How to get dog to like crate again

Sara Farell
Sara Farell

If your dog has been avoiding the crate, there are a few things you can do to get them back into it. One is to make the crate more comfortable for them, by adding a soft bed, some treats, and a toy. Another is to try training them using a positive reinforcement method, such as clicker training.

This is something I hear all too often as a dog trainer. So, why do some dogs despise crates while others adore them? I believe it has a lot to do with how the crate, or confinement in general, is introduced to the dog.

The vast majority of pet store puppies, for example, are born in a cage, raised in a cage, shipped across the country in a cage, and displayed in a cage until they become someone's pet. After spending the majority of their lives caged, it's no surprise that they have a negative association with crates, no matter how comfortable we make them.

In other cases, I believe that many dog owners only use the crate when they are leaving the house and need a place to put the dog. The dog associates being crated with being alone and possibly bored for extended periods of time. I also believe that some dogs, like some people, become overly anxious in small spaces for reasons we will likely never understand. However, I believe that these dogs are in the minority. Then there's the dog who's discovered that if he barks and whines loudly enough, someone will let him out of his crate.

So, what do we do with crate-averse dogs? One option is to find another way to confine the dog. Tethers can help keep a dog nearby and visible when we are at home working on the computer or watching TV. We can also keep the dog leashed and tied to us so that he follows us everywhere. When we leave the house, we can confine the dog in the laundry room or another dog-proof space.

This option begs the question, however: do all dogs need to be crate trained? No, but having a dog who is comfortable being confined to a crate makes things less stressful for both dog and owner. Consider this: if your dog becomes ill and needs to be hospitalized, or if you ever need to fly or board your dog, he will need to be crated. The alternative is to teach your dog to like his crate.

Here's how: For the first week, either remove the crate's door or bungee it open. Feed your dog in the crate; place treats and favorite toys in the crate. Allow your dog to enter and exit the crate at his leisure, with no fear of the door closing. Make no fuss about the crate or your dog going in and out of it; "whatever dude, it's just a crate"!

Once your dog is comfortable with this step (which may take several weeks), toss his favorite treat into the crate and when he goes in to get it, close the door behind him for a split second, then open it and let him out. Begin gradually closing the crate door for longer periods of time, but vary the routine so that the door sometimes closes and sometimes does not.

Continue doing this until you can work your dog in the crate for 30 minutes before confining him and leaving the house. Keep practicing; once again, vary the routine so that the length of time you're gone is not predictable for your dog. Most importantly, be patient with your dog; remember, you're changing his emotional state about his crate, not just his behavior.

Ben Kerns is a San Diego-based freelance writer, photographer, and outdoor adventurer. When he's not working, you can find him traveling the world in search of new places to climb big rocks. He's also obsessed with spending as little money as possible to fund his outdoor obsessions.

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People say all over the internet, "Puppies naturally love crates!" or "They are den animals, so they will take right to it!" So if our puppy despises their crate, we wonder what went wrong.

So, before we get started, let's clear up a few points.:

  1. Dogs are not den animals. This is marketing propaganda. Even if they were, dens in the wild don't have doors.
  2. Most dogs can be taught to enjoy their crate. However, it takes time, patience, and practice.

Crating can be controversial. But I like to make sure that every dog who comes through my door feels safe and secure in a crate.

If they ever have to be hospitalized or travel in a crate, they will have already had positive exposure to the crate, making those stressful events a little less stressful.

How to Make Your Puppy Like His Crate

It is critical to establish a link between the crate and things the puppy enjoys.

Here's a one-minute video on crate training your puppy.:

Many people make the mistake of only using the crate when they are leaving. Puppies are intelligent and will quickly realize that the crate equals being alone.

Please read our post.: How long can you leave your dog at home by himself?.

Once your puppy forms that association, he or she will be resistant to their crate.

The steps for getting your puppy to like their crate again are the same as for a puppy who has never seen a crate before (as outlined below).

