Your dog suddenly hates his crate? Do this!


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dog suddenly hates crate
dog suddenly hates crate

So, your dog suddenly hates his crate and you don’t know what to do? Don’t worry, in most cases this is either a phase that will pass or you’ll be able to train it again with some patience.

First, you have to look at the possible reasons that causes your dog to suddenly hate his crate. Did he hurt himself in the crate? Does he suffer from separation anxiety and you left him alone in the crate a few times? Did you change anything in or around the crate? Did you crate him as a punishment? These can all be possible reasons.

Once you found out what’s the probable cause, I’ll show you how to start fixing his aversion.

Reasons your dog suddenly hates his crate and solutions

Here are the most common reasons for a dog to suddenly hate his crate. Under every reason, you’ll also find a solution, so that you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

1. Change of environment

Dogs love routine. And they can quickly get stressed if something changes. Have you placed the crate in a different spot? Have you washed his pillow or blanket? This makes if fresh for you but also unfamiliar for his nose.

Having a clear routine is also one of the easiest ways to help a dog relax. This is why I’ve created this free puppy schedule planner that allows you to set up a routine that works for you and your dog!

Get your free puppy schedule planner

Solution

If you’ve changed anything recently, change it back to when it still worked. You can also try to always leave something in there that he likes, like his plush toy, that you never wash. So, it always has that familiar smell.

In case you can’t change it back, then you just have to be patient. Dogs usually adapt quickly to new routines and environments. Don’t react to his crying and try giving him a chewy when he goes in. Chewing helps to relax and keeps your pup busy.

2. Negative association

I know, it’s tempting to crate your pup when he’s been nasty!

The problem is that with repetitive crating as a punishment, your dog will start to have negative associations. So, he starts to see his crate as a bad, uncomfortable place while you actually want him to love his crate as a sleeping and relaxation den.

Solution

Negative association asks for counter conditioning! You have to teach your dog to love his crate again. This can mean that you have to start crate training all over again.

But not necessarily. You have to find your dog’s trigger points. Does he still usually go inside by himself but doesn’t like it when you close the door? Then you can start there. Or does he avoid it all together? In that case you have to start from ground zero with some yummy treats.

Here’s a great video that can help you if your dog is barking in his crate:

3. Over-crating

How much time does your pup spend inside his kennel? A few hours per day?

Have you been really busy lately and had to increase his daily kennel time? If this is the case, your doggo is probably bored and has had enough. It’s similar to bad association. He’s feeling uncomfortable inside his crate and hence doesn’t want to go inside, anymore. It’s like if you hate your job and it’s super boring. You feel imprisoned and you hate to even think about it. That’s probably how Fido’s feeling!

Solution

Make sure he gets enough exercise

As explained in this post, dogs sleep a lot during a day! So, it’s perfectly fine to leave your pupper in his crate for several hours if he’s actually tired. For instance, I think it’s no problem crating him for 6 to 8 hours if he had a good long walk before that and also gets a lot of action in the evening.

Keep in mind that his need of exercise may change over time. So, try to do some more before his next crate hour and slowly increase the time he’s spending in it.

If you’re crating your dog while your home, limit it to 1 or 2 hours at a time. It might be difficult for your dog to understand why he has to be in a crate in a different room than you.

Try a small room sometimes

If possible, you could also transition to leaving him in a room where he can’t destroy much. In my case it’s the kitchen. This allows your doggo to have more space to stretch out. On the other hand, it’s a confined space, so he doesn’t feel the urge to protect the whole house. Then you can still crate him at night which allows for a little more variety.

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4. Separation anxiety

Another possible reason is that you’ve only crated your pup when you were in the same room, so far. Now you want to go one step further and also leave him in his crate while you do the groceries. And all of a sudden, your dog seems to hate his crate and doesn’t want to go in there anymore. That’s a pretty clear sign that your doggo suffers from separation anxiety.

Solution

Separation anxiety needs a lot of patience to deal with. This is a very good article that explains separation anxiety in detail and shows you how to train your dog.

My Miniature Poodle Baloo suffers from pretty severe separation anxiety. When I was crate training Baloo I literally had to extend the periods I was gone by seconds!

This videos also explains it very well:

5. Conditioned behavior

Some dogs try to test their boundaries. They might have found their crate ok but then one day they decide, ok, I’m done with it! It’s similar to when your dog suddenly refuses to eat his food just to see if he can get something different.

How did you react? Did you immediately jump up and try to calm him? In that case he probably learned that he gets attention when he’s being crazy. Therefore, he’ll keep doing that because he loves getting attention! It’s the same as one of the reasons why he might get excited in the car.

Btw, if your dog tends to get overly excited very easily, make sure to check out these quick tips to help him calm down.

Solution

This asks for counter conditioning as well. At the moment he probably associates crazy behavior with getting attention. If he doesn’t get any attention quickly, then he’ll just continue until he gets what he wants!

Now you need to change that again by making calm behavior more interesting and rewarding. Make sure to only reward quiet behavior with praise or treats.

