Dogs do unusual and unexpected things that may seem strange to us. For instance, your dog might enjoy the same food every day, but he refuses to eat it one day. The same thing can happen with your dog’s crate. After taking the time to crate train your dog, ensuring it has a secure, comfortable spot, your dog may suddenly refuse to go in.
There are many reasons your dog could hate his crate suddenly, including separation anxiety, negative associations, and changes in the crate.
Reasons Your Dog Suddenly Hates His Crate
Here are the most common reasons your dog suddenly hates his crate:
1. Changes In The Environment
The simplest reason your dog might refuse to go into his crate is due to a change in environment, like putting the crate in a different spot or changing the rug under it. Often it’s as simple as washing the sheets, toys, and blankets. To you, it might be the best way to freshen up your dog’s crate, but your dog feels differently. When dogs spend time in their crate, it carries their scent, making it a familiar and comfortable place for them to crash.
When washing your dog’s blankets and toys, try to leave something you never wash. The familiar scent can help your dog become comfortable in its crate again.
2. Crating As Punishment
It may be convenient to crate your dog when it misbehaves, but it can create negative associations. Locking your dog in its crate after reprimanding it for bad behavior can cause your dog to associate its crate with punishment. The result may be a dog who no longer goes to its crate when asked. If this happens, you will need to crate train your dog all over again.
If our dog is hesitant to go in his crate, try enticing it with food or its favorite toys. Work hard to make the crate a safe space to relax and not have to be on constant alert. Try feeding your dog in its crate with the door left open to create strong, positive feelings about the crate.
3. Lack Of Exercise
Consider how much time your dog spends in his crate during the day. If you have been busy recently, you might be leaving it crated for longer and longer periods. As a result, your dog is not getting enough physical or mental exercise. Your dog could be feeling lonely or isolated in its crate. To you, it might appear that your dog suddenly hates its crate. However, if you’ve left your dog alone for a couple of days, it probably feels bored and frustrated by now.
Regardless of how busy we become, we still need to provide our dogs with the physical and mental exercise they need. Consider asking a friend or hiring a dog walker to walk your dog if you are very busy. When your dog is tired from exercise, he can easily spend six to eight hours sleeping in his crate.
A dog can grow tired of his crate if he spends most of his time confined there. If you are not letting your dog roam freely around the house for a few hours daily, it will begin to dislike being in his crate. It may seem like this is happening suddenly, but your dog has probably felt this way for a while.
A dog that spends too much time confined in its crate may refuse to go back inside since he has learned to associate crate time with a lack of attention. If this is the case with your dog, give it the physical and mental stimulation it needs. When you need to confine it, try placing it in a small room that has been “dog-proofed.” After a while, you can gradually introduce it back to the crate. But be sure it’s spending more time outside the crate than in it.
5. Separation Anxiety
If your dog gets up to mischief when you leave the house, it makes sense to leave him in his crate when you can’t supervise him. A common complaint among pet parents is that dogs get into trouble when left alone. While this behavior may indicate a need for training, it could also be due to stress. Dogs love the attention of their owners and need it to thrive. If your dog engages in destructive behavior when you leave the house, it can mean many things. Watch out for signs such as excessive drooling and whining. These can indicate that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
If you repeatedly leave your dog in his crate when you go, he can learn that crate time means separation from you, which is very distressing for some dogs, and they will refuse to go inside their crate entirely. It is not the crate they hate but what follows their time within it.
This video explains how to crate-train a pet with separation anxiety very well.
6. Attention Seeking
As we have already discussed before, dogs love attention. A dog that feels neglected will go to any lengths for attention. When your dog wants your attention, you will notice behaviors such as:
Dogs will walk around your legs and over your feet, nuzzling against you for attention.
They will stare longingly at their leash, trying to signal that it is time for a walk.
They will bring their favorite toys to you and nudge you, asking you to play.
Similarly, a dog that wants your attention may refuse to go in his crate. You might even reinforce this behavior by giving your dog attention. If you try to comfort him or calm him down when he refuses to go in his crate, he can learn to do it again for your attention. If you think your dog suddenly hates his crate because he wants your attention, spend some time in his crate with him. Play some games, treat, and cuddle him in his crate to make it more comfortable for him.
7. Small Dog Syndrome
If you have a small or toy breed dog, they might refuse to go in their crate due to Small Dog Syndrome. Because they are so cute and fragile, many small dogs get away with begging, barking, snapping, and biting behavior that their bigger brothers and sisters can’t. Because it’s so cute, a Chihuahua can get away with snapping at and biting its owners. Imagine what would happen were the same dog a Rottweiler.
