As a dog owner for many years, I’ve dealt with my fair share of escape artists – those clever pups who see their crate as a puzzle to solve in pursuit of freedom.
It can be a huge challenge, but one we need to simply get right.
Not just for our dogs’ safety but for household harmony, too.
From my personal experience and years of successful crating, here’s some tips on how to keep your dog from breaking out.
How To Keep Dog From Escaping Crate
The best ways to keep a dog from escaping their crate are:
- Regular Crate Exposure
- Tire Your Dog Out
- Make The Crate Cozy & Den-Like
- Add Entertainment
- Invest In An Escape-Proof Crate
- Reconsider Crate Location
- Patience and Practice
Regular Crate Exposure
Familiarity breeds comfort.
The key to getting your dog comfortable with the crate is taking it slow and making it a positive experience.
When you first get the crate, let your dog approach and explore it at their own pace, with the door open.
Place treats and toys inside so they associate it with good things.
Feed your dog their meals in the crate to build a routine.
Start crating them for short periods, like 15-30 minutes, while you’re home and reward them when they are calm inside.
Gradually increase the time as they get more acclimated.
Handle the crate calmly and don’t force them in if they resist at first.
With regular, relaxed exposure, the crate will become a normal part of their daily life.
Tire Your Dog Out
Dogs are less likely to try and escape their crate if they have an outlet for their energy.
Make sure your dog gets sufficient physical and mental exercise before crating to prevent restlessness.
Take them for long walks and let them run around a park or backyard before you put them in the crate.
Play fetch or tug-of-war. Engage their mind with obedience training, scent games hiding treats, or puzzle toys.
A combination of activities will stimulate their body and brain, leaving them happily worn out and ready to relax in the crate.
The more energy they can burn beforehand, the less motivation they’ll have to bust out.
Make The Crate Cozy & Den-Like
You want your dog to view their crate as a comfortable den, not a prison.
Place a soft blanket or bed in the crate so they have something cozy to curl up on.
Make sure the crate is large enough for them to stand up and turn around without being cramped.
Ventilation is important to keep them from overheating.
Avoid crates with sharp edges or protruding wires that could poke or scrape them.
Put in a familiar t-shirt or blanket with your scent to comfort anxious dogs. Keeping the crate clean is also key.
The more inviting and relaxing you can make the space, the more content your dog will be to stay put.
Prevent destructive escape attempts by providing plenty of enrichment to occupy your dog’s mind.
Fill the crate with safe, durable chew toys to meet their natural chewing urge.
My go-to and recommendation is ‘The Game’ from Fable Pets stuffed with treats or peanut butter. It can provide hours of entertainment.
Rotate different puzzle toys that dispense kibble as your dog plays with them.
Having activities to engage with relieves boredom and gives them an outlet for energy.
Monitor which toys keep your individual dog engaged the longest. With enough mental and physical stimulation, they’ll look forward to crate time.
Invest In An Escape-Proof Crate
For superstar escape artists, a flimsy crate simply won’t cut it.
You need an ultra-secure model made from serious materials.
Look for crates made with reinforced steel bars, welded rings, and metal mesh.
Check that any plastic base pans are thick and chew-proof.
Make sure the door closes tightly and locks securely.
Some models also have extra slide bolts for additional reinforcement.
Though pricier, heavy-duty crates can prevent determined dogs from breaking open doors or squeezing through bars. They’ll keep even the cleverest pups safely contained.
Reconsider Crate Location
Where you put the crate affects your dog’s willingness to stay put.
A quiet, low-traffic spot can reduce stress. But some pups like company, so a central spot works better.
See what makes your dog most relaxed.
Patience and Practice
Where you place the crate can impact how your dog feels about it.
Try to find a quiet spot away from loud noises or high foot traffic that might cause anxiety.
But some dogs are reassured by having company, so you may need to experiment with more central locations near family members.
See if your dog relaxes more in a spare room, laundry room, kitchen or living room.
Make sure the area is climate controlled with proper ventilation.
Finding the right setting can prevent weak points like doors or reduce distractions.
Take your individual dog’s temperament into account when deciding on crate placement.
After all these years of trial and error, I’ve cracked the code on escapade-proofing your dog’s crate.
It comes down to meeting their needs.
First, set them up for success by making the crate comfortable and entertaining. Bored, anxious dogs break out; enriched, tired dogs settle in.
Second, show them patience and compassion. Force leads to resistance. Through calm, consistent training they’ll come to see the crate as their sanctuary.
And sometimes, an ultra-secure crate is needed for superstar escape artists. Don’t skimp on durability for determined dogs!
If you invest the time to understand your dog and their needs, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful nights free from noisy breakouts.
Soon they’ll look forward to crate time and you’ll both get much-needed rest.
Although outsmarting a super-smart canine isn’t easy, it is possible.
With the right strategies, even the trickiest pups can be outfoxed.
Your home can go from a war zone to an oasis.
May we all get a good night’s sleep!
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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.