My Dog Won’t Go in His Crate – What Can I Do?


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dog won't go in crate

Dogs can have very different relationships with crates.

Some love them right away and can’t wait to snuggle up in their safe den. Others are much more hesitant and don’t know what to make of it at first.

If your dog just won’t go into the crate no matter what, you might be wondering what you’re doing wrong. But often times it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, it just takes a lot of patience for your pup to get used to that new thing.

In this article we’ll talk about why your dog won’t go in his crate and I’ll share some of the best tips that will help your pup love his crate.

Here’s the short answer: In order to make your dog love his crate, make the best things happen in there. Feed his meals in there, give him the best treats and toys in the crate and only close the door once he’s calm and relaxed. Let him explore the crate at his own pace while tossing some treats inside. And definitely never force him in.

My Dog Won’t Go in His Crate, Why Is This?

Crates are fantastic tools for training. They’re also a great way for you to have peace of mind while you’re out of the house. Your dog can’t get into anything he’s not supposed to if he’s in his crate, after all!

But using a crate is hard if your dog won’t go in there in the first place! Here are a few reasons why your pup might not be thrilled about going into his kennel.

There are a number of reasons why your dog doesn't want to go in his crate. Normally it just takes some patience, though
There are a number of reasons why your dog doesn’t want to go in his crate. Normally it just takes some patience, though

He Doesn’t Know the Crate Yet

If you’ve only just brought your crate into your home and your dog won’t go in, that’s nothing to worry about! He’s probably just feeling uncertain about it because he doesn’t know that it’s a safe place for him to go yet.

As your dog gets to know the crate, he’ll be more willing to go into it. And remember, some dogs take to crates faster than others.

If you’re one of the lucky owners whose dogs go into their crates right away, that’s awesome! But if it takes a little longer for your dog, that’s okay too. You just need to be patient!

He’s Had a Bad Experience with the Crate

Maybe your dog is a rescue dog. Or maybe you tried to force him into his crate before you knew how to properly crate train him.

Whatever the reason, if your dog has had bad experiences with the crate in the past, he’ll be less willing to get in.

If this is the case, patience and consistency are your best friends! It might take some time, but it’s still possible to get your dog to love his crate.

One reason for his reluctancy of going in his crate might be that he's had a bad experience in the past
One reason for his reluctancy of going in his crate might be that he’s had a bad experience in the past

You Only Just Brought Him Home and Everything Is Still New

Did you just bring your pup home? If he’s just stepped foot into your house, don’t expect him to be able to focus on his crate for long! Everything in your home is super new to him, and he’s probably too busy exploring and figuring things out to want to go in his crate.

There’s a general rule for how long it takes a dog to adjust when you bring him home. Whether your dog is from a rescue or a breeder, the 3-3-3 rule is a good indicator for how long it will take for him to be comfortable.

In short, the rule is that it will take around 3 days for your dog to get used to being in your house. Then it will take 3 weeks for him to adjust to his routine and the way things work in his new life. And finally, it will take 3 months for your dog to consider this his home.

So don’t worry if your dog won’t go in his crate if you only just brought him home! It will take some time for him to adjust and get used to everything else in his new life.

What Do You Do When Your Dog Won’t Go in His Crate?

Now that you know the possible reasons why your dog isn’t too eager to go in his crate, let’s talk about what you can do when your dog won’t go in his crate.

Should I Force My Dog into His Crate?

The short answer to this question is NO!

You should never force your dog to go into his crate. If your dog has to be physically forced into his crate, then the crate isn’t doing its job!

A crate is supposed to work with your dog’s den instinct to provide a safe, confined area. You want your dog to have positive associations with his crate, never negative ones. Building up the crate to be a positive space will make your dog more willing to go in, which means you shouldn’t have to force him at all.

Definitely never force your dog in his crate
Definitely never force your dog in his crate

Don’t Rush Crate Training

When it comes to crate training, you should go at your dog’s own pace. Like I already said, some dogs take to crates more easily than others. If your dog happens to be one that takes a little longer to warm up to his kennel, don’t worry! That’s normal.

