*Discloser: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
Does your dog hate his crate?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one in this situation. I remember that Baloo was not very fond of his crate in the beginning, either. He was super high-energy and suffered from severe separation anxiety.
So, even having him in his crate in a different room was a disaster every time. Luckily, I got him to love his crate at some point.
It took a lot of time, patience and love but we got there.
If your dog currently hates his crate, then this article is for you! We’ll first go over why some dogs hate their crates. And then I’ll show you how you can make him love it again.
Why Does My Dog Hate His Crate?
Crate training is one of the best things you can do for your dog—especially a hyper dog! They’re great places for your dog to go to rest, settle down, and feel safe.
But while some dogs are able to take to their crates quickly, other dogs have a much harder time.
If your dog is protesting, barking, crying, and refusing to go into his crate, there are a few reasons why that may be. We’ll take a look at some of those reasons, and then discuss ways you can help your dog learn to love his crate!
He’s Not Properly Crate Trained
The very first step to getting your dog to love his crate is to make sure he’s crate trained the right way.
Your dog’s crate should be somewhere that he goes to feel comfortable and safe. When he goes in his crate, he should be thinking, “Oh, this is my little corner all to myself where I get to relax.”
Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t know how to crate train their dogs the right way. Doggy parents may think of the crate as a tool for punishment rather than a place your dog should go to be comfortable.
If you’re only using the crate to punish your dog, then of course he’s not going to like it!
He’s Had an Accident Inside the Crate
If your dog has peed or pooped inside his crate, then he’s probably not going to want to stick around in there. Just imagine having to sleep in your own mess… yuck!
In case your dog is still working on housetraining, then it’s natural that he may have an accident or two—even inside his crate.
If he does have an accident, it’s important to clean everything up thoroughly. Dogs have an incredibly strong sense of smell and can pick up on lingering scents if you haven’t cleaned up well enough.
He’s Anxious or Stressed
Depending on the dog, they may or may not take to their crates right away. Crate training plays on a dog’s den instinct, but some dogs’ den instincts are stronger than others.
If your dog hates being in his crate, then it could be that being alone in his crate is stressing him out.
He may also have separation anxiety. For more information, check out these 9 signs and symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs as well as more information on how to crate train a dog with separation anxiety.
He Learned that Crying Gets Him Out
Dogs learn best by positive reinforcement. So what is positive reinforcement dog training?
Well, in essence it’s rewarding behavior you like while ignoring behavior you don’t.
Unfortunately, sometimes we accidentally reward the wrong behavior. If your dog cries in his crate and as soon as he starts you let him out, that’s reinforcing crying as a behavior. The reward is that your dog gets out of his crate!
If your dog is crying in his crate, it’s best to wait until he stops before you let him out. That teaches him that being calm and quiet is the best way to get what he wants.
How Can I Help My Dog Love His Crate?
Teaching your dog to love his crate may seem difficult, but all it really takes is patience and consistency! Here are some tips to help your dog learn to enjoy being inside his crate.
Crate Train Him Properly
The number one thing to do is make sure that you’re crate training your dog properly. The goal of crate training is for your dog to feel comfortable in his crate.
For more information and some in-depth help, here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.
Do you have an older dog? Don’t worry—it’s totally possible to crate train him successfully too! Here’s how to crate train an older dog in 6 steps.
Make Sure He Gets Enough Mental and Physical Stimulation During the Day
A lot of the time, dogs act out because they have too much excess energy in their bodies. It’s really important to make sure that your dog is getting enough physical activity during the day.
The amount of exercise that an individual dog needs will vary based on their age, breed, health, and overall personality. If you’re not sure how much exercise your dog needs, you can always check in with your vet.
Going for walks, hikes, and joining dog sports are great ways to burn some of your dog’s physical energy.
But you don’t want to forget about your dog’s brain! For a little inspiration, here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home.
Mental stimulation can also be a wonderful training tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can be by using mental stimulation! Or have a look at Dogpackr’s review first to see if it’s a fit for you and your dog!
Give Him Something to Lick or Chew Inside the Crate
When dogs lick or chew things, it releases a hormone in their brain called serotonin. This hormone makes you feel calm and content.
Since you want your dog to have positive associations with his crate, it’s a really good idea to get his brain producing more serotonin!
Keeping his mouth and nose busy will also distract him from crying or barking in the crate.
One awesome thing you can try is filling up a Kong toy with treats and sealing it with some peanut butter. Then put it in the freezer for a few hours and give it to your dog when it’s crate time.
Cover the Crate to Make It More Like a Comfy Den
In the wild, wolves and dogs will dig little burrows to use as their dens. As you can imagine, these burrows are pretty dark.
If your dog is having trouble settling down in his crate, you can cover it up with a sheet or a blanket. Making it darker might help your dog associate his crate with a cozy little den!
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Get Used to a Crate?
If only there were a universal answer to this question! You could mark on your calendar exactly when your dog is going to be 100% happy to head into his crate.
Unfortunately, no universal answer exists. All dogs are different! Some dogs get used to their crates in just a few days, while others may take weeks—or even months! I think it took me at least 2 or 3 months until Baloo was more or less comfortable in the crate…
But as long as you stay patient and consistent and build up your dog’s positive associations with his crate, he’ll get used to it.
And not just that—he’ll learn to love it too!
Should I Force My Dog into His Crate?
No, definitely not!
You should never force your dog into his crate!
Remember, you want to build up positive associations. Shoving your dog into his crate isn’t going to do that!
If your dog is reluctant to go into his crate, try luring him in with treats, his favorite toys, and feed him his meals in there. When you make all the best things happen in the crate, your dog will be much more willing to go in on his own!
My Dog Hates His Crate at Night
If your dog is throwing a fit when it’s time to go to his crate for bedtime, then he may be a bit too riled up for sleep.
Make sure that you’re giving your dog enough stimulation during the day, and keep the room he’s in for bedtime dark and quiet.
For some more tips, here’s how to calm a puppy down for bed.
My Dog Hates His Crate all of a Sudden
Your dog might seem like he hates his crate all of a sudden, but there’s usually a little more to it than that.
Dogs thrive when they have routines. And if their routine gets switched up, they may have a hard time dealing with that change.
For a more in-depth answer and some tips, check out “Your dog suddenly hates his crate? Do this!”
Speaking of routines, that’s one of the key elements for a calm dog. Make sure to get my free guide for a calm dog to learn the 3 things you need to know for a calm and relaxed dog.
How to Crate Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be really challenging for both you and your dog to deal with. The first piece of advice for those whose dogs struggle with separation anxiety is: don’t blame yourself! Many dog owners think their dog’s separation anxiety is their fault, which only makes them feel worse!
Crate training your dog with separation anxiety may require some extra work, but you can do it! Here’s how to crate train a dog with separation anxiety.
Your dog’s crate is a really great tool for both of you. But if your dog doesn’t like his crate, that makes it hard to use it effectively.
But don’t worry—if your dog hates his crate, there are ways you can help him learn to love it.
You may not be able to find a quick fix to the issue, but with time, patience, and consistency, you’ll be able to help your dog learn that his crate is somewhere he can go to be safe and comfortable.