Q: My dog has always liked to squeeze himself into tight spaces to hang out — under the dining room table, between the couch and the wall, the bed and the wall, even on a shelf in the basement when I go down to do laundry. What is that about? Should I be concerned?
Maspeth, New York
A: Dear Mr. Winter,
The concept of a cozying up in a “den” is built into the DNA of most dogs, and many like to retreat to one, especially if it’s a place where they can see the action going on in the household but not have to be a part of it. If your dog seeks out tight spaces to make himself feel comfortable and it doesn’t bother you, don’t worry about it. But it sounds like your pet might really enjoy a crate — a true “room” of his own.
Dogs tend to enjoy a crate with bumpers on the inside, a soft mat, and a covering on the outside that hides everything but the front panel (an alternative is a crate with solid side panels rather than bars). The crate should provide a snug fit — the idea is not to have a palace but a hideaway. Make sure it’s tall enough for your dog to stand in without hunching over, just wide enough to turn around in, and long enough so that his nose and his backside don’t touch the ends. And never lock him in. Locking a crate (and only for very short periods, with you in the house) is just for “toilet” training.