Just be patient and consistent, and listen when your dog is trying to tell you that you’re moving too fast for him. For some thorough tips on crate training, here is how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.

If your puppy is new, one of the best ways to help him adjust to his crate is giving him a schedule. Here is a good crate training schedule for a puppy.

Speaking of schedule, that’s also one of the best ways to help a hyper dog calm down. Get my free guide for a calm dog to learn the three things you must know to own a calm dog!

Let The Best Things Happen in the Crate

Crate training is all about making the crate a place your dog wants to be. And how do you do that?

You make all your dog’s favorite things happen inside the crate!

For example, you can start feeding him all his meals in the crate. Have you ever met a dog that doesn’t love food? This is a great way to build up positive associations.

You can also save his favorite treats for when he’s in his crate. If he has a favorite chewy or toy, save that for when it’s crate time too.

By only giving him his best treats, toys, and meals in his crate, you’ll see how eager he gets when it’s crate time!

Keep the Treats Coming When He’s in the Crate

It’s not enough to just give him one treat once he goes into the crate. You have to keep those positive associations flowing!

When he’s in the crate, keep feeding him treats. Just make sure you’re only giving him treats while he’s quiet. Giving him treats when he’s crying or barking will only teach him that begging is the way to get them.

Keep rewarding him when he's calm and quiet in the crate
Keep rewarding him when he’s calm and quiet in the crate

Only Close the Door When He’s Calm and Quiet

You want your dog to trust his crate, and feel safe in it. If you close the door when he’s already nervous and upset about being in there, he’ll start feeling trapped. And that will only make him more anxious!

Instead, work with him until he can go into the crate and feel calm and comfortable. Once he reaches that point, then you can start closing the door.

Don’t leave it closed for too long, 1 or 2 seconds at first is perfect. Then, slowly increase the time he’s in there with the door closed as he gets more comfortable with it.

It might take some time, but just remember to go at your dog’s pace. Eventually, you’ll both get to the point of being comfortable with the crate. You just need to be patient!

Related Questions

Still some unanswered questions? Here are some more answers for issues that often come up around dogs not wanting to go into the crate.

Why Does My Dog Hate His Crate All of a Sudden?

Your dog used to be totally fine going into his crate, but all of a sudden he refuses to go in! What’s going on?

Sometimes changes in his environment, even just moving his crate to a new spot, can trigger aversion to it. Over-crating him can make him hate it too.

Does your dog suddenly hate his crate? Do this!

My Dog Won’t Go in His Crate, Even with Treats

Sometimes treats alone won’t get your dog in his crate. Different dogs are motivated by different things.

Some dogs are very food motivated, and tasty treats are enough to lure him into the crate. Other dogs like food a little less, but really love their toys. If that’s the case, you can toss his favorite toy in the crate and see if that helps encourage him to go in.

If you’ve only just started crate training him, don’t worry if you’re stuck at this step! Some dogs take a few minutes to warm up, others a few hours, and some might even take days. Just be patient and consistent! And make sure that you’ve made the crate super welcoming and comfortable, with soft blankets that will feel nice when he lies down.

If your dog isn't highly food motivated, you can also try his favorite toy or plush teddy to get him in the crate
If your dog isn’t highly food motivated, you can also try his favorite toy or plush teddy to get him in the crate

Why Does My Dog Hate His Crate at Night?

Some dogs get more restless at night than others. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise during the day, it will probably be harder for him to settle down at night. Make sure you’re giving your dog enough physical and mental stimulation during the day!

You also need to remember to make his crate super comfortable. You wouldn’t want to go to bed on a piece of plastic with nothing else, would you? So fill up his crate with comfortable blankets, and make it a welcoming place to be!

You should also make sure that his crate is the right size and type for your dog. Wondering what the best crates are? Here are the 6 best crates for dogs to sleep in!

Conclusion

Crates are really amazing things, and they’re super helpful as long as you use them right! But crate training your dog can be a challenge if he isn’t willing to go in.

If your dog is hesitant to go into his crate, there are a few reasons why that may be. But once you’ve identified the issue, you can start working on the solution! And with a little patience, consistency, and making sure you go at your dog’s own pace, your dog will learn to love his crate.

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