Do Dogs Feel Sad in a Kennel? Understanding Their Emotions

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If you’re a dog owner, you might be wondering if your pet feels sad when they’re in a kennel. It’s a valid concern; after all, dogs are social animals that thrive on human interaction and companionship. While some dogs may enjoy the kennel experience, others may become stressed and anxious.

Research suggests that kennel stress is a real phenomenon that affects dogs in different ways. Symptoms of kennel stress can include shaking, pacing, loss of appetite, and other behavioral changes. However, not all dogs experience kennel stress, and there are ways to help your dog feel more comfortable in a kennel setting.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of whether dogs feel sad in a kennel. We’ll look at the causes of kennel stress, the signs to watch for, and how you can help your dog feel more at ease during their kennel stay. We’ll also provide tips for choosing a reputable kennel and preparing your dog for its stay.

Understanding Dog Emotions

Do Dogs Feel Sad?

Yes, dogs can feel sad, just like humans. They are social animals and form strong emotional bonds with their owners. When separated from their owners, dogs can experience separation anxiety, which can lead to sadness and depression.

What Causes Sadness in Dogs?

There are many reasons why a dog may feel sad. Some common causes include separation anxiety, changes in routine, illness or injury, and the loss of a companion. Dogs may also feel sad when they are bored or not getting enough exercise or attention.

It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and look for signs of sadness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and decreased interest in activities they once enjoyed. If you suspect your dog is feeling sad, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

According to the American Kennel Club, mental health problems akin to depression can affect dogs. However, unlike humans, dogs can’t verbalize what they are feeling. Instead, they may show signs of sadness through changes in behavior and body language.

To help your dog overcome sadness, it’s important to provide them with plenty of love and attention. Spend quality time with your dog, engage them in activities they enjoy, and make sure they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation.

The Kennel Environment

What is a Kennel?

A kennel is a confined space where dogs are kept. It can be a small cage or a larger enclosure, and it is often used when owners are away from home or when dogs need to be transported. Kennels can be made of various materials, including plastic, metal, and wood.

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Shepherd military dog in the pound and wink in camera

How Kennels Affect Dogs

Kennels can be a source of stress for dogs, especially if they are confined for long periods. Dogs are social animals and need interaction with their owners and other dogs. Being alone in a kennel can cause anxiety and depression. Additionally, the kennel environment can be noisy and uncomfortable, leading to further stress.

However, kennels can also be a safe and comfortable place for dogs if they are used correctly. A kennel can be a place where your dog can relax and get away from sources of stress in the house. When used in moderation, a kennel can be useful, and with the door left open, your dog can come and go as it please.

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What Is a Good Base for a Dog Kennel?

According to Purina Pro Club, it is important to be on the lookout for signs of kennel stress in your dog. These signs can include excessive barking, panting, and restlessness. If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to reevaluate your dog’s kennel use.

Sources: Purina Pro Club

Signs of Sadness in Dogs

Physical Signs

If your dog is feeling sad in a kennel, there are some physical signs that you can look out for. These include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive sleeping or lethargy
  • Refusing to eat or take treats
  • Squinty or smaller-than-usual eyes

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also indicate a medical issue, so it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems.

Dog with sad looking face looking through chainlink fence

Behavioral Signs

Along with physical signs, there are also behavioral signs that your dog may display when feeling sad in a kennel. These include:

  • Excessive barking or howling
  • Destructive behavior such as chewing or digging
  • Escape attempts or pacing and panting
  • Urinating or defecating in the house

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action to help your dog feel more comfortable and secure in the kennel environment.

According to American Kennel Club, “The symptoms of depression will vary depending on the individual dog and the severity of the problem.” Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of your dog’s normal behavior and habits to detect any changes that may indicate sadness or depression.

What You Can Do

Improving Kennel Conditions

If you’re concerned about your dog’s well-being in a kennel, there are a few things you can do to improve their living conditions. First, make sure the kennel is clean and sanitized regularly to prevent the spread of disease. Second, ensure that the kennel is adequately sized for your dog and that they have enough space to move around comfortably. Finally, provide your dog with plenty of fresh water and nutritious food to maintain its health.

Providing Comfort and Support

While your dog is in the kennel, it’s essential to provide them with comfort and support to reduce their stress levels. One way to do this is by leaving a familiar blanket or toy in the kennel with them. This can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Additionally, consider leaving a piece of clothing with your scent on it to help ease their anxiety.

