My Dog Still Hates His Crate, Despite Extensive Training

I have tried many things, but Obi still sees the cage as his enemy. What do I do?
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I always meant to get Obi acquainted with his dog crate, but it just never seemed like the right time. The first night my boyfriend, Bill, and I brought him home, Obi was trembling so bad we could hardly fathom leaving him downstairs in his cage.

“It’ll be exactly like the dog pound he was just in,” Bill said, frowning. “Can’t he sleep with us?”

Well, when you put it like that …

Let’s be clear: I was just as smitten as Bill was with our new puppy, and I didn’t want Obi downstairs any more than Bill did. But I also knew it was important that Obi come to think of his crate as his home, a place of comfort, so that later it would be easier to train him, and it would be handy if we ever needed to briefly detain him. Also, if Obi was anything like me, having a space of your own is just kind of nice.

Plus, I knew it was important because the slew of dog books and websites I’d read before we got a dog told me so, and I’m obedient. Woof.

After letting him sleep with us that first night, we promised ourselves we’d work really hard over the next few days and weeks to get him to like his crate.

And, we tried. Gosh, did we try.

For those first two weeks we had Obi, one of us would work from home so we could spend time with him. In between checking emails and writing or designing, we’d plant ourselves by the crate, fist full of treats, and gently try to coax Obi into his cage.

It sort of worked — until it didn’t. Obi would tiptoe to the crate and grab the cookie, only to dart away. After a while, he felt comfortable enough going inside just long enough to eat his treat. Then he’d hightail it out of there.

Most of the literature I’d read told me it could be a while before our puppy became acclimated to his crate. In the meantime, we weren’t using it to punish him (not that we were punishing him), and we kept praising him whenever he’d voluntarily go inside of the crate. Eventually, we also introduced five-minute stays in the crate, followed by immense praise.

“We’re getting there,” I’d say, trying to be encouraging.

The best feeling came when Bill would send me photos of Obi in or near the cage with captions like “success!” or “working hard!” If Bill couldn’t understand why I was obsessed with getting him to like his crate, he never let on, and he was right there with me cheering Obi on when we thought he even glanced in the crate’s direction. We did everything short of dressing up in dog costumes and trying to go into the cage ourselves.

When we upgraded to a large indoor playpen for Obi, Bill did get inside with him to show him there was nothing threatening about it. He also did it to make me laugh. It made me giggle, but it did nothing to make Obi want to hang out in the playpen. In fact, when we tried to leave him inside for a few short hours one day, we came home to find that he’d managed to pry the playpen apart and escape. That was the end of that.

We were stumped. Why wouldn’t Obi at least entertain the idea of enjoying his crate? I tried swapping out his bed not once, not twice, but three times. Nothing. I left things that smelled like us inside the crate. Nope. I decorated it like a palace, complete with all the toys a dog could ever desire. Obi preferred to chew on my shoes. I would put his favorite dog bed inside, and he’d rather say farewell to the bed than get inside the cage.

I guess I can’t blame him. Who’d want to hang out in the crate when you get to sleep in a lush bed with your favorite humans?

But all I wanted was for him to feel like he had a little place of his own. I don’t know why it was so important to me, but it was. I almost felt like a bad dog-mom because I couldn’t get him to embrace what is supposedly an Important Puppy Thing. (I think that’s the scientific term.)

The desire subsided after a while. Who cares if he liked his crate? It’s not like we spent a lot of money on them (we did) or that most other dogs used them (they do).

Yet, a conversation I overheard at work ignited the fire in me again. A co-worker was talking about how much his dog loooooved his crate, and I bitterly thought: Why not my dog?!

In a last-ditch effort, I bought a different type of crate for Obi. I thought perhaps he wasn’t a fan of the one he had because he couldn’t see out of it. After spending a good 15 minutes sitting on the floor putting it together, I transferred all of Obi’s things to the new crate, put a few treats inside, told him he was a good boy, and dashed out to meet a friend.

When I returned home, I half expected to find him nestled inside, secretly thanking me for not giving up on him and suddenly being so in love with his new crate that he couldn’t bear to part with it, not even to give me a welcome-home nuzzle.

What I found instead, of course, was Obi lying on the floor watching Bill use the exercise bike.

“Did he go in the crate at all while I was gone?” I asked, peering in his cage and hoping to find the treats gone. (They weren’t.)

Bill, ever-so-delicate when delivering bad news, looked over at me. “Nope.”

I give up. Maybe I’ll sleep in his crate instead.

Got any other ideas getting Obi to like his crate? Let me know in the comments!