When undesirable behaviors are dismissed or encouraged, dogs can develop a pattern of engaging in them. Dogs with Small Dog Syndrome show behavioral patterns such as refusal to follow commands, aggression, and whining for what they want. If your dog shows these behaviors and suddenly hates his crate, you might need the guidance of a professional trainer.
8. Changes To Their Crate
Your dog’s crate is similar to their bedroom or den. Their blanket and favorite toys are there, and everything carries their scent. If you make any changes to their crate, your dog might initially hesitate to enter it. You might have gotten your dog a cozier blanket or new toys, but it will still take some time for them to adjust to the changes.
A similar thing can happen if other animals have entered your dog’s crate. Your dog can immediately smell if other animals have been in their crate. If they are not used to this or an unfamiliar animal entered their crate, they will refuse to go back in it.
It is best to set up another crate rather than use your dog’s crate for other animals. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and will not like the scent of other animals in their crate. Some dog breeds that show territorial aggression, like the Chihuahua, might even behave aggressively after smelling another animal in their crate.
Your dog might suddenly hate its crate because it’s feeling pain or discomfort. Something in there might be uncomfortable or cause trouble for your pet. For example, your dog could take his food to his bed and then hate the smell the next day. He might also soil his bed, which will need a thorough cleaning. Make sure everything is comfortable and to your pet’s liking. Your dog might take you to the source of concern himself. If not, check the crate carefully for anything different. Check the crate thoroughly for any messes or foreign objects.
Chances are your dog has outgrown his crate. It is probably too small for him now if he has had the same one since his puppy years. Purchase a bigger crate for your pet so he can rest comfortably inside it.
Another reason your dog may have a sudden dislike for his crate is due to his age. Senior dogs can develop many issues, including a weaker bladder and urinary incontinence. They might fear they won’t be able to make it to the litterbox in time. If your dog has soiled his bed multiple times, he probably doesn’t want to sleep in the crate again. Even after you clean his bed and blanket, he could refuse to go inside his crate for this reason. If you think your dog needs to be crated, leave the door open with the litterbox outside.
An older dog may also feel uncomfortable in his crate due to joint problems like arthritis. If you think your dog has health problems, consult your veterinarian.
11. Inadequate Training
If you want your dog to be comfortable in his crate, this will take time and effort. You will need to train your pet to adjust to his crate. You need to create good associations with crate time, such as playing games with him inside. It also means training your pet if they have separation anxiety. When crate training your dog, you should gradually lengthen your dog’s time in the crate. If you suddenly increase the crate time too much, your dog may refuse to go in, and you’ll have to start over.
It is common for your pet to whine the first time you put him in his crate. You should reassure your pet gently and try to make his crate as comfortable as possible. Some pets won’t tolerate a crate at all. In this case, you might need to consult a professional.
To keep the behavior on cue, make sure to crate your dog now and then. If you rarely use it, it will need retraining. There are times when your pet will need to be in his crate. In an emergency, you won’t have enough time to ensure your pet is comfortable. Emergency trips to the veterinarian or travel are two examples of such situations, so it is in your and your dog’s best interest to periodically stay in his crate.
As dogs grow older, most pet parents let them roam freely around the house, even in their absence. You should still have your pet spend a few hours in the crate every few days to keep the behavior fresh in its mind.
As dogs grow older, most pet parents let them roam freely around the house, even in their absence. This is completely fine, but you should still have your pet spend a few hours in the crate every two to three days. This way, you won’t have to struggle to familiarize him with his crate in an emergency.
What You Can Do
If your dog suddenly hates his crate, it can cause problems. You might need to retrain your dog and set up the crate to his liking again. Use the following tips to reduce your dog’s aversion to his crate:
Determine The Cause
Before you start to fix the issue, it is important to determine why your dog suddenly dislikes his crate. It could be due to one of the reasons mentioned above. You can retrain your pet with patience and effort if it’s a simple reason. However, if the issue is separation anxiety or behavioral problems, you could need professional help.
Start small if you want your dog to stay in his crate again. Do not lock your dog inside his crate and leave him for hours, leading to your dog becoming fearful or aggressive. Instead, start by leaving your dog inside his crate for small amounts of time. A few minutes is a good starting point, but don’t go for longer than your dog is comfortable with throughout the day. If your dog has separation anxiety, you might need to increase the time by seconds rather than minutes.
