Caged Dog Syndrome – Causes, Treatment, Prevention

Fivebarks is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Dogs are social animals and need companionship. When they are crated for long periods of time, they can develop caged dog syndrome (CDS). This condition is characterized by several different behaviors, including aggression, anxiety, and depression.

In this blog post, we will discuss CDS in detail and provide information on how it’s treated and how you can prevent it from happening.

Caged Dog Syndrome

Pitbull barking in a crate

Caged dog syndrome (also called Crate State) is a condition that can affect dogs that are kept in crates or kennels for extended periods of time. Dogs with crate syndrome may become anxious, depressed, and/or aggressive.

Behavioral issues and symptoms of caged dog syndrome can include:

  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Pacing back and forth
  • Scratching at the door or sides of the crate
  • Licking or biting oneself
  • Urinating or defecating in the crate
  • Cage fighting
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • High-energy behaviors
  • Biting at cage walls
  • Emotional shutdown
  • Separation anxiety
  • Cage chewing
  • Spinning in cage in circles
  • Health issues
  • House soiling
  • Kennel cough infection

This list could go on for a while, and as you see, it has many adverse effects when talking about puppies or adult dogs and CDS. Proper training, crate training, socialization, and other factors can help prevent this, which we’ll go over below.


The causes of caged dog syndrome are not fully understood, but it is thought that confinement and lack of socialization may be key factors. Dogs that are kept in crates or kennels for extended periods of time may become anxious, depressed, and/or aggressive.

They may also exhibit abnormal behavior, such as excessive barking or whining, pacing back and forth, scratching at the door or sides of the crate, licking or biting oneself, urinating or defecating in the crate, and so on.

There are several possible causes of caged dog syndrome, including:

  • Lack of socialization and interaction with humans
  • Excessive crating
  • Kennel stress
  • Crate in bedroom, or any isolated room without socialization
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Exposure to loud noises or other stressful stimuli
  • Not being correctly crated or for long crate periods
  • Not having the proper crate size
  • Crate time is too long, try to go for short stints, no more than a few hours at a time.


If you have a dog that is exhibiting symptoms of caged dog syndrome, it is important to seek professional help. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can diagnose CDS and develop a treatment plan. If left untreated, it can lead to serious behavioral problems in dogs.

It is therefore important to seek treatment if your dog is showing any symptoms of caged dog syndrome.

The treatment for dogs in crates that get this condition may vary depending on the cause but may include things you can do at home, such as:

  • Providing the dog with more socialization and interaction with humans
  • Providing the dog with more exercise
  • Providing the dog with proper nutrition
  • Exposing the dog to less stressful stimuli
  • Using medication or behavior modification therapy

If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of caged dog syndrome, consult with your veterinarian and an animal behaviorist who are both expert trainers and will help you through crate training. Veterinarian treatment options may include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • antidepressants or anxiety medications
  • Relaxation techniques such as music therapy or aromatherapy


Puppy in a crate with toys

The most effective treatment for caged dog syndrome is prevention. If you must leave your dog in a crate for extended cage time, make sure the crate is large enough for the dog to move around comfortably. The dog should also have access to food, water, and a place to eliminate.

When possible, take the dog out of the crate for exercise and playtime. And finally, never leave a dog in a crate for more than a few hours at a time or you may come back to a mess!

There are several things you can do to prevent caged dog syndrome in your own home, including:

  • Socializing your dog regularly with people and other animals
  • Rotating your dog’s toys and hiding food around the house to keep him stimulated
  • Leaving your dog out of his crate for short periods of time each day
  • Feeding him a high-quality diet


For more information on caged dog syndrome, please see the following resources for CDS, crate training, and some helpful training tools:

  1. American Kennel Club: Should I Crate Train My Dog?
  2. Petfinder: Reducing Animal Stress in Kennels
  3. Safari Veterinary Care Centers: The Effects of Isolation on Socialization


What happens if you keep a dog in crates all day?

