From the human
perspective, a portable kennel might resemble
solitary confinement and punishment. Many pet
parents tend to think of their dogs as a furry
four-legged people so they're appalled by this
type of confinement for hours. What's not
considered is that dogs are den animals by
nature as they evolved from wolves. Unlike
humans, dogs derive seek out confined spaces
under tables or desks for a sense of security.
A portable kennel provides a wonderful tool for
teaching good habits and curbing hyperactivity
and all sorts of destructive behavior, from
digging to chewing to house soiling. When
introduced properly and if dogs receive the
daily exercise they need, dogs adopt their
kennels as their lifelong sleeping area
overnight, or while the owner is at work.
A kennel can be a safe place for a dog during
wild child visits. What's more, it makes
traveling easier and safer than a pet seat belt.
Some molded plastic kennels are airline
approved, while the wire kennels have the
advantage of folding down for storage. To mimic
a den, wire kennels should have a blanket draped
over 3 sides.
kennel-training requires a proper introduction
and some time and effort. Depending on the
pet's personality, this "contented confinement
mind set" can take from a day to a week.
Here's how to do
Kennel Contented Confinement
First introduce just the bottom
half of the kennel (at any location you want) as
the pet's new dining room. Feed a few meals and
leave food puzzles inside. You don't get a
second chance to make a positive first
impression. When the pet is not eating, remove
the food and provide a comfy bed. Lure the pet
with a chew to encourage resting in the kennel.
Praise and stroke the pet when inside the
when the pet's body language looks relaxed
during the time in the kennel, assemble the
kennel top but leave the door open and toss
special food treats inside. At this point,
insist the pet stay in the kennel with hand and
verbal cues. If she comes out, simply put her
back in (toss a treat inside) and prevent her
leaving until you give permission. The key is
that the dog understand it is your will,
(not the door) keeping her inside. Wait until
she visibly relaxes, then call her out and
Third, begin to
close the door during feeding, and other times
try to associate some tasty food like peanut
butter inside a Kong® toy every time she is
locked inside. This is an excellent time to
teach the dog to only chew on your approved
items. Chew toys left inside should be too
large to be swallowed, and only made of a
substance that is acceptable to be destroyed.
(No squeaky or plush toys.)
1-3 days of gradual introduction, (and extra
exercise that day) close the dog inside
overnight with chew toys but no water. The best
location the first night is next to your bed so
the pet can hear and smell you sleeping.
Interrupt fussing by tapping the kennel, then
praise quiet rest.
For anxious pets,
go slower and during the introduction and
include a worn T-shirt, and a commercial
anti-anxiety pet pheromone (D.A.P. collar).
Smaller dogs accustomed to sleeping on the bed
can be put in a kennel on the owner's bed
overnight as a transition.
If the dog is
fussing and you are unsure of toileting needs,
take the dog outside once and watch to confirm
something is eliminated. Don't allow any
rewarding experience and return to the kennel.
Withhold food and water earlier in the evening.
Don't release the
pet during a tantrum but avoid scolding or
punishment. A good way to get a dog to stop
fussing is to jangle the handle on the kennel
without opening it. This sound usually startles
the dog into a moment of silence you can praise.
Try to get 3+ seconds of quiet, and then begin
praising that. Release the dog if quiet 10
seconds, but require a longer quiet period each
time. In rare cases, it might be necessary to
apply a head collar and string a line the door
of the kennel so you can rattle it from a
distance. Some dogs may need to wear a gentle
leader with a drag line outside of the kennel
that can be gently pulled to achieve a moment of
silence. A gentle pull will close the mouth so
you can insist on quiet, praise and reward that
silence by releasing the collar pressure.
If the pet panics
repeatedly when left alone it is possible that,
"Separation Anxiety" is part of the problem.
Once any medical and behavior problems are
properly diagnosed, this category of pet might
benefit from veterinary medication such as
Clomicalm® or Reconcile®
and a behavior modification program.
Rolan Tripp, DVM is
a Veterinary Behavior Consultant for Antech
Veterinary Labs, Petmate Pet Product
Manufacturing, and founder of