Tip of the Month: Does your dog have their own place?
Perhaps your answer is, “of course, they live in my home and my place is their place”. Actually, yes, they live in your home, however, what they really need is their own 'place' within your home.
Dogs naturally like to have a safe, private space to call their own, be it a den or crate, a mat, a dog bed, even a dog bed in every room! Without a place to make and covet as their own dogs will often be restless and roam listlessly trying out several spots to really be comfortable and settle. Their 'place' is where they can go to relax, find safety and comfort, without distraction without being 'wrong' for being in an inappropriate area. Like us enjoying our favourite chair, dogs are creatures of habit. They will enjoy more confidence, become more balanced and find more contentment overall, when they are able to consistently look forward to getting cozy in their favourite personal doggy place, within your home.
If your dog doesn't yet have their own place, you can easily create this by putting something like a dog bed, cozy carpet, something padded or cushioned in a convenient space, ideally within sight of where you spend time. I suggest this space not be in the kitchen nor any crowded or high traffic area. It needs to be a positive, quiet and satisfying place to go. Lay something that smells like you on that space, a favourite toy and perhaps a treat to make that place more inviting at first. Begin the process when you have time, can be patient and are not in a hurry to leave anywhere soon. It may take several minutes over several days to have enough positive repetitions to establish a gradual transition from freely roaming the house to happily seeking out their own 'place' to settle.
Start by gently and calmly taking your dog to that place while consistently and repeatedly directing something specific like “go to your mat”, “on your carpet”, “to your crate”, or “in your den”... you get the idea. If your dog goes there and then leaves quickly, be sure to calmly and patiently take them back there and positively support them to stay in that spot for longer and longer. You may even spend a little time there yourself sitting with your dog to help them relax (reading a book or checking in on your social media is handy to help pace some time-don't be impatient to leave!). Soon you'll be able to just direct your dog verbally and your dog will easily choose to go to that same place to spend more and more time relaxing.
That your dog has their own place and space is important. The comfort of having their own place will carry over when travelling, camping, when you have company or even when leaving your dog at a boarding kennel. You will also find it's especially handy during these upcoming seasons of the year when things start to get more wet and muddy. As your dog gets wetter and dirtier than usual and has more coat to hold the moisture (and will likely shake all over, given the chance!) you will appreciate that you can send them to their 'place' to dry off comfortably without tracking the damp dirt all over thehouse or worse, shaking it everywhere! You may just find that your dog and yourselves will be more
peaceful and content overall, each having their own personal, comfortable and reliable place to call their very own, within the home. Enjoy the advantages!
For more dog training tips, visit my Ask The Trainer page. Ask me about dog-owner training today as well!