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Photo Courtesy of Pat Koven, LVT, KPA- CTP

A safe haven or space is a carefully designated, comfortable, climate-controlled area within your home where your dog can retreat when needed. Some examples of safe spaces include:

  •   walk-in closet;
  •   finished basement;
  •   covered crate;
  •   bedroom
  •   bathroom;
  •   sectioned off space (exercise pen or gated area).

When is a Safe Space Beneficial?

Noisy stressful situations

  •   storms;
  •   fireworks;
  •   parties;
  •   children or other dogs causing commotion;
  •   workers in the house;
  •   trick or treaters.

To contain your dog:

  •   during your departures;
  •   separate from other animals in the house.

As an escape:

  • to avoid situations when they are being harassed by humans or other pets.

What About Children?

Teaching children to leave your dog alone when in the safe space creates healthy boundaries for children and your dog. It gives your dog an option for escape.

How Do I Teach My Dog to Go to a Safe Space?

Most dogs need to become accustomed to being left in a space by themselves. This can be accomplished by pairing good things with the safe space. Practice sending your dog there every day. When first encouraging your dog to spend time in their safe space, monitor your dog for signs of stress. Change your approach if your dog seems uncomfortable. Some dogs choose to go to their safe space on their own, so this space needs to be available to your dog at all times.

What Else Is Important for the Safe Space?

For noise sensitive dogs, use a sound machine or soothing music. Low or soft lighting can be less stimulating for some. Some dogs are overstimulated or anxious due to outside events such as fireworks or storms. For these dogs, if windows cannot be covered, a dark room such as a closet or bathroom may provide the safety that your dog seeks.