Related topic: For dog training in general I highly recommend you get a program that walks you through step by step, such as Braintrainingfordogs. Certified dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli teaches you to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation! Check out Dogpackr’s review to see if this is a fit for you!

6. Other dogs/cats went in

Dog’s sense of smell is incredibly strong, and they will immediately smell if another animal has been in their crate. If they’re not used to having other animals in the house, this might freak them out and hence could be the reason why your dog hates his crate all of a sudden.

Solution

In this case your best bet is to wash everything thoroughly. Your dog will probably still be able to smell the other dog or cat. But if you also put some of his toys or other familiar things inside, he should accept it as his nest again.

7. Pain

Maybe your four-legged friend doesn’t want to go in his crate anymore because it’s uncomfortable or because something in there hurts him.

Baloo is also a real princess when something’s lying on his bed. He sometimes takes part of his food and deposits it on his bed. But then he doesn’t want to lie on it anymore. He’s a star 😉

Solution

Make sure that there’s nothing that could be painful, such as metal bars sticking out. Also make the bottom nice and soft. Maybe add another pillow or try a thicker dog bed. And if you have a diva like Baloo, take everything that’s lying on his bed and put it to the side. 

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8. Uncomfortable smells

Has your dog maybe unintentionally soiled his crate or thrown up in it? If you figure out any strong, unusual smells, this could be what disturbs him. Dogs would never soil their nests if they have a choice. But maybe it was really urgent one night and of course, he can’t go out of the crate to do his business.

Solution

Wash the dog bed thoroughly. When you put it back in place, also put something familiar, like a plush toy or another of his blankets inside, so that it smells familiar.

9. Reasons due to his age

Older dogs start having a weaker bladder. If they have to stay in a crate during the night it’s possible that this was fine for a few years. At a certain age, your dog might fear that he can’t make it outside on time, anymore. Or worse, he already had to pee in his crate because he actually had to go at night.

For an older dog, joint problems could also be the reason that he’s not comfortable in his crate anymore. If you suspect that your pup has some health issues, it’s best to consult your vet about it.

Speaking of vet: have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!

Solutions

Old dogs’ behaviors can be quite weird and different from what they used to be. If your old dog doesn’t like his crate anymore, I wouldn’t crate him, unless absolutely necessary. Senior dogs usually have far less energy. So, he’s probably also happily sleeping in his free-standing dog bed in the living room.

Alternatives?

Is it absolutely necessary to crate him? For instance, in case you let your dog sleep in a crate as a puppy to potty train him and keep him from destroying your furniture, then that’s a totally valid reason. But now your dog’s maybe 5 years old, so does he really still need it?

When Baloo was about 1 year old, I started leaving him in the kitchen at night and when I left the flat. It’s still a pretty small room, so it still feels like a cozy nest. But he has a little more room to stretch or maybe lie somewhere else from time to time.

For the car crate of course, you can’t compromise so try the other options. Here’s a guide on how to calm an excited dog in the car.

Related questions

Let’s quickly look at a few related questions.

My dog hates his crate at night

First of all, what does it mean that your dog hates his crate at night? Does he not want to go in there? Or does he whine or bark during the night? If you properly crate trained him and all of a sudden, he doesn’t want to go in anymore, then you might need to train it a little again. But first, try the following:

Make sure that your dog is tired. When your dog is really tired, he doesn’t have any energy to bark at night.

I also recommend leaving his bed in the crate. If you have a big house, you can also put a blanket in the living room. But the most comfortable place should be in his crate. This helps your dog liking the crate as a calm and comfy sleeping place.

If he doesn’t want to go inside, give him a chewy of a filled kong toy after he went inside. Make sure he lied down and is calm before you lock the crate. After that, go to bed immediately. If he’s tired and it’s dark, he shouldn’t have any issues falling asleep.

Puppyintraining’s 21 tips might also help you.

Having a clear bedtime routine can also help your dog relax and sleep more easily. Get your free puppy schedule planner to figure out the best routine for you and your dog!

Get your free puppy schedule planner

My dog hates his crate during the day

If your dog doesn’t like his crate during the day, it’s probably one of the reasons listed above.

Think about what might be the reason for your dog’s crate aversion and try different solutions.

My puppy hates the crate

If your dog is still a puppy, this is a great chance to properly crate train him.

If possible, I highly suggest that you start crate training from day one. If you haven’t done it so far, then start right now!

It’s important to know that a puppy won’t just know that the crate is a great place. You have to teach him.

The most important things to do are the following:

  • Make being in the crate the best possible experience. This means: only feed him in the crate, give him cool stuff like toys, treats or chewys when he goes in the crate. Also put a super comfy blanket or bed inside.
  • Let him sleep in the crate from day 1. Put the crate in your bedroom where he can still see and hear you. Make sure it’s a nice, comfy set up and then just put him inside right before you go to bed. Do this in a very calm manner, as if this was the most normal thing in the world. This way your puppy won’t even have time to think about it. He’s tired, it feels comfy and he’s close to you, that’s all he needs.

For a step by step crate training guide, make sure to check out Dogpackr’s article “how to crate train a dog“.

