Crate training your puppy has many benefits for both you and your pet. But what can you do if your puppy starts chewing on his crate bars?
Is crate chewing a sign of distress? Do dogs only chew their crates if they’re sick?
Read this guide to find out why your puppy chews his crate and learn some helpful tips on how to stop your pet from cage biting.
Why Do Puppies Chew Their Crates?
Even though you spent a lot of time sympathetically crate training your dog and he seems happy to spend time in there, cage biting is a common crate behavior problem that’s experienced by many dog owners.
So, why does your dog or puppy chew the bars of his wire crate?
1. Teething Troubles
Probably the most common reason for a puppy to chew on his crate bars is simply that your pup is teething.
Just like human babies, puppies like to chew on hard things to ease the discomfort of their teeth coming through. In the crate, the obvious thing for your puppy to chew is the crate bars.
How To Stop A Puppy Biting His Crate
- Provide A Chew Toy
If your puppy is teething, you need to provide him with some to chew other than his crate!
Try filling a KONG toy with peanut butter or your pup’s favorite treats and freezing the whole lot. The chilled treat will keep your dog or puppy occupied for ages, as well as soothing his sore gums.
Essentially, any hard toy that won’t fall apart and cause a choking hazard is fine. But we don’t recommend giving your furry friend uncooked bones, as they can splinter, which could be dangerous to your pet.
- Anti-Chewing Sprays
As well as providing your dog with an alternative chewing target, you can use an anti-chewing spray on the bars of your pet’s crate.
This spray is safe, non-toxic, and contains only natural ingredients. Basically, anti-chewing sprays taste bitter and hot, immediately deterring your dog or puppy from chewing or licking the bars of his crate.
If you provide your pet with a tasty chew toy, he will quickly decide that’s a much better option than the foul-tasting bars of his crate!
Learn about why dogs lick metal here.
2. Fear Of The Crate
If your dog has been crate trained incorrectly, he might be afraid of being confined in his crate.
Your dog’s crate should be a safe, secure, comfortable place where your pet enjoys spending time. Not only should your dog willingly enter the crate on cue, but he should also go into the crate of his own volition when he wants to chill out and relax.
Create a happy environment in the crate for your dog by fitting the crate with a comfortable crate pad or mat, providing your dog with lots of fun crate toys to occupy him, and ensuring that your dog has access to fresh, clean water.
There’s a wide range of crates to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that suits your dog. Remember, larger crates can be made smaller for potty training and to accommodate puppies by using a crate divider. So, there’s no reason to squeeze your dog into a tiny crate that might frighten him and make him resentful of being crated. Check out our roundup of the strongest and most durable crates on the market.
3. Separation Anxiety
Some dog breeds are naturally clingy and can’t bear to be parted from their human family. That behavior can manifest itself as a condition called separation anxiety.
Although you can use a crate to treat the problem, dogs with separation anxiety can find confinement in a crate very distressing, especially when their owner is out of sight. If your dog becomes very distressed when left alone, even for short periods, we recommend that you seek help from a professional animal behaviorist.
4. Pheromone Relief
There are several synthetic dog pheromone products on the market that can help to calm anxious dogs. These products work well for dogs that get stressed during storms or when fireworks are set off, and they can also be effective in relaxing a dog with separation anxiety.
You can choose from pheromone sprays that you can use on your pet’s crate mat or plug-in diffusers that you place close to the crate but out of your pup’s reach.
5. Too Long In The Crate
You can use a crate to confine your dog for short periods when potty training him and prevent destructive behaviors when you’re not around to watch your pet. However, keeping your dog shut in his crate for long periods of time will ultimately lead to behavioral problems, such as crate biting.
So, how long is too long?
Well, very young puppies can only hold their bladder for an hour or so, and it’s unkind to leave a puppy without a potty break for longer than that. Ideally, you should never leave a dog confined to a crate for more than eight hours maximum.
If you can’t be around to let your dog out of his crate for exercise or elimination breaks, you should hire a dog walker or a dog sitter to do that for you. Alternatively, ask a friend or family member to help you by calling round to attend to your dog’s needs while you’re out at work.
6. Lack Of Exercise
All dogs need some daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
If you shut your dog in his crate for the day while you’re at work without first spending some fun time playing with your dog or walking him, you’re setting yourself up for problems. A dog that’s bursting with energy will find some other outlet for all that pent-up energy, and that can manifest itself as crate chewing or constant barking.
Puppy Chewing On Crate – What Are The Dangers Of Crate Chewing?
Aside from the obvious damage that crate biting causes to the crate itself, chewing on his crate can present dangers to your dog, too.
1. Choking Hazard
Puppies and adult dogs often chew on items within the crate and the crate itself, which can present a very real danger.
If the bedding or crate mat is damaged so that the dog can access the interior flocking or padding, the animal could choke if he swallows the material. Also, ingesting large amounts of fabric can cause blockages in the dog’s digestive tract, sometimes necessitating emergency surgery.
You can take steps to prevent that danger by choosing chew-resistant crate mats and opting for solid crates rather than a soft crate.
2. Dental Damage
Long-term crate bar chewing for both adult dogs and puppies causes damage to the teeth. Broken, loose, and worn teeth can all result from crate chewing, and in many cases, the tooth can die, leaving removal as the only viable option.
If your dog or puppy is a serial crate biter, check their mouth regularly. Look at the tooth surface for signs of damage, including cracking and discoloration. Tooth loss, loose teeth, chattering teeth, and bleeding gums are also things to look out for.
A cracked tooth can allow bacteria to enter the tooth structure, causing infection and abscesses. If your dog has foul-smelling breath, it’s likely that he has chronic gingivitis or serious dental problems, and you need to consult your vet without delay.
You might also like this article: Crate Training Regression
Did you enjoy our informative article on why your puppy or dog chews his crate? If you found the guide helpful, please take a moment to share it.
Puppies generally chew their crates because they are teething. However, crate biting can also be symptomatic of separation anxiety, fear of the crate, a lack of exercise, or simply being confined to the crate for too long.
Did your puppy chew his crate? Were our tips helpful? Tell us how you did in the comments box below!