How To Create The Ultimate Den For Your Dog
Dogs are social creatures and love company, whether that’s other canine companions or their human owners. But even the most personable pack member needs some alone time once in a while, even if it’s only when they sleep. The best way to ensure your pooch gets quality downtime is to build them a den - their own dedicated space in your home with their bed, food bowls and comforters all in one place.
Giving your dog a den of their own isn’t just about pampering them, it can be a vital part of making them feel secure in your home. This is because dogs are descended from wolves, which make dens in the wild. Dogs appear to have inherited this need for a secure, surrounding environment. For many dogs, a large dog bed is enough for them to feel comfortable. But if your dog is a rescue animal, or seems especially nervous, marking out a spot for them in your home that they can retreat to when they feel fearful can make them less anxious.
So, whether you’ve been a proud dog owner for years or are excitedly awaiting your first four-legged friend, we’ll go through a few of the ways you can create a brilliant doggy den that will make your pet feel at home in your house.
Start with a super comfy bed
The best place to start when creating an indoor den is with your dog’s bed. There are several different types of dog bed, and if you want to find the best one for your pup, look at how they sleep. If they like to spread out on their back or stomach, a rectangular bed will give them lots of space to sprawl. If they sleep curled up, a bed with raised edges will make them feel more secure.
If your dog loves to burrow into their dog blankets or hide under your bed, the perfect choice for them might be a dog cave bed. These beds have a fabric hood that’s stitched into the base, creating a warm snuggly pocket that your dog will love nestling into. With a dual fleece lining, a dog cave bed is very warm, making it the preferred choice for small, short-haired breeds like Dachshunds and Terriers.
Get creative with an under stairs dog house
Some dog owners that are as passionate about DIY as they are with their dogs have found interesting and creative ways to turn unused space into a delightful doggy den. One example that lit up social media was the under stairs dog house. These DIY dens look just like an outdoor kennel, but it’s built into the hollow space under the stairs (think Harry Potter’s Privet Drive pad, but plusher!).
This indoor kennel can be a compromise between the comfort of an indoor den and the convenience of an outdoor kennel, as your dog’s bed won’t take up space in your dining room or living room. Depending on how large your breed is (and how big your staircase is), you might be able to fit an under stairs dog house alongside a bookcase or display cabinet.
The under stairs dog houses that have been shown in the media are lavish luxury doggy condos, complete with tiny panel radiators and even smart home cameras to help owners keep an eye on their pet. But things don’t need to get that complicated for you to give your dog a brilliant under stairs house: one simple way is buy a small triangular roofed outdoor kennel and place it under your stairs. If you want to maximise space though, you’ll probably need to build the under stairs dog house completely from scratch.
Help them feel secure with a dog crate
Besides a dog cave bed or an under stairs dog house, another super cozy option for a dog den is to get them a crate. It might feel a little like you’re locking your pup in prison, but the same surrounding comfort that your dog gets from a cave bed is true for crates as well. As long as the crate is big enough, paired with a cosy dog blanket (more on those later) and left open for your dog to come and go as they please, they’ll love sleeping in a crate.
The ideal size of crate largely depends on your dog's breed. Small dog crates are best for toy breeds like Chihuahuas, but if you own a Doberman, you’re better off looking at large dog crates. If you’re not sure what size to buy, measure your dog’s height and weight. Dog crate manufacturers use a combination of breed, size and weight to tell you what dogs their crates are suitable for.
Keep them warm with a dog blanket
A dog bed by itself may be warm enough in spring and summer, but don’t let all your dog’s fur fool you: they may need an extra layer come winter! Dog blankets are just the thing to keep your dog’s den cozy in cold weather. There are many dog blankets made from fleece or wool that give your dog all the warmth they could need.
When you’re shopping for dog blankets, make sure to think about how thick the blanket needs to be. Like a dog cave bed, short-haired or hairless dogs will benefit from thicker dog blankets, as they get cold more easily. Dogs with thicker fur like Labradors might appreciate a thinner blanket to give them extra comfort without overheating them.
Add some accessories
Once you’ve got the overall shape of your dog’s den worked out, it’s time to accessorise! Filling your dog’s space with pleasurable things like toys and food bowls that make your pet happy will help them associate their new home with good feelings.
Mealtimes are the highlight of many a four-legged friend’s day, and placing a dog water bowl and food bowl near their den is an effective way to promote good eating practices. If you set their bowls down in the middle of the kitchen where there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, it can encourage your dog to eat too quickly or even snap at passers by to protect their food. Having them near your dog’s den will make them feel less anxious when eating.
Dog food bowls vary a lot, and which design you’ll want to pick depends on your dog’s needs. Do they chew a lot? A durable stainless steel bowl can put them off gnawing. Is your dog especially large? An elevated dog bowl will help big breeds eat without discomfort.
A water bowl should always be placed near your dog’s food bowl and kept topped up with fresh water at all times. As a dog laps up water from their bowl, traces of saliva will get mixed, so you’ll need to clean it regularly too. That makes stainless steel and plastic popular choices for a dog water bowl.
As any owner who’s tried to hide treats or food knows, dogs are much more intelligent than people give them credit for. As thinking animals, dogs can get bored just the same as humans can. If you want to upgrade your doggy den, fill it with a variety of exciting dog toys to keep them occupied! Durable chew toys and tuggers from companies like KONG will keep your pet happily occupied, and focus your dog’s teeth on something other than your table legs or slippers! Another type of toy that can work brilliantly in their den is treat dispensing dog toys. Designed to feed your dog’s brain and belly, these toys will give your hungry hound a tasty treat - but only if they can solve a puzzle or move the toy in a specific way.
On cloud canine
Follow these useful guidelines and your dog’s den will be a pooch palace in no time! For more inspiration on ways to treat your pet, have a look at our dog supplies category. It’s filled with an array of quality pet products that all breeds can enjoy, from dog food to grooming tools galore. And, for the trendy tail-waggers, we’ve even got a selection of stylish coats and collars for them to strut their stuff in - paw-some!
Alternatively, if you’re searching for more dens to delight your dog, take a look at our selection of dog house guides. Here, you’ll find top tips on selecting kennels, prepping for a new puppy and so much more!