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Why does my dog suddenly hate his crate?

You’ve always been happy knowing your dog was comfortable in his crate, but lately, that contented behavior has changed. Now your dog seems to dislike her crate and doesn’t even want to go in. What could have happened to change your dog’s feelings about spending time in his or her formerly-cozy crate? Here’s some expert insight into why a dog might avoid his crate and what you can do about it.

Why won’t my dog go in its crate anymore?

If your normally well-behaved pet no longer wants anything to do with her crate, it’s likely that something about your dog’s environment, or the crate experience, has changed. Think about what has been going on in your pet’s life lately, and also consider things that might have changed around your home or family. Anything that brings up your pet’s child-like tendencies or pack-animal instincts could be the key to understanding the sudden crate aversion.

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

When your dog begins to avoid his crate, never fear. There are ways to solve this crate-hating problem and get him or her back inside comfortably. You may need to make changes to the crate to make it comfy again. Is a larger size in order? What about location?

Placing the crate near you can ensure your dog doesn’t feel “left out” when crated. Alternatively, placing the crate in a quiet, more remote location might help if the dog gets too excited when he’s close to the action in the house. Place the crate in a spot that suits your dog’s “personality.”

Why is my dog crying in his crate all of a sudden?

If your dog has suddenly become unhappy with its crate, crying is a way of expressing its feelings–and getting your immediate attention to the matter. In fact, wanting attention could be the main reason for the whining or crying. 

In addition, crying can also be a sign of physical pain or of frustration with the situation. If the dog is over-stimulated, leading him to whine and want out of the crate, you can try covering it. Covering the crate with a blanket or special crate cover can reduce anxiety and prevent excitement over what’s outside a window nearby, etc.

Could your dog be outgrowing his crate?

He may need a bigger one, even if it doesn’t look crowded to you. Your dog should have room to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably in there. If you have a growing puppy, you could purchase a crate for its adult size and block off the extra space until needed. (Too much space can encourage the dog to eliminate at one end and sleep cramped up at the other end.)

Has your dog been ill or injured? 

If so, he may want to stay close to you, rather than in the crate. Or his injury may make being in the crate painful. Check to see if any bandaged area, leg cast, or e-collar (plastic face shield that prevents licking a wound) could be banging up against the crate and upsetting your dog. Give your dog the physical or emotional comfort s/he needs and the crate will be great once again.

Should I force my dog into his crate?

It’s typically a bad idea to force your pet to do anything—unless s/he’s about to run into traffic. That’s because there are easier methods to change your dog’s actions and habits that involve positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement will be much more pleasant for you and your dog—and can help you bond, enhancing your relationship with your loyal pet pal. Rather than forcing your dog into his or her crate, which could set up a negative memory associated with you and the crate, try changing his habit through encouragement and praise.

Why is my dog breaking out of his crate?

If your dog now finds being in the crate uncomfortable, scary, or boring, s/he might solve their problem by busting out of jail, so to speak. Maybe you were not around to let your dog out of the crate, so breaking out seemed like the way to go.

It’s definitely a good idea to try to pinpoint the main reason your dog no longer likes its crate, since knowing this can help you choose the right course of action to successfully crate train him once again. Observe your dog to determine if the cause is boredom, physical discomfort, fright, or some combination of causes.

Has your dog had a bad experience in the crate?

Perhaps something has fallen on your dog while he was in there? Maybe loud noises that he wants to check out are making the cage feel too restrictive or unsafe. Something like this could quickly turn the crate from a cozy spot into a frightening trap. Move anything that might have frightened (or fallen on) your dog away from the crate–or move the crate out of the way of the “danger.” 

Help your dog get used to the crate again by praising him or giving a small treat when he goes in on command. Keep a cuddle or chew toy in the crate to make it more attractive.  

Does your dog see the crate as a punishment?

Do you send him to his crate when he’s jumping up on guests or if he gets in your way while you’re cooking? This might cause your dog to rebel against spending time in the crate. Try saying something mild and upbeat/encouraging, like “Ok, time to go in your crate now!” and/or walking him to the crate and praising him when he is settled in. “Good dog!”

Maybe the crate hate comes from doggy boredom?

Especially if your dog is on the younger side or a very energetic breed, it could easily get bored in the crate. Make sure your pet has access to a chew toy or other favorite item in his crate. Also, ensure your dog gets enough exercise, walks and playtime, so that he or she will welcome resting, napping, or sleeping in the crate. Since most crates or cages don’t have a padded floor and may have openings in the floor, add a comfy, favorite blanket to make the spot even more desirable.

Could your dog be feeling isolated or lonely in his crate?

Is the crate located away from the action? Maybe your dog feels like he’s missing out on what you or your guests are doing when he’s stuck in the crate. Maybe your attention is focused on your special guests, or a new baby (or another pet). If others are  getting lots of attention, your dog may feel ignored or jealous–and in need of a bit of attention from time to time.

You or another household member could visit/check up on your dog periodically to see that he’s ok. On the other hand, you might need to move that crate even further away from your living room or den, so that the “distance from the action” makes the dog less aware of the activity, so he doesn’t feel left out. This way, your dog will feel less tempted to leave its crate to try joining in on the fun.