According to American Kennel Club, “providing appropriate amounts of exercise, enrichment, play, and training” can help reduce anxiety and depression in dogs. Consider taking your dog for a long walk or playing their favorite game before dropping them off at the kennel.

This can help to tire them out and reduce their anxiety levels. In conclusion, while it’s natural to worry about your dog’s well-being in a kennel, there are steps you can take to improve their living conditions and provide them with comfort and support.

By following these tips and ensuring that your dog is healthy and happy, you can help to reduce their stress levels and ensure that they have a positive experience while in the kennel.


Are kennels cruel?

Kennels aren’t cruel unless they are overused or if your dog has separation anxiety and is still relegated to the kennel. When used in moderation, a kennel can be useful, and with the door left open, a kennel can be a place where your dog can relax and get away from sources of stress in the house.

In cases where a dog has separation anxiety, however, the isolation of a kennel is bad for their mental health. Dogs are pack animals and as such, too much isolation is bad for them.  

Do dogs enjoy kennels?

Some studies have shown that being boarded in a kennel may be viewed by dogs much the same way that we would view a vacation. In small doses, the change of environment is stimulating and while they miss you, they certainly find it interesting to be in this new place.

So, if you are feeling guilty about having to board your dog for a few days in the kennel, this is something worth considering. They may not find it as awful as you think!

Do dogs think you are leaving forever?

Dogs will miss you and it’s not uncommon for them to look around for you at the kennel, but they are more resilient than you think. In small doses, some find the kennel stimulating, so it’s not all bad.

While we can’t say for sure whether or not they think that you are leaving forever, we can say with certainty that dogs have excellent long-term memories and that when you arrive to pick them up, they’ll not only remember you but you will get a greeting that will warm the heart.

Do dogs miss you in kennels?

Yes, dogs miss their owners when they are away from them, and if you are worried that your dog may forget you then you shouldn’t be. Dogs have excellent long-term memories, so when you return to pick them up your dog will energetically greet you, and rest assured that all will be forgiven.

They’ll be very happy to see you!

Will my dog forget me after a week?

No, your dog will not forget you after a week, a month, or even years. Studies have shown that the long-term memory of dogs is a formidable thing. Dogs that have been adopted, for instance, will always remember their original owners. While many animals forget, you can count on the memory of man’s best friend.

Do dogs think they are abandoned?

 In cases where dogs have been isolated for too long and too often, they can become depressed and develop a condition called ‘separation anxiety’. In cases such as this, the dog feels like they are being abandoned every time the owner leaves. If you believe that your dog is suffering from this, check with your vet.

Your veterinarian can help you to locate a behavioral specialist to help your dog with this and to help them to adjust.

What is kennel stress?

Kennel stress is a term that describes when a dog has been isolated in a kennel and is severely stressed from the experience. The new location, food, and new animals are too much for them, to the point that it affects their mental and physical health.

Kennel-stressed dogs may shake or pace, eat little or not at all, and react in other ways detrimental to their health, requiring the assistance of a training regimen or a behavioral specialist to help them to adjust back to the norm.

Will my dog hate me if I leave him for a week?

No, your dog isn’t going to hate you if you leave them for a week. Dogs don’t have the same grasp of time that we do but what they do have is excellent long-term memories. When you return, your dog is going to greet you with enormous enthusiasm and love.

They won’t forget you, hate you or hold a grudge. They’ll just be happy to be back with you again!

Can dogs get depressed when the owner is away?

Dogs can indeed get depressed when you are away. They are pack animals and you are basically their ‘alpha’, but beyond this, your dog loves you very much and doesn’t want to be away from you. Don’t worry, however, as they are not going to forget you or hold a grudge.

Your dog will just be extra-affectionate when you return and everything will be okay.

Can a dog be left alone for 8 hours?

8 hours is the absolute most that you want to leave your dog alone in a crate or the backyard, provided that it is an adult dog. With puppies, it’s very different, as they require a lot of socialization and don’t do well in isolation. Crating, for instance, is not recommended for more than 1 hour with a puppy.

With an adult dog, however, 8 hours should be okay, provided that it’s not a normal thing.

Will my dog remember me after 6 months?

Yes, your dog will remember you after 6 months or even 6 years. Dogs remember their owners for their lifetimes and it’s part of the charm of owning a dog. These animals give their affection and they don’t give it lightly.

Even adopted dogs who love their new owners very much will always remember their previous owners, so don’t worry – your dog will indeed remember you after 6 months.

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