Your dog’s crate can be his favorite space in your home. The crate should be a comfy, safe space that your pet loves to go to when he wants some me-time. However, not every dog loves his kennel.
So, what do you do when your dog hates his crate?
Read this guide for our top tips on how to solve the problem of a crate-hating pup!
Introductions Are All-Important!
Dogs have long memories, and bad experiences are not easily forgotten. So, if your dog’s first introduction to a crate was frightening or unpleasant, he’s not going to love his crate, and he certainly won’t want to spend time there.
Unfortunately, that’s especially true of dogs from shelters or rescue centers. Those dogs might have been mistreated and shut in a crate for long periods as a punishment. Dogs used for breeding purposes by puppy mills are often kept crated in social isolation for most of their lives, so, understandably, one of these poor creatures will resent going into a crate.
Steps To Successfully Reintroduce Your Dog To His Crate
Exercise Your Dog Before Crate Training
Tired dogs are generally more relaxed and settled than those that are chock full of energy. Take your dog for a walk or play a game of fetch or tug-of-war in your backyard before you put him in his crate.
Ensure that your dog has had a chance to relieve himself before you crate him so that he’s not uncomfortable.
Begin with short training sessions, such as 15 seconds, to prevent your pup from feeling trapped.
Don’t Rush Things
Don’t make the schoolboy error of trying to hurry things along when crate-training your dog. If your dog has a bad association with crates, the last thing you want to do is hassle him.
Allow your dog plenty of time to feel comfortable around his crate. Start by giving your dog plenty of time to explore and sniff the crate. It’s okay for your dog to eat or nap inside the crate with the door left open. When you next crate train your dog, close the crate door, give your dog a treat, and open the door again right away.
Some dogs are genuinely frightened of their crate at first. If that’s the case, you might have to work at it to persuade your furry friend to go anywhere near his crate. However, not all dogs react like that, but it’s best to start slowly and gently just in case.
Is The Crate The Correct Size?
The crate must be the correct size for your dog. Your dog must be able to stand up, sit down, turn around, and lie flat out in the crate without any part of his body touching the crate sides or top.
If you buy a too-small crate, your dog won’t want to be confined inside it.
Make The Kennel Safe
A wire crate tends to rattle and shift when the dog moves around inside. That can easily frighten a timid pup, so ensure that the crate is firmly set on a level surface.
Make Crate Time Fun
If your dog knows that crate time will be fun, he will be much more likely to want to go into his kennel. So, fit the crate with a comfortable bed, add a few crate toys, some treats, and a puzzle toy to keep your pup entertained and busy for a while.
The Crate Is Not A Punishment or Time-Out Space
Never mistake using the crate as a punishment or shutting your dog inside.
The crate should be a place of comfort and positive associations that your dog wants to retreat to without you forcing him.
The Crate Should Not Be a Crutch
Some nervous dogs that lack confidence start spending too much time in their crates. Although the crate is an excellent training tool, it can also become a crutch for a nervous dog that doesn’t want to face the hustle and bustle of an ordinary household.
If your dog can control his bladder in your home, is no longer destructive, but still takes to hiding away inside his crate, you might want to rethink your crate training schedule. It might be time to remove the crate altogether. If the dog is happy and confident, he will be healthier than one that constantly runs to his hideout instead of learning to deal with his fears.
However, if your dog has severe behavioral confidence issues, we recommend that you consult a professional dog behaviorist for advice.
My Dog Already Hates His Crate – What Can I Do?
Some dogs hate being confined in a crate. Period. In extreme cases, the dog might go into a complete panic, risking injury while trying to escape from the crate. In that case, you should consult a professional trainer for advice.
If your dog has learned to hate his kennel, whatever the reason, it’s usually possible to solve that problem with correct, patient training.
What’s The Problem?
There’s a reason why a dog hates going into a crate, and it’s up to you to play detective to work out the puzzle and solve it.
For example, a dog crated for long periods might develop crate anxiety that’s to do with feeling thirsty or being forced to lie on soiled bedding. There could be a cold draft, or it might be too hot.
In some cases, a child or another dog has bullied the dog in the crate, or perhaps the dog’s previous owner has used the crate for punishment. Now, the dog associates the crate with an unpleasant, human-related experience, and it’s up to you to fix that broken trust.
It would help if you remembered that your dog’s issue with the crate is most likely a dog thing. It could be that the crate is close to a loud TV or an appliance that makes a scary sound. Perhaps your dog can see the mailman and gets upset that he can’t defend his family and home.
Although the cause of your pup’s distress might not be logical to you, it’s very real and extremely disturbing for your pet.
Bring On Positive Associations!
Once you’ve worked out the problem, you can start to reintroduce the idea of crating slowly.
If some learned phobia or behavioral issue, such as separation anxiety, has caused the problem, you should speak to a professional. It might be that drug therapy can help break the cycle of panic so that your dog can learn to trust the crate again.
What Can I Do If My Dog Won’t Accept A Crate?
Of course, some dogs refuse to do with being crated. You’ll need to admit defeat and think outside the box in these cases.
Here are a few ideas for crating alternatives:
Suggestions For Crate Alternatives
Every time your dog has a bad experience in a kennel or crate, it reinforces his feelings of stress and anxiety. That will make modifying your dog’s crate aversion much more challenging.
So, what alternatives are there to the crate?
- Exercise pen
- Chain-link kennel
- Your pup’s room in your home
If you have the space outside in your garden, you might want to set up a run with a lean-to where your dog can shelter from the sun and showers.
If you have a friend or relative that’s a dog-lover, it might be possible for your dog to spend the day with them in their home while you are out. Alternatively, you could find a doggie daycare facility where your dog can have fun playing with other dogs.
However, that will not work for dogs with actual separation anxiety. These pups need to be with their special person, and being handed to someone else in your absence won’t cut it.
Take Your Dog With You
Unfortunately, your dog can’t go with you everywhere. However, taking your pet with you whenever you goes a long way toward curing your dog’s crate anxiety.
Some workplaces permit employees to take their dogs to work with them, especially if yours is an occupation that involves working with dogs. You must never leave your dog unattended in a car for long periods or if the weather is warm.
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Some dogs that have been traumatized by their experiences of spending time in a crate can benefit from remedial crate training. With patience and positive reinforcement techniques, it is possible to teach your dog how to love his crate again.
Did your dog hate his crate? How did you retrain him to love it? Tell us in the comments box below.