If your dog is still a puppy, this is also a great chance to start training him as early as possible. There are several ways to do that. But the most cost-effective is definitely to get an online course.

I’ve spent hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on dog training classes and private dog trainers. In most cases, that’s not necessary at all, though. You can get the exact same information in an online course.

My all time favorite course is Braintraining4dogs. It’s based on positive reinforcement and focuses on improving your dog’s intelligence so that he can basically solve his own problems.

This is honestly the course I wish I had when I first got Baloo. I contains everything you need to know to own the dog of your dreams!

Make sure to check out Dogpackr’s review of the course to see if this is something that could help you and your dog too.

Field Dogs 300 x 600

Conclusion

There are a number of possible reasons why your dog suddenly hates his crate.

If you can find out what causes his sudden crate aversion, then it should be fairly easy to make him love his crate again.

But even if you can’t find the cause, don’t despair.

The best solution is usually to just make it the best possible place to be. Plus, take a few steps back in training and slowly build it up again.

If you feel like your pup might need a different crate, then go over to the 6 best crates for dogs to sleep in to find the best option for your dog.

Don’t forget to download your free puppy schedule planner to set up a routine that works for you and your dog!

Get your free puppy schedule planner

34 thoughts on “Your dog suddenly hates his crate? Do this!

  1. I have had my now 18 momth old rescue since december. I had to crate train from scratch. He got over the initial barking and has been doing great. In the last week when i go to put him in it when i leave for work he doesn’t want to go in. He eats in it and will go in just to go in. But i have to put his leash on and put him in now. It has never been a punishment and he likes it other then me leavimg now. Why the change.

    1. Hi Sheri,
      Thank you for your comment.
      So, you only had him for about 3 months, right? Dogs sometimes feel like trying out different things.
      They might accept things for a while and then they decide: ok, I’m done with that. Let’s see if I can get what I want! Since you’ve only been training for a few months, it’s possible that your dog is at this point now.
      Another question: is he only in the locked crate when you leave for work? If that’s the case, he might have connected being in the crate with you leaving. It’s possible that it took him some time to realize that but now he’s sure: whenever I have to go into the locked crate, she’s leaving!
      In that case I recommend putting him in the locked crate every now and then throughout the day/evening and also letting him sleep in there.
      If possible at all, I wouldn’t force him in with a leash. This only adds to the uncomfortable feeling and will make things worse. Try giving him a super yummy chewy that he only gets while in the crate. Another great thing to try is to fill a kong with peanut butter and freeze it. It’s important that he only gets those things when he’s in the locked crate. This helps him to look forward to being in the crate.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Hi Caroline,
    My dog is 7 years old and has been sleeping in his crate since he was a puppy. 3 months ago, he woke us up barking in the early hours. The bark seemed to have a distressed tone, so I got up to investigate. He had peed in his bed, I didn’t scold him, just put the crate outside and let him sleep on the couch for the rest of the night. It happened again a couple of weeks later. Since then, we insist he goes out to pee before bed and there hasn’t been another accident. BUT, the last 2 nights, he has started barking (not the distressed one) and when I check that the bed isn’t wet, I make him go outside and then back in the crate, but it’s becoming more frequent and seems now that he just wants to be out of the crate. How do I stop this? He’s healthy and isn’t showing any signs of ageing, joint stiffness, etc. is there anything else I should check? If it is just behavioural, is it best to ignore the barking?

    1. Hi Jeanine,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      So, it sounds like there’s a difference between the two kinds of barking. If they’re easily distinguishable, then I’d definitely just ignore it.
      There are a bunch of different reasons why dogs bark at night. This article might help you understand it better: https://dogpackr.com/why-do-dogs-bark-at-night-mystery-resolved/.
      If behaviors pop up out of nowhere, it’s often possible that your dog simply wants to try out something new. Baloo regularly just refuses to do things that worked fine all this time. In that case you really just need to stay persistent and stick to what you’ve always done.
      Baloo luckily never barks at night. Our former dog Mirco did from time to time, though. In that case ignoring didn’t work. Someone had to go downstairs, see that everything is ok and tell him to stop.
      So, I highly recommend starting out with ignoring or some of the tips outlined in my other post about dogs barking at night. And if that doesn’t work, then you can still try to go and check that everything is fine and tell him to stop. Don’t let him out of his crate, though. He needs to understand that barking doesn’t get him to sleep on the couch.
      Hope that helps.

      1. Hi Caroline
        I appreciate your response, thank you! Hopefully it’s a behavioural issue!
        Jeanine x

  3. Hi, my 7 month old dachshund was completely crate trained but this week she has started to protest at night time.

    I am back to work so she’s now in the crate at night and while I’m at work. She always gets a treat or kong to keep her busy while I’m at work. I try to ignore her crying until she goes to sleep but will start up again throughout the night (4am lastnight). I really try not to cave but eventually I have to and I have let her sleep on my bed the last 3 nights.

