Create a Zen Space for Your Canine

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Give your dog his space, where he can go to stress-out. Read on to discover why a dog's safe haven is so important and how you can create one.

Dogs are social beings, but they need a break from time to time. Plus, your dog might be naturally shy or nervous for different reasons, such as loud noises, fear of events, or he might suffer from anxiety.

So, creating a place where your dog can be alone is a great move. Creating a place where your dog can escape to some alone time significantly reduces anxiety and helps the dog deal with stressful situations.

Even if your dog doesn’t suffer from anxiety or any fear, it’s still helpful for a dog to have his own haven, where he can go easily and relax a bit.

How to Set Up a Safe Space for Your Dog

Your dog’s space is important for your dog’s well-being. Everyone needs a corner of silence from time to time. Plus, if your dog suffers from any form of emotional distress, having his own space can help tremendously to feel better.

A safe place is also a great tool when it comes to leaving. If a dog can leave a situation, it can increase his confidence in dealing with uncertain or stressful situations.

Your dog’s safe place is also a powerful tool to teach your children how to behave around dogs and how to respect their space. When a dog enters his safe zone, he shouldn’t be disturbed.

Once a dog enters his safe zone, it means that he wants to be alone, not to have cuddle time, or to play with you or anyone. This small space can make a massive difference in bite incidents between the family dog and children.

A safe haven for your dog doesn’t have to be a big area; it can be a simple blanket. Provide a cozy blanket, bed, or sung crate in a place located away from well-walked areas.

It can happen that your dog may have already chosen a place he takes himself to, such as behind the bed, under a table, or by the side of the settee.

If this is the case already, you can put the blanket, bed, or open crate there. This is how you create a dog’s safe haven, effectively and stress-free.

Sometimes it’s even better to monitor your dog first, see where he moves and where he likes to be, and then bring in the bed, blanket, and so on. A blanket or a bed means a safe haven, but a crate is the general safety area that your dog may require.

You may not be a fan of a crate, but you can make it a comfortable area with cozy pillows, nice blankets, and various dog toys. Of course, you shouldn’t insist on a crate; a simple blanket can be enough sometimes.

Do you have more than one dog? In that case, each dog would need a safe haven. The resting area needs to be the resting area only. This isn’t the place where you should serve your dog his food or treats.

Leave Your Dog Alone

Educate your family members on how to behave toward your dog’s safe haven. When your dog goes to his place, act as if you don’t see him.

Dogs are known for demanding love and attention, so when he wants attention, there is no doubt that he will get up and require it!

Your dog should have a choice. You may call him to come to you, but know that he wants to be alone if he doesn’t move. Always allow him to come to you.

A safe haven is a great way to understand your dog better. If your dog takes himself off to his safe place during a specific situation, you can understand better what makes him unhappy, so you can prevent it from happening next time.

For example, if you get a hairdryer on and your dog immediately runs to his place, it’s clear that that specific sound makes him anxious. So, help him avoid this situation next time.

Give him his favorite toy to keep him safe, and associate the new sound with something pleasant.

Simple Steps to Creating a Room Just for Your Dog

Leaving your dog home alone is hard on both of you. Some dogs can’t stand being alone, like Dalmatian, while others can spend hours enjoying the silence and being on their own.

Truth be told, dogs can handle being on their own for some time, as long as they feel safe to stay alone.

They need a comfortable place where they can feel comfortable and entertained. Here are some ideas on how to create a great dog’s haven.

Spare Space

If space allows it, you can have an entire room as a dog’s safe haven. However, as mentioned earlier, the dog’s zone doesn’t have to be huge; even space underneath the staircases will do.

In fact, many dogs prefer smaller spaces – it makes them feel safe. This way you will keep your dog in one area, and prevent other rooms from being exposed to various unwanted behaviors like chewing, barking, and potty accidents.

Any spare space in your home will do an extra bedroom, a large walk-in closet, or even a laundry room. If you live in a small apartment, even a baby gate can provide a safe space.

Safety First

Once you have determined the dog’s safe zone, it’s crucial to make sure that’s safe. If your dog is older, you don’t have to care as much as he were a puppy.

Older dogs usually know house rules and won’t destroy objects. On the other hand, if you have a puppy or a very young dog, you will want to take steps to dog-proof the area:

  • Keep household materials outside the dog’s reach
  • Tape down electrical cords
  • Remove trash cord, or hide them
  • Put away shoes, kids toys, and even clothes that your dog might get his paws on
  • Make sure that the temperature is right

Hopefully, your home is already outfitted with a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitor, so make sure that you check for battery regularity frequently.

Surveillance Gear

This isn’t mandatory, but it is a great way to keep an eye on your pet. Webcams are easy tools to let you check on your pet while you’re away. The best thing is that the fundamental model doesn’t cost a lot.

These cameras also have a sound, so your dog can even hear your voice, but this is something to be careful about – hearing you and not seeing you can be stressful to some dogs.

Some cameras come with a treat-tosser that lets you reward good behavior from afar.

Creativity & Imagination

If you are creating a dog’s space, you can get creative as much as you like! Luckily, the internet is full of examples, and you can get hundreds of ideas on how to create a dog’s safe haven that actually can look magical.

You can even install a dog den under the stairs, turn a closet into a puppy palace, or create a real-life palace as a DIY project. Remember: dogs don’t need anything fancy!

The most important thing is that your dog zone can provide a comfortable and safe place for your dog to rest from time to time or when you are not home.

How to Get Your Dog Used to Their Safe Space

Now that you know why a dog’s safe place is needed, you should learn how to introduce it to your dog. Dogs tend to take a step back from things that are not familiar to them.

So, introducing it to them the right way is mandatory. Here is how to get your dog to use their safe space:

  • Introduce your dog to his safe space as early as possible.
  • If your dog picks a safe place naturally, don’t force change.
  • Give your dog treats in his safe space. Use Kong to place extra treats on the side; it should keep him busy for hours.
  • Every time your dog chooses to relax into his space, toss a treat. This way, you will inspire him to go there more often.
  • Don’t use the safe space as a feeding or playing area.
  • Your dog’s safe place is just your dog’s area.

The Bottom Line

If you notice your dog is becoming stressed by near activity or any outside noise, encourage him to go into his safe place. Let him settle in and reward him with a treat or even a long-lasting chew.

Praise him for his good behavior when he settles in his safe zone and make sure that no one goes in and bothers him when he needs some alone time. This way, everyone will be happy and safe.