Taking Care of a Dog on Crate Rest

Dogs, just like people, can get sick and need medical attention.  While a hospital stay can be frightening for a person, it can be even more so for a dog. If crate rest is prescribed for your dog, either after surgery or due to an illness, you can make the time more enjoyable for both of you with a few simple steps.

If you’ve ever cared for a dog that needed complete rest for a long period of time, you know how difficult it can be to keep a dog still.  This is especially true in the case of young, healthy pets who are naturally physically active for much of the day.

There are several situations where crate rest is required for your dog, one of which is during the treatment of heartworm infection.

Now, the pressing questions still remain “how do you keep your dog entertained while in a crate rest?”.

How to Keep Your Dog Happy on Crate Rest

Here are few things you can do to help keep your dog entertained and happy while she’s on crate rest.

1. Show Him Lots Love

One of the ways to keep your dog entertained while on crate rest is to replace his boredom with lots of affectation and cuddling.  Be sure to keep him as close to you as possible, especially when you’re engaged in quiet activities like reading or watching TV.

When you take your dog outside to potty, ask other family members to come along. Trips to outdoor potty spots are a welcome change of scenery for a dog on complete rest, so encourage family members to tag along and offer lots of attention and affection.

2. Create a Relaxing Environment

Teach your dog to be calm and relaxed in a specific location or area in your home. The goal is to train your dog to associate that spot with quiet relaxation, which will be really helpful when crate rest is prescribed for your dog.

You should leave your dog with a comfortable blanket that you will use consistently for training, and gently pet, massage, and set a signal word to let your dog know it’s time to be calm and quiet.  When he starts to relax, reward him with food and praise.  Continue to calm him until his expression is still and his breathing is soft.  Consider playing music made especially for dogs to help set the mood.

3. Brain Games and Training

During your dog’s mandatory rest time, her movements will be limited, but her mind will still need to be stimulated. Teaching her tricks and games appropriate for her temporary physical limitations will reduce boredom.

Dr. Horwitz suggests training your dog to “shake” one paw and then the other. You can also teach her to do a chin rest or to touch your hand with her nose on command. You can also use clicker training to help your pet learn to follow calm commands during her recovery period.

4. Stimulate Your Dog’s Mind Using Food and Toys

The key is to find reward-based toys that will force your dog to think and work to access their food. They take their time and think, and not every dog ​​”gets” it right away, but your dog will eventually earn their reward.

There are a number of critical factors to remember about this type of stimulation. First of all, make sure to use toys that aren’t too convenient but won’t frustrate your dog at the same time. Balance is especially vital, especially if toys with food aren’t part of your routine.

There is one caveat; you should avoid these types of toys if your dog feels so unwell that he may not have the energy or motivation to engage in the play.  Otherwise, he may not be eating enough to recover properly.

The second thing to remember is that you don’t want to overfeed your dog while he is resting in the crate. Yes, this does mean that you shouldn’t lean too heavily on food toys alone.

Measure out the food your dog eats daily, including treats, and include some of that food to use in the toy. Your dog gets part of his daily nutrition through the toy, the rest comes during regular meals. They won’t even notice that their regular meals are slightly smaller.

If you use Kong toys, fill them with peanut butter, mashed pumpkin or even your pup’s favorite canned food. Then freeze them until they are firm. Frozen food is harder to get out of the toy, but it doesn’t take long to melt, requiring your dog to work a little harder without frustrating him.

5. Let Her Chew

Another way to reduce your dog’s boredom is to provide a variety of safe, suitable recreational bones and chew toys to gnaw on while she’s in her crate or wherever she’s locked up.  Chewing increases a dog’s serotonin and makes them happy and relaxed.

Again, make sure you don’t give her anything that requires her to move her body, and make sure you guide her carefully during the “chew time”.

6. Move the Crate to Lively Areas

Your dog is a big part of your life, but his crate can be tucked away in a kitchen or other room for convenience. This approach may be ideal for the average day, but it is unwise for the entire rest time.

When your dog is free, he will follow you wherever you go and enjoy your company. It is essential that your dog feels like he is still part of his pack while resting on the crate. This may mean moving the crate to a busier area of your home so that it can see and hear you more often. Regular contact makes your dog less afraid of being crated.

7. Schedule Breaks

Crate rest does not mean that your dog can never get out of the crate or move around; in fact, breaks here and there are usually fine.

You should talk to your veterinarian about guidelines on whether your dog can walk or if he should be carried, but generally it’s okay to take an occasional trip outside to go potty.

Keep your dog on a leash (when walking) to prevent escapes. Make sure to move slowly to avoid worsening injuries or stitches.

Wrapping Up

Crate training isn’t just for puppies. If you need to keep your dog on crate rest because of a health issue then you need to keep them happy and relaxed.  Just follow the tips in this article.