Sadly, the use of a kennel as a house for the family pet is sometimes mishandled and misunderstood and many think of it as a place for punishment or banishment for the dog – defining it as a ‘dog prison.’
The idiom, “in the doghouse” is thought to have appeared in print the for first time in “Criminalese: Slang Talk of the Criminal” in 1926. Authored by J.J. Finerty’s glossary of terms, the expression is still widely used, and everyone knows that nobody wants to be consigned to ‘the doghouse’ in a relationship. Despite its negative connotation, the expression does not have to mean a banishment of the family pet to the outside kennel for misbehavior or poor decision-making skills.
Whether you’re keeping a dog in the house or in a kennel full-time be mindful that each choice comes with its own set of pros and cons. There are ardent advocates for each lifestyle. A balance between the two is often overlooked as a viable alternative.
The dog kennel should be used as a place where the dog feels secure. It can offer a place of respite and comfort for the animal, away from the constant hubbub of a busy household, as well as a place for the dog to refresh and reboot. A kennel box with an in/out dog run allows the animal the freedom of a protected area to enjoy the outdoors and the health benefits of fresh air. It’s an opportunity to have a ‘room with a view’ to alleviate boredom.
Boredom is the mother of invention. As we all know dogs are brilliant at finding innovative ways to entertain themselves. Never mind what happens to mice when the cat’s away, what about what happens to the dog when the dog owner is away!
How many of us have returned home to find the dog standing on furniture, in some manner that it shouldn’t, trying to garner a look out of a window? Dogs falling off the backs of couches, laying on the kitchen table, jumping on the bed are all common occurrences when left to their own devices.
Why not give them a space to watch the goings on in the garden, sniff all the scents in the fresh air and perhaps have some canine companionship in an outdoor kennel? I once arrived home to find my Rottweiler, Bonnie, standing on the kitchen table, having chewed the entire length of the windowsill to shreds looking at me in askance as if to say, “Hey! Look what I did. Clever me.”
How does a dog owner assure themselves that the canine(s) in their care doesn’t regard the kennel as a prison?
For all dogs, young puppies in particular, it is essential that you offer plenty of potty breaks. As often as every 3 or 4 hours is ideal. Breaks out of the kennel are important for the health of all dogs. A kennel with an interior box and a simple hinged panel door accessing an outdoor run allows any dog to have a change of scenery AND a potty break when it needs it. Even when you’re not available to take him for a walk.
The rehomed rescue dog is particularly prone to stress from long periods of confinement. A very gradual introduction with short periods of ‘alone time’ in the kennel during the early stages of training will be necessary for the dog to hopefully learn to be content in the new abode and to settle. Special training may be needed over a long period of time for an abused dog to overcome prior neglect.
If time spent in the kennel is gradually increased rather than suddenly thrust upon the animal as a new routine, the dog will likely not become stressed and will learn to relax and enjoy the experience.
For dog breeders and owners of working dogs, the kennel can provide much needed extra space for their canines. The benefits of specific kennel design aimed at the business of providing the best possible care for the dogs in the most efficient manner are much desired and the residential and commercial grade kennel options address these additional needs.
That being said, a good kennel construction company won’t shortchange the residential kennel buyer by omitting the key components of a superior grade build. Easy-clean, properly seamed floors, insulated floor and walls, passive ventilation etc. will all be offered as Standard by the better builders.
Always check for proven experience in craftsmanship, design and customer service of the company before you make a kennel purchase and look at the quality of the features offered in the price point.
The list of features that can be incorporated into a well-designed kennel is extensive: bathing and grooming areas; designated room for feed/medical supplies and training equipment; heated radiant flooring and AC units, secure covered outdoor run areas fenced with welded wire (better than cheap box store bought dog pens made of inferior mesh).
If you’ve ever raised a litter of puppies in your home you know firsthand that the kid’s plastic wading pool does not offer the best solution to keeping messes contained in the house. The pups quickly learn to navigate the low sides and are soon off exploring and getting into everything. Relegating the pups (and their mom) in the garage with its cold concrete floor and all manner of odds and ends stored there can be a hazard to the health and well-being of a litter of fragile babies.
Blessing your dog with its own domain or safe place is something he will enjoy. When properly introduced, the dog will love a comfy den space that provides him with security to sleep in peace. Dogs sleep an average of 16 hours a day. Obviously certain breeds of dogs are more active than others, and it is important that each individual dog’s breed, temperament, age, and background are all considered when introducing the kennel to the dog’s lifestyle.
Even though dogs are man’s best friend, they obviously think differently than we do. While they don’t have a sense of time in the numerical way, the dog has a circadian rhythm that suggests to them when to go to sleep and when it’s time to eat etc. Dog owners that have established routines in their animal’s care, will certainly notice that the dog absolutely knows when it’s time for its potty walk, feeding or bedtime.
Sticking to a routine not only helps the dog with his digestion and sleep patterns, it also diminishes stress and reduces anxiety. While our busy lifestyles don’t always allow for ‘to the hour’ schedule keeping, sticking to routines in our dog’s care should be a priority.
Leaving a dog alone in a kennel for long periods of time – especially if he is not acclimated to it – is the best way to ensure the dog will become upset and will likely display signs of separation anxiety. House training issues, attention seeking negative behaviors, barking and belligerence are all likely results of parking the dog in a kennel and leaving him to his own devices.
The definition of a ‘dog’s day’ (meaning a period of stagnation or inactivity), should not be how the kennel is utilized. Rather, a kennel used as a retreat or refuge for the family pet rather than a punishment can provide significant added value to our busy lifestyles and, just as importantly, importantly improve the happiness and well-being of the family pet.
The kennel can provide safety and security for your pet from visiting kids’ roughhousing when playdates are organized; keep the dog’s diet free of table scrap feeding during busy family gatherings; alleviate the necessity of a visit to the vet due to ingestion of miscellaneous objects; make introductions of new babies or new pets to the household simpler and safer to manage; give an older dog more peace and quiet and a young dog the opportunity to learn to settle.
Don’t be shy there are many great reasons to give a kennel a try!