Cage rest for dogs

Occasionally your dog may require cage rest due to health or injury. If you have to leave the house and can’t take your dog with you, sometimes leaving it in a cage is safer than allowing it to roam the house. Here we show you how to prepare the cage and how to make the time your dog spends in it as interacting and stress free as possible.

Dogs on cage rest

Ideally, you should prepare the cage or crate prior to your dog coming home from the vet. If this is not possible, then assemble the crate away from your dog to reduce noise levels and stress. Ensure the cage is adequate size to allow the dog to stand, sit and lie down in it. It should contain access to water, maybe some treats and your dog’s favourite toy.

With the crate assembled, cover half of it with a blanket or towel so that your dog can choose to seek comfort in a darker space out of sight or be out in the light, where they can see what’s going on. 

If you are planning on placing the crate on laminate or wooden flooring then you should place a blanket or mat under the crate. This is to ensure that when your dog steps out of the crate they don’t slip on the flooring. A lining under the crate also provides extra warmth from the cold floor.

Ideally the crate will be in the same room as you throughout the day so that even though your dog is crated, they will still feel a part of the family and be able to enjoy watching you. This helps to prevent loneliness and calm your dog.

Listen to advice

While it can be tempting to let your dog out of its crate early due to whining or barking, or perhaps because they look to have recovered, avoid this. It is very important to listen to advice from your vet about how long your dog needs to be on bed rest.

Letting your dog out early can delay the healing process, or hinder it altogether. It may lead to a greater chance of your dog re-injuring themselves further down the line.

So what can you do with your dog when they’re bound to the confines of a crate? Here are some tips to keep your dog mentally stimulated and calm during this period.

Peace and quiet in the cage

The best thing to do for your dog is to make them feel as calm as possible while they’re confined. Ensure their crate is a safe space where they don’t feel stressed or anxious. To help keep them calm we recommend the following:

  • Using an Adaptil plug in diffuser, which works by releasing a scent given off by a mother dog when she has puppies, can help relax your dog as they find the smell comforting
  • Try to restrict yourself from having family or guests over as this could excite or worry your dog. They may become anxious if they can’t avoid your visitors or frustrated if they can’t greet them, so best to keep things low-key while they are confined.
  • It’s worth considering placing a sign on your front door that asks people not to ring the bell or knock but to call you instead
  • Your dog can benefit from a calm, gentle massage or TTouch, which involves using gentle circular touches to relax your pet. The massage should be slow with steady pressure, not fast.
  • Any talking should be in a calm voice as opposed to the usual high-pitched tones we adopt to excite our dogs

Away from home

If you can’t allow your dog the run of the house when you leave, keeping them in a cage or crate will prevent them from damaging your home or injuring themselves. You can leave an item of your clothing in the cage with your scent on, to provide the dog with some comfort while you are gone. Leaving the radio on or playing classical music can reduce stress and give a sense of company in your absence.

Remember not to leave your dog alone in a cage or crate for prolonged periods of time. Approx 4 hours at one one time for an adult dog is long enough.

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Download tips on best practice for cage rest here.