“Crate” Training for the Anxious Dog

All of our pets like to have a space of their very own. Our dogs are no different. When you brought your new puppy or adult dog home, you likely heard of crate training. Crate training is the perfect way to give your pup a space of her very own, and to keep her (and your house) safe while you’re away. But some dogs are not so comfortable being kenneled in a small space, and have “crate anxiety.”

How can we give these dogs a safe, quiet space without stressing them out?

First, you can–very slowly–introduce the crate. Maybe you have to start by just tossing a treat in every day and leaving the room while your pup investigates. You can try taking the door off, putting her favorite pillow in it, and just leaving it out for a month to show your pup that the crate isn’t scary. If nothing works, and your dog is more at risk of hurting herself when the crate is closed, it’s time to look for another solution.

If you’re dog can’t be trusted loose in the house, consider gating them into small room, or a hallway. You’ll know best if you’re dog is ready to be loose in the house alone–do they still chew on pillows, bark at neighbors out the window, or chase the cat? Then it might be best to gate them into a room or hallway, for their own safety (as well as the cat’s).

As for giving them a space of their own, you can simply set up their dog bed and favorite chew toy in the corner of a room. Or if they like the crate without a door, you can just leave the door off of the crate. If your dog likes a closed space, but not a kennel, you can make them their own blanket fort or put up a small child’s play fort or tepee for your pup to curl up in. Whatever you use, your pup will appreciate having a small corner of your home to call their own. You can contact dog training in Jacksonville as they offer services such as behavior modification of dogs which can help you control your dog better. 

Any area you designate as the dog’s area should be:

  • dog-friendly. Be sure that any toxic plants, cleaners, or choking hazards (like blanket strings or cat toys) are out of the way. If you’re dog is a chewer, provide a safe chewing toy in the kennel and consider removing blankets until you can safely leave your dog alone with one.
  • safe from other pets. If you are using dog crates, and have multiple crates in the same area, leave some space between them so your dog doesn’t need to worry about the other dog invading her space. If you have multiple dogs, provider a quiet, dog-friendly zone for each dog.
  • your space too. While your dog will appreciate her own corner of your home, it is still your home. Visit occasionally while she’s there, maybe offering a treat,  to prevent any potential territorial issues that might crop up.

Whatever you use, and even if your pup never leaves your side, their own space provides a convenient spot for your “go to your kennel” command when you’re answering the door or trying to serve dinner without canine interference. And once you have a houseful of holiday visitors, your dog, and your company, will appreciate it.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel