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Using Treats To Help Your Scared Dog Leave The Crate

Your dog doesn’t want to leave the crate because right now, that is her safe place. It’s important to avoid any human frustration or anxiousness - they will sense that from you and become fearful of leaving the crate.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Just Won't Leave the Crate?

  • 1
    Leave the dog in the crate while you tend to your daily activities. Remain nearby, but don't focus on her while you go about your routine. 
  • 2
    Make sure to keep the door to the crate open for easy access. 
  • 3
    Place some treats  leading from the door to where you are nearby - make sure you are NOT seated directly in front of the crate blocking his exit. 

Remain calm and relaxed - he should not feel you getting anxious or tense, this will only make him feel nervous

Once he does exit the crate, do not praise him or walk over to him - the treats you left are reward enough.  Make this a part of your daily routine - allow him space to enter and exit as he likes. Eventually she will become more relaxed and not see that crate as anything more than a place for your dog to be safe and relaxed. 

Crating your dog is not considered a penalty. You can teach the dog to actually love his crate. Avoid any negative association with the crate by making sure the crate is in a comfortable, warm and welcoming part of the house. Avoid the dark, cold, damp basement. 

Make sure the crate is sized properly. Many people tend to choose a crate size that is too large - he doesn’t need his own studio apartment. The problem with such a large crate is that he may see it as a great place for a toilet. The ideal size of the crate should be enough for him to stand up and turn around and comfortably lay down. 

If you head out to work and no one is around during the day, having a crate for your dog during the day might be a good idea. 

What If Your Dog Hates the Crate At Night?

There might not be a reason to crate the dog at night. If you crate the dog during the day while you’re at work, having him in his crate at night could be unnecessary. However, if you need him to be crated at night and he’s unhappy try some of the more traditional techniques used for crating in the day. Make it easily accessible, set in a clean and comfortable part of the home, or have one sitting in your bedroom near you. 

Typically, if you are house training your dog, crating her at night would be helpful to avoid any middle of the night activity such as using your kitchen as a toilet. Once the dog feels at home and understands his surroundings, they may not need to be crated at night. 

Your Dog Suddenly Hates the Crate and Does Not Want To Go In

There could be a number of reasons a dog might now suddenly avoid going into the crate. Just like teenagers, he may be challenging you to see what he can get away with. Boredom could be another reason. Try adding in one of those Kong biscuit ball toys that act as a puzzle for him. Remain consistent and patient. 

Was there something that freaked the dog out? During the last time he entered the crate had something happened that maybe caused a loud noise? He could be now associating the crate as a “bad thing”.  Just as you did initially, make sure to help him become comfortable again - keep the door open and show him there’s no reason to fear entering the crate again.

Why Does My Dog Cry During Crate Time?

If you have a young puppy, it can take up to 8 weeks to train. Just be aware that most puppies under the age of 4-5 months, are not going to bear being in the crate for more than a few hours at a time. Young puppies do not have the bladder control and they do instinctively cry when they are left alone. Crying while in the crate initially, is normal for just about all dogs as they get used to the whole crate situation. 

Do not let the dog “cry it out” - that method went out a long time ago and serves no purpose. You should train your dog to become accustomed to the crate long before you need to hurry off to work or out the door for an appointment. This is not the time to start learning how to crate train the dog. Especially if you live in an apartment building - your neighbors will love you both for that. 

Reasons for crying are varied. Get to know your dog and make sure that cry isn’t a cry because he’s in pain. 

  • A lonely dog - when you leave, he cries. He will cry initially once you put him in and you leave, but he will ultimately settle down. He will cry again once he hears you walking around or approaching your home. 
  • The bored dog - Try to put a treat filled kong in his crate - give him something to work on while he’s in there and you’re at work all day.
  • The scared dog - Some dogs are just scared of a crate - make sure you provide enough time to get comfortable with the crate and be consistent in using the crate. If sometimes he’s in and sometimes he’s not, he can’t ever have a crate routine. 
  • He needs to get out of the crate for some reason - The dog might actually need to go to the bathroom. This is common sense, but make sure you always take her out for a good long walk before crating. Bonus points if you can get her really tired out so she can sleep in her crate. 
  • Do not use the crate as a place for punishment. If you are trying to reprimand the dog, this is not a place to put him in a time out. He will then associate the crate with a bad place to be.

Related Resources:

Why Should I Crate My Dog? 

Many dog owners have differing opinions on this topic. There are many reasons crating your dog makes sense. If you need to go out to work each day, crating the dog in a safe and contained space is a good idea. It keeps him out of the way of getting into the kitchen trash, eating any valuables you’d like kept from him and avoiding any potty accidents.

If your dog is in the teething stage of development - keeping him crated and away from your furniture is a good idea. Having him crate trained while you are out of the house keeps him safe, secure and out of trouble. The use of a crate should not be considered a punishment or anything that your dog sees as a negative. Make sure the crate is always clean, comfortable and safe. 

How To Crate Train a Dog When You Work Outside Home

There are a few pointers to keep in mind first before you rush off to work. Make sure to start your all day crate training during a weekend or when you have a few days off to help the dog get accustomed to you not being home. 

  1. Help the dog into the crate, include a Kong treat toy and make sure the crate is kept in a safe quiet place. 
  2. Make the first away period for less than 20 minutes to start, leave the house the way you would for work. Then re-enter the same way after 20 minutes. Extend that time 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, at least. 
  3. Go food shopping or run some errands - this will help him get used to you leaving and where he goes while you’re out of the house. Monday morning - go to work and get back no later than 8-9 hours. If you have to be out at work longer than this, you should consider having someone come in mid-way through the day to take him for a good walk before you get back home. 

How To Crate Train an Older Rescue Dog

There aren’t many differences in helping your older rescue dog to getting crate trained. If your rescue dog has never been in a crate before, this will be a new experience for him. 

Start by making it an inviting place to be. Open the door, and invite her in by making sure to have a few treats inside. Don’t pressure him to going in. If the dog shows any signs of being fearful, reassure him by sitting beside the crate and speaking in a calm tone  - use a command such as “crate” and point inside the crate. After he enters the crate, praise him and give him a treat. Close the door.

Just as mentioned above, you’ll want to extend the amount of time from 15 minutes up to at least one hour. Always make this a positive experience and remain patient and consistent. 

About the Author Janet

I'm Janet, avid rescue dog fan, and parent of two rescues - training them to run, hike, and enjoy their new forever home

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