The Denning Principle

How to humanely and happily confine your dog

If your dog has separation-related behaviours or noise phobias and or if he or she barks excessively you may find the Denning Principle is a useful principle to create a calmer state.

The Denning Principle is a means of  safely, comfortably and happily confining your dog so that your dog is happy and content.

The Denning Principle is a technique we often advise clients to use when their goal is to confine their dog to reduce anxiety and to stop destructive and annoying behaviours such as barking, whole digging, plants being pulled from the garden and washing being ripped from the line and night-time bad behaviours.

These behaviours are often a sign of separation anxiety behaviour. This behaviour has its roots growing in boredom and stress – the typical ‘home alone’ syndrome of a bored dog wanting company.

In the simplest of terms, the Denning Principle provides an effective solution to a dog’s anxiety.

This process is a natural one – wolves, dingoes, hyenas and other wild animals live in dens and to such animals a den is a sanctuary and place of safety, comfort and, especially,  quietness. Wild animals retreat to their den for safety when adverse weather occurs which is why it can assist with the treatment of noise phobias.

With this technique you condition the dog to be happy and content about being left in a comfortable room somewhere in or under your house.

A suitable den can be a : –

  • Laundry
  • Bathroom
  • Garage
  • Walk-in wardrobe
  • Or your bedroom

Safety must come first. When selecting a den, be certain the room is cool during the day and if it’s a safe place for your dog to be confined. Be certain there are no dangerous chemicals, poisons or insecticides stored in the location.

If you are dealing with noise phobias, the den should be as sound-proof as possible.

The following process will ensure the dog is happy about being left in its room or den. The happiness washes away the anxiety and as the dog is content and removed from the area of misbehaviour, the barking and other behaviours usually stop.

Contents of next page 

1. Conditioning your dog to like a den

2. How pheromones enhance a den

3. Further conditioning