How To Make A Dog Crate Escape-Proof – Effective Tips

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Is your dog an escape artist even though you crate-trained him? Not every pup will sit quietly in his crate, and some dogs are regular Harry Houdinis.

So, what can you do to keep your furry friend safely confined to his crate? How can you prevent escape attempts? And how does your dog manage to escape in the first place?

Well, you’ll be relieved to hear that there are some tried and proven ways to make a regular dog crate escape-proof!

Read this guide to find out how to keep your dog safely contained in his crate.

Why Does My Dog Escape From His Crate?

How To Make A Dog Crate Escape-Proof

Most dogs are happy to stay in their crate, even if the door is left open. If your dog is an escape artist, the first thing you must do is work out why.

Anxiety or Fear

If your dog often pushes past you as you try to close the crate door or attempts to escape from the crate when it’s locked, he might be frightened or anxious about being confined.

So, you might need to revisit your crate training program to help your dog to realize that his crate is a comfortable, safe space where he can take refuge in times of stress or when he wants to take a nap.

Separation Anxiety 

Sad dog behind the bars of her crate

Dogs are highly social creatures that need the structure and security that a pack setting provides. So, leaving a dog completely alone is almost sure to stress him and might result in separation anxiety.

So, during crate training and thereafter, you should never leave your dog shut in his crate for very long periods.

Potty Breaks

Your dog will naturally avoid soiling his crate, preferring to go outside when a potty break is required. Sometimes, a house-trained dog will break out of his crate simply because he needs to relieve himself and he knows that he shouldn’t do that in his “den.”

Right before you leave your dog in his crate, take him outside for a toilet stop. If you have to leave your dog alone for many hours, you should arrange for someone to come to your home and let your dog out before your pet takes matters into his own paws and escapes.

How Does My Dog Escape From His Crate?

How Does My Dog Escape From His Crate

A determined dog can use various means to escape from a regular crate, and even a heavy-duty crate can present no problems to a seasoned escape artist. But how do dogs escape from their crates? To prevent lightning from striking twice, you need to know exactly how your dog did it!

Generally, there are three escape tactics that Houdini dogs employ:

Unfastening The Door Latch

Intelligent breeds can often work out how to unfasten the crate door latch and simply walk out to freedom. These clever canines will wait until you’ve closed the door and left the house for the day before calmly releasing themselves from their crate and wreaking havoc in your home.

Brute Force!

Large Dogs inside big crates
Image Source: www.instructables.com

Large, muscular dogs, such as Mastiffs, are usually strong enough to simply bust right out of a regular dog crate. Even smaller breeds, such as terriers, can be very persistent and will quickly find a weak point in the crate’s walls where they can push and wriggle their way out.

That type of escape behavior can sometimes be foiled by reinforcing the crate or starting with a more solid crate in the first place. Generally, a lack of a decent quality crate is the prime reason for strong dogs escaping.

Remember that a bored dog with nothing else to do all day will probably spend his time trying to work out how to get loose to find something more interesting to do, such as destroying your expensive furniture or raiding the kitchen trash.

Exploiting Weak Spots

Most conventional wire dog crates are constructed using metal connectors that hold the crate panels and doors in place. Dogs with a strong bite often find these weak spots in a wire crate, chewing the connectors until they break. Your furry friend then wriggles out through the hole he’s created and bounds to freedom.

Cheap Dog Crates

Cheaper dog crates are generally less escape-proof than more expensive ones. So, don’t skimp when purchasing your dog’s crate.

There are plenty of escape-proof dog crate options in the mid-price range that do the job without breaking the bank.

How Can You Foil An Escape Artist Dog?

Sometimes, even a high-quality, super-strong crate can be broken out of by a determined dog. So, here are a few tried and tested tips that can help to keep your hairy Houdini safely contained in his crate.

Watch Your Pooch!

Crated Dog

Most dogs prefer to escape their crate when their owner is safely out of sight. But if you don’t know how your dog is getting loose from his crate, you won’t know the best way to prevent that from happening.