A puppy who has decided they don't like their crate will likely be more fearful, so you will need to be persistent with your praise. It's also a good idea to change up the appearance of their crate, such as moving the location, the toys inside, and even the mat.

Changing up the toys can also be beneficial, and we recommend Bark Box for this, as you'll receive a new box of fun toys and treats every month!

It is critical that you form positive associations with their crate.

Here is how:

  • Place some treats inside the crate.
  • Sit near your puppy's crate and let him sniff around.
  • Say "yes!" and give your puppy a treat if they sniff the crate (even from the outside).
  • Say "yes" and treat if they enter the crate, even if it's just to get the treats inside.
  • If your puppy comes out of the crate, try to ignore them. During the training session, all attention and treats are given to the dog in the crate.

If your puppy refuses to enter their crate, we must modify the exercise. This is especially useful for a puppy who has grown tired of their crate.

Begin by marking your puppy with a "yes!" and rewarding them with a treat when they look in the direction of the crate.

Watch the short video below to see how the handler marks a behavior with a clicker instead of a "yes!". Be consistent with whatever marker you use to tell the puppy when they have earned a reward.

In addition to the above-mentioned shaping exercise, you can feed your puppy in the crate and throw toys in there for them to play with.

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You can even delight your puppy by smearing peanut butter on the back of their crate.

Hide treasures in the crate throughout the day to entice your puppy to go in and see what they might find.

You will eventually associate this behavior with a verbal cue. Use a cue like "crate" when your puppy heads toward the crate for a treasure hunt, and when your puppy puts any feet in the crate, mark them with a "yes!" and follow up with treats.

If your puppy dislikes their crate because it is too small, be sure to read our post.: Puppy Outgrows Their Crate: (Is the crate too small? When should we stop?)

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Puppy dislikes having the crate door closed.

Your puppy must be trained to prefer having their crate door closed. So frequently, the door closes and the owner departs. This is certain to make a puppy dislike their crate. The puppy is irritated because there is a barrier that prevents them from following!

Crate training includes teaching your puppy to relax when the crate door is closed.

We can expand on the crate training program described above. When your puppy is comfortable going in and out of the crate, you will do the following.:

  • Close the door.
  • Mark with a "Yes!" and stuff treats into the crate.
  • Immediately open the door.

In many cases, the closing of the door signals to your puppy that they are trapped in the crate. As a result, this activity will alter your dog's perspective. The door closing equals treats!

Then you want to raise the stakes. Purchase a bone or stuffable toy that your puppy enjoys. I prefer a puzzle toy, such as a Kong toy, on which I can smear some canned dog food or peanut butter. Close the door and place the chew toy inside with your puppy. Stay close by while your dog chews on the toy at first.

Open the door before your puppy finishes the chew toy.

As your puppy gets better at this exercise, try walking in and out of sight for a short period of time (start with 1 second).

If your puppy stops chewing when you leave their sight, I wouldn't leave them for more than a minute.

But I guarantee that if you keep working on it, they will gradually become more comfortable with you leaving.

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You may also be interested in our post, (Answered) Why does my dog bark at night?.

How to get dog to like crate again

Puppy refuses to sleep in their crate at night.

Puppies quickly learn that once they go to their crate at night, the fun is over.

They, like children, will try to resist because they are afraid of missing out on anything that happens while they are sleeping!

The first thing you can do is ensure that you are crating at least once a day (this includes training sessions designed to create positive associations with the crate). This step makes it much easier for your puppy to enter their crate.

Then you must ensure that your puppy has an opportunity to expend energy. Avoid napping at least two hours before bedtime, and keep your puppy entertained.

This can be tricky. Most puppies are prone to the puppy crazies, also known as the zoomies, at night. They appear to lose their minds, and they can also transform into four-legged sharks! So we need to find a game that keeps them engaged and their mouths away from us!.

A flirt pole or chase toy is my favorite puppy tool. This keeps their mouth open while maintaining some distance. Here's a great video that shows you how to play with this toy and turn it into some simple training games to work both the body and the mind.:

This can progress into games that teach your puppy impulse control.

