Dogs are naturally denning animals, and your pet needs somewhere private, cozy, and dark to retreat to when he feels anxious. Not every dog can handle a hectic family lifestyle- and creating a safe haven for your dog in your home is crucial for his mental and physical wellbeing.
In this guide, we explain how you can provide your pet with that all-important safe space that he can call his own.
What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?
There are several things that can trigger panic and anxiety in your canine companion, including:
- Loud noises, such as vacuum cleaners, fireworks, hairdryers, and loud music
- Strangers in the house, such as contractors, new friends
- A new dog or other pets
- Young children playing
- Domestic arguments
If your dog is unable to relax, chill out, and rest, his body will produce higher cortisol levels.
Although cortisol is important in small quantities, constantly producing the hormone can suppress the dog’s immune system. That leaves your pup more susceptible to illness and long-term health problems, so you can see that providing a safe haven for your dog is critical for his well-being and happiness.
How Do I Know My Dog Is Stressed?
Dogs give lots of signals that indicate stress, including:
- Yawning when not tired
- Panting, even on cool days
- Ears flat back against the head
- Tail clamped between the legs or carried lower than usual
- Looking away or avoiding a person or particular situation
- Growling quietly shows that the dog feels threatened and needs more space
- Standing tall and stiff through the body
So, what can you do to help your pet to relax and feel safe?
Give Your Dog A Choice to Go to His Safe Haven
If your dog becomes upset and starts barking because your neighbor is having some building work carried out, allow your furry friend to retreat to his safe haven.
That’s a much better approach than telling your dog to stop barking at the noises that are upsetting him. Also, your dog learns that he will be rewarded for his good behavior, i.e., your pup stops barking and is immediately rewarded by choosing to spend time in his safe space. At this point, give your dog a treat to show him that you appreciate his behavior. You might also want to include a KONG toy or something similar stuffed with peanut butter to distract your dog from whatever is upsetting him.
Provide Your Dog with A Safe Den
When you feel stressed out and hassled, you might go to another room away from whatever is upsetting you. So, when your dog wants to get away from noisy kids, the vacuum cleaner, or a stranger he doesn’t like, give your pet somewhere to escape to.
Creating A Safe Haven for Your Dog
The best way to create that den-like space your dog will want to retreat to is to set up a cozy crate. Somewhere away from high-traffic areas in your home or in your apartments for rent in Berkeley, CA.
Your dog might have already chosen a spot he likes to go to, such as beside your sofa, under a table, or beneath your stairs. In that case, simply place a snug bed or open crate in that spot. That now becomes the dog’s safe haven. Note that in a multi-dog household, every dog needs its own separate safe haven.
Ensure that the crate you choose is the correct size for your dog. Your furry friend must be able to stand up, lay down, sit, and turn around comfortably in his crate. A crate that’s too small will feel claustrophobic, and one that’s too big won’t feel cozy. For example, a kennel for Labradors would be far too big for a Jack Russell.
What To Include In Your Dog’s Safe Haven
Your dog retreats to his safe space to rest and enjoy some peace and quiet. So, the crate must be comfortable and warm.
Choose a snug crate mat or bed that fits the crate to keep out drafts and keep your dog off the cold floor beneath the crate. Many dogs appreciate the inclusion of a fleecy blanket or cushion to snuggle into, as well as their bed.
To prevent dehydration, equip the crate with a water bottle and remember to check that the bottle is always replenished with clean water when necessary. Provide your dog with a few interactive toys that he can play with or cuddle when he wants to. Dogs that get stressed can benefit from having a crate cover fitted that shuts out the outside world and gives them a private, dark place to retreat to.
Make sure that the crate is placed somewhere out of drafts and away from direct heat sources, open doors, windows, and air conditioning units so that your dog doesn’t overheat or get chilled.
Even the most bomb-proof dog that appears to be super-chilled needs a safe haven to escape to sometimes. Set up a cozy crate in a quiet place in your home where your dog can get away from noise and disturbance to enjoy some quality alone time whenever he feels the need.
Your dog’s safe haven can also provide you with feedback on how your dog is feeling. If your dog feels the need to take himself off to his safe space, you can work out what’s troubling him and take steps to prevent it from happening again.