How to Keep a Dog on Crate Rest Entertained

How to Keep a Dog on Crate Rest Entertained
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If you've ever taken care of a dog who required complete rest for a lengthy period of time, you know how challenging it can be to keep a dog quiet. This is especially true in the case of young, healthy pets who are naturally physically active for a good part of the day.

There are several situations in which crate rest is called for, one of which is during treatment for a heartworm infection. Other situations that can require complete rest include treatment for intervertebral disc disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, osteomyelitis, saddle thrombus, and various post-surgical scenarios involving the repair or manipulation of bones and soft tissues, as well as patients with complicated wound closures or incisions.

A New Way to Look at Crate Rest

Dr. Debra Horwitz likes to use the term rest time for recovery in place of "crate rest" so owners understand their dog is recovering from a surgery or other veterinary procedure. Horwitz recommends the following tips to help pet guardians effectively deal with their dog's boredom and remain bonded during the prescribed treatment period. Teach

Your Dog to 'Settle and Relax'

Create an environment conducive to rest time for recovery. In other words, teach your dog to be calm and relaxed at a specific location or space in your home. The goal is to train your dog to associate a command and location in the home with having a calm, relaxed posture.

According to Horwitz, you should have your dog lie on a comfy rug or blanket you will consistently use for training, and institute gentle petting, massage and a cue word to signal your dog that it's time to be calm and quiet. As he begins to relax, reward him with food and praise. Continue to calm him until his facial expression is quiet and his breathing is soft. Consider playing music created just for dogs to help set the mood.

I have several clients who have conditioned their dogs to "settle" on a certain mat or blanket, which makes exams so much more relaxing for both of us. Mastering this beneficial training when dogs are puppies is ideal, and can be used throughout a dog's life to effectively create a calm, "safe space" for him.

Train the Brain

During your dog's mandated rest time for recovery, her movements will be restricted, but her mind will still need stimulation. Teaching her tricks and games appropriate for her temporary physical restrictions will help relieve boredom.

Horwitz suggests training your dog to "shake" with 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 might also want to use clicker training to help your pet learn to follow quiet commands during her recovery period.

Make Mealtime Last

The idea here is to make each of your dog's meals last as long as possible to help in the quest to keep him physically quiet, but mentally engaged. You can use food and puzzle toys to slow down his eating and challenge his brain. One thing you don't want to do is offer any toy or puzzle that encourages your dog to move his body around.

Let Her Chew

Another way to mitigate your dog's boredom is to provide a variety of safe, appropriate recreational bones and chew toys to gnaw on while she's in her crate or wherever she's confined. Again, make sure not to give her anything that requires her to move her body around and be sure to carefully supervise her during "chew time”. Bone broth popsicles are another way to offer tasty treats that keep your dog entertained and occupied during the recovery process.

Show Him Lots Love

Another way to keep your dog's boredom at bay is to replace activity with affection. 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.

Horwitz recommends restricting visitors during this time. She also suggests keeping your dog’s crate away from windows to discourage barking or other forms of physical stimulation.

Avoid the Outdoors

Finally, you'll need to keep your recovering canine companion indoors except for potty breaks to prevent unexpected bursts of excitement or physical activity. It's also important to keep your dog on a leash during trips outside to prevent her from "stretching her legs" or trying to chase a squirrel up a tree.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at:

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.

For more by Dr. Karen Becker, click here

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