Dog barking inside crate

Yes, if you keep your dog crated all day, he or she may develop caged dog syndrome. This is a condition that can cause a number of psychological and physical problems in dogs. Symptoms of caged dog syndrome include aggression, anxiety, depression, excessive barking or whining, and self-mutilation. 

This shouldn’t be something that occurs if there is proper socialization, use of effective training tools, and understanding this is a condition among shelter dogs and those that may have an irresponsible owner who doesn’t crate them properly or has a lack of knowledge on how to help their family pet.

Do dogs get sad being in a crate?

Yes, dogs can get sad when they’re crated. This is because they are social animals who need companionship and interaction. When they’re crated, they may feel isolated and lonely, which can lead to depression.

Is leaving a dog in a crate cruel?

It depends on the individual dog. Some dogs do fine in a crate, while others may suffer from caged dog syndrome if there’s excessive dog crating going on. If you’re going to leave your dog in a crate, give him or her plenty of toys, food, water, time out of the crate, and attention.

It also depends on your individual views. For some dogs crating/caging them is a necessity because of destructive behaviors or other factors. But for those that have to do this, it’s doubly important that they pay attention and prevent CDS from occurring.

How long is too long for a dog to be in a crate?

It depends on the individual dog. Some dogs are more resilient than others and can handle longer periods of time in a crate. However, most dogs will begin to experience adverse effects after being in a crate for over 12 hours at a time. Symptoms of caged dog syndrome include boredom, depression, anxiety, aggression, and self-harm.

If you must leave your dog in a crate for extended periods of time, make sure that the crate is large enough for the dog to move around in and that there is plenty of enrichment available. Enrichment can include things like toys, bones, puzzle feeders, and Kongs stuffed with food. Also, try to have your dog walk and interact multiple times a day.

Do dogs remember being in a kennel or shelters?

It’s a common question asked by pet owners who are considering using a kennel for their dogs when going on vacation. The short answer is that yes, dogs remember being in a kennel. However, the experience may not be as negative as you think.

Dogs have an incredible memory and can recall events and experiences from their past, good and bad. However, unlike humans, they can not reflect on these memories in the same way. This means that while your dog may remember being in a kennel, they won’t necessarily associate it with a negative experience.

You Can Also Read On: Are Dog Kennels Bad For Dogs?

If you’re worried about your dog’s time in a kennel, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more positive:

  • First, choose a reputable kennel that has plenty of experience caring for animals. Ask them about their policies and procedures to ensure your pet will be well taken care of.
  • Second, try to visit the kennel before your dog’s stay to get a feel for the environment. This will help put your mind at ease and allow you to see first-hand how your pet will be cared for.
  • Finally, don’t forget to pack plenty of their favorite toys and treats to keep them occupied during their stay. A bit of preparation can go a long way in making sure your dog has a positive experience while in a kennel.

Will my dog think I abandoned him?

It’s a common worry for pet owners who have to leave their dogs behind, but it’s important to remember that dogs don’t think like humans. They won’t understand that you’ve gone on vacation and will be back in a week. However, they will miss you and may become anxious or depressed in your absence.

There are a few things you can do to ease your dog’s anxiety and make the transition easier:

  • First, leave them with a familiar toy or blanket that smells like you. This will help comfort them in your absence.
  • Second, try to get a friend or family member to dog-sit while you’re gone. This way, your pet will still have someone to interact with and won’t feel so isolated.
  • Finally, make sure to leave plenty of food and water for your dog-sitter. This will help ease your pet’s anxiety about being left alone.


CDS is a real problem that can have severe consequences for your pet. However, by understanding the causes and taking steps to prevent them, you can ensure your dog stays happy and healthy. What are your thoughts on caged dog syndrome? Have you ever experienced it with your own pet? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet our writer

Karen is a former pet business owner with 17+ years of experience in training and taking care of pets. She currently owns three dogs (a greyhound, saluki, and golden mix) and has gone through several types of programs to further her education in the pet world.

Leave a Comment