ORIGINAL WILD CANINES AND DENS
QUESTION: My Malamute pup hates being in her kennel. But the Dog Trainer (really big name in this city) states that all dogs love kennels as it is a DEN to them and that wild canines (such as wolves and coyotes) love their den for life? I did not want to force my 14 week old pup to continue to be in her kennel when she obviously hated it? I had followed guidelines on "Introducing a Pup/Dog to a Kennel". And also asked or sought out information from other people. Many people told me that their dog also hated it's kennel. I am now practicing things about pups/dogs that you talk about in the OUR ARCHIVE section of your site. My pup is now happier and coming along extremely well being kept blocked off from my whole house (just in the kitchen) while I'm at work/sleeping. My puppy prefers to sleep under the kitchen table but is starting to sleep other places as well. My Question is: Do our domesticated dogs really love kennels/dens like their wild ancestors did??? Is it true dogs don't mind being locked in a kennel like the dog trainer says since he claims they spend most of their whole life in dens except for when out hunting for food?
ANSWER: It is a MYTH that dogs love kennels, that it will be their DEN, their beloved home like their wild ancestors. Many puppies/dogs do seek out a kennel with the door left open and then bond with it, often for life. Many do not. It is a safe place for them when trying to sleep or just get away from being annoyed. Think about it, no one bothering them or invading their space? Going to and entering the kennel to be LOCKED IN IT happily is also a LEARNED BEHAVIOR, taught to a pup/dog by their owner who is their LEADER OF THE PACK. So, a dog may happily run into its kennel and sit there while the door is locked. That is because the animal thinks or believes that their Boss Dog (you the owner) wants them too so they must do it to avoid conflict with their Leader. Simple to understand if you sit down and think about it. My Boss Dog (you) wants me to do this so my whole life I will do as told??? That does not mean the dog loves being locked in a kennel. It means it is a "Learned Habit" only.
As long as a puppy can sleep (preferably with their back) against a wall, anything, they are happy. Once totally confident in their new surroundings, they will relax and/or sleep anywhere, even not with their backs protected from danger against a wall, back of a couch, under furniture, etc.
It is Natural, Hereditary Instinct left over from their Ancestors to fall asleep protected from an attack from behind. In the wild, a canine will sleep against a fallen log, a rock or a wall of sand/dirt, a tree trunk, thick brush, anything. That is instinct to protect themselves from unknown attack FROM BEHIND!
You will read a lot of HYPE and other stuff FROM PROFESSIONAL DOG TRAINERS about a dog loves a DEN (a.k.a. kennel) to be happy like their original Ancestors. WRONG!!! The people that write this stuff know nothing about wild canines (coyotes, wolves, hyenas, etc.).
IN THE WILD: The animal ONLY uses a den as a young pup where their mother gave birth to them until old enough to venture forth into a "Survival Of The Fittest" world. In most cases, once the pups are strong enough to travel, the mother not only takes them from the den but moves them a good distance away from the den. This is to protect them from other predators as the site of the den is "Soiled" with their smell and left over evidence of vulnerable new borns. YES, she will return if possible to a really good den the following year but think about it? The smell and evidence is gone by then!!!
They sleep with their backs protected from outside attack as I said, fallen logs, base of a large tree, (thus also protected from attack from Predatory birds coming from above) large rocks, hills, thick brush, etc. With domesticated canines, they fall asleep with their backs facing a wall or something solid until confident in their Territory.
Pups of any breed will be happiest not locked in a kennel. Still pups who are sensitive to their surroundings may bond with their kennel for sleep OR to avoid conflict, harassment or perceived punishment? Give a pup a thick blanket or open basket style bed out of the way, under a table, next to the wall, where ever, and they will be so happy. Or even an appropriate size kennel but with the door open or removed.