Your puppy may still appear to have some energy after bedtime. When a puppy is overstimulated or overtired, this can occur. The best solution in this case is to provide a safe chew treat that will keep your pup entertained for 10-20 minutes.

Chewing increases serotonin, which helps your puppy sleep at night.

If your puppy is having trouble sleeping in their crate at night, you can try a pheromone home plug in like Adaptil. While not every dog will respond to synthetic dog calming pheromones, many will, and it certainly can't hurt!

Also, be sure to check out our post Puppy Crying at Night.

How long does it take for a puppy to grow fond of their crate?

If your puppy has not had any previous negative experiences with the crate, they can quickly learn to love it.

If your puppy already despises their crate, it may take a little longer to change their mind.

And if your puppy seemed to be fine in their crate but now doesn't like it, we'll need to figure out why before we can get them over it.

This occurs frequently if we only use the crate when we leave them. However, some puppies will begin to resist the crate if something frightening has occurred, such as being in their crate during a thunderstorm.

On Thursdays, I worked with a puppy who was only afraid of the crate. We discovered Thursday was garbage day after doing some research, so he associated the sound of the truck with being trapped in the crate. He knew because he began to react when the family took their trash to the curb!

In that case, we were able to drown out the noise by playing music and watching TV (YouTube has calming videos for dogs).

We also changed the look of his crate and made sure he had a long-lasting chew treat on Thursdays to help keep him calm.

Should I ignore the puppy's crate whining?

Yes. When you respond to puppy whining, you are telling the puppy that whining will get their owner's attention. It's easy to unintentionally reinforce behaviors like whining because we feel bad or are concerned that our puppy needs to go potty.

Ideally, with proper training, we should be able to avoid whining entirely. That is, after all, the dream; however, when reality sets in, we must ignore the puppy.

If you are concerned that your puppy needs to go potty, wait until they are quiet, even if only for a second to catch his breath, and then take them outside.

I recommend the following to avoid whining::

  1. Get their water three hours before you go to bed. If your puppy still needs to pee in the middle of the night, it can be picked up sooner. Read our article Should I Allow My Puppy to Drink Water at Night?.
  2. Set your alarm for every 4 hours to take your puppy out. Taking them out before they whine prevents the whining from being reinforced. As the puppy grows in success, you can gradually increase the time between alarms.
  3. Many puppies become frustrated when they see things they can't reach, so covering their crate can help prevent any stimulation from the outside world.

You might also be interested in this.: Puppy Pees in Crate: What to do…

A final word

If used correctly, crates are an excellent tool for keeping our puppies safe.

We must not only ensure that our puppy is trained to love their crate, but we must also ensure that we provide our puppies with the mental and physical stimulation they require throughout the day. If they have a lot of energy, the crate could be a nightmare for them.

So, while I believe that dogs should spend some time in their crates every day, I also believe that they should be able to go for walks, sniffing games, or other activities.

Over-crating can cause our dogs and puppies to dislike us.

So, if you have to work long hours, I recommend finding a dog walker or a dog daycare to provide your puppies with some mental and physical stimulation throughout the day. With the proper exercise, your puppy will be delighted to return to their crate for a nap and a bone.

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How to get dog to like crate again
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How do I get my dog to like his crate again?

Begin by placing treats and possibly a favorite toy or two near the crate's opening. When your dog approaches the opening to retrieve an object or treat, praise him. Entice your dog inside. Begin putting treats and toys inside the crate once he's comfortable getting close to the opening.

Why does my dog no longer want to go in his crate?

Changes In The Environment The most basic reason your dog may refuse to enter his crate is a change in environment, such as moving the crate or changing the rug beneath it. It is frequently as simple as washing the sheets, toys, and blankets.

What should you do if your dog is afraid of the crate?

At first, Toss a few treats or toys inside to make him feel comfortable going in and out on his own. . Feed meals in the crate to help establish a positive association. Close the door briefly while your dog eats his treat or meal once he is comfortable going in and out on his own.

dog crate

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