The most effective way to observe your dog in the act of breaking out is to set up a webcam or camera to watch your pet. Once you’ve seen how your dog escapes, you can take the necessary steps to foil him.

A camera with motion sensor notification functionality is an excellent investment if you have a dog that regularly escapes from its crate. The camera app notifies you when the dog is attempting to escape from the crate, and you can use the built-in two-way speaker to startle your dog into staying put!

Reinforce The Crate Seams

If you have a strong dog that bulldozed his way out of the crate by simply forcing his way through the panel seams, you might find that simply reinforcing the crate seams with carabiners or some form of metal fixings is the most effective way of reinforcing your pet’s crate.

Plastic zip ties, tape, or rope are not going to work, as an aggressive chewer will simply bite and nibble his way right through that.

Distraction Techniques

A bored dog will quickly become frustrated when confined to a crate, leading to escape attempts. 

Try leaving your dog’s favorite toy with him in the crate so that he has something to keep him amused or to cuddle up to for comfort if he feels lonely. Just make sure that you pick a toy that your dog can’t swallow or destroy by chewing. KONG toys are very popular crate toys. These heavy-duty rubber toys can be used for games of fetch outside the crate, satisfy a teething or mouthy dog’s instinct to chew, and can be stuffed with treats, peanut butter, or yogurt and frozen to extend playtime.

Exercise Your Dog Before Your Leave

Dogs need exercise, regardless of age, breed, or temperament. If your dog is bursting with energy, he won’t settle in his crate and is far more likely to make an escape bid. So, take your pup for a good run at the dog park or play fetch in your backyard before you put him in his crate.

Consider Your Crate’s Location

Chocolate Labrador Puppy lying down in a wire crate 7 weeks old

Sometimes, the location of your dog’s crate can cause him to try to escape.

For example, if the crate is located in a spot where your dog can see out of the window into the garden or the street, he’ll see other dogs and people passing by or squirrels and the family cat running around outside. That can increase your dog’s levels of frustration, and he might try to escape.

So, you might want to put the crate in a quiet spot where your dog isn’t distracted by the sounds and sights outside. That said, avoid choosing a deserted area that could leave your pet feeling isolated and more likely to try to get out to find some company.

Remember that your dog is going to spend several hours in his crate. With that in mind, avoid putting the crate in a spot where it’s exposed to drafts or where the dog will get too hot. If your dog is too hot or too cold, he might be tempted to escape, purely to get more comfortable.

Make The Crate Comfortable

If your dog feels comfortable and secure in his crate, he’ll be less likely to try to escape.

So, cozy crates with a comfy bed, water bottle, treats, and toys are going to be so inviting for your dog that he might not even think of escaping. That said, a crate tray is also important so that the crate doesn’t get dirty, especially if you’re potty training your pet.

How To Escape-Proof Your Dog’s Crate

How To Reinforce Your Dog's Crate

Although you can buy military-grade dog crates, a sturdy crate should be secure enough to contain any dog. And, if your dog persists in demonstrating destructive behaviors, you can reinforce a suitable dog crate to keep your dog in check.

Here are some top tips on how to escape-proof your dog’s crate:

Reinforce Weak Points

Most wire crates are collapsible for ease of storage and portability. Although that’s extremely convenient for you, it can also make the crates weak. Generally, an escape artist targets the floor and walls of the crate first, and flimsy latches are the next point of attack.

  • Strengthen the crate by reinforcing the walls with zip ties in the corners. Trim the ties short so that the dog can’t chew them.
  • Reinforce the crate floor by drilling holes in the corners of the plastic tray and fixing it firmly with zip ties. Again, trim the ties so that they can’t be chewed. Don’t make any holes in the bottom of the tray, otherwise, it will leak.
  • Use padlocks to provide extra security for crate latches that might otherwise be forced open. Try installing a small padlock rather than a large one to reduce the amount of space your dog has to wiggle through if he does succeed in popping the latch.
  • Consider using metal plates to reinforce the corners of the crate floor to prevent the dog from digging his way under the floor and prizing it up so that he can wriggle out.

