It’s heartbreaking isn’t it. Seeing those sad eyes of your beloved dog when they are placed inside their crate. Or worse, they make a run for it whenever they realize they are due to be crated.
If you suspect your dog hates their crate, or it is entirely obvious, don’t despair.
There are several understandable reasons why dogs develop an aversion to crating, and effective solutions to transform their perception.
In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of crate hatred, addressing each and every one of them.
You’ll also discover actionable tips to positively reshape your dog’s association with their crate, curbing resistance and fostering contentment.
With time and patience, you can make the crate a secure space your dog loves retreating to, instead of the prison they can’t wait to escape.
So rest assured – with compassion and creativity, you have the power to change their viewpoint!
Your dog’s days of dreading their crate will soon be over.
Let’s see how…
Why Your Dog May Hate Their Crate
They Have Not Been Sufficiently Trained
You can’t just shove your dog in a crate on day one and expect them to love it!
You need to train them.
Proper crate training takes time, consistency and positive reinforcement.
Rushing the process or forcing it can seriously backfire.
Your dog may start dreading their crate instead of seeing it as their safe haven.
Go slow with treats, praise and letting your dog warm up at their own pace.
You can’t just shove your dog in a crate on day one and expect them to love it! Proper crate training takes time, consistency and positive reinforcement. Rushing the process or forcing it can seriously backfire. Your dog may start dreading their crate instead of seeing it as their safe haven. Go slow with treats, praise and letting your dog warm up at their own pace. Good things come to dogs who wait!
Your Dog Needs More Exercise
It could be that your dog has too much energy to fully relax in their crate.
Without enough stimulation and activity, they’ll get bored and frustrated.
All that pent-up energy has to go somewhere!
A dog lacking an outlet for exercise is way more likely to resent enforced crate time.
Make sure your buddy gets plenty of walks, playtime and puzzles.
Your Crate May Be The Wrong Size
An improperly sized crate can significantly impact your dog’s comfort level.
Too small and they’ll feel cramped and miserable.
Too big provides zero den-like security.
Look for a crate that allows them to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably – but still feel snug as a bug.
Ensuring the right size crate for your dog’s needs can make all the difference in their enjoyment of crate time.
The Crate Isn’t Comfortable
A hard and uncomfortable surface can deter your dog from wanting to spend time in their crate
Adding a nice crate mat or bedding gives your dog something cozy to curl up on.
Proper bedding makes the crate more inviting and relaxed.
There Are No Positive Associations
If a dog associates the crate with isolation, punishment, or fear, they will likely resist crating.
It’s up to you to flip the script!
Make sure all crate experiences are positive from here on out.
Shower them with treats, toys and praise galore.
With enough happy times, they’ll learn the crate equals fun, not fear.
Its A Medical Thing
Certain underlying medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems or urinary tract infections, can cause discomfort, making the dog reluctant to stay in the crate.
Have your vet give your dog a thorough check-up to rule out any medical causes for their crate aversion.
Treating any health problems could make a world of difference for their comfort and tolerance.
Its A Result Of Separation Anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety see their crate as a prison, not a safe space.
Being confined triggers panic over being abandoned or isolated.
These dogs need customized training and desensitization to ease their extreme distress.
With professional help, proper exercise, mental stimulation and anxiety reduction tactics, their separation struggles can be overcome.
Alternatively, it could be you need to look into getting a new crate – designed specifically for anxious dogs.
The High Anxiety crate by Impact Dog Crates is the one to look at here!
A Lack of Socialization
A dog lacking proper socialization often stresses out more easily in new situations – like being crated.
Early exposure to all sorts of people, animals, places and scenarios sets them up for confidence and adaptability later.
An unsocialized dog never learned to roll with the punches.
With help from a trainer, you can improve their sociability and tolerance around crating and more.
The Crate Is Dull & Boring
A bored dog is an unhappy dog.
Without sufficient stimulation in the form of toys or chewables, your dog may find the crate dull and uninviting.
