Oh, how people love their dogs! They’re part of the family. They’re four-legged kids. They’re friends, confidants and companions to their human kids. They’re friends, companions and stress relievers for their human parents. They love their family unconditionally and make them happy.
In some families the dog sleeps on the furniture or in someone’s bed. In other families those are no-nos. No less love, just different house rules. Either way, has it ever occurred to you that your dog just might wish he had a place in the house that was his and his alone? Here are some ideas you may not have considered in providing your dog not only a loving home and family, but also a little bit of privacy now and then!
Dogs Love Crates!
Dogs don’t hate crates. People hate crates, or at least they think they do until they understand the purpose of a crate and why dogs love them. All dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves live in dens. Even though your dog is thousands of years removed from being a wolf, that desire for a warm, snug place of his own is still in his genes.
That’s really not so surprising when you think about it. Humans were never wolves, but they love their private places, too. Whether it’s a bedroom, a master bath, a workshop, a sewing room or a man cave, that’s where they go when they want to get away from the rest of the family to think, read or just have some quiet time to themselves. Why would a dog be any different? He’s not and that’s why he loves his crate.
If you’re getting a new puppy, don’t be tempted to buy a small crate that’s just his size. He’ll outgrow it in two months if not sooner. Buy a crate large enough that it will comfortably hold him when he reaches adulthood. If you have no idea how big he’s going to get, ask your vet to make an educated guess.
Make sure the crate has good ventilation; it can get warm in summer from his body heat even when your home is air conditioned. Put a blanket or crate cushion in the bottom so he’ll have a soft surface to sleep on and one that he can paw at to get it just right for his own tastes and comfort.
Crates Can be Furniture
Where should you put the crate? That, of course, is a matter of personal preference. But consider putting it in whichever room your family spends the most time, such as your family room or great room. That way your dog still will be part of the family when he’s in it. That may seem counter-intuitive in terms of his privacy, but dogs are social animals. That’s his wolf heritage again, and wolves live in packs. Dogs want to be part of their human family pack even when they want a little alone time.
But you don’t have to sacrifice home decor just to please your dog. Today’s crates aren’t ugly. In fact, some of them look like end tables! They come in several styles and finished like espresso, mahogany and Artisan Bronze to match or mix with whatever tables you already have in the room. You get a new piece of furniture and your dog gets his private place. How much more win-win could you ask for?
Well, how about an accent table crate that’s configurable and can be turned into a four-panel indoor gate to block doorways or close off open spaces?
If you attach a wide ribbon or strip of attractive cloth to the crate’s door, you’ll quickly be able to teach your dog to open it all by himself with his teeth or paws. It’s a riot to watch him do it and also saves you the hassle of having to get off the couch and come running every time he wants to go in.
Crates Are Safe
A crate is also your dog’s safe room. When you latch its door, he’s safely out of the way of repairmen, service people, even your guests’ noisy, obstreperous children! And if he’s nervous or downright terrified of loud noises such as firecrackers or thunderbolts, guess where he’s going to run and hide?
While crates really aren’t meant to be used for disciplinary purposes, occasionally your dog, just like one of your kids, may need a short time-out. That’s another of those situations where the door latch comes in very handy.
Crates Can Train Your Puppy
One final note about crates. If your new puppy isn’t housebroken when you get him, consider putting his crate in your bedroom at first. That way you’ll be right there in your own bed to soothe him if he whines or fusses at first. Letting him sleep in his latched crate overnight prevents accidents and lets you get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Even a young puppy will not soil his own bed unless he absolutely can’t help it. So do remember that his bladder is quite small. Don’t give him water prior to bedtime and take him outside the very first thing in the morning, no matter what the weather. Don’t brush your teeth or have your morning coffee until he’s done his thing and you’re both back in the house.
The Dog Bed Alternative
If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to put your puppy or dog in a crate, but you still don’t want him sleeping on the furniture or in someone’s bed, a dog bed is your next best alternative. Dog beds come in numerous shapes, sizes, styles, thicknesses and colors and have varying features. Many are machine washable and dryable.
One nice bed choice is one with a sewn-in cushion and raised edges. If you live in a cold climate, another good choice would be a thermal bed that reflects your dog's body heat back up, keeping him warm even if he’s sleeping in a room with a tile floor. There are hood beds to give smaller dogs that cozy den feeling. Some dog beds even feature the logo of their human parents’ favorite baseball team!
Whether you opt for a crate or a dog bed, your dog will thank you for loving him enough to give him a space of his own.