Choosing a recovery room

Choosing a recovery room

Choosing a recovery room

After injury or surgery, your vet may have advised you to confine your dog to a single room for a few weeks. “Room rest” helps prevent your dog from damaging themselves through over-activity. Banned activities usually include running, jumping, using the stairs, sliding about on slick floors, jumping on and off furniture or dashing about with other pets. Take a bit of care in choosing a suitable recovery room, and your dog will return to health more safely and easily. 

The ideal recovery room

The ideal recovery room may be a ground floor “spare room”, study or boot room, with no furniture to jump on, and with easy outdoor access. However, you need to work with the space available to you. It may be practical to adapt a fairly small living or dining room so that it works well as a recovery space for your dog. 


Choose a room that is small enough to discourage running, but with enough floor space for your dog to lie fully-stretched out, to eat and drink, to walk a little and to turn easily. If possible, choose a room in which your dog has always liked to rest so that they feel at home. Your dog should not chase around with other pets during recovery, so bear in mind which other animals have access to the room. 

 Above: A dog on “room rest”

Avoiding stairs

The recovery room must be on a single level (i.e. no access to steps or stairs). Your dog will go outdoors for toileting several times a day, so will also need a step-free route from their room to the outdoors. Opt for a ground floor room unless you’re happy to carry your dog indoors and out each time. 

Flooring

The floor of the recovery room must have some grip to it. Carpet makes an ideal walking surface. If the floor is slick, then you will need to cover it with non-slip matting. Consider getting floor runners or rubber-backed rugs for example. 

Above: wooden or laminate flooring is too slippery for recovering dogs

No sofas or other furniture

Jumping on and off furniture is banned for some weeks following many types of injury or surgery. This includes sofas, chairs, beds and so on. If your dog has always sat on the sofa or jumped onto other furniture, then it is unlikely that you’ll be able to train them out of this habit just after an injury or operation. Opt for a furniture-free room, or consider moving furniture elsewhere during your dog’s recovery. Some owners block access to sofas and chairs by placing boards or other barriers across them. This can occasionally work, but is generally not a good idea as your dog may get injured in trying to cross the barriers. 

Above: Don’t expect to train your dog out of jumping onto furniture. It’s best to choose a room without sofas, beds or armchairs if your dog is likely to jump on and off them. 

Tip: If your dog is used to sleeping on the sofa or bed, then they’ll probably expect a particularly warm, draught-free resting place. This is the case for many pets, especially greyhounds and other sight hounds. Try offering a floor-level mattress or very wide soft floor-level dog bed for your dog to sleep on. Or try putting on old quilt on the floor, perhaps with a blanket or piece of Vetbed on top. You can then block draughts and make this resting place feel more cosy by tucking rolled or folded blankets between the floor bed and the wall.

Take care if you have other pets or children

Consider who else will access the room, and whether this will be a problem. People need to open the door with great care each time to prevent your dog from rushing out, so bear this mind if choosing a family room.

Access to other pets may also cause trouble. During recovery, your dog must not rush about with other dogs, and must of course not attempt to chase the cat. 

Above: Dogs should not chase around together during recovery.

Room temperature

The recovery room should stay at a comfortable temperature day and night. This is about 17°C to 21.5°C (62.5°F to 71°F) depending on what conditions your dog is used to. On the one hand it is dangerous for dogs to overheat. Conservatories or other sun-filled rooms may be unsuitable on hot days. On the other hand, your dog will not rest comfortably if left in a room that is much colder than their usual sleeping place. For dogs accustomed to sleeping indoors, this makes unheated outbuildings unsuitable in cool climates. 

A room with a view

Many dogs enjoy looking out through a window while resting. If glazing extends down to floor level, then this will give your dog a view outdoors. This is good, so long as the activities of wildlife and other pets are not going to cause your dog to jump about with excitement. 

Above: A room with a low window gives the recovering dog something to look at.

A room with a low window or patio doors is likely to be draughty: do provide plenty of bedding to create a warm sleeping spot. 

Recovering dogs are generally not supposed to stand up on their hind legs (check with your vet regarding your own dog’s activity restrictions). They should therefore be discouraged from standing up at a window with their front paws on the sill. If this is a problem, then consider keeping the curtains drawn, hanging temporary blinds or sheeting to cover the window, or choosing a different room. 

Is it a good idea to shut the dog in the utility room?

Most dogs prefer to be in an area of the house that is regularly used. So it’s generally not a good idea to put the dog somewhere totally new such as a utility room.  

