No matter how small or large either your house or your dog is, it is important that your dog has an area of space within the home that is his territory, and that he can call his own. Whether this takes the form of an entire room dedicated to your dog’s living quarters, or if your dog is crate trained and his personal space consists of just his crate or kennel, picking the right place and type of room to house your dog or to contain his own ‘territory’ is very important.
Why does my dog need his own area of the home?
Even if your dog has the run of the house and is encouraged to join the family in their activities in every room, your dog will still need a space that he can use to settle down in to sleep, for quiet time, or if you need to close him away from other comings and goings or activities going on within the home. Having a place where your dog can retreat to and feel safe when he feels overwhelmed and that is off limits to strangers and children is important for your dog’s wellbeing, as is letting him know that that space is available to him, even if he rarely uses it. Sometimes you will need to leave your dog at home unsupervised while you go out, and again, teaching your dog that his room or his crate is the appropriate place to settle and wait out this time, and that he enjoys his space and is happy to be in it, is all part of keeping a happy and secure dog.
Picking the perfect place
You may find that you will be able to take your cues from your dog in terms of allocating his own personal space to him, by altering or making provision for him to use a room or corner of the home that he naturally sought out. Whether you decide upon the room or spot your dog should be using or if he finds it himself in an area that is also convenient for you, it is important not to alter this place or try to re-assign him to a new area without good reason after he has come to associate that place with his personal space.
- Your dog will need to rest and be able to be quiet in his spot, so avoid locating it in areas what have a lot of comings and goings, particularly by people who are not part of the family that he is familiar with. Hallways and walkways are not a good pick, although the area under the stairs may prove suitable if it gets enough natural light.
- Make sure that your dog’s room, corner or crate suits his size. All dogs must have room to stand up, stretch, turn around and move freely, but also, if you have a small dog, providing a space that is too big can prove overwhelming and not make them feel secure.
- When at rest or preparing to sleep, dogs like to keep their backs to the wall, and so a corner area or at least one firm wall at the back of his space is almost essential.
- You may find that using an area of the kitchen or a utility room can be handy, as uncarpeted areas of the home make for easier clean ups of fur, food and mess!
- It is important that your dog’s room or space is warm enough and has a constant temperature regardless of the season, and is not too hot or too cold. Making sure that this space is away from any doors that are opened and closed frequently, and avoiding picking a spot that is in the glare of direct sunlight or next to a radiator is wise.
- Similarly, avoid placing their space and bed in the line of any drafts, and be aware that at floor level where your dog will lie will be colder than higher up.
- Your dog will need access to natural light if he is to be left in his space during the daylight hours, and so an enclosed cupboard or a room with no windows is not appropriate.
- Make sure that your dog’s bed in his corner, room or crate has a thick enough base and soft padding to protect him from the hard floor and also from the cold that can seep up from the floor area.
- Allow your dog to arrange his own bedding in the way that he chooses; dogs often burrow into their bedding and make a kind of a nest, and he is unlikely to be particularly happy with his bed if you are always ‘making’ it or tidying it up after he has used it!
- Your dog should have access to fresh water in his corner, room or crate, and you may also use that area to feed him his regular meals in too.
- It is also important to make sure that your dog has sufficient toys, sources of entertainment and familiar items in his space, to make sure that he feels secure and does not get bored when he is left.
- Ensure that your dog has positive associations with his personal space, and uses it as somewhere that he chooses to be on occasion, and not just somewhere that he is sent to when he will be left alone or has been told off.
- Finally, make sure that all of the family, including children, and any visitors that you might invite into your home understand and respect the area that your dog calls his own. If your dog has voluntarily retreated into his own space to chill out or get away from too much rowdy behaviour or foot traffic, make sure that he is not disturbed there or given any reason to feel insecure in his bolt hole.