Dog cone, E-collar, cone of shame… It’s known by many names.

But for your dogs, this contraption around their necks can only mean one thing: 

No fun! 

Whether your dog is injured, in post-surgery recovery, or has an ailment, they need to be kept from licking or chewing for their own good. Your dog having to wear a cone is a womp-womp moment for them, but you can take steps to make it more bearable. 

Here are some things you can do to make your dog calmer and more comfortable (and yourself, too!) while cone-wearing is necessary. 

1. Clear routes as much as possible. 

Heads-up! An Elizabethan collar may throw off your dog’s balance as they try to navigate their world normally. Their obstructed vision will likely lead to them feeling confused and bumping into things. 

Have patience and make it easy for them to maneuver comfortably in your home like they’re used to. Clear the pathways to their eating station, sleeping area, or any other spots they frequent. This way, they can easily get back into their routine with as little hassle as possible. 

And whenever you see them struggling to navigate your house, even after uncluttering their routes, be their loving human GPS and assist them.

2. Upgrade your dog’s bed.

The comfiest bed possible in an easy-to-access area will ease the cone-wearing blow as your dog relaxes post-procedure, surgery, or injury. You can buy a brand-new bed for your recovering dog, or you can up the coziness factor of their old bed instead. 

When buying a new dog bed, consider one with orthopedic foam.

When upgrading an old dog bed, throw in a fluffy blanket and plush pillow.

The E-collar may not be your dog’s idea of fun, but an extra cozy setup for catching some zzz’s sure is!

3. Work your dog’s brain with short training sessions. 

While sporting an E-collar, your dog might be unable to jog or run around. If your pet is not up to normal exercise, tire them out with brain workouts instead. Mental training can be just as grueling as physical training. Some of the fun brain games you can try at home are:

  • Play hide and seek.

  • Do scent training using a snuffle mat.

  • Teach your dog a simple new trick.

Dish out tons of positive reinforcement (read as: your dog’s favorite treat) during these brain training sessions for cone-wearing dogs.

4. Provide puzzle toys to keep your dog busy and less focused on their cone.

E-collars are certainly a distraction, but you can help redirect your dog’s focus back to something more productive instead. Take their mind off of the E-collar by giving them their favorite Kongs, lick mats, or treat dispensers — those that they can easily play with, even with restricted movements. 

Not only do these puzzle toys keep dogs from trying to remove their cone, but they also combat the-coned-life boredom. The reward of high-value treats a few times a day also helps make E-collars more fun during the recovery period. 

5. Give your dog monitored breaks. 

According to the research conducted by the University of Sydney-Sydney School of Veterinary Science, the Elizabethan collar causes stress and depression, among other negative impacts of the e-collar on a dog’s quality of life. So if you notice that your pup needs extra cheering up, ask your veterinarian if your dog can take a brief, thoroughly monitored break from wearing the cone to ensure they get some relief. Then watch your dog like a hawk to ensure they don’t jump at this cone-free chance to scratch, lick, or bite at their healing site. The study also suggests alternatives to the plastic cone, such as the inflatable collar, t-shirt wrap, or local dressing.

6. Utilize DOGTV. 

Your DOGTV subscription was meant for this kind of mental stimulation! Not only is entertaining your dog with DOGTV’s scientifically-developed programming great for everyday use (no matter their age,) but it’s especially helpful when your dog is out of commission and required to wear a cone and take it easy. Use the power of science packed into dog-specific programming to reduce your dog’s stress level while wearing an E-collar and keep the wheels in their brain turning. Subscribe here! 

Cone-wearing is not a forever thing. Treat it as a special bonding time with your dogs. You can see them through it with patience, understanding, and a lot of love!

If you see your dog struggling to settle into their temporary cone situation, resist the urge to remove their E-collar unless necessary. The cone is always in their best interest — no infections or delayed healing! — so don’t feel guilty when they give you puppy dog eyes in an attempt to get it off. When it comes to recovery, it’s better to be coned than sorry.