Sudden Aversion to Dog Crate

Dog in his crate

What do you do when your dog won't go in a crate anymore? The Dog Expert has a few suggestions that just might help get things back on track.

Young Dog Suddenly Doesn't Like Crate Anymore

Our 13-month-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever has been successfully crate trained since he was 12 weeks old. From 8-12 weeks he had a very difficult transition to the crate. He barked, threw himself around and tried to dig his way out for hours every night. With a lot of patience and advice from our vet, he finally made peace with his crate.

Several days ago, he began avoiding the crate at all costs. He fights going into the crate, and now makes every effort not to go near it at all. He spends his days outside in a safe kennel, comes inside in the evenings for family time and then into his crate for bed after a final outside break. We are not recognizing any changes in routine. Today, he became aggressive and nipping me when I attempted to put him in his crate.

Any suggestions?

~~ Candy

Expert Reply

Hi Candy,

Since your dog had been using the crate successfully for the last nine months, perhaps something happened to trigger this sudden aversion to using it? Is there a chance that someone crated him as a punishment? If so, this could be what has undone all of your hard work.

To retrain your dog to use the crate, you have to start from square one and make it a pleasant place. I'd recommend putting a bowl of cooked ground beef in the very back of the crate, and then allow your dog to go in and eat it without closing the door. He'll feel less apprehensive if he knows he can come at go as he pleases. Once he is willing to do this, you can offer the food and then quietly close the door behind him.

It's going to take some time and patience to overcome your dog's current fears, but if you are patient, I think you'll have success.

Thanks for your question, and I hope you find this suggestion helpful.

~~ Kelly

Older Dog's Sudden Aversion to Crate

I have had two dogs for over ten years. They are a Wheaten Terrier and a Brittany Spaniel. They sleep in crates in our bedroom at night and have done so for ten years. Recently, the Brittany has decided that he is unhappy in the crate and begins barking almost immediately. This can continue for two to three hours. What is the problem and how do I stop him from barking?

~~ Rob

Expert Reply

Hi Rob,

At ten years old, your dog may be just beginning to develop a medical problem that hasn't yet come to light. Have you noticed if he urinates more frequently in recent weeks? If his bladder is becoming weaker, he may feel stressed about not being able to get out of his crate when he wants to.

Perhaps your dog is developing joint pain? If so, adding a nice cushion may help him feel comfortable enough to settle down and go to sleep.

Of course, there could certainly be another cause behind your dog's sudden aversion to his crate, but the sudden behavior change taken into consideration with his age indicates a trip to the vet may be in order. This way you'll at least have a baseline on his health.

In the meantime, is there any way you could cooperate with what your dog wants? Would he be destructive in any way if you allowed him to sleep in your room and just left the crate door open in case he wants to go inside? Barring that, could he be left in the kitchen with a gate across the door? I'm assuming that your dog is trustworthy when you leave him out during the day, so maybe one of these options will help your situation.

Thanks for your question, and I hope you're able to work it out.

~~ Kelly

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Sudden Aversion to Dog Crate