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July 2021

How To Create A Dog Safe Space

Crate training your dog

A crate can be an excellent way to create a dog safe space, for rest and relaxation. All types of dogs can benefit from having a safe space, to escape from the busy world and take a break from our chaotic lives.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find the days fly by and are filled with lots of rushing around. Sometimes, our dogs can get caught up in this, which can be really tiring for them!

Crate training can be really beneficial to help your dog have their own space at home. However, too much training could risk making your dog unsure and reluctant to use the crate. To ensure they view it as a safe space, they need to really want to be in the space and not feel under pressure to use it.

From my experience, a dog needs to find a resting space safe and appealing for the best success with them using it in the long term.

My experience

When I first got my rescue dog Poppy, I wanted her to be crate trained. But, Poppy had other ideas and never took to the training.

She learnt to go in on the crate on cue, but never wanted to stay in it. Her preference was to curl up on our bed, or hide underneath it. This was where she had chosen as her safe and cosy space. So, eventually we abandoned the idea of the crate. 

However, when my daughter was due to be born, I was keen to ensure Poppy had her own space downstairs to rest. I decided to re-introduce a crate as a dog safe space, but this time I tried a different approach. 

Instead of training her to use the crate, I created a safe space I knew Poppy would approve of. I made sure to get a large enough crate so she had enough room to feel comfortable and then removed the door so there was no risk of it accidently closing and distressing her.

I used a blanket inside the crate that she loved to sleep on and placed the crate in a spot where I knew she liked to rest. Occasionally, I added a few treats to encourage her to investigate it, but left the rest to Poppy.

She gradually started to use it and now it’s her main resting place! 

Follow your dog’s lead

A safe space doesn’t have to be a crate. You can create a cosy safe space within a dog pen or whatever works with your layout and home.

If you want your dog to use the space, then explore how to make it comfortable for them. Ultimately, give your dog a choice and follow their preference. Some dogs just don’t like to be confined. It can take a little trial and error to find what suits your dog. If your dog goes in it by choice, it’s probably a good sign that they like it as a resting space!

Dogs are individuals, so what one prefers may be different to another. Their preferences may also change depending on the environment and season. In hot weather, your dog may prefer somewhere cooler to rest. Likewise, they’ll probably want somewhere cosy in winter.

To be a truly safe space, it should be an undisturbed area. This means avoiding children, or other animals playing in or around it and avoiding pulling or coaxing your dog out.

Following your dog’s lead and taking the pressure off to provide your dog with a safe space can be the best route to success! 

Making sure your dog feels safe and comfortable is an important step in encouraging a contented dog. Get in touch today for help with your pet’s training and behaviour journey.

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