A dog needs his own small space where he can feel secure. Such a spot helps a canine cope with the day's stimulation and stressors. For many dogs, a crate or cage serves as this special personal space. However, if you have a large closet that's going unused, you can turn it into your dog's very own room.
Remove all the human items from the closet, or at least all those in reach of your dog. You'll be able to keep high shelves, and you might be able to keep hanging clothes on the rod after you've converted the lower half to a dog cave. Sweep or vacuum the floor thoroughly. Inspect the floor, baseboards, walls, shelves and other areas for nails sticking out, splintering wood or other potential dangers. Address any you discover.
Paint the walls in a neutral, soothing color like beige if they aren't already. Use a stain-repellent paint product to prevent paw prints and other soiling.
Install a doggy door in the closet door if it's a suitable style so your dog can have privacy but free access to come and go. Otherwise, remove the closet door and hang a curtain in its place.
Move your dog's bed into a back corner of the large closet so the front area can be used for playing, eating or other various canine activities.
Put a water bowl in your dog's new room. You can include her food bowl, too, if you like, though many people prefer to keep food in the kitchen. If you have carpeting in there, place a plastic place mat beneath the bowl to protect the carpet from moisture. If you do put food in the closet space, be proactive about cleaning up in there.
Add one or two of your dog's favorite toys into the converted closet. Don't put them all in there -- remember, this is a room for brief periods of confinement and sleeping, not a place to keep your dog all day. She needs plenty of exercise, stimulation, attention and interaction with the family; you may feel like you're pampering her with her own room, but those other things are far more important to her.
Include one of your shirts or another item with your scent if your dog seems hesitant about staying in her room or seems to experience mild separation anxiety in there.
Keep the closet door or curtain open during the day when your dog isn't using the room, to increase ventilation. Be wary of how hot or cold the closet gets, since it may not have vents for temperature control. You may need to install a small heating and/or cooling unit that's either a safe distance out of reach or designed for use around pets.
Items You Will Need
- Broom or vacuum
- Stain-repellant paint
- Doggy door or curtain
- Dog bed
- Water bowl
- You need to train your dog to use her room. Assuming the dog has basic training, lead her in there and tell her to stay. At first, stay in there with her, then gradually leave her alone for increasing periods. Start with just a minute, though. Offer praise and a tasty reward when she stay put.
- Never send your dog to her room or lock her in it as punishment, as this will turn it into a place with negative associations, and she won't be able to relax or de-stress there.
- Don't put a litter box, pee pad or other potty in your dog's closet-room. She won't want to go so close to where she sleeps, plays and possibly eats.
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