In the Doghouse
By Audrey Pavia
Dogs are a lot like humans in one respect—they appreciate a safe, cozy home. Descended from wolves, dogs have a strong denning instinct, which means they feel happiest when they have a secure hideaway they can call their own.
Providing your dog with his own “den” will go a long way toward helping him feel comfortable and secure. That den can be in the form of a doghouse or a crate, depending on your situation and your dog’s needs.
In the days when dogs lived mostly outdoors, doghouses were a necessity. They provided shelter from the elements and a place for an outside dog to feel secure. Today, we know that dogs need human companionship and should spend the majority of their time in the house, especially at night. But for dogs that need to be outdoors during the day when their owners are away at school or work, a doghouse can provide a welcome respite.
Unlike the simple wooden doghouses of the past, today’s commercially made doghouses come in a variety of materials and designs. While some houses are made from plastic or metal, the most popular styles are still made from wood, with some featuring windows, skylights and front porches.
When selecting a house for your dog, look for a design that allows for good ventilation along with protection from bad weather. Make sure the house is insulated, and large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around.
If you choose to build your own doghouse, choose a plan that provides these same benefits. Be sure to use untreated wood in case your dog chews on any part of the house.
Dog crates are useful not only for providing a dog a safe place to retreat indoors, but also to help with training. Crates are invaluable for housetraining puppies, and for confining dogs that are still learning the rules of the house. Crates are also the safest way to confine a dog for travel.
Dog crates come in two basic styles: airline and solid wire. Airline-style crates have plastic sides, with a wire door
and windows. Solid wire crates are made of a wire grid on all sides.
Airline-style crates are the most adaptable type of crate. They provide dogs with a sense of security because of their solid sides, and can be used for travel. In fact, these crates are the only type approved for use on airlines, and are a safe place to confine your dog when he’s going somewhere by car.
Wire crates are also popular with some dog owners, who believe this style makes it easier to observe the dog while he’s confined. These crates can also be folded up when not in use for easy storage or transport.
Whatever type of doghouse or crate you choose, keep your dog’s health and wellbeing in mind. Make his “den” as cozy and welcoming as you can by including a soft blanket and his favorite toys.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.