5 Times a Crate Can Help an Anxious Dog
The crate is a go-to puppyhood tool that’s employed for everything from potty training to curbing unwanted chewing. But it can also be a haven for adult dogs who are prone to anxiety. Dogs who considered the crate a comfortable place to hang out during puppyhood might find that their safe and familiar spot is still the perfect hideaway when life gets overwhelming.
How crate training can help anxiety
Many pet parents transition their dogs away from crates once potty training is complete and they can be trusted not to chew shoes. After all, the crate is a training tool that helps dogs earn their household freedom. However, for dogs who tend to be skittish or nervous, their crate can be a zen retreat.
Anxiety in dogs can range from barely noticeable discomfort to full-fledged panic for dogs with severe separation anxiety. Providing your dog with the right kind of comforting chill spot can help decrease his nervous reactions. The crate's cave-like environment is a good fit for dogs dealing with the following:
- Construction noise: A crate placed in a quiet part of the house with a white noise machine nearby might make relentless renovation sounds more tolerable.
- Party time: While we might love opening our homes to guests, dogs don’t always share the same appreciation for a house filled with strangers. Letting them hang in their crate with a hardy toy in a spot that's removed from revelers can help them pass the time peacefully.
- Thunderstorms: Many dogs like to retreat to a den when the weather turns scary, and a crate covered with a blanket might allow them to weather the storm stress-free.
- A new home: Moving into a new home can be traumatic for many dogs, from the unfamiliar smells and sounds to the disorganization of unpacking a million boxes. Crating your dog with their unwashed bedding and one of your worn T-shirts can make the newness less scary.
- Post-surgery: Coping with an injury is tough enough, but a recovery that requires extended rest can be hard on dogs. Setting up your dog's crate for a long-term convalescence can make it less stressful and help to speed the healing process.
Crate safety and selection
When it comes to crate life, size matters. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably in their crate. If your dog no longer fits in their original crate, select an appropriately sized new one that's made of the same type of materials as their puppy crate, and place cushy bedding inside. Or opt to buy a larger crate that will accommodate your dog at its full size that comes with a divider so that you can adjust the space they have access to as they grow.
Keep the crate in a part of the house that's far enough away from disturbing sounds like construction or party noise but not so far that your dog feels isolated from their family. Keep in mind that since you're not using the crate as a potty training tool, you can leave the door open.
Allowing your anxious dog to enter and exit the crate as they please will reinforce the fact that it's a place of peace.