Keep your dog’s mind engaged with puzzle toys, chew bones, food puzzles and other fun activities.
Rotate novel toys to keep curiosity alive.
Mental enrichment is just as tiring and important as physical exercise when it comes to a happy, relaxed crate stay.
Will My Dog Eventually Like The Crate?
Most dogs can eventually come to like their crate, provided it’s introduced properly, associated with positive experiences, and suited to their needs.
For dogs who’ve developed a dislike of crates, you can absolutely turn things around.
The key is reintroducing the crate slowly and making every experience positive.
Start back at square one using yummy treats, fun new toys and super plush bedding to reward your dog for any interaction with their crate.
This reshapes those negative perceptions into happy ones. Be patient and let them warm back up to the crate at their own pace.
Make sure the crate is nice and roomy for your dog, located in a peaceful spot, and properly ventilated.
Never use the crate for punishments – it should be a place of comfort!
Stick to a consistent routine with scheduled potty and play breaks.
With enough positive experiences over time, your dog can come to see their crate as a desirable space for rest and relaxation.
Keep interactions upbeat and rewarding. With patience and consistency, you can transform their attitude from crate-hating to crate-loving!
What Do You Do If Your Dog Hates The Crate?
Reintroduce the Crate Gradually
You essentially need to restart the process. But this time you must act slowly to create new positive associations.
You can do with with treats and positive reinforcement; fussing over your dog for entering the crate.
Avoid forcing your dog into the crate; instead, encourage voluntary entry and gradually increase crating time as your dog becomes more comfortable.
Modify Crating Duration
Avoid crating your dog for extended periods.
Gradually increasing the time your dog spends in the crate and ensuring they have breaks can alleviate stress and make the crate a more acceptable place.
Establish a Positive Environment
Make the crate more inviting by placing comfortable bedding and favorite toys inside.
The aim is to create a pleasant and cozy environment that your dog views as a safe space.
Introduce meal times within the crate to foster more positive associations.
Reconsider Crate Size & Placement
Ensure the crate is appropriately sized, allowing your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
An appropriately sized crate will make your dog feel more secure and less anxious, potentially increasing their acceptance of the space.
Looking For A New Crate? This is the one to get -> Impact Dog Crate
You may also want to consider where the crate is placed. You may need to bring it into a more sociable part of the home, or move it away from any draughts, for instance.
Increase Exercise and Stimulation
You may want to consider upping the exercise, particularly before crating.
Even providing mental stimulation through a rigorous play session can do it.
Here’s why: a tired dog is less likely to be anxious and more inclined to rest when crated, thus reducing any aversion to the crate over time.
Identify and Address Negative Associations
Recognize and rectify any negative associations your dog might have with the crate.
This may require a change of when you try to get your dog to be crated, a change in your home environment (such as turning on a white noise machine) etc.
Seek Professional Advice
If your dog continually resists crating despite your efforts, consider seeking advice from a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist.
They can provide tailored strategies to address your dog’s specific issues and needs effectively.
Address Underlying Health Issues
Consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions that might be causing discomfort and reluctance to use the crate.
Addressing medical concerns promptly can contribute to improving your dog’s overall comfort and acceptance of the crate.
Opt for Realistic Alternatives
If crating is continually stressful for your dog, explore alternative solutions like pet gates or playpens.
These options can offer your dog a sense of security while providing more freedom, making them a suitable substitute for crates in some cases.
While getting your dog to voluntarily use their crate is ideal for everyone all round, unfortunately, not all dogs are as willing from the get go (as you likely know).
However, there are many effective techniques you can implement to transform your dog’s perception of their crate.
With time, patience and consistency, along with ample rewards and encouragement, even the most resistant dogs can learn to willingly enter their crate and settle in contentedly.
It all comes down to this. You need to recondition your dog’s mindset around crating.
While this sounds challenging, the payoff of a content, happy dog is well worth it.
The crate can become the cozy sanctuary it’s meant to be.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.