    I am at my wits end but I think I might just have to start crate training all over again. Someone j know mentioned that she could be going through her second fear phase?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Hm, sounds like she’s having a little rebellious teenage phase. Baloo seems to never get out of that 😉 He constantly tries to test his boundaries. That’s probably what your puppy tries to do too. Some dogs just want to test how much we really mean what we say. So, every now and then they just refuse to do what we want them to. What also could be is that she got used to being outside the crate during the last couple of months and found out that the sofa or your bed are much more comfy…
      If that happens, 2 things are important: 1. Stay consistent! 2. You might have to train the behavior again.
      The more consistent you stay and the less you cave, the less training he’ll probably need again.
      Now that you’ve given in and let her sleep in your bed for 3 nights, it’s probably a good idea to start crate training her again.
      Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand you! Baloo was crying soooo much in the beginning and it’s nerve-wracking!
      What used to work best for us is adapting the situation to make it easier for both of us.
      For instance: why don’t you put the crate in another room? At some point she’ll have to learn sleeping on her own, anyway. We’ve put Baloo in the kitchen at night at around the same age. He cried for 2 nights which we ignored (use earplugs) and then never again!
      I’ve never heard of the second fear phase, to be honest. But if you think that’s it, you could try covering the crate to make it more cozy. You’ll find a few more things you could do for quiet nights in this article: https://dogpackr.com/why-do-dogs-bark-at-night-mystery-resolved/
      Hope this helps!

  4. I have a 6 month old Cavapoo. He has been sleeping in a crate in my bedroom since I brought him home. The last week he hasn’t wanted to go into the crate. I took everything out to see if anything was wrong. I noticed he peed on one of his blankets. I have since washed everything and replaced things. I placed a favorite toy in the crate no luck. He rather sleep under my bed or on his doggie bed. I have a crate in my living room that I leave him in when I go to work. He is fine. I usually have to place him in the crate with the long but he is fine. Should I be concerned about him not waiting to sleep in the crate in the bedroom? Should I try getting him used to staying in the crate in the living room at bedtime now?

    1. Hi JoAnn
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Dogs sometimes react quite drastically to certain “events”. It’s indeed possible that he found the smell of pee in his bed/crate so intense that he’s now finding impossible to sleep there. We have a baby gate next to his bed that Baloo once threw down because he had a little tantrum. That must have scared him so much that he didn’t want to sleep in his bed anymore. We’ve since stayed consistent and he now sleeps fine in there again.
      If something like that happens, I’d recommend to take the easiest route possible. In your case that sounds like letting him sleep in crate in the living room. I guess he doesn’t need to go potty at night anymore at that age. So, you don’t need to hear him at night. And if he cries, it’s much easier to ignore it as well.
      So, if he’s fine in there, I’d let him sleep in the other crate.
      If you ever want to let him sleep in the crate in the bedroom again, you could either take the crate from the living room and put it there. Or you could just put the crate outside for a little bit to make sure that there’s absolutely no odor left. Dogs have very sensitive noses. So, it’s possible that he still smells pee and that makes him feel uncomfortable.
      If nothing else helps, you probably have to crate train him in the bedroom again.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. My dog is 12 1/2 and has been a crate guy since the beginning. Since I brought him home at 16 weeks, his crate has been in my room. Before Shelter in Place, he stays in his crate when I need him out of the way or when I leave the house for 2-3 hours. For longer absences, he stays in a spare bathroom. When I travel for business, he stays with my parents who also use the crate.

    I’ve obviously been home almost exclusively. In May, I had some health issues and he was boarded at his vet where, due to the pandemic and not allowing non-employees in the building, they allowed him periods of free time, out of his kennel to play and explore. When he came home, for the first week or so, he didn’t want to stay in crate at bedtime, I’d bring him into bed with me but then move him to his crate after an hour or so. Gradually, we reverted back to the old routine of sleeping the whole night in his crate. The last month or so, he’s not having the crate. He’ll stay quiet the first few minutes while he enjoys the treat he gets for “going to bed” but then starts and incessant whining/barking.

    I need to get him back to liking his crate! Eventually, life will go back to normal and I will have to travel for work which means he needs to stay with my parents who will NOT allow them in their bed.

    He’s almost 100% deaf which makes commands difficult. I’ve been trying to hold my finger to my lips to sush him which works pretty well outside the crate but he doesn’t respond when in the crate.

    Help!

