Confinement is unnatural for dogs, but they will eventually learn to adapt to it.
Dogs make wonderful pets and they are highly social animals. They are a source of comfort, affection, a companion for walks and play and an effective watchdog. But with work schedules, school, running errands or other chores, some dogs may need to spend part of the day confined.
If your pet is unsupervised, he may decide to explore where he shouldn’t, get into the trash or even defecate in the home.
When you confine your dog, it’s exactly the same thing as putting a toddler into a playpen. It’s to keep them out of trouble while enabling them to relax while confined. If your dog is not happy, then you will have a problem and confinement anxiety may be the result.
What Is Confinement Anxiety?
Confinement is not separation anxiety. Confinement anxiety can happen whether you're home or not. Your dog may be unhappy being crated while you’re out running errands, or even in a room with the door closed if you have company. If your dog is anxious when confined and urinates in the dog crate, you will have to do some confinement training. This will train your dog that being away from you doesn’t have to be a stressful time but can even be fun.
Symptoms Of Confinement Anxiety
The most common signs of confinement anxiety are whining, howling, barking, restlessness, destructive behavior, incontinence and obsessive behavior like biting and fur chewing. You can distinguish if your dog has confinement anxiety from other behaviors. If he starts to exhibit anxiety when he thinks he’s going to be confined or when he’s confined, the thought of confinement is the cause of his anxiety.
How To Fix Confinement Issues
1. Positive Reinforcement
You can help your dog with anxiety and to accept confinement with positive reinforcement. If you reward your dog with praise and a healthy treat when he's confined, then he'll figure out that he gets goodies when he is released. You can use a treat toy, so he can have some fun finding the treat and then eating it. He may have developed a negative association with being confined, so you can use counter-conditioning and neutralization techniques.
By using positive stimuli when your dog is confined, he has a positive feeling about being confined. With neutralization, you let your dog be introduced to being confined for brief periods. He then realizes that confinement is only temporary, and you always come back to release, reward and praise him.
3. Crate Or Special Place
To begin with, figure out where you're going to confine your pet, whether it’s in a Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate, a room or a particular area. Make it a special place by putting favorite toys like the Puppy Heartbeat Pillow and Zesty Paws Calming Soft Chews for Dog in the area so when he wanders into that area he'll get a treat or be able to play with a favorite toy. If you buy him any new toys or treats, always give it to him in that space. That way your pet will associate that space with good things that happen.
Once a day, place your dog in that area for a couple of minutes with a special treat or toy while you’re at home. This will help him to understand that confinement doesn’t mean you’re leaving the house. If he barks, don’t pay attention, don’t comfort him, don’t yell or punish him; just ignore him. After a few minutes, go and let him back out and give him praise and attention.
Do this every day and extend the time until he’s comfortable with you leaving him for more extended periods of time. When you confine your dog, you're not cruel; it's giving your dog security and independence. Plus, he'll understand that he'll be fine even if you're not around.
Dogs that are used to being confined or crated will be less stressed and feel more secure.