Do also bear in mind that it’s best not to shut your dog in the same room as washing machines, tumble driers or other machinery, as they will not be able to escape from the noise and vibrations. 

If you end up having to use a room such as the utility area, then do remember to prevent access to anything harmful. Some dogs will eat or chew everything that they can get to, and some are perfectly capable of opening cupboards if given half a chance. Cleaning products, garden or DIY chemicals, paints and packets of medicines or supplements are all dangerous to dogs and must be kept well out of reach. 

Above: Many dogs prefer not to be shut away from the family during recovery. If your dog never jumps onto furniture, then the living room may be the best option as a recovery space.

Does the kitchen make a good recovery space?

When asked to put their dog on room rest, many owners opt to shut the dog into the kitchen. This can sometimes work well as the dog is already familiar with the room.

However, from the point of view of dog recovery, the main problem with most kitchens is that the floor is too slick. Tiled, laminate and many linoleum floors don’t offer enough grip for recovering dogs’ paws. You may need to cover the floor with rugs or runners. At the very least, put rubber-backed non-slip matting next to the garden door, at the place where your dog eats and next to his or her bed as these areas must be non-slip. 

Some kitchen floors get cold at night, so check for draughts and offer your dog plenty of bedding.

Above: The dog could be put into the kitchen to recover, but a slick floor such as this one would need covering with non-slip matting.

I don’t have a suitable room…Is there another option?

Not every house has a suitable room in which a dog can recover safely. If your house is open-plan, or if you have no way to prevent your dog from getting to the sofa, then you may need another solution.

Zoning off the space

Stair gates can be considered to zone off a living space while the dog recovers. These can be handy for blocking off a passageway or of course from preventing stair access. However, if your dog does not respect barriers then gates should not be used. The dog may risk escaping or injuring themselves in trying to jump over. Unfixed barriers such as fireguards  are not a good idea as these are of course easily knocked over.

Above: fixed barriers designed for child safety can be useful for zoning off the space

Confinement to a crate or indoor pen

Some dogs are confined not to a room but to a recovery crate or pen. Crates and most indoor pens are only suitable for smaller breeds of dog during recovery. It is essential that your dog has space to sit, stand, lie, to move between these positions easily, to stretch out, chew on toys and eat.

Above: For larger dog breeds, you could consider an extra-large dog pen such as this Barkshire Uptown dog pen (150x 150 x 150cm)

A minimum floor space guide for some dog breeds is shown in the table below:

Dog breed Minimum recommended floor area during confinement Crate, pen or room rest
Japanese chin, pug, Yorkshire terrier 70 x 100cm (27.5 x 39in) Pen if dog will not attempt to jump

Crate: For most brands of crate, the smallest suitable standard size is 42in (106.5cm) long, and 70cm wide.

Jack Russell terriers, Norwich terriers 75 x 105cm (29.5 x 41in) Pen if dog will not attempt to jump

If using a crate, choose XL (42 inch crate) or even larger.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel 90 x 128cm (35.5 x 50.5in) Pen if dog will not attempt to jump

For small dogs of this breed, consider 48inch crate (XXL)

For larger individuals, consider specialised giant crate ¥

Or room rest.

Springer spaniel 105 x 140cm (41.4 x 55in) High-sided pen if dog will not attempt to jump

Large enough crates are not available.

Room rest is often the best option.

Labrador Retriever 135 x 220cm (53 x 87in)

or

150 x 160cm (59 x 63in)

Extra-large sturdy pen

Or room rest

Basset hound 110 x 150cm (43 x 59in) Large sturdy pen

Or room rest

Miniature dachshund 75 x 95cm (29.5 x 37.5in) Use a pen if dog will not attempt to jump.

Or XL Crate or larger. The XL size is 42 inches (107cm) long. The width of the 42inch crate is not so generous, being only about 28in/72cm. Go for an even larger crate if possible, e.g. the XXL/48inch one.

 

Standard dachshund 105 x 125cm (42 x 49in) Large dog pen if dog will not attempt to jump.

If you must use a crate, then choose one no smaller than the XXL/48in crate. A specialised giant crate would be better.

¥ At time of writing, the largest dog crate found advertised online has floor area of 137cm x 84cm (54 x 33in).

For more information…

Try the following links for more advice on caring for your recovering dog:

Staying positive during your dog’s recovery
Toys for recovering dogs
Room rest: Daily routine for the recovering dog
Room rest: Bedding for recovering dogs
Room rest: Flooring for recovering dogs
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