    1. Hi Audrey,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Hm, that’s a difficult situation. There are probably quite a lot of factors that play a role here. It’s possible that he had a bad experience in the kennel at the vet which is why he might have not liked his crate when you brought him home. From what I understand, this only lasted for a week, though, right?
      The issue is that dogs try to test our boundaries every now and then, sometimes not even on purpose. When he didn’t want to go in his crate at that point, you took him in your bed, which he obviously likes much more. It’s possible that he understood that he gets to sleep in your bed if he refuses to go in his crate or cries for long enough. However, that’s probably only the case if you actually took him in your bed when he refused to go in or once he started crying.
      The other thing is his age and his deafness. Old dogs sometimes start to behave differently because they loose eyesight or get dementia. And of course, hearing loss is a huge impairment for a dog, as this is one of his most important sensory organs.
      So, you’ll have to go through some trial and error here. I’d suggest the following:
      1. Ask your vet if his deafness affects his orientation or if it could have anything to do with him not liking his crate anymore. Also get him checked for any other possible issues that could affect his behavior like dementia.
      2. Regardless the reason, you’ll probably have to crate train him again. Here are the basic steps: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-an-older-dog-in-6-steps/. Since your dog is deaf, you’ll have to use a different training method. Maybe this article will help you: https://www.dogtrainingnation.com/how-to-train-a-dog/stop-deaf-dog-barking/.
      3. Have you tried letting him sleep in the crate with the crate door open? My dog Baloo has never slept in my bed, I just put his bed in his crate and left the crate door open once he was potty trained. Maybe that could also be an option for your parents.
      4. Do you think you could wear him out a little more? Sleeping is always easier when you’re tired. While physical exercise gets more difficult with age, mental exercise is always a good idea and certainly much more tiring. Maybe try playing some scent games before going to bed. Here are some more ideas: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-mentally-stimulate-your-dog/.
      5. Never give in to the whining or barking. I know it’s difficult but normally you should be able to help him like his crate again with some training. But to do that you need to stay strong and always only reward quiet behavior.
      Hopefully one or several of these tips will help you and your dog. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      1. Hi Caroline! Thank you for the response.

        Timmy was actually at the vet for two weeks while I was recovering. Per the reports, he had quite a bit of time outside of his kennel, spending time with staff while they did paperwork or free roaming in the now empty waiting room. He generally likes going to and being at the vet so I’m reasonably confident that he didn’t have a bad experience – except for not being home.

        1. I’ll speak with the vet more specifically about the crate behavior. The rather sudden (at least to me) deafness has caused confusion on his part since he can’t hear me moving around.
        2. We’ve started crate training again though I’ll admit I haven’t been as consistent as I need to be. I’ve been sending him to his crate more often during the day when I’m home. He’s always in the crate when I’m gone. It always seems quiet when I leave. I’ve not (to my memory) let him out when he’s actively whining/barking.
        3. I was wondering about leaving the door open. I’m not sure if he’ll stay in but will give it a try!
        4. He’s 12-1/2. We do a 30 minute walk every morning. I’ll try a stuffed Kong. Should that be before he goes in at night or before?

        Really appreciate the tips.
        Audrey

        1. Okay, very good. Vets can often give more insight on behavioral changes as they get to see lots of dogs with similar issues on a daily basis. The deafness could definitely have an impact.
          Yep, consistency isn’t always easy, I’ve totally been there 😉 just do your best.
          You can try the stuffed kong as a goodnight snack. So, you’d put him in his crate right before you go to bed, give him the frozen kong, turn off the light and go to bed. That should keep him busy for about 15 minutes and since the light is off already, it could help him get in sleepy mode. If that doesn’t work, then I’d play some scent or brain games before you go to bed and then give him the kong. All of this should help him get tired. But I’d only give him the kong in the crate. Make sure you fill it with something super yummy, so he’s actually looking forward to getting his snack in the crate.
          Best of luck!

  6. I have a 2.5 year old Spanish water dog who has been crate trained and fine with it his whole life until recently. He started showing signs of early blindness according to the vet and now he is hysterical anytime he is in his crate. He bites chews whales it’s awful. I’m trying to be patient but I really have no clue what to do with him.

    1. Hi Dee,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Loosing eyesight can have a huge impact on your dog’s behavior. All of a sudden, he has one sensory organ less on which he depended before that. It’s possible that he’s simply confused and disoriented. Maybe he still sees some parts of the crate but doesn’t know what it is anymore, which freaks him out.
      Since it probably has something to do with his eyesight, I’d try to change the light and atmosphere around his crate. Try covering the crate so that it resembles a comfy den. If that doesn’t work, he might be afraid of the dark. In that case try a night lamp. What could also help him feel more comfortable is to give him one of your old shirts. This has your scent which can help your dog relax. A thundershirt also has a great effect for anxious and stressed dogs.
      Other than that, you probably have to start crate training from ground zero again. When a dog looses his eyesight, everything changes for him. This means you’ll likely have to train some things again. Here’s a step by step guide that could help you: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-a-dog-easily-in-13-steps/.
      Also make sure he’s super tired before you put him in his crate. I highly recommend using lots of mental stimulation. Scent games are particularly useful, especially for a blind dog, as the other sensory organs tend to get stronger. You can get some more inspiration here: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-mentally-stimulate-your-dog/.
      Another thing that might help is to give him a super yummy chewy that he only gets in his crate. Chewing relaxes and it will help him to look forward to his crate.
      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Hi Caroline, great information on the site! We have a 3 year old terrier mix that we rescued 6 months ago. He never had major issues with his crate (went in voluntarily and mainly slept) but a month ago he had an accident in the crate and now refuses to go in. We spent a few weeks trying to get him more comfortable by feeding him in the crate (he will go in voluntarily to eat), but now when we try to get him to go in when we are leaving the house, he refuses and either lies down or urinates out of fear. We’re concerned that (1) he is scared of his crate and (2) is learning that by laying down and refusing to go in that he can avoid it altogether. We are stuck and not sure how to proceed – any thoughts?

