with your boarder. The following provides a basic guideline for recommended vaccinations:
Dogs: Canine Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Rabies (to include current state/county licensing), Bordetella/Kennel Cough, Leptospirosis, etc
Cats: Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Rabies (to include current state/county licensing), Feline Leukemia
Microchip and Register Your Pet
Microchips are an essential way for your pet to be identified in case it becomes lost. Ensure that your pet is microchipped and registered before leaving your pet in a new home. Update microchip contact information to the boarder that will be homing your pet. Veterinarians, clinics and shelters offer microchipping for your pets.
Choose a Veterinarian and Schedule an Annual Exam
Choose a veterinarian which is located within close proximity to your boarder's home. Search for AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited veterinarians to ensure your pet receives the best pet care. Before going on deployment, schedule an annual checkup with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is in good health and to attain a baseline record of the health and condition of your pet before leaving them in the care of another person. In case of accident, illness or death in your absence, having a baseline record of your pet's health before leaving can aid in any resulting legal case. Our DoD Boarding Contract includes a veterinarian release form that will allow your credit card to be charged in case a vet visit is needed in your absence and allows the DoD Boarder to act as their caretaker in your absence.
Accidents and illness against your pets while you are gone are always a possibility, and the resulting veterinarian bills can put you in a financial bind, especially while you're out of the country. Put your mind at ease by protecting your pet with pet insurance. Support Dogs on Deployment by getting insurance through Pet's Best Insurance, our partner in providing discounted and flexible plans to military members registered through our organization.
Altering Your Pets
Dogs on Deployment highly recommends that your pets are spayed or neutered once they come of age. The following are the top 10 reasons you should alter your pets (credit to the ASPCA):
- Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
- Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
- Your spayed female won't go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
- Your male dog won't want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
- Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
- Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
- It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
- Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
- Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
- Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.
Keep Your Pet's Health Record Available
Before you leave, it is imperative that your pet's health record is available to your boarder in case a veterinarian visit is required. Provide them a copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical record. If your pet is on medication, ensure that your DoD Boarder is provided with a valid prescription for refills.
Protect Your Pets from Parasites
Keep your pet protected against fleas, ticks and heartworms by starting or maintaining your pet on aregular routine of parasite prevention. This will not only protect your pet, but also other pets that might live in your DoD Boarder’s household. Participate in our affiliate program by shopping at VetRXDirect, a premier pet pharmaceutical company.
Reimbursing Your DoD Boarder
DoD Boarders are not allowed to require payment for boarding your pet in your absence. However, it is expected that Pet Owners remain financially responsible for their pets during boarding. This includes pet food, parasite prevention, toys, grooming, veterinarian care, etc. Determine before you leave how much you pay for your pet on a monthly basis and set up automatic payments to your DoD Boarder’s account. If the DoD Boarder agrees, you can also set up a reimbursement plan, reimbursing any purchases made on behalf of your pet. Consider requiring they keep all receipts. If your pet causes any damages to their house or property (chewing, marking, potty accidents, etc), be prepared to help with costs of repair or replacement.
Have an Emergency Plan
There is no guarantee that you will find a DoD Boarder through our network. If you do, you may feel that your primary plan for your pet during your deployment is foul- proof, however there is always the chance that something happens which causes your DoD Boarder to not be able to care for your pet. Ensure before you leave you have an emergency backup plan. If you had a DoD Boarder that was your second choice, ask them to be your backup plan in case your primary DoD Boarder can no longer care for your pet.