Crate rest summary

If your dog is recovering from injury or surgery, then your vet may have advised a few weeks of “crate rest”. Confinement to a crate or indoor dog pen helps prevent your dog from damaging him or herself by running about, jumping on and off furniture and using the stairs.

“Your dog needs to stay safe and comfortable during recovery”

This  can be a challenging time for dog owners, so do read on for more information. A quick summary of helping your dog through the crate rest period is included on this page. For more detailed information, you can follow the clickable links, or use the menu on the right hand side of the page if it is visible on your device. Advice is also available for dogs going through room rest

Above: This is a good-sized crate for a small terrier like Mac. He did well with this set-up, but some dogs would need a bed without raised edges.

Your dog will be in the crate or dog pen for nearly 24 hours per day, perhaps for weeks at a time. This space will be your dog’s world for much of this time, so do take care to set it up comfortably. For general tips on keeping your dog comfortable during the recovery period, please click here.

For social media discussion on the subjects of crate rest, room rest and recovery, you may be interested in the Recovery Space Dog Welfare Project page on Facebook, accessed by clicking here. Whether from dog owners, vets, nurses and physiotherapists, it is always good to hear your ideas and shared stories. 

Above: Running, chasing and slick floors are too risky during recovery.

A quick summary: if your dog is in a recovery crate or pen…

  • Choose a sturdy, purpose-built crate. An open-top dog pen can be used if your dog will definitely not try to escape.
  • The crate should be big enough for your dog to lie fully stretched out, to sit or stand facing in a choice of directions, to yawn and stretch, to eat, and to lick or chew at toys. If your dog is too large to fit comfortably into a crate or dog pen, then room rest may be a better option. Discuss this with your vet. 
  • Choose a position for the crate that will stay comfortable all day and all night.
  • If possible, get the crate or pen before it is really needed. Set it up comfortably with bedding, toys, food and water before showing it to your dog. Introduce your dog to the crate gradually (over several days if possible).
  • Cover the base of the crate with non-slip matting. Put comfortable bedding on top of this.
  • When opening the crate or pen door, take care that your dog does not try to run out past you. If you leave the dog with a harness on at all times, then its top strap can act as a safety “grab handle”.

Above: It’s healthy for dogs to stretch during recovery. The crate or pen should give your dog enough space to stretch and to change position comfortably. 

A few further tips on keeping your recovering dog safe and comfortable

  • For safety, most recovering dogs must avoid running, jumping, stairs, ball play, rough play and slick floors. Check with your vet as to what your own dog is allowed to do.
  • Choose hard-wearing chewable toys for your recovering dog. Food-dispensing toys such as filled Kongs® are particularly good as boredom-busters. 
  • Make a regular daily routine for your recovering dog. This should include toilet breaks, feeding times, some quality time spent with you, and quiet times for rest.
  • Reward your dog for good behaviour with praise and small food rewards. Avoid punishing your dog during recovery.
  • Whenever outside the crate or pen, your dog must be either carried, or on a lead.
  • A harness is better than a collar during recovery. A harness with a Y-shaped front is best. You will also need a fixed-length lead (not an extendable lead). 
  • Keep your fingers tucked into the harness while sitting and relaxing with your dog outside the crate, pen or recovery room.
  • Walk very slowly when your dog is on the lead. This helps your recovering dog to use each paw properly.

For more information…

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

Keeping your recovering dog calm and content
Choosing a recovery crate or pen
Daily routine for the recovering dog
Bedding for recovering dogs
Flooring for recovering dogs
Toys for recovering dogs
Staying positive during your dog’s recovery


For a free printable resource on “crate rest”, click here


 The above notes are in PDF format, and include the following topics:

  • Why does my dog need crate rest?
  • Choosing a crate
  • Where should I put the crate?
  • How to make the crate comfortable
  • Bedding
  • Flooring
  • Food and water bowls
  • Toys
  • How to introduce a dog to their recovery crate 
  • What to do if your dog won’t stop crying
  • How to keep your dog safe outside the crate 
  • Daily routine for the recovering dog
  • Extra activities during recovery
  • Staying positive during your dog’s recovery


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