    1. Hi Evan,
      Thank you very much for your comment. I’m glad you found it helpful.
      Hm, I’ve had something similar happen with my dog Baloo. We have a child-gate to keep him in the kitchen at night and when he’s home alone. He once freaked out while we left him home alone and he accidentally tore the gate down. Since that point, he was terrified of lying down next to the gate. What helped me was just staying consistent. I didn’t make a big deal out of it and he eventually lay down again.
      Your pup seems to be a little more stressed, though. In that case I would try a few different things:
      – You could get a different crate that looks (and smells) different. Here are a few ideas: https://dogpackr.com/6-best-crates-for-dogs-to-sleep-in/. We don’t know why he had that accident. It’s possible that he had it because something scared him. Maybe he’s now linking the crate to something scary happening in there which is why he’s urinating again. Having a different crate could help him connect a different feeling to it.
      – Place the crate in a different room or different corner of the room and cover it with a blanket. Again, you want to change his mental connection of crate=scary-place=peeing.
      – Are you sure he isn’t suffering from separation anxiety? If you’re not sure, this article might help you: https://dogpackr.com/9-signs-and-symptoms-for-separation-anxiety-in-dogs/
      – I would probably start crate training from ground zero again. Do you have another small room where you could leave him when you’re leaving the house? Could even be the bathroom, just make sure he can’t get himself into trouble. Then I’d start crate training like explained here: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-an-older-dog-in-6-steps/. Make sure to proceed veeeery slowly. I’m talking closing the crate door for only a second at first. Keep building it up until he’s comfortable in the crate while you’re at home. Only once that’s the case, you can start leaving the house with him in the crate again.
      I know this might be frustrating and time-consuming. But unfortunately, dog training isn’t a linear process. Sometimes, we need to go back a little in order to move forward again.
      Hope this helps.

  8. We got our dog as a puppy 3 years ago, she was maybe 8-10weeks old when we got her, she was severely abused and neglected her short time before we got her. She was afraid of me and my daughter, took us months before we could even pet her, her and my daughter have a very strong bond, abd she hates men. We crate train because we noticed a high level of separation anxiety from day one, we would leave her alone for even minutes at a time and she would chew anything she could find, so we crate her when we leave the house, she doesn’t like it but accepts it. We just moved to a new place and now she refuses to go into her crate at all, and I refuse to force her, but we’re afraid to leave her in the house alone. We haven’t fully unpacked yet, and not even sure where the crate will ultimately be. We have gone on vacations and taken her with us and been in hotel rooms that were new and different and she would go into her crate easily without hesitation. She also seems to love the new house way bigger and a yard for her play in. I’m just not sure of why the sudden refusal to go into her crate. She is very treat motivated with everything, however she will not take or eat treats in her crate. Sorry so long

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      I can totally understand how frustrating and confusing your current situation is. Dogs absolutely love routines. And so whenever something changes drastically, they get confused. Sensible dogs or dogs who’ve been abused, such as yours, usually struggle much more with this.
      It’s possible that going on holiday wasn’t such a big change for her. But moving means you literally pack up all your stuff and permanently leave the place where she felt comfortable. It’s also possible that moving reminds her of a traumatic situation she faced before she came to you.
      Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to tell the exact reason why a dog changes her behavior all of a sudden.
      So, your best bet is to really start crate training from ground zero. Until you found the final place where you’ll put your crate, could you maybe put her in a small room where she can’t destroy anything, like the bathroom?
      If you leave her alone, make sure she’s extra tired. Depending on her energy, I would recommend going for a walk of at least 1.5 hours or a shorter walk and at least 15 minutes of brain games (https://dogpackr.com/10-brain-games-for-dogs-to-play-at-home/). And then give her a chewy or a frozen kong to help her relax.
      Hope this helps.

  9. I have recently moved due to a divorce. My GSD has always gone into his crate willingly when I left for work, until the move. Now he runs around the house and “hides” from me and avoids his crate completely. Will he ever go back to going in willingly?

    1. Hi Heather,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Moving and a change in the family situation can definitely have a huge impact on our dogs’ behaviors. It can be especially difficult for more sensitive dogs (I know Baloo would totally freak out, he peed on our couch twice when we moved into our current apartment).
      When did you move? It can definitely take a few weeks to a few months for your dog to get used to the new living situation.
      Dogs thrive on routines. So, try to set up a new daily schedule as soon as possible. It’s much easier for dogs to relax if they know how their day is structured.
      When it comes to the crate, your best bet is to start crate training from ground zero again. I know this can be frustrating but it’s well worth it.
      If you’re patient and kind with your dog, he’ll soon realize that this is the same crate he once liked so much and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just don’t force him, that would only make the situation worse.

