Annie's Column
Annie's Column
   The Den Instinct

Here's a little-known fact for new dog owners: Most dogs like crates.  To
them, it is their "home away" from, well, home.  Although many owners
are reluctant to train their puppies to use a crate, doing so can ease the
housebreaking period, help puppies to travel safely, and give them a
comfortable place to retreat for peace and quiet.  Here are some crating
*  Most puppies quickly come to consider their crate--especially when it's
padded with a towel or pillowy liner--a den. And since, by nature, dogs do
not like to soil their dens, using a crate during housebreaking can help
teach young puppies when and where it is appropriate to "go."

*  It is important to purchase or build a well-ventilated crate that gives
your dog plenty of room to comfortably stand up, lie down, and turn
around.  If the crate is too big for the puppy, install a divider so that the
puppy uses only half of the crate. (If the crate is too lare, the puppy may
eliminate in one end and sleep in the other.)

*  Timing is everything.  Although many puppies can make it through
the night, they should only stay in the crate for a few hours at a time
during the day.

*  Although most puppies learn quickly, they cannot always control their
urges.  Should your puppy soil his crate, do not harshly reprimand
him/her, but quickly take him/her outside and praise him/her for going
where he/she is supposed to.

*  Finally, a crate should never be used as a punishment, but should be
encouraged as a place for your puppy to relax, sleep, and get away from
the world.

*article taken from AKC Family Dog Magazine  2004
Before a dog lies down for a nap, he
slowly spins about in several circles on
the spot where he is going to sleep.

   To explain this behavior, we must
go back to dogs' roots-to the days
when they were born and lived in the
wild. Though we cannot know for sure
how domestic dogs' ancestors
behaved, we can make reasonable
assumptions based on observation of
the behavior of wild Candis today.
   With respect to the circling
mentioned, what is seen in nature is
that wild dogs walk in circles to
flatten the grass before lying down in
order to create a safe and comfortable
nest. As a survival-necessary
behavior, circling before lying down
must have become hardwired as a
so-called fixed action pattern of
behavior,i.e., a behavioral sequence
that is genetically encoded and passed
on from generation to generation.
   When your dog circles on the
living-room floor before taking a nap,
he is actually acting out a primordial
sequence that has been in his family's
genes for many thousands of years.
As common a behavior as pre-nap
circling is, it is remarkable to think of
its origins in the dim and distant past,
long before man and dog every slept
under the same roof.
article by Nicholas Dodman,DVM,behaviorist and
founder of The Animal Behavior Clinic,Tuft