Posted by SmarchPawz on March 14, 2020
So, you’ve spent hours upon hours scouring the Internet or local shops to find your favorite furry friend the best crate or kennel that money can buy. You finally get it home, get it put together, and proudly present it to your less than enthused pooch. He does not seem to be interested in the slightest in his new kennel-quarters. What’s the deal? Why doesn’t my dog enjoy being in a crate anymore? If yours is one that previously had no qualms about spending some quality time in his crate, there could be a multitude of reasons for his seemingly sudden change of heart.
1) Possible Separation Anxiety or Nervousness
Dogs can develop separation anxiety, a condition in which your dog is prone to high anxiety or panic when he is away from you. This can cause unwanted and destructive behaviors. Your dog might be associating his kennel with the act of you leaving him for an extended period of time (which in doggy time could be as little as 15 minutes), triggering his separation anxiety.
The Solution: The way to combat this is by retraining his association with the crate. Start by placing him inside for a few minutes, with the door open, while you are at home with him, preferably nearby. Gradually increase the time spent inside the kennel and when he seems comfortable being inside of it, you can try closing the door again, staying within sight. It will take some time and quite a bit of patience, but you can retrain the way your dog feels about being in his crate. Using a doggy vest could also be a good option, as some studies claim it can help to reduce anxiety. In more serious cases, there are different medications that can be prescribed to combat symptoms.
2) Comfort Issues (both physical and mental)
One of the most common reasons for a dog developing an aversion to his crate is the issue of comfort, both physical and mental. When a dog is presented with a situation that regularly results in discomfort or pain, it can cause him to avoid the ‘trigger’ so to speak. This is called conditioning and is the most common way that dogs learn.
The solution: Making his kennel a place of safety and comfort, by providing a soft, cozy orthopedic bed, a favorite blanket, or beloved toys that will keep him occupied such as a dog rope or a ball treat toy, will avoid him associating it with something negative.
3) Doggy Sees it as a Punishment
Keep in mind that ‘doggy conditioning’ that we talked about? Yea let’s apply that thought process to using your dogs’ crate as a disciplinary tool. By teaching your dog that his kennel or crate is the place he is to go when he is ‘bad’, you are effectively training him to dislike it. Now, when he is put into his kennel, he will be left confused, wondering what he did wrong.
The Solution: The crate cannot be both your dogs’ safe place and the place that he is sent when he has done something wrong. It is confusing and will only hinder his training and possibly cause behavioral issues including aggression. A dog’s crate should feel safe, and other methods should be used as punishment. Once your dog stops associating his new bed and beautiful kennel as the place he must go when being disciplined, he will no longer avoid spending time within it.
To Wrap it Up
Until your dog is comfortable within his dog cage, his time in it should be kept to a minimum, only 3 to 4 hours at a time. This is especially important regarding puppies or dogs that are being house-trained as they cannot hold their bladder for longer periods. Because of how canine brains learn, you have to approach the situation in a way that he understands, regardless of his age or stage. Yes, it can be incredibly frustrating; However, anger, irritation, and impatience will only do more harm than good. You may not see it, but there is a logical reason for his reluctance to be in his crate, you just have to determine what that reason is and react accordingly.