  10. Hi! We have a 6 month old German Shepherd. She is crate trained and sleeping in her crate in the dining room every night. We left her in there for a few hours the other day while out of the house and she ripped her bed to shreds. We had to throw it out and she had to sleep on the hard plastic for two nights. She whined and barked the first night so we thought she was sick and took her out multiple times (she was fine). The second night we she did it and we let her cry it out for 1.5 hours before giving her a half a trazedone. Last night was night three. We have a brand new bed in there and put her fave ball and bone one. She did it again! She screamed and barked from 10:40-12:15 and only settled with the trazedone. Do we need to keep letting her cry and hope it ends? I don’t want to let her sleep in the kitchen gated in because we need the crate in the event we need to leave the house. How can we re crate train her? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Liz,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Hm, does she suffer from separation anxiety? I once left the recycling paper a little too close to Baloo’s crate when he was about that age and he literally shredded it. I think I was in a hurry to leave that day which is why I wasn’t all that careful to leave as calm as possible which is probably why he got anxious (he used to suffer from very severe separation anxiety).
      Has there ever been any other issues with you being out of the house?
      In any case, I’d highly recommend starting crate training from the ground up again. I don’t think she’ll just stop crying if she’s doing it for that long. She’s likely really anxious or stressed about something and doesn’t feel safe in her crate.
      Would it be an option to put her crate into your bedroom? Being closer to you will probably help her calm down a lot. So, you at least get some sleep again.
      Then I’d do a couple of training sessions per day where you build it up again as described in this article: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-a-dog-with-separation-anxiety/
      Hope this helps.

  11. Our daschund is 5 months. All of a sudden does not want to go in his crate at night and SCREAMS and cries for about 3 hours!!! We even tried to put his crate in our room…

    1. Hi Annette,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Oh dear! Did something extraordinary happen?
      Have you properly crate trained him? If not it’s possible that he just accepted it for a while but doesn’t feel comfortable in it and now doesn’t want to be in there anymore.
      In any case, your best bet is to start crate training from the ground up again (https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-a-dog-easily-in-13-steps/). I know how frustrating this can be but it will be worth in the long run. You definitely want him to love his crate instead of dreading it.
      Here are a few other things you can try:
      – Put one of your worn shirts in his crate. He’ll feel more comfortable when he’s got your smell close by
      – Give him something to lick or chew when you put him in the crate. Licking and chewing has a calming effect on dogs
      – Cover his crate: this makes it feel more like a den which is where dogs feel most comfortable
      – Play some calm music or white noise. It’s possible that he’s hearing something outside which is making him anxious.
      Since it’s difficult to find out where the behavior is coming from exactly, you’ll probably need some trial and error.
      Hope this helps.

  12. Hello Caroline!
    I’ve just found your super-reassuring page!
    We are at our wits’ end. Our 15 month old Vizsla has been great at going to sleep in her crate in our lobby from when we crate trained her around 4/5 months. When we went to bed, it was lights out, blanket down, ‘sleep now’ and then she would settle straight down. Then she had her first season followed by a phantom pregnancy in early Feb and the crate was her favourite place. But she also started calling sporadically in the night, so we thought she might be thirsty or need to toilet because of the hormones so let her out and back in without fuss or attention . But the whining became more regular over a couple of nights. Finally last week, she seemed so distressed that my husband let her sleep with him on the sofa (I know, big mistake!)
    Now she won’t go to sleep in the crate at all. We tried to be consistent and ‘tough’ but reassuring, even put a 2-way video monitor in the crate – but the crying escalated so much over 5.5 hours, that by 4am we were worried about her anxiety levels (she was panting extremely fast) as well as exhausted from lack of sleep ourselves, so again, she ended up on the sofa.
    Obviously this is exactly what she wants but not a viable situation long-term, but every time we try to gently enforce the previous night-time routine, she goes berserk. She’ll go into the crate fine, but as soon as we’re settling down to sleep upstairs, the crying starts ramping up. We don’t have the courage to just let her cry it out/bark all night because of the neighbours and because she seems to get herself dangerously anxious. My question is: should I set up camp outside her dark and blanketed crate but refuse to let her out, gradually moving further away over a couple of nights, similar to when she was a puppy? I know this is going to be horrible, but if it’s likely to work, then I’m prepared to go through it. Would really welcome your thoughts! Thanks a million.

    1. Hi Emma,
      Thank you so much for your comment and your kind words.
      Oh dear, sounds like you’ve got quite a cry baby on your hands.
      Your idea would definitely be an option. 2 other things you could try is to set up the crate in your bedroom, at least for a little while. She might feel more comfortable when she’s close to you. Once she has been calm for a few weeks, slowly move her crate outside your bedroom, maybe with the door open at first. Always keep the crate at one place for at least a week. That way she doesn’t get shocked and anxious from a quick move. The other thing you could try is to leave her in a small room instead of her crate. We’ve done that with Baloo when he was potty trained and didn’t damage anything. From when he was about a year old, we let him sleep in the kitchen. He cried a little for the first 2 nights but then he was quiet. That obviously only works if she doesn’t destroy or chew things.
      Just letting her cry for several hours won’t solve the problem. She’ll only get more anxious, like you’ve described. But definitely make sure not to let her out again when she’s crying. If you put the crate in your bedroom, you can just talk quietly if she’s getting really anxious to show her that you’re there.
      A few more ideas that you could try:
      – Make sure she’s super tired when it’s bed time. Ideally, play some brain games before going to bed. That shouldn’t get her too excited and it’s really tiring. Here are a few ideas: https://dogpackr.com/10-brain-games-for-dogs-to-play-at-home/
      – Give her one of your worn shirts. Having your smell close can have a calming effect.
      – Give her a frozen kong toy right before you turn the lights off. Licking has a calming effect as well.
      Hopefully, these suggestions will help you.
      If you need more help, you can also schedule a free 15-minute call with me: https://calendly.com/dogpackr/15min. This way you can show me the crate situation and I can give you some more tips.

