Last week we opened a discussion about the controversial topic of dogs and denning. In summary…dogs are not den animals, but they, especially anxious ones, may significantly benefit from their own indoor dog house or denning space – which we lovingly call a “Pup-Snuggery”. If you’d like to catch up and hop on the bandwagon with us, read last week’s post here.
We reviewed why a dedicated space is important, and the basic provisions of a successful Pup-Snuggery. To review:
- Accessibility: Free access to come and go, size and stretch-appropriate, and considerate of any vision or physical limitations.
- Quiet: Can the space be noise-controlled and can visual distractions or commotion be blocked or limited? Noise and visual stimuli are generally sources of anxiety.
- Comfort: Toys, soft bedding, smell of your personal items, temperature-controlled area with good airflow.
- Safety: Ample food and water, seclusion, security, safe from harm. No breakables or chewables (other than toys) accessible.
Include all of these, and introduce the space properly to your dog, and you are bound to have some success. Anxiety can be a complicated problem requiring a comprehensive solution. Tackle the issue by identifying triggers, addressing the environment, and modifying behaviors (yours and your pup’s). Posts like this one are just one arrow in your quiver – reach out to your vet and behavioral professionals, too – I’m sure they’d be happy to help and offer guidance.
Prefab and DIY Options
Perhaps you have already identified the optimal location – if not, your dog may have already staked her claim on the best place. Either way, please ensure that the four basics have been, or can be met, in that location.
The obvious solutions are prefabricated ones – crates, tables, pop-up/portable houses – and they all have value, depending on the size and needs of the dog, and your needs as an owner. A Pup-Snuggery doesn’t have to be an enclosed crate with a locking door, because remember, this is primarily a space for them to go as a retreat and a resting space, not for confinement.
As an aside, if you do travel, having an extra collapsible or lightweight (for smaller dogs) crate is a bonus, in addition to your existing, “permanent” pup-snuggery, because your dog will miss their space when away from home. (And when traveling by air, consult the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website, and also the pet policy page for your individual airline.)
If you do decide to purchase or fabricate a crate to use, first ensure it is the proper size to accommodate your pet; she will need to be able to stand, turn around, lay down and extend her tail comfortably in the space without touching the sides. You’ll also be adding bedding, toys and draped material to block the view and deaden the sound, so consider how much space these items will occupy and plan accordingly.
So always measure your dog beforehand – don’t guesstimate by average breed size. Measure from the highest point of the ears (especially if they stand up!) to the ground, and the tip of nose to end of tail, then the width. Add 2-4 inches to all measurements for the best fit (I would recommend more for the height if possible, so she may stand comfortably without crouching.) This sizing infographic should help from Dog.com.
A bed can be almost anywhere, as long as the location meets the four requirements: accessibility, quietude, comfort and safety. It could be behind an end table in the bedroom, in the back corner of a closet, or under your office desk. A fort-like structure would be ideal, with sides and a top to block noise, commotion and visual distraction, while still being well ventilated.
Here are some examples of crate covers, but you can certainly fabricate your own.
Bedding with snuggle-bumpers and a washable zip-cover is the preference in my house, but your dog may have already chosen their own type. Orthopedic, memory foam, beanbag or cedar-filled, self-warming or heated mats are all available for your precious pooch.
Some dogs like to be off the floor to avoid drafts, so a platform bed with legs could be an option; totally doable as a DIY with cushions, plywood and 2x4s.
Whatever you decide, washable and comfortable are the operative words here.
Other Accessories and Thoughts
Ever wonder why your dog sleeps at the foot of the bed, or wants to crawl in bed with you? Your smell. You are their favorite fragrance! So add something personal of yours, like a T-shirt, to their snuggery.
Speaking of smell, according to Dr. Cam Day, the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) called Adaptil mimics the familiar and calming smell of a mother’s den and works on about 70% of adult dogs. This may be something you could try; either via diffuser or spray on/inside the snuggery.
Aromatherapy with essential oils is another calming tool – read my post about it here.
And as far as noise reduction goes, makers of newer products like the ZenCrate claim sound vibrations from storms or noise can be dampened through design. White noise machines, music speakers, and special music tuned for dog relaxation have garnered great reviews from Amazon.
In conclusion, don’t forget their favorite toys, and nearby access to food and water.
Next week, we’ll talk strategies to getting your pooch accustomed to their new Pup-Snuggery. Time, patience, persistence and treats…stay tuned!
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.”