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HELP! My Dog HATES "Crate-Rest"

Dog gets crate-rest.

Imagine if suddenly your world were confined to an area that allows you only enough space to sit, turn around and lay down with no room to jump up, go for walkies or bounce about as you normally do... for days or weeks on end. Well, when your canine buddy has been mandated some crate rest as a result of an injury, or perhaps he’s just been neutered (you can read a bit more on neutering/spaying pets here), or due to some other condition or surgical intervention, that’s essentially what happens - his whole world is drastically shrunk to an area only a little larger than his body. You, of course, know that following the vet’s orders to keep him confined to his crate, aside from the necessary potty breaks, IS indeed in his best interest, BUT you can see the boredom beginning to build, and he’s becoming a tad bit stir-crazy, to put it mildly, and you’re now tick-tock, counting down the clock to when he can return to his normal activities. In the meantime, you’re starting to feel like a heel with his constant whimpering and pleas for escape that are s-l-w-o-l-y wearing down your resolve. But stand strong and try to engage in some safe activities throughout the day that will help to alleviate some of his boredom. So, to that end, here are a few suggestions to help make the time fly by:

  • Make it comfy: Place the comfiest bedding you can find. Ideally, it should be washable for those occasions when he has an “accident”.
  • Place his crate in a high-traffic area: No, not the road traffic, silly, but the high-traffic areas in your home where the hustle and bustle of the daily activity takes place, such as the kitchen, a home office or the lounge. But do try to maintain a calm environment around him because that high energy might make him over-excited.
  • Dogsicles: Who doesn’t love a nice, frozen treat during the heat, or any time really? Your pooch will appreciate his very own frozen dogsicle. They’re super easy to make: simply freeze some chicken or beef broth in ice cube trays and dole them out as you see fit.
  • Toys! Toys! Toys!: When bored, most dogs like to chew, chew, chew… and chew - and your crate-resting canine will need a safe outlet to release his frustration and angst, which he does so well by... chewing. A Kong toy lined with some peanut butter and a treat stuck waaaaaaaaay deep inside should do the trick. It high in calories so it should not be an everyday treat but it will provide some relief. The idea is to keep his mind busy and active, so find a toy that requires him to think through how to get a treat. However, do keep the treats to low-calorie titbits because his temporary sedentary status can lead to him packing on the grams (and kilos?). Alternatively, a meaty bone can provide hours of blissful chew time.
  • Smelly Shirt: Dogs are driven by their olfactory senses and take in a ton of information via their snouts. Your scent is a source of comfort and familiarity to him (right?), so toss in an unwashed t-shirt that you’ve worn to bed for a night or two (PEEE YEW!). 
  • Spa Time: Ask your vet for some tips on massaging your poochie. It will help him to relax and offers fantastic bonding time for you both. Candles and soothing music are optional.  :-)
  • School Him: Now’s a great time to teach him some new tricks. They’ll need to be of the very low-energy, minimal-movement variety. So think of teaching him to keep his head down and touching your hand or an object with his nose. You can even do variations of touch with high-touch, low-touch, left-touch and right-touch. And when he’s back to his usual boisterous self, you can parlay the touch trick into more complicated tricks if you’re so inclined!

On a final note, as difficult as it might be, try really hard not to do anything that will be perceived by him as a reward him when he barks, whines or otherwise demands for your attention. You’ll only perpetuate his behaviour and drive yourself mad in the process… just keep reminding yourself that it’s really all for the best.

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