Tips for Designing the Perfect Space for Anxious Dogs

Tips for Designing the Perfect Space for Anxious Dogs

Key Points

  • A calming dog bed helps create a safe space for your dog.

  • Consistent elements give your dog a sense of security and assurance.

  • It's essential to have proper temperature and lighting control for the comfort and overall health of your dog.

When arranging your home, you try to make it just how you like it. What about your dog? It's crucial to provide the perfect dog space for them to be happy and healthy.

You don't have to hire "Queer Eye for the Canine" for your dog space design. You also don't have to pay a designer price for a quality area for your dog. Create your own perfect dog space and give your dog anxiety relief with these great tips.

Choose a Calming Dog Bed

A dog bed isn't just a place for your canine to sleep at night. Due to the energy they expend, dogs take naps during the day as well. With all the time they spend snoozing, their bed should be a place of comfort.

For a dog with anxiety, their bed is also a place of retreat, and it's their "safe space" when they're afraid or insecure. Calming dog beds give them the sense of security they need.

Many dogs have a noise aversion, so thunderstorms and events involving fireworks are particularly frightening. They become terrified when they feel they have nowhere to go, and their bed serves as their retreat in times of distress.

Dog in dog bed

Calming dog beds allow them to sink into the material and feel support on all sides by the raised rim. These beds offer faux fur-lined support around your dog's body.

If you have a senior dog or one with hip or joint issues, the cause of their anxiety may be chronic pain. For these poor pets, choose a calming bed with memory foam so the mattress comforts their joints and muscles without putting too much pressure on their nerve endings.

Select a Quiet Location

A dog bed is great, but your pup may still be able to hear loud noises. Put your dog's bed in a place separated from high-traffic areas. If possible, create a quiet dog space on the side of your house opposite the street or highway.

Dog under blanket

Your dog gets distracted during the day, but they'll notice these noises at night. If you can't eliminate the noises, you may be able to cover them up. Use a white noise machine, TV, or radio to provide a constant stream of low-level sound.

If your dog is still bothered, give them a calming chew to quiet their nerves. The chews have natural ingredients that promote a sense of relaxation. As time passes and your dog becomes accustomed to the noises around them, taper off the treats until they no longer need them.

Maintain Consistent Elements

You undoubtedly had a comfort item like a teddy bear as a child. Your dog also benefits from consistent elements, and a calming blanket makes a good comfort item. Your dog uses it in their bed, but it's helpful to take on car rides and trips, too.

Dog sleeping on bed

For a dog with separation anxiety, consistent elements provide familiarity while you're away. A toy, for example, becomes a fun distraction and gives your dog mental stimulation. Leave an unlaundered shirt or another piece of clothing in their bed so they at least have your scent while you're gone. Any sense of familiarity helps to soothe their anxiety.

Routines are essential as well. Your dog feels secure when they always know where their food and water are and when it's time to go out for potty breaks. For dogs with separation anxiety, exercise relieves that nervous energy. Take them on a long walk before bedtime so they sleep more soundly; do the same if you leave them alone.

Anytime you start a new routine in your dog's life, it's best to introduce them gradually. Perhaps you're working from home, but you know you're returning to the office soon. Practice leaving your home for short periods of time and gradually increase the time you're away. When you return to the office full-time, your dog will handle your absence well.

You've now introduced a new routine that remains consistent. Knowing what to expect helps your dog develop confidence and assurance, which are the opposite of anxiety.

Pup resting on sofa

Control Lighting and Temperature

Dogs are den animals, but they shouldn't be completely isolated. Use lighting control to ensure some natural sunlight enters the house to maintain their optimal health.

If your dog mainly lives outdoors, essential factors need consideration. The U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a publication in July 2022. In it, the agency details temperature requirements for dogs provided by the Animal Welfare Act:

"When the temperature is below 50º F, outdoor shelters must contain clean, dry bedding. When the temperature is below 35º F, dogs must have additional clean, dry bedding of sufficient quantity and material to absorb excess moisture and allow 'nestling' to conserve body heat."

Extreme temperatures are potentially dangerous, even for Arctic breeds, who still need protection from the elements. Provide as much temperature control as possible with straw, other bedding, or blankets.

Dog resting on couch with blanket

Keep their doghouse near your house for better protection, and turn the door toward the south to avoid cold, northern winds. Don't leave short-haired breeds outside in colder temperatures; they aren't bred for such weather.

Never house dogs in temperatures above 85º F during warmer months for more than four consecutive hours. Use some type of ventilation, fans, or blowers for temperature control.

If your dog is outside, be sure they have the opportunity to retreat to a shaded area. Ideally, bring them inside when temperatures are high. Basements are cooler than other areas of the house, but be sure to maintain lighting control there, too.

Provide Hiding and Den-Like Spaces

Many dogs like to hide and burrow -- being den animals, this is a natural instinct. Some beds allow your dog to nestle into the bed, and some even have a built-in hood or cover.

A crate is one version of a dog den creation. The ASPCA says crate training is helpful for some dogs, but it causes anxiety for others. They recommend monitoring your dog during crate training and watching for signs of distress.

Always leave the door open when first introducing your dog to the crate. Allow them to explore it independently and even add a toy or treat. Your dog should look at the crate as a positive place, one where they want to go as their "anxious dog retreat" when they're feeling nervous.

If your dog shows excessive or persistent howling, barking, drooling, whining, or attempts to escape, then a crate isn't for them. Instead, try confining them to a particular room or part of the house. Close the door or use a gate to prevent access to the rest of the house while you're gone.

Pup sleeping in crate

Give them a calming blanket and their cuddle bed so they feel comfortable in your dog den creation. They can burrow underneath the blanket but still have the freedom to move around. At times, they'll enjoy that dark and quiet dog space.

Designed for Relief

Your dog space design may not be the feature of Architectural Dog Digest, but it's the perfect dog space for your canine companion. Anxiety relief is the top priority when creating their retreat.

When your dog sees the perfect dog space you've designed, they'll look at you like you're Donatella Versausage or Nate Barkus. Their anxious dog retreat becomes more of a doggie day spa!

Subscribe to CalmingDog to read more about dog anxiety relief and check out all the great products.

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