Every dog owner knows that training a dog is one of the most important things you can do to ensure they are housebroken and go through their routines as smoothly as possible – and many times, this will include the need to stay in a crate.
While good techniques will ensure that crate training goes well, there might be times when a dog owner will experience a dog refusing to go into a crate for some unknown reason. If your dog won’t go in crate, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll breakdown the possible reasons for this head-scratching behavior, as well as recommend some simple and effective strategies to overcome the hurdle of refusing to go inside a crate. Read on ahead to know more!
Why Does My Dog Refuse to Go Inside the Crate?
There are several reasons as to why your dog might not want to go inside its crate anymore during the day or night. But before we get into that, it’s good to know what to do when the situation happens.
To encourage and ensure that your dog goes in the crate on his own, first bring them to the crate and speak to them in a cheerful manner.
Make sure the crate door is open and secured to lessen the chance of accidentally hitting or scaring your dog. Start by placing some small food treats near the entrance of the crate, and then slowly move them just inside the door little by little.
Finally, move them all the way inside the crate to coax your dog into entering it without force.
As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why your dog might not want to enter its crate – and while those reasons will vary, the one thing in common is that all those reasons are negative in nature.
Your dog won’t go in crate even with treats due to any of these five reasons:
1. Your dog is feeling some sort of fear or anxiety about the crate.
Perhaps your dog has had a negative experience in a crate before, whether it is this one or some other crate that he’s experienced before. As such, they may be afraid of going back in.
Some dogs may also feel naturally anxious or fearful, and that is just part of their personality. Those feelings might arise when they feel that they are confined to a small space.
2. Your dog doesn’t have adequate crate training.
It can be a bit hard to expect a dog to feel ready and willing to go in a crate if they have not been properly trained for it.
The reason for this is they probably do not understand what’s expected of them, and this lack of understanding exacerbates a feeling of discomfort in an unfamiliar environment.
3. Your dog might be experiencing some medical issues.
If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, they will probably be reluctant to go in a crate because it will make the pain or discomfort even more pronounced.
4. Your dog has feelings of claustrophobia.
Just like humans, dogs also feel uncomfortable in enclosed spaces like a crate. This will cause them to resist going inside it.
If claustrophobia is overwhelming for humans who can easily verbalize their feelings about it (causing other humans around them to help them manage it to lessen the discomfort), imagine how hard it is for a dog who cannot put into words its feelings of claustrophobia.
5. Your dog has separation anxiety.
If your dog has separation anxiety, they may become distressed when separated from their owner or family.
Going in a crate will be an example of this separation anxiety, even if it is just literally an arm’s length away from you. It will still trigger feelings of anxiety in the dog, especially if you are forcing it to go inside.
5 Strategies to Try When Your Dog Refuses to Enter the Crate
When your dog refuses to go inside its crate, the last thing that you should do is to force him inside.
Physically shoving or pushing your dog until it is inside the crate will not really do much to desensitize him.
It may even worsen your dog’s anxiety, so every time you need to put him in a crate it will be more difficult than the last. Here are five strategies to try when your dog does not want to go inside its crate:
1. Make the crate a comfortable and inviting space for your dog.
Think of ways to make going inside the crate appealing to your dog.
You can start by adding things like a comfortable bed or a blanket, along with your dog’s favorite toys. This will help make the crate a welcoming and comfortable space that your dog will want to spend time in.
2. Use positive reinforcement.
Making your dog feel good about going inside the crate is easier when you employ positive reinforcement techniques.
Encourage your dog to go inside the crate by offering treats, praise, and affection. This will help create a positive association with the crate and encourage your dog to view it as a desirable place to be.
3. Have your dog stay inside the crate for short periods in the beginning.
If you are able to coax your dog inside the crate (despite its anxiety and some hesitation on its part), make sure that it only stays for a short time before it is “reunited” with you.
The goal is to help your dog warm up to something that is giving him anxiety until it becomes a bit used to it over time, upon which you can step it up a bit later on.
You can gradually increase the duration as they become more comfortable. This will help prevent your dog from feeling overwhelmed or anxious in the earlier stage of crate training.
