Give a Dog a Den




Safe and Secure
In nature, a den is a burrow or hollowed space used by dogs as protection against weather and intruders. When properly used, a kennel becomes a puppy’s den where he can relax and feel safe. Dogs can become anxious or stressed if they are unable to find a secure den. A bedding area is important to your dog; his kennel will become a haven.
Here are five other great reasons to use a den for your puppy:
  1. Housebreaking. Dogs tend to avoid eliminating in their den. When combined with a good feeding schedule, a den becomes an important tool in the housebreaking process.
  2. Chewing and destructive behaviours. Your dog learns nearly all of his lifelong habits during his first year of life. Dogs learn through immediate association, so it’s important to make sure your puppy is not getting into mischief when you are unable to supervise him. If left unsupervised, your puppy may learn destructive habits that can be difficult to correct later. As a general rule, all dogs under one year of age should be in their den (kennel) when left alone.
  3. Safety. Your home can be a dangerous place for an unsupervised, untrained dog. Dogs have been known to chew electrical cords, houseplants, household trash and material that can be poisonous or cause injury.
  4. Travelling. Pets that are introduced to dens early on are much more comfortable while travelling. Air and motion sickness can be eliminated if your pet is well acclimated to a den.
  5. Convalescence. At some point your pet may need veterinarian treatment that calls for confinement during recovery. Pets that are not familiar with a den will become unnecessarily stressed when confined to a smaller area.
Using a den as a housebreaking tool:
  • Kennel Selection. The best kennel is one that is just big enough for your puppy to sit, lie down, stand and turn around. Giving your puppy too much space destroys the den concept, allowing him the option of soiling half of his kennel and still having an unsoiled area in which to rest.
  • Make It His Home. Placing a bed or blankets inside the kennel will make it comfortable and more like a home. Some favourite safe toys and treats can also help make the kennel become your puppy’s own safe area. Remember that your puppy’s kennel is a safe place and should never be used to punish him.
  • Housebreaking Your Puppy. Your most important project as a new puppy owner is housebreaking. Young puppies will need to develop bladder control, which is done by exercising the muscle that controls the bladder. Your puppy’s kennel will help with this by working with his basic instincts.
  • Dogs will make every attempt not to soil their den; it is where they sleep and they will want to keep that area clean. You can help them by starting a housebreaking routine and sticking to it. No matter how much a puppy doesn’t want to soil his den, you will force him to do so by leaving him kennelled too long. You will learn your puppy’s limits as you establish your housebreaking routine.
  • Your morning routine might go something like this: First thing in the morning before you do anything else, take your puppy outdoors to a small area of the yard and praise him for eliminating. After giving your puppy his breakfast, wait five to 10 minutes and then take him outside to the same spot. Walking your puppy will stimulate him to want to go to the bathroom. Once indoors, allow him some play time and then place him with some safe toys, back in his kennel. A routine like this will need to be repeated every couple of hours throughout the day for small breed puppies. Large breed puppies or older puppies may be able to control their bladder for longer periods.
Additional tips to make kennel training effective for your pet:
Do not respond with attention to your pet’s in-kennel whining or barking. If his behaviour goes unnoticed, he will stop. Try leaving the radio or television on for some company.
Establish a routine for your puppy by feeding him at the same time everyday and taking him out to his “bathroom area” often. Most puppies need to go as soon as they wake up from any naps, after they eat or drink and after vigorous play.
When your puppy is out of his kennel, be sure you can see him at all times and learn to recognize the signals he will give you when he needs to go outside. 
When you can’t watch your puppy, give him some safe toys or treats and place him in his kennel. Your puppy will learn how to amuse himself this way and will also have the opportunity to get the extra sleep that he requires.
If you are gone during the day, confine your puppy to his kennel or a play-pen and make sure he has his favourite toys.
Taking your puppy to the same spot each time he goes outside, establishes a routine and allows you to praise him for his successes. A scented housebreaking spray can be used in this area to intensify the urge to go and encourage him to eliminate quicker. Be sure to stay outside with him so he doesn’t become distracted and praise him while he’s eliminating.
Never punish your pet for making a mistake in his kennel or on the floor. Dogs learn through immediate association, so never correct him after the fact. If you see him making a mistake, immediately correct him with a gentle “no” and get him to the potty area as soon as possible. Be sure to clean up the mistake using an enzyme cleaner. This will remove all traces of the scent that draws your puppy back to the same area.
At night time, remove the water dish an hour or so before bedtime and take your puppy outside a final time before putting him in his kennel to sleep. Most puppies will adapt to your sleep schedule fairly quickly and should sleep through the night.
Please ask your pet counsellor for more information on house-training and all other aspects of puppy training.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets can potentially carry diseases that may be contagious to people. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their environments. Regular cleaning of your pet’s environment with a pet safe cleaner may help avoid the spread of contaminants.
Hygiene procedures such as washing your hands before and after handling your pet and/or after having any contact with their habitat, is a necessary routine. Children should be assisted with hand washing and always have adult supervision when interacting with pets.
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