As I said on Twitter last week, you know you are dog obsessed when you buy your dog her own camping tent. I’m feeling pretty guilty about it actually. But not for the expected reasons.
We bought the little tent originally because we were tired of lugging her giant metal crate everywhere. When camping in Nova Scotia, you are pretty much guaranteed to deal with some form of moisture. Shiva’s crate does not provide any protection from the rain. It wasn’t a big deal since she slept with us, but I do feel it is important to give her a space of her own. New environments can be very overwhelming. Her crate provides the familiar comforts of home. They do make waterproof, soft-sided crates but the cost is a little more than we are prepared to pay.
After I wrote the post about keeping my dog cool, I did some online window shopping and was charmed by this tent made especially for dogs. I thought it was a terrific way to help keep a dog cool when hanging around outside. Potentially, we could even use it for agility trials (if I ever make it to a trial, that is). The hundred-dollar price-tag made me pause, but my PH suggested we head to good ol’ Canadian Tire to see if we could find a small backpacking tent for much less.
Twenty bucks later, Shiva had a tent of her very own! A very snug and comfy one, at that.
Since we weren’t sure how she was going to like it, when we went camping, we lugged the crate along as well. But surprisingly, Shiva took to it right away. A few pieces of kibble, her favourite blankets, and she was making the space her own. A few times throughout the first day, she went in all by herself for a brief nap.
I had no intention of getting her to sleep in there. It just sort of happened. This is where the guilt comes in.
Shiva usually sleeps alone. Unlike some trainers, including a certain television bully, I do believe that it is natural and even best for dogs to sleep with their people. It’s a form of bonding and helps the dog feel like she belongs in the family. But when we first brought Shiva home, we needed to keep the downstairs of our house – where our bedroom is – as a haven for the cat. From the beginning Shiva slept upstairs in the living room on her own. Aside from a few minutes of whining on that very first night, she hasn’t complained about the situation once. In fact, it’s almost as if she prefers it that way.
There is no other time she gets the entire couch to herself, after all.
So when we go camping, the entire experience of sleeping with us has always been incredibly over-stimulating. She can’t relax, we can’t sleep as a result of her walking over us every five minutes, and nobody has a good time. By morning, we’re starting to think dog kennels are an excellent idea.
This time Shiva was snuggled in her tent while we sat around the campfire. When we decided to head to bed, my PH suggested we experiment with leaving Shiva where she was, since she looked so comfortable. I was really unsure about it. I was one hundred percent certain she would freak out when we zipped up the door and left her alone. This is our crazy mutt with separation anxiety after all. I agreed to try but if I heard one peep, I was going out there and bringing her in with us.
Surprisingly, I don’t think she even woke up. Not one sound the whole night. By morning, we all felt rested and ready to enjoy the day. I couldn’t believe it!
This success still hasn’t eradicated the guilt. I still feel it’s wrong for Shiva to always sleep by herself. Even if she seems to prefer it that way. I feel like we should train her to learn how to relax when sleeping in the same room with us. Is that weird?
How do your sleeping arrangements work? Do your dogs sleep with you or by themselves? Is it possible Shiva would rather be alone or are we evil tent-banishers?