  13. My girl is 3 years old. we never had an issue with crating her while at work. her brothers and her would go in willingly. now all of a sudden she won’t go in even if i offer her a treat. I don’t know what to do. I cant leave her out she is a very aggressive chewer.

    1. Hi Leslie,
      That’s an extremely frustrating situation.
      Has anything happened recently that might have caused her to have negative associations with the crate?
      At some point, Baloo didn’t want to go into his bed to sleep in the kitchen at night, anymore. Then, I realized that a few days earlier, he had accidentally thrown down the baby gate that keeps him confined in the kitchen. That must have scared the heck out of him!
      In my case, he quickly realized that the gate won’t fall down again. I just never caved and always patiently waited for him to go in his bed.
      In your case, that might be a bit more complicated. If you don’t know what caused her sudden aversion, your best bet is to start crate training her again. Try to find a few days where she doesn’t need to be left alone and then slowly build it up again. Also make sure to give her something to chew or lick when you put her in the crate as this has a calming effect.

  14. Hi!
    I have had my dog since august now and he is just a little over a year old. He has never loved the crate but would always willingly go in when I say kennel. Lately he has been running and hiding and even shaking when I say kennel. I have been trying to make it more positive by only putting his food in his crate to eat and throwing treats in there to make him love it. From the beginning he always got a special kong when he went in the crate and now that won’t even work. He barks and cries the whole time I am gone even if I give him a bigger room. If I left him completely loose he would be destructive from anxiety. I am at a loss with him I cannot get him to like the kennel even when he used to even go lay in it sometimes on his own and now he is terrified of it and nothing has changed.

    1. Hi Lauren,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Sounds like something traumatizing has happened when he was in the crate. Such a strong reaction doesn’t just come out of the blue.
      However, since he reacts with strong anxiety whenever you’re gone, it sounds more like separation anxiety. Some dogs will just “suppress” that for a while and not show any symptoms of separation anxiety while they’re still very stressed every time you’re gone. So, it’s possible that he suffered from that all his life but it wasn’t noticeable.
      Baloo suffered from very severe separation anxiety in the beginning. The 2 things that really helped were to have a clear schedule and to get him used to me being gone in very slow and small steps. I literally built it up in increments of a few seconds at a time…
      I know this can be extremely frustrating but this is the only way to help a dog with such strong anxiety. Here’s an article about crate training for dogs with separation anxiety: https://dogpackr.com/how-to-crate-train-a-dog-with-separation-anxiety/. Try to get a dog sitter or a friend to look after your dog while your gone for the time you’re training him. Once he’s calm for about 30 minutes to an hour, you should be able to leave him for longer periods as well.
      If nothing else helps, consult a dog behaviorist who can look at the situation with you at home.
      Hope this helps.

  15. Hi
    I have crate trained my dog ever since I got her a little over 3 months ago. I was grateful that it only took her about 3 days until she started loving it. She willingly goes in to hang out, nap, and sleep at night. She has always been a great sleeper and will sleep throughout the night. However just a few nights ago she started pulling her cover into the crate in the middle of the night and scratching at the mat and bed inside and whining. Nothing has changed in her daily routine or diet. When she does this at night I will quietly say no, stop it and she will settle down with a couple of whines. But then she’ll start up again after an hr or so. At a loss of why she is doing this all of a sudden!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Dogs can sometimes display weird behaviors out of the blue.
      Puppies become teenagers at about 5 or 6 months old. From then on until about 18 months, they will want to test any boundaries you set up for them. It’s really similar to kids. They can be super cute, cuddly and well-behaved as puppiea. But when the teenage years hit, they want to see how serious you are with your rules.
      From what you’re describing, that’s probably what’s currently happening with your dog. In that case you can only do one thing: stay persistent and don’t give in!
      If she keeps pulling her blanket down, take the blanket away. If you still want to provide a dark space for her, put the crate under a table.
      What normally happens is that dogs try things like that for a few days to see if you cave. If you don’t, they’ll soon give up because it doesn’t get them what they want – your attention.
      When we moved Baloo from our bedroom to the kitchen to sleep at night, he cried for 2 nights. And then never again. And that’s because we didn’t give in. We just let him cry and he quickly understood that this is just the new normal.
      Hope this helps.

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