Denning is a Natural Instinct
Domestication of dogs is a fairly recent event in the history of canids on earth. Although wild canids have been around for millions of years, they have only spent a few thousand of those as our pets. As a result, they still retain some of their ‘wild’ instincts, and one of those is the instinct to ‘den.’
Canines have a definite instinct to hide out in dens. If they do not have one available, they will ‘make their own.’ We frequently see our dogs under desks, the dining room table, if they can fit. When a dog digs a hole in your garden one reason might be the instinct to make a den. What this behaviour is all about is a canine’s natural desire to have a place he can call his own.
Many people dislike the idea of ‘caging’ or ‘crating’ their dog, feeling as if it is cruel and somehow hampering his freedom. This is not true. Just go to a friend’s house who has a dog that has been properly crate- (or cage-) trained. The dog will often seek out this refuge when he is tired, stressed, or just wants to be away from it all. Your friend probably feeds her dog in or near his ‘den’; has provided soft, comfortable bedding for his ‘den’; and has plenty of toys for him to play with or to chew nearby. What dog would not want to stay in a place with so many luxurious amenities? Many people leave a cage or crate available for their dog so he has his own place to go to. The door is always open and the pet comes and goes as he pleases. To him it is not a cage, but rather an indoor doghouse that he feels secure in. Other advantages of cages or crates include:
• Safety for your dog and house: Having your young or untrained dog in a cage may protect your house from dog-related destruction while you are away or are unable to watch him. I know of a woman who forgot to put her 10-month old giant breed puppy in his cage. She came home to papers ripped up and strewn all over, , and toilet paper strewn throughout the house. A crate can prevent this type of disaster from happening. It can also prevent the young, unsupervised animal from hurting himself by chewing electric cords or becoming ill from something he ate during his escapade.
• When traveling with your pet, a crate in your car can protect both your pet and the driver from being disturbed. Whether you choose a plastic crate or a wire cage, you will be doing both you and your pet a favour when you get him his own ‘den.’