When a dog suddenly hates his crate, it usually means they’ve been forced to spend too much time in the crate. Dogs typically love their crate when they can go in and out as they please. But when they’re forced to stay in the crate, they may experience discomfort and separation anxiety.
Did your dog’s behavior suddenly change out of the blue? Were they comfortable in their crate one day and petrified of it the next? There are a few things that could have caused this sudden behavior change. Here are some of the possible reasons.
Events That Can Cause a Dog to Hate Their Crate
Change in Routine
Dogs thrive on structure, just like people, and they learn routines quickly. Similarly, dogs are very sensitive to changes in their routine. If something has been added or removed from their life that they don’t like, they could act out as a response.
Has there been anything disruptive in your dog’s life? Are you absent more often than usual? Working different hours? Have you moved to a new home or location? Some dogs are more sensitive than others, and a change like this can take a while for them to get used to.
It has been said that dogs are the best judge of character. Is there someone around who your dog doesn’t like, making them feel unsafe? Or someone who the dog might deem a threat to you?
Dogs can be highly protective and territorial, and they might try to assert their dominance in their space.
Something Wrong With The Crate
It’s important to make sure your dog’s crate is comfortable. That means it has enough space for them to lie down and adjust their position without feeling cramped.
It is also important that the crate is cushioned and the blankets and/or bedding are being washed frequently.
Check the location of the crate as well. Is it in a place that gets too hot, or maybe there’s too much of a draft? Perhaps something in the crate is sharp or loose, irritating your dog.
It is also important to make sure that your dog has enough water whenever they’re going to be in the crate for an extended period of time and that they have enough time to go to the bathroom beforehand.
If they associate being in the crate with being thirsty or uncomfortable, they won’t want to go inside.
While this can occur in any dog, it is especially prevalent in older dogs. Aging dogs can experience the phenomenon of “sundowning”, which causes them anxiety and feelings of confusion, especially at night.
If they go into a crate at night, especially if the crate is separate from you, they might feel upset and lonely.
Too Much Crate Time
Examine how much time your dog is spending in the crate. Is it just overnight, or are they in there throughout the day as well?
While some breeds are lazy and more than happy to just lie around all day, others require a lot of exercise and attention.
The crate should be a safe place for your dog, like their own room, but if they spend too much time in there, it could become a prison.
Think about how you would feel if you were locked in the crate as long as they were. If they spend too much time crated, your dog might grow upset and resentful.
Getting Your Dog to Like The Crate
Remove the Stressor
Once you identify the cause of your dog’s distress, you must remove it or seek to rectify it immediately. You can’t just treat the symptoms, you need to treat the cause.
Refamiliarize Them With the Crate
You essentially have to begin crate training all over again. This time, pay close attention to how your dog reacts each step of the way to see if there is any specific point in the training that causes them stress.
If you adopted your dog after they were already crate trained, paying attention during this process is crucial. Perhaps their previous owners did something during crate training that had a negative psychological effect on your dog.
It’s important to let the dog set its own pace. Keep the crate open during the day and place treats inside, allowing your dog to investigate the area periodically.
Let them come to know the crate as a safe space once more. Don’t start locking them in right away, but once you start, make sure it’s for small increments of time at first. It’s best to try closing them in after a period of exercise when your dog is tired and more relaxed. It will be easier for them to get used to the crate again when they are calmer instead of wound up.
While retraining your dog, the most important thing to remember is that positive reinforcement is the only effective training method. Dogs respond to rewards, not punishment.
Rewarding good behavior will ensure its continuation, while punishing dogs for inappropriate behavior leaves them scared and confused. If you continue to reward good behavior, the inappropriate behavior will cease because the dog will learn that it is ineffective.
The Great Crate Debate
Should you even crate your dog at all? This is a point of contention amongst dog owners. Many people are vehemently opposed to crating their dogs, some even calling it cruel.
Crate training is important for puppies as part of their obedience training. Even grown dogs should have a designated space that they feel they could call their own.
However, crates should not be used as a band-aid for proper training. If your dog gets into places they shouldn’t, keeping them locked in the crate won’t teach them how to behave correctly. It will just make them more excited to get into mischief when they are eventually let out.
Keeping the crate around for dogs who like it is important. You can leave it open at all times so that they can come and go. But excessive crating can be harmful to your dog.
To be blunt: Why have a dog if you’re going to keep them locked up all the time? They deserve a life full of love, play, and attention. They are supposed to be your companion, and you do them a disservice by ignoring them all day.
If you crate your dog overnight, keeping them crated during the day isn’t fair. If you crate them during the day, they should be able to run freely and sleep wherever they want during the night.
When getting a dog, you need to be sure of the time commitment you can devote to them.
Alternatives for Crates
Baby Gate or Exercise Pen
Find a safe, secure area in your home that you can cordon off for your dog when you’re not home.
Make sure there isn’t anything in the area that you don’t want your dog getting into and leave them with some water and toys to keep them entertained. Having a bit more space might help them feel more at ease when they are left home alone.
If you have the money to invest in daycare or to hire someone to check in on your dog when you’re gone, it’s worth it. Especially if your dog had been showing previous signs of distress in the crate. It’s nice to have peace of mind that your pet is being looked after by someone trustworthy, and you are assured that they are healthy, happy, and safe the whole time.
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