4. Include crate training (or even just “crate time”) a part of your regular daily routine.
Incorporating the use of a crate into your dog’s daily routine will help it to adjust quicker. However, be sure to use it during two critical parts of the day: nap time and quiet time.
This will help your dog become more accustomed to spending time in the crate and see it as a normal part of their day.
Once your dog understands the pattern of crate time (provided that you make it very consistent on a daily basis), it will be in a better position to help itself adjust to the idea of having to spend time inside the crate because it can now anticipate that exact time in the day when it happens.
5. Avoid using the crate as a punishment.
Never ever think of using the crate as a form of punishment, as this will make your dog view it as a negative space.
Instead, use positive reinforcement and encouragement to help your dog feel comfortable and happy inside the crate.
When you try these five strategies, you will discover how much easier it is to get your dog inside the crate. In fact, don’t be surprised to see later that your dog won’t come out of the crate – because it will likely enjoy spending time inside!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my dog scared to go inside the crate all of a sudden?
If your dog is suddenly afraid to go inside its crate, there might be some sort of change in its environment that has caused it to become fearful – or its way of managing the change is to refuse to enter its crate.
Some other reasons may be like the ones listed earlier in this article.
Another possibility is old age – if your dog is an older dog, it might be feeling some sort of physical pain or discomfort that makes going inside the crate an uncomfortable experience that it just wants to avoid.
You might need to consult with a vet to confirm if there is some sort of medical or health condition that your dog has and is connected to the dog’s inability to go inside the crate so you can attend to it and make it more comfortable in its advanced age.
How can you make a resistant dog go inside its crate with ease?
Making a dog go inside its crate with less resistance is easy when you invest in strategies that will allow it to view the crate as a positive experience.
As mentioned earlier, make the crate an inviting place to stay in.
Say words of encouragement and provide lots of physical affection when your dog makes the effort to step inside, no matter how timidly it does it.
This will do a lot to boost your dog’s confidence because it knows it has your seal of approval for making the effort.
As pet owners know, most dogs aim to please their owners and may thus become more motivated to try harder at entering the crate with bravery next time.
How can I eliminate my dog’s feelings of crate anxiety?
A dog that is anxious about entering the crate needs to be treated gently and with kindness – a lot of it, with an extra dose of patience to boot.
You first need to identify the possible reasons that have brought about this anxiety for you to be able to address it. If the trigger can be removed, remove it.
If what is triggering the anxiety is something that you cannot immediately eliminate (if at all), then you now need to focus on the anxiety in itself.
Employ the techniques mentioned earlier in the article, and couple it with your own ways of soothing the dog.
What particular soothing techniques seem to work really well with your dog? Whether it is rubbing your fingers under its chin or repeatedly smoothing its tail back, do it double time when it is time to do crate training.
It will also help if you already preempt the anxiety by giving your dog extra doses of TLC just before you introduce the crate so it is in a better mood to go inside.
What does caged dog syndrome mean?
Caged dog syndrome is a condition that develops when a dog is confined to a cramped, small space and is deprived of interaction for a long time.
This is considered a form of mental and physical abuse, which in turn develops a deep seated trauma in the dog.
The lack of socialization, training, and mental stimulation can result in a host of negative behaviors such as separation anxiety, withdrawal, excessive grooming (which can progress to self-mutilation), destroying things, and more.
Many dogs who refuse to go inside the crate might have experienced the mental and physical abuse of a previous experience where they stayed in the crate as a form of abandonment.
It can sometimes feel a bit frustrating when your dog won’t go in the crate even after making a lot of effort and trying a number of strategies without success.
When this occurs, try to remember that it is not as if your dog is deliberately trying to be disobedient.
Rather, there is something about the crate, the dog’s physical or mental condition, or a previous experience that has caused it to refuse to go inside the crate.
What you need to focus on is how to help your dog heal from this anxiety, no matter what it might be.
The tips mentioned above are designed to help you get started on the journey towards helping your dog view the crate as a positive place.
Along the way, you will discover more specific ideas that you can try with your dog to make crate training progress as fast as possible.
Always keep trying, don’t give up, and view this with the intention of giving your dog a better quality of life!
What other tried and tested techniques do you have for helping a dog become more comfortable inside a crate? Share your best ideas and suggestions in the comments section below!