Dog Won’t Leave Crate, What Should I Do?

The most common problem during training is the dog not wanting to get inside the crate. However, it can also be the opposite when your dog won’t leave crate confinement.

It’s important to remember that your dog’s behavior is influenced by various stimuli. So if your pooch doesn’t want to leave the crate, it means something is wrong in its environment.

Dog Won't Leave Crate

Punishment and violence have no place in addressing this problem. As a long-time pet owner, I have proven, time and again, that positive reinforcement is always the best course of action.

For this post, I will share my personal experiences as a pet owner, the possible causes behind this behavior, and what you can do to solve it.

Why won’t my dog leave its crate?

If your dog doesn’t want to leave its crate, the following might be the reasons why:

1. Sudden changes in the environment

Did you move to a new home or did a family member pass away? These sudden changes can stress a canine, which will make them scared and confused.

In the process, your dog will prefer to retreat inside its crate. This is because the crate provides a soothing feeling, which helps the dog manage its anxiety.

Remember that dogs need to adjust whenever they move to a new home or if a major change happened at home. Our dogs are affected by the change as much as we do.

2. Learned behavior

Rescue dogs that have stayed in rescue shelters tend to have ‘learned helplessness‘. This happens because rescue dogs are exposed to inescapable stress that they just surrender themselves to it.

Such stress can be due to being confined inside a kennel. In the long run, the rescue dog will realize that the kennel is inescapable, and so he just stays inside.

So even after the canine is placed in a forever home, it may still prefer to stay inside the crate. Pet owners should understand that this situation requires patience and time to allow the dog to come out of its shell.

3. It feels safer inside the crate

Newly adopted or rehomed dogs would often feel safer inside the crate. After all, the outside world is full of unfamiliar scents, sounds, and faces.

This is a completely normal reaction and pet owners should give the dog time to adjust. In most cases, the new dog will acclimate to its new home in a matter of days.

4. Fear of something

Dogs tend to hide when they are afraid of something. And since they are trained to rest inside the crate, they will seek it for protection.

It can be anything from loud sounds, vet visits, the arrival of a guest, or medication. It’s important to desensitize your dog to these stimuli, so it won’t grow to be a nervous canine.

5. Health problems

It’s best to rule out any potential health problem that might be triggering this behavior.

Usually, ailing dogs will prefer to stay in a spot where they are the comfiest. This often includes the crate.

Consulting your dog’s veterinarian is always the best course of action. Being proactive will help save your dog from further pain and suffering. 

How to get your dog out of its crate

There’s always a way to correct a dog’s negative behavior without the use of punishment. So if your dog doesn’t want to leave its crate, I recommend that you do these steps instead:

1. Lure with treats or toys

The first method you can try is luring your dog out of the crate using treats or its favorite toys. Many times, this will work, except if your dog is anxious or extremely scared.

To do this, simply place a treat a few inches away from the crate’s entrance. If your dog gets it and retreats into the crate, put another one but increase the distance.

Slowly, you can get your pet to step out farther from the crate. Be patient and don’t punish your dog if it didn’t respond to this method.

2. Remove any stressors

Another important thing you should do is remove any possible stressor that’s scaring your dog. It could be the loud sound of the TV, shrieking kids, or the presence of other pets.

Each dog has their own triggers, so it’s important to observe and see what’s causing your pet to hide inside the crate. From there, you can make your home more pet-friendly and you can slowly get your pet out of its hiding spot.

3. Use calming aids

For extremely nervous dogs, the vet may recommend using calming aids. This will help soothe your pet, so it won’t have to hide inside the crate all day long.

You can try giving calming treats or using artificial pheromones. If these don’t work, you can consult the vet for a stronger sedative.

Take note that sedatives should only be used under the vet’s supervision. Also, you should always follow the recommended dosage.

4. Put the crate in a different spot

Sometimes, it might be the location of the crate, which makes your dog reluctant to go out. In this case, you should consider bringing the crate to a quieter part of the house.

After that, try luring your dog with treats and see if it will come out. If not, leave the crate door open and keep your distance.

Most dogs will go out of the crate in their volition. Just make sure that you keep the place quiet and limit foot traffic.

5. Don’t make a big reaction

If your dog tries to come out of the crate, don’t make a big reaction about it. Shouting or getting excited will make your dog scared, which will make it retreat to the crate.

Instead, be casual about it and reward your dog with a treat. You should also let the dog come to you instead of lifting or hugging it.

Is it okay to force a dog out of its crate?

You should never force your dog out of its crate. Yanking the canine out will just trigger fear and trauma, which will defeat all your efforts.

Instead, be patient and give your dog time to relax. Once your pet knows that the surroundings are safe, it will come out of the crate on its own.

If you’re getting frustrated, you can ask the help of a professional dog trainer. This way, the problem will be tackled correctly.

Is it cruel to crate a dog at night?

It’s not cruel to put your dog inside a crate at night. In fact, doing so is beneficial and will help calm your pet down.

Just make sure that you take your dog to a potty break before putting it inside the crate. Also, you should let the dog out in the morning for another potty trip.

If done right, crating is a great way to curb nighttime anxiety and excessive barking. This will also let pet owners have a restful sleep.

Why is my dog crate aggressive?

Crate aggression will happen if you’re doing the training improperly. It’s important to let your dog become familiar with the crate before you start training.

Pushing your dog inside, locking it against its will, and other sneaky tactics will surely cause aggression. Worse, it will make your dog associate the crate with a negative experience.

Take note that crate training is a process that may take weeks to months, depending on how easy to train your dog. If you rush it, your puppy will throw tantrums inside the crate and grow aggressive over time. 

If your dog remains aggressive despite all your efforts, you can seek the assistance of a pet trainer.

Conclusion

A dog won’t leave crate confinement is often suffering from fear, stress, anxiety, or even an underlying health problem. It’s important to point out the reason behind the behavior, so you can take the proper course of action.

Just remember that in every canine behavioral problem, there’s always a non-violent solution. Be patient and your scared doggo will soon come out of its hiding.

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