When you got your dog or cat, you probably envisioned a situation where they languished in their pet bed during the day while you were at work – happy as a clam and completely safe. Unfortunately, sometimes that is far from the case. Even with plenty of training, a dog can sometimes resort to destructive behaviors and perhaps be unable to control their bladder as long as needed. If your budget is not such that you can afford to take him to a doggy daycare, you may be asking yourself if your dog or cat can be safely kept in your home’s garage during the day. While perhaps not the most ideal situation, it is conceivable. However, it is imperative to your dog’s wellbeing that you follow a few guidelines to make the garage a safe and comfortable location for him.
This blog doesn’t go into going to the expense of building a kennel inside the garage. Rather we discuss how to give your pet access to the entire garage so your beloved pet can feel like he is king of a veritable castle.
First things first…
The first thing to do is consider the advantages of providing your home’s garage as a daytime place for your dog or cat rather than using an indoor kennel or putting him outdoors.
- Using a kennel, particularly if your dog is already accustomed to using one, while it does become their “safe” place, it certainly does not afford them much room. Utilizing the garage, on the other hand, gives him room to move about which is healthier for him overall. If he does enjoy “denning” in a kennel, putting the kennel in the garage with the door open will help him adjust to staying in the garage as it gives him a recognizable space he already recognizes as his.
- While the temperature in the garage is not the same as indoors, it is a huge improvement over being outdoors. Putting your dog or cat outdoors when they are not used to it, particularly on an extremely hot summer or freezing winter day could have tragic consequences. At the very least, your pet may feel abandoned and that can lead to behavioral issues that are beyond what is leading you to seek another solution in the first place.
- Dogs have a tendency to go into hyper‑protect mode when you are not at home. This means your dog may be barking up a storm and disturbing your neighbours. Utilizing your garage, particularly if your garage has an (R‑16) well-insulated door, means less barking because he doesn’t see what is going on or even hear as much. Plus, if he does bark, it won’t be heard as much in the neighbourhood. It also makes the garage more comfortable both for him and for you.
Tips and expectations before starting
Keep in mind that this is going to be a drastic change for your pet. You could severely damage their mental state if you don’t heed a few important tips. First of all, a gradual adjustment is the best way to introduce your pet to this new circumstance. Rather than toss him out there with little or no fanfare for a full day’s stay, consider working a couple of weekends on gradually longer stays in the garage. Be sure you actually do leave the house each time, however, or your pet may think he has been banished as punishment. It is also a good idea to section off just part of the garage at first so as not to overwhelm your pet. Finally, this part is very important – never, ever tie your pet up in the garage. Using a leash on your dog to restrain them could end quite badly.
As for potty time, consider that putting your pet in the garage does not mean they are magically better able to control their bladder than they were able to inside the house. If already housebroken, nothing will change in most cases as he will still recognize the garage as an indoor do-not-pee-or-poop zone. However, you must make accommodations for puppies and for any age that is not housebroken. Put down puppy pads or newspaper away from other things so they have a safe place to relieve themselves. Obviously, if you intend on putting a cat in the garage, you will need to put a litterbox out there.
In the beginning, it is important not to show any anxiety yourself, or even sadness, about leaving your pet in the garage. You need to set the tone as a positive experience. Spend a few minutes giving him attention and perhaps even a treat before you leave. Smile and tell him you’ll be back soon. He may not understand the words, but he’ll understand it is okay if your tone is happy.
Consider the temperature and humidity in your garage
Garages are typically not hooked up to the HVAC system, and thus they do not have the benefit of heat, air conditioning, or humidity control. If your home’s garage isn’t insulated, it could very well be quite uncomfortable. Sure, you could put a carefully placed heater in the garage for your pet, but that is going to be pretty close to useless if the garage isn’t properly insulated. Being well insulated will also control the heat in the summer. Addressing this issue is important if you’ll be using the garage as a doggy daycare, but you will also benefit. You’ll be able to spend time in your garage more comfortably and a well‑insulated garage can help reduce your utility costs for heating and cooling inside the home as well.
You will want to make sure to check the temperature inside the garage on a hot day and cold day. During winter you don’t want the temperature to go below 50 °F (10 °C). During the summer, you want to avoid temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C). You may be able to adjust a little during the summer by opening a window, if you have one, which will also help with ventilation and thus the comfort for your pet.
Humidity levels in the garage are another concern to address. Not only is too much humidity a good way to experience mold and mildew on the things you have stored in your garage as well as the structure itself, but it is also hard on your pet’s respiratory system and won’t make him feel very comfortable either. Using a dehumidifier in your garage is your best bet should you realize the humidity level is in excess of 50%. You can test the humidity level on your own with an air humidity meter (hygrometer) or seek a professional’s assistance.
Feeding time – and water!
Being in the garage doesn’t change the fact that your pet still needs food and water. The amount of food generally doesn’t change, although at least at first your dog may not want to eat the food you leave for him. Keep leaving it anyhow because eventually, he’ll figure out it is okay to eat in the garage. Your dog may not be particularly active when you are away, so don’t worry if they eat less. They’ll likely make up for it when they get back inside. If you normally feed your dog first thing in the morning, you can continue to do that inside before you leave, then take him outside for the potty before putting him in the garage. Still, leave some food in the garage for him as that will further promote the idea that the garage is a safe place.
Definitely be sure to have plenty of water available. Choose a secure watering dish so that it doesn’t accidentally get spilled leaving your pet without water for the day. This is particularly important during the warmer summer months.
Make him comfortable
Let’s face it, would you rather hang out in the garage or in your comfortable living room? Your pet is going to see a difference too and not be too happy about being sent to the garage. However, that is only if you haven’t made any attempt to add a bit of comfort to it for him. Provide him with a comfortable bed, for example. While you could move his indoor one to the garage each day, a better solution is to get a new one for the garage and make it one that is even nicer so that the garage has a bit more appeal. Since he’ll be dealing with cold concrete, a better bed is practical as well.
Providing some favorite toys as well as some new “garage only” toys will further make his new home more comfortable and alluring. Be sure to include some he can chew on, as a favorite chew toy can provide hours of entertainment. If your dog has separation issues, giving him an old piece of clothing with your scent on it can be helpful. Sometimes sounds can do wonders at calming, so consider some low‑volume music.
Remove potential hazards
Often a garage can become a bit of a catchall so you should be sure to doggy-proof it before using it as a doggy daycare. You know you’ve been meaning to clean out the garage anyway, so no more procrastinating. Get rid of the old paint cans, odd pieces of rope, old cleaning supplies, and anything else that your dog could get tangled in, chew on, eat, or choke on.
If you continue to use your garage for DIY projects, be sure to clean up after each task so there isn’t anything left around like screws, bolts, nails, or rags that could harm your beloved pet.
As for large items you cannot put anywhere else, such as the lawnmower, a good idea is to secure a tarp over them. Only the most inquisitive and overactive dog will bother it. Most won’t give it a second look. Again, if you have supplied ample food and toys to entertain them, they won’t go looking for trouble and the soft seat on your lawnmower shouldn’t end up on the menu one day.
What to do if the garage door is not well insulated
Most homes are normally built with basic, standard insulation, and that means it is quite likely that your home’s garage door is either not insulated at all or not enough to accommodate your plans to use it as a doggy daycare. This can be remedied, however. If your garage door, needs help to be insulated and weathertight, contact us at 506-450-3031. We understand the needs of pet owners. We can explain the inventory of garage doors we have and help you choose the best one so your home’s garage is comfortable, and thus safer for your pet. Getting a quote is also easy with our online quotation system.