Does your dog love its crate? Chances are, if you introduced it properly, very likely your dog sees it as a great place to relax and retreat. Here are some hints on how to help your dog love their crate!
They may cause bittersweet reactions in dogs depending on the activities associated with their use. When introduced properly, dogs very likely see the crate as a great place to nap, receive treats, and perhaps even eat a meal. In such circumstances, since your dog has learned to associate the crate with positive happenings, your dog will voluntarily visit the crate if its door is left open . He will also enter it happily upon request.
Should your dog resent the crate because he has associated it with negative happenings, then very likely he will put his brakes on as soon as you give the ”kennel up” command. Should the crate be left with the door open, your dog will avoid it like the plague. Some dogs dislike the crate so much they will care less if you toss treats in there or his favorite toy. But why would a dog hate its crate like that?
Why Dogs May Resent the Crate
The scenario is a common one: you adopt a dog and since you are not sure if he is crate trained, the first night you lure him in the crate with a tasty meal. He goes in happily and eats the treat. The next evening, you repeat the same scenario. Your new dog goes inside and you are happy about the results. Then on the third evening you toss the treat in the crate and your dog put the brakes on and lets you know that, no way, he will not get in there. What has happened?
Basically, your dog is not stupid, and he has come to realize that the crate is a trap, and that the little treat you are handing him is certainly not worth it. It may perhaps help if you left a whole roasted chicken in there, but for the time being, he would rather enjoy his evening free without a treat, than crammed up in that enclosure.
But why would a dog have such negative thoughts about the crate? The reasons can be several. Following are some examples:
- You close the dog in the crate and leave each morning. With time, your dog may associate the crate with social isolation.
- You close your dog in the crate while there are firecrackers or a thunderstorm which you know he fears. With time, your dog may associate the crate with feeling trapped and helpless.
- You close your dog in the crate for time-outs. With time, your dog may see it as a place for punishment.
- You close your dog in the crate when he is still hyper and in need of exercise. With time your dog will feel frustrated and associate the crate with negative feelings.
- You close your dog in the crate when it is too hot or too cold. With time, your dog will learn that being in such a place is not at all pleasant.
These are just a few examples of how a crate may turn into the last place the dog may want to be. Many times dog owners simply assume a dog refuses to enter the crate just to test the owner, and that the owner must be firm and not let the dog win. However, refusing to go in the crate may be more than just a testing game carried out by an adolescent dog. In most cases, the dog simply dislikes the crate because of something negative happening in it. Forcing the dog in, in this case may therefore further exacerbate the situation, causing the dog to become more and more difficult to crate train.
How to Train Your Dog to Love the Crate Again
If the crate was not introduced gradually, or if some negative happening changed your dog’s perspective on crates, there are several things you can do to solve the problem. If your dog decided to go on strike, before assuming your are dealing with some sort of outdated dominance problem, evaluate if perhaps something negative may have happened. You may have to go a few steps back and do some remedial work.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, a crate should always be associated with something pleasant, and a dog should go inside a crate voluntarily. So following are some tips and creative ideas to recreate positive associations.
- Crate your dog only after he has exercised so he is tired and eager to take a nap
- Keep your dog for some time in a safe room protected with baby gates and with the crate door open
- Place your dog’s favorite chew toys inside the crate. Chewing helps release endorphins, which help sooth and relax dogs facilitating them to fall asleep.
- Always randomly hide a surprise treat inside the crate so your dog feels compelled to visit it once in a while
- Put your dog’s meal in the crate with the door closed. Your dog will get hungry and will be eager to go into the crate
- Feed your dog meals exclusively inside the crate
- Take your dog out on a hot day, and then place the water bowl inside the crate
- Ask your dog to go inside the crate by tossing a treat inside but without closing the door, repeat several times
- Close your dog in the crate and stay near the crate for several minutes so your dog does not associate it with social isolation
- Clicker train your dog to go inside and out the crate
- Always praise for going inside the crate never for coming outside
- Stay calm and happy. Your dog may sense frustration and associate it with going into the crate.
- When you notice your dog voluntarily goes into the crate, slip some treats through the bars. Leia is at the point where she loves to go to her crate. Part of the reason for that is because we allow her to take her toys and treats in to her crate. We’ve tried several new treats lately thanks to our partnership with Chewy. They send us an item or two each month to test out. Her new favorite treat is this elk antler.
- Last, but not least, consider that only time and patience will help your dog recover from crate hate.
If your dog still dislikes the crate despite doing your best in transforming it into a happy place to be, don’t force it. You can always close off a dog-proof area with baby gates or invest in a dog pen. Just make sure you dog is safe and happy. Do you have any tips on How to Help Your Dog Love Their Crate?