How To Cope With Crate Rest

If your dog has surgery or sustains an injury, they may need crate rest for a few days, weeks or months depending on the reason for crate resting. Although it is hard to confine your pooch to a crate, it is important to allow them time to heal. Most dogs will get tired and bored in their crate, so here are some tips to help you and your dog survive crate rest.

Listen to your vet

Your vet is there to help, so always listen to them and follow their advice. If they say your dog needs 6 weeks strict crate rest, you need to do what they say, otherwise, your dog could hurt themselves further and then need even longer in the crate. Your vet isn’t saying it to be mean, but they are doing what is best for your dog. Your dog may only be allowed in the garden on a lead to relieve themselves, or they may be allowed out of their crate for short periods if they stay calm. They may need to be carried down steps and to the car for vet appointments, but whatever your vet says, you need to be strict for the sake of your dog, even if they give you those big, sad puppy dog eyes!

Have a few crates

This is possibly one of the best pieces of advice I can give for several reasons. Firstly, if you have a couple of crates, your dog can be in whatever room or area of the house you are, so they won’t feel so left out and lonely. Having two of my own dogs on crate rest at the moment (eep!) you have my full sympathy as I know how difficult it is. If your dogs are like mine, they are happiest when they feel involved with whatever is going on. Moving them from crate to crate means they can watch whatever I am doing and it keeps their attention focused. The second reason it’s a good idea is that it gives your dog a change of scenery. We have one crate in the study where my dogs can sit with me as I type this blog, they can see out the window and listen to the awesome Disney music I have playing. Later on, I will move them both into the lounge where they can be in a different crate in and watch TV with me. It is easier to pick them up and put them in another crate than it is to fold the crate away and move it. It’s less stress and hassle for them and me.


Keep things calm and comfy

It’s critical that your dog stays calm and rests to allow them to heal. Both of my two dogs who are on crate rest can be very excitable, so I am trying hard to keep them calm although this can be hard. The crates have been covered with blankets to create a den for them, and to keep it quiet for them. Soft music is playing and I have banned their favourite people from my house as they both get too excited seeing them! The crates are kitted out with comfy bedding, such as duvets and vet bed to allow them to rest. Don’t forget to give them a water bowl, but be careful they don’t dunk their blankets in the bowl. You can get bowls that can hang on the side of the crate if your dog keeps getting their bed wet.

Your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them for nibbling or licking at the surgery site, or injured limb. Some dogs can wear comfy collars, which are basically an inflatable ring that goes around their neck. Eric used his as a pillow as he slept, and he could still look around, which can be difficult with the traditional cone collars.

When it’s time to go outside, the first problem I had was with Eric who got super excited when he saw his lead as he thought it was time to go on a walk. I now bend down to his level so he cannot jump up at me, pick him up and then put his lead on so he doesn’t get too hyped. It is easier said than done with a stocky pug, but I think this whole experience has made my arm muscles bigger!

Puzzle toys

The boredom crept in on day 2 for Eric and considering he is meant to be resting in the crate for the next 6 weeks, I knew I needed to find ways to keep him occupied. I managed to get him a few puzzle toys with varying difficulties as it’s not just physical exercise that will tire your dog out, as mental exercise can too. If your dog is food orientated, like Eric is, you can use this to your advantage. Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog engaged and thinking. You may need to spend the first few attempts teaching them how to use it, but it’s worth it when they get the hang of it. Eric really enjoyed this one. 


Kong toys are great too as you can stuff them with food and then freeze them, meaning they last longer. If your dog can finish a Kong quickly, you could try coating the inside with honey to keep them working at it. You can also get Kong Wobblers that are weighted at the bottom and your dog has to tilt them to release food. Don’t forget to give them smaller meals as your dog will be consuming more calories and hardly burning any off during this time. Depending on the injury or surgery, extra weight will cause problems!


Normal toys are good too, and encouraging them to play calmly is a good idea. Eric enjoys chewing on toys, so I got him a couple of flavoured Nylabone toys to have as well as a new teddy bear to snuggle up with. However, you don’t just need toys to keep them occupied. Being in the crate for a long amount of time gives you and your dog a chance to really bond and spend quality time together. My dogs love to be brushed and this time allowed me to sit with them and give them my undivided attention, whilst having a relaxing groom too. It is also an opportunity to teach your dog a new command, such as paw, give and stay, which will help to keep their brain working.


DAP diffuses

DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) diffusers work by diffusing pheromones that are similar to those the mother dog would have and can help to calm dogs. I’ll admit, in my experience not all dogs seem to be affected by them, but for those that do, they can help to keep dogs calm and relaxed, especially during crate rest. The company makes a range of products, from diffusers you can plug into a socket, to sprays you can use on bedding and collars too. If your dog is having trouble keeping calm, it might be worth trying one of these.

Take them on a drive

If your dog can stay really calm and be confined to a crate or wear a harness, you could take them on a short car journey. This may not work for all dogs as they can get excited, however, watching the world go by can be relaxing for your dog and help improve their mood. You could stop at a grassy area to allow your dog to have a quick sniff and toilet break, but I would recommend checking with your vet before doing this as you wouldn’t want your pup to overdo it.


Use non-slip mats

Slipping and sliding on the floor can be dangerous for dogs on crate rest. You may want to put a non-slip mat under your dog’s duvet or bed in their crate. If your dog is like my dog, Nacho, they may burrow under the blanket and move it around, exposing the floor. Lot’s of dogs get excited when the door of the crate is opened, so it’s a good idea to teach them to wait or stay, and lead them out calmly by the collar. By placing a non-slip mat directly outside the crate, it can help them stay upright and not slip on the floor.


If your dog is on crate rest now or has surgery coming up, follow the advice above and I hope they are better soon!

Read about 10 things humans do that annoy dogs

Has your dog had crate rest? Tell me in the comments below

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