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14 thoughts on “My Dog Still Hates His Crate, Despite Extensive Training”

  1. We are in the same boat, but we are looking into getting a tall wire playpen that attaches directly to the crate. You can leave the crate door open, and he can go in and out (to the playpen area). I know you said he busted out of the first playpen, but maybe try a different one? Our dog has had 2 accidents in his crate now, and I feel terrible leaving him in there, but he is not old enough to be trusted to roam the house while we are gone.

    I am hoping giving him a more open area besides the crate will help!

  2. I am searching the internet for help here. I have tried everything. I need to figure this out because I am now a prisoner, I cannot go anywhere. People make it seem so easy and it isn’t. My dog will go in there, he will eat he’s meals, play with this toys. The moment I walk away and or try and close the door, he begins to bark. I live in an apartment, I gotta figure this out.

    1. Hate to say it but glad to read I’m not the only person dealing with this. I’ve had my puppy for almost a month and she will only sleep in her crate voluntarily during the day with the door open and me in the room. She will sleep in the crate at night with the door closed but I must be sleeping in the room with her or she loses it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I love her very much but not being able to leave the house for even a short period of time is getting old.

  3. Brigitte A Thomson

    Still waiting for some solutions… My puppy is 10weeks old and still cries, barks, yowls make a general raucous every night and every time I leave the house. While home we feed her in it and play crate luring games. The first couple days she would even nap in it but not anymore. If I sleep outside the crate on the floor she will settle but that now means I have to go to the chiropractor ?. Help!

  4. Our Delilah was a treat to crate train. High energy husky with a extremely high food drive. We started off by only feeding her in the crate which evolved into asking her to go in and lay down. All her meals revolved around going into ber crate. Now she is 1year and as soon as i open the closet door where the food is she runs to her crate knowing it’s meal time.

    By no means does she love her crate or go there for naps but she does not fear it as it usually means food time.

    She has learned that when i take off her collar and say bedtime it means go to your crate.

    Perhaps we got lucky but it worked for us.

  5. Our new puppy was one of 11, so coming to a home with no puppies can’t be easy. At night we need to crate him. Night one, after 15 minutes of not wimpering but screaming, he got to sleep on the couch. (We need to keep our 2 other dogs somewhat separate until we acclimate. ) Night 2, 2.5 hours of screaming. He never stopped. We gave in. Night 3, we didn’t even try. The crate has food, toys, cozy. I tried quiet periods, open door. No luck.

  6. We have the same problem with our 12 week old puppy. She’s a Havanese but very social puppy as all puppies are, however we only put her in her crate at night and she does not like it at all. She refuses to go into it voluntarily but since that is the problem we have to put her in her crate manually. She’s in her crate only at night but I’m worried that by putting her manually in she might not like going in voluntarily int he future. She has done it before but then stopped doing it after the 3rd day we got her. If there is any advice can someone please give?

  7. Glad I’m not alone. Our pup is 13 weeks and whines and whines when in. When we return home after a couple hours, she is settled, however, I recorded her while out for curiosity’s sake and heard almost continuous whining, yipping and occasional barking. Only about a 10 minute span of quiet.
    She does fine at night, outside of the first 5-10 minutes of whining then she sleeps the rest of the night. She wakes whines a little then waits quietly for someone to come in.
    I’m beside myself. We’ve blockaded the kitchen area which includes a small area for an eat in kitchen, for her. Needless to say we spend 85% of our time in this area with her.
    I’ve just decided that she hates her crate and will never like it. I don’t think putting her in a closed bathroom will help because she is so social. My next attempt will be to leave her in this closed area in the kitchen and hope for the best.

  8. We have a 10 1/2 week old puppy and he hates the crate. He pulls everything out of there and cries but he has to go in there for bed and when we go out. I just don’t know what to do. He has treats, he has praise, he has been fed in there but he still hates it. I’ve tried to cover it but he tries to pull the cover through. Just need some advise!

  9. OMG, your story sounds just like ours! Indiana Bones is just about 6 months and has learned how to escape from his crate, howls when left in it and even has accidents in it. We have tried the treat, 5 minute increments and praising him for being such a good boy. we even bought organic doggie Gummi Chews to calm him down. We have rearranged our schedule to accommodate him. As crazy as this may sound your post brought me great comfort. We are putting a different plan in place in hopes this may help. I was home today and put him in for 1-1/2 hours. He had an accident, I cleaned it and put him back in. He scratched the bedding, I opened the crate removed it and put him back in. He could see me walking around the house though I didn’t give eye contact I said Quiet a few times. He settled down for a bit then started up, I held my ground and he made it the 1 1/2 hour. My hope is to start putting him in the crate while we eat dinner and slowly move from us being home to us not being home. We have had to add another lock as he escapes but I will keep you posted. It has been a hard summer and we as well let him sleep in our bed. Hope this helps.
    Donna

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