    Keep the padlock keys handy so that you can open a locked crate in an emergency.

Try Gentle Crate Training

Crate training your dog correctly is crucial in ensuring that your pet remains safely and happily in his crate without trying to get out.

Never make the mistake of simply locking your dog in his crate and disappearing. Take the time to introduce your dog slowly to his crate. Feed your dog inside the crate, make the crate safe and comfortable, and give your dog plenty to do while he is inside his crate.

Crate training is used by most pet parents to potty train their pets. However, you can also successfully crate train an older dog if you go about things in the correct way. Check out the linked articles in this guide for more expert tips on crate training your puppy or adult dog! 

Crate Safety

safety first

Dogs are naturally denning animals, and they love to have a small, comfortable, dark space in which to relax, de-stress, and take a nap when they want or need to.

Your dog’s crate should also be his den. Make the crate inviting and comfortable by providing a cozy bed to cover the floor, and install a crate water bottle or water bowl to keep your dog well-hydrated. Try lining the crate with an item of your clothing that carries your scent, and consider covering the crate with a dog crate cover to encourage the dog’s denning instinct.

If your dog regards his crate as his own personal den-space, he’s less likely to try to escape.

Proper Crate Assembly

Check your current crate to make sure that you’ve assembled it properly. Although that sounds a tad patronizing, you’d be amazed how many people make mistakes when constructing their dog’s crate.

Broken crates are guaranteed to allow even novice escape artists to get out and run amok in your home. So, take the time to study the crate’s assembly instructions before you put your pooch in his new crate.

How To Choose the Best Crate

How

The size and style of the dog crate you choose can be very influential on whether your dog stays inside the crate or not.

There’s a bewildering range of crates available, and not all of them are suitable for a dog that’s a confirmed escape artist:

  • Plastic crates can be chewed to destruction by a determined dog with sharp teeth.
  • Soft-sided crates are generally too flimsy to enclose an escape artist dog.
  • A secondhand crate might have weak points caused by the previous occupant’s escape attempts, making it easier for your Houdini hound to get loose.
  •  Decorative, fancy dog crates can be easy to chew through or break out of.
  • Wooden dog crates that double and end tables are also a chewer’s delight when it comes to escaping.

Wire crates can be a good choice for dogs that like to break loose since they are easy to reinforce and provide a dog with a good view of his surroundings, which can be helpful for dogs that are unsettled by confinement.

Seek Professional Advice

Seek Professional Advice

If your dog persists in attempting to escape from his crate, we recommend that you seek professional advice from a specialist in that type of behavior. There are many professional dog trainers and animal behaviorists who can give you expert advice on how to train your dog to remain in his crate.

Of course, depending on your dog’s temperament, it could be that crating your dog is not the best way to keep him confined. In which case, here are some alternatives that you might want to consider:

  • Send your dog to doggy daycare when you can’t be around to watch him.
  • Take your dog to work with you if your company permits that.
  • Ask a friend or relative to visit your dog regularly during the day to check on him.
  • Hire a professional dog sitter to look after your pet while you’re out.
  • Hire a professional dog walker to come to your home and take your dog out for a walk to break up your pet’s day and provide a potty break.

It could be that your dog is simply not able to spend time confined to a crate. That’s often the case with dogs from shelters that have been abused in their previous lives when a crate was used as a punishment. If that applies to your dog, you’ll need to use one of the alternatives suggested above for times when you have to leave your pet home alone. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this guide on how to make a dog crate escape-proof informative and helpful. If you did, please take a few moments to share it.

You can reinforce and strengthen your dog’s crate by using simple cable ties or carabiners to secure wire crate panels and door latches. However, if your dog persists in escaping, you might need to consider purchasing a heavy-duty crate that’s specifically designed to keep Houdini hounds safely contained.

Did your dog keep escaping from his crate? How did you solve the problem? Tell us in the comments box below.

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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