Millions of dog owners in the United States agree: sharing a home with an animal brings a level of unmatched joy and enrichment. At the same time, there are topics subject to ferocious opinion and debate – one being whether dogs should be crated, since they’re den animals, correct? Well yes, and no.
Let’s explore this controversial topic with an open mind. Overall, the pet industry is HUGE in the United States – Statista.com reported an estimate of 2017 of almost $70B in sales, reaching across all pet categories of vet care, supplies, food, boarding and services. So yes, there is an enormous market for pet products and supplies, not to mention targeting the ever-important aspect of human convenience, specifically in the dog handling, behavior and containment categories. As a plus, these products do help ease some of the difficulty of pet ownership; win-win for the pet and owner if the well-being of the pet and experience of the owner are both improved through the product’s proper use.
By definition, den animals, like the groundhog or prairie dog, are those spending the majority of their life in a burrow to protect from predation and weather. Dogs practice denning, especially in those weeks just prior to birth, and shortly thereafter (called the “peripartum” stage), but as the majority of their lives are spent in the open and not confined to an enclosed burrow, they are not “den” animals. So those are the undebatable facts in black and white…but in the gray area lies the bone of contention: is crating only a human control device of little or no value to the animal?
Humans don’t have wings; therefore, they should not fly. Absurd thought, no? So just because dogs are not “den” animals, it doesn’t mean there is no value in providing a den-like retreat. There was a reason their mom denned before and after giving birth: to provide a clean, quiet, safe and comfortable place for her pups to learn and experience early life in a controlled environment when they were most vulnerable.
Where am I going with this? Think about it: when is your dog the most vulnerable? When she is recuperating from an illness? When she is at risk of injury during transport? When she is home alone and habitually ingests foam-filling from throw pillows? When she is disturbed by increased stimuli, like other animals, young children or visitors to the household? When she is terrified of a thunderstorm?
In all those circumstances, crating can provide comfort, security and relief. And for the purposes of this article, anxiety is indeed a conditional vulnerability that may be lessened by the adoption of crating, indoor dog-housing, or as I playfully like to call it, the Pup-Snuggery.
Where, Oh Where, Should My Pup-Snuggery Be?
Where does your pup go now when she is tired, anxious or overstimulated? Maybe your pup has already secured the ideal sanctuary free from commotion and noise. In your bedroom closet, under your office desk or behind the couch? If so, great…capitalize on it by making it more comfortable for her and encouraging and rewarding her choice to use it.
If she doesn’t have a spot, create one – and shamelessly push it like a shifty real estate agent promotes oceanfront property in Arizona.
Ideally, a good Pup-Snuggery will provide the following:
- Accessibility: Can your dog get there without your permission or intervention? Is it size-appropriate, large enough to turn around in and lay down or stretch out in with ease? If your dog is older or has movement or vision problems, can she find it without having to maneuver or climb stairs?
- Quiet: Often the source or triggers of anxiety are noise, activity or commotion. Deaden noise whenever possible, covering the crate/house with fabric, and block visual access to stimuli (windows, patio doors).
- Comfort: Ensure the space is well-ventilated: warm or cool as seasonably appropriate. Soft bedding is a no-brainer, right? And provide toys she enjoys nearby (if your dog is a toy person). Including something personal of yours, with your smell (like an article of clothing) can be familiar and comforting as well.
- Safety: Part of comfort is a feeling of security and safety, secluded from disturbances or “competition” for resources. Along with her bed and toys, provide food and water, too. Any breakables or chewables (except toys) that she can get into should also be removed to discourage harm from those nervous habits.
Think about where you may erect her new Pup-Snuggery, jot down your thoughts, and tune in for next week’s installment of the Pup-Snuggery series: The Custom Pup-Snuggery, where we’ll discuss DIY ideas, prefab options and awesome accessories for your Pup-Snuggery.
Do you already have a Pup-Snuggery for your buddy? Share your experience below!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”