Getting a new dog is all smiles and cuddles until you introduce the dreaded crate. If you are lucky, your dog will take easily to the new experience, and crate training will be all sunshine and rainbows. But, if you are not part of that elite group of dog owners, your dog won’t adore his crate in the beginning, and that’s okay.
The American Kennel Club describes crates as useful training tools for puppies, safe havens for senior dogs, and lifesavers for emergencies. I guess most of us can agree that crate training is important when keeping a dog. So what do you do when your dog goes crazy in its crate?
The good news is that you aren’t going through this alone. A lot of dogs freak out at first during crate training. This can look like your dog whining, barking, scratching the bedding, biting the crate bars, ramming into the crate walls, and throwing a tantrum when in the crate. Here are some tips to stop your dog from going crazy in the crate.
Why Is My Dog Going Crazy in His/Her Crate?
You need to know the origin of a problem before you can solve it. Is this a new behavior or a perfected act? Is it a function of your dog’s age or breed? I hear your questions loud and clear.
Here are the reasons why your dog is going crazy in his cage.
To tell the truth, being stuck in a box does not look like much fun. Dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, and the crate doesn’t provide that for your furry friend. This is especially worse for working breeds like Huskies, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, and Akitas, who need to be engaged constantly. Your dog might be whining, barking, or biting the crate bars because he’s energetic and wants something to do.
Anxiety or Loneliness
If crating is a new experience for your little guy, you can’t expect him to take to it immediately. Every dog is different and has a unique way of responding to a change in environment. Your dog might also be suffering from separation anxiety or may be seeking attention with his whines because he misses you.
Introduction or inadequate training
If you’re introducing your dog to crating, it shouldn’t surprise you if he isn’t too keen on staying in his crate. Like any other thing in life, your dog must be patiently and consistently trained before he learns to enjoy or tolerate crating. If your dog is familiar with the crate and still goes crazy in it, then he hasn’t been properly crate trained. We’ll go into tips to help with that in a bit.
If a dog who is crate trained (and likes his crate) begins to react weirdly or even aggressively in the crate, something is off. Your dog might be trying to tell you that he’s sick or that something is wrong with the crate. Your dog bed could be wet, the crate might be too big, there could be a foreign object making him uncomfortable, his bedding could be infested with parasites, or he might have outgrown his cage. In any case, make sure to observe your dog and the crate to find the source of discomfort.
Associating crating with punishment
Many pet parents make the mistake of crating their dogs as a form of punishment. While it might be comfortable for you to do this, you are setting up a negative association with the crate for your pup. The crate should be a safe place for your pet and not a lair of doom. A dog’s associative memory is the key to training, so if your dog has linked his crate to bad memories and now has crate PTSD, you will have to retrain him by creating positive crate memories.
Changes in the crate
Dogs are sensory creatures and animals of routine. If your change the bedding or the crate itself, your dog might feel like his home has been tampered with and become uncomfortable staying there. This could also happen if another animal enters your dog’s crate. The unfamiliar scent may have your canine freaking out.
Over-crating can cause your dog to build negative associations with his crate. It is unfair for any pet owner to leave their adult dog locked up in a crate for more than 8 hours with no bathroom breaks. Puppies should be released every 2 hours. A dog who is over-crated will begin to resent his crate and may go crazy whenever crated.
Elder dogs do not enjoy staying in the crate because it makes them uncomfortable. This could be because of joint pains, bladder issues, and other geriatric health issues.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Going Crazy in Its Crate?
The first thing to do when your canine companion is going crazy in his crate is to ferret out the cause of this behavior. The list above is a great place to start. Once you have determined the cause, you can get rid of the stressful factors, create positive associations with the crate, and crate train properly.
Set a goal to make your dog’s crate where the party’s at. This way, your dog is happy to hang out in the crate. Small fixes that can achieve this include leaving treats in the crate, making the crate comfortable by putting in a crate mat that smells like you, putting in your dog’s favorite toys, serving him meals in the crate, and placing your dog’s crate in a common area. Try exercising your dog before putting him in his crate at night to make him tired enough to sleep off.
Avoid common crate training mistakes like rewarding crying, leaving your canine for longer than he can wait, being impatient, and forcing him into the crate. Don’t yell at your baby or punish him in any way. If your dog does not take to crate training, work out other ways to house train like doggy gates, chain link kennels, or give him a room to himself. If all else fails, enlist the help of a dog trainer.
When your dog goes crazy in his crate, you are probably worried sick. If this behavior is unusual and your pooch is crate trained, you should check for what went wrong and fix it. When your dog is being crate trained, don’t give up. With lots of patience and love, your little fur baby will be crate trained and it’ll all work out.