Schedule Crate Time
All dogs need attention and exercise. Keeping your dog crated all day is just not fair to them. Set a certain time your dog spends in his crate, and let them out for a few hours after. Once your dog understands his schedule, it will be more open to spending time in his crate.
If you leave your dog in his crate while at work, ensure he has freedom after you’re back. The important thing is to plan a schedule that your dog is comfortable with.
Make Crating Fun
You can’t just expect your dog to like his crate without reason. Make the time your dog spends in the crate fun and rewarding. Use treats or play games inside the crate with your dog to create good associations.
Many people tend to use the crate to punish their dogs, which only serves to create problems in the future. Your dog begins to think that you send him to his crate after it does something wrong.
Make the time your dog spends in his crate enjoyable. If your dog makes good associations with his crate, it is unlikely you will have problems in the future.
If you are reintroducing the crate to your dog, be consistent. Don’t go weeks between crate sessions, causing difficulties when you try to crate it again. Similar to other training, consistency is key when crate training your pet. If crate time goes unrewarded or is rare, your dog will struggle with staying in it in the future.
The Right Way To Set Up Your Dog’s Crate
There are many reasons your dog could hate his crate suddenly, including issues with its setup. Consider the following factors when setting up your dog’s crate:
The right-size crate will neither be too big nor too small for your dog. Dogs are den animals and like enclosed spaces. The crate should only be big enough for them to feel comfortable. If it is too big, your dog might not feel secure inside it. You will likely need to change your puppy’s crate when he grows into an adult.
Dogs that prefer to sleep in the dark will probably prefer an enclosed crate, while a wire crate is suitable for other dogs.
The location of your dog’s crate depends on where space is available in your home and your and your dog’s preferences. If you’ve just begun crate training, keep their crate nearby. Puppies will adjust better to their crate if it is kept in your bedroom initially. Dogs are social animals and may feel lonely and isolated if their crate is in a spot you do not frequent. All in all, your dog’s crate should be in a location where:
He can rest peacefully without being disturbed. The best options are by the couch in your family room or a bedroom with someone in it.
The temperature should not be too high or low. Avoid keeping the crate near drafty areas, the fireplace, or vents. Do not place the crate near a window with direct sunlight since the metal bars can heat up.
Set up your dog’s crate as comfortably as possible. You can use blankets, crate pads, or dog mattresses to make the crate comfortable for your pet. These are also necessary for when the weather gets chilly.
There are some factors to consider based on your dog’s age. For example, the best choice for puppies should be something waterproof and chew-proof. You only need something comfortable for an adult dog without special preferences, while senior dogs will do better with orthopedic mattresses for their joint problems.
Comfort and practicality are two main factors when choosing a blanket or dog bed for your dog’s crate. A soft blanket/dog bed that is easily washable is the best option.
Food And Water
You might have heard some people say that you should not leave food and water in your dog’s crate. The most obvious reason is that your pet might accidentally tip over the bowls. However, there are many practical solutions to this issue. A clip-on bowl or doggie water bottle that you attach to the crate bars are great options.
We recommend leaving water in your dog’s crate since he will get thirsty now and then. Dogs with medical conditions such as kidney stones or Addison’s disease should never be dehydrated. If your dog is on medications that cause dehydration, you should leave water in their crate.
You should not free-feed your dog, but you can leave food in his crate when you go outside for a while. Your dog might make a mess, so be prepared to clean it up. Feeding your dog in his crate can create good associations and ensure your dog likes it. Treats and food can make crate time more enjoyable for your pet.
To familiarize your dog with his crate, play games with it inside its crate. Cuddle your dog and spend time with him in the crate to help your dog associate crate time with enjoyable things such as games and your attention. Most pet parents do not realize how important this tip is. Making your dog’s crate a spot for fun and rest can help your pet adjust quicker. Treats are also a great option, but your attention is more rewarding.
Place your dog’s favorite toys in the crate, so it has something familiar to encourage it to explore and spend time there. It is also important to place chew toys and other interactive toys in the crate so your dog does not get bored in its crate. Puzzle toys, plush toys, and interactive feeders are great options to keep your pet entertained. You can also use calming toys if your dog has separation anxiety.
Keeping something with your scent inside the crate is also a good idea. It can soothe your dog when it is inside the crate. You can leave an old T-shirt or blanket with your scent on it.