Owning a dog comes with some of the greatest joys you will ever experience. But, on the flip side, a whole lot of worry can also come in tow at times.
One such example is when your pup is acting differently to what you think they should be like, such as staying inside their enclosure for elongated periods of time.
Crate training is a goal shared by most pet owners, but when your pooch refuses to leave their crate at all, it can start to cause worry.
In truth, there are numerous reasons why your furry friend refuses to leave their crate, such as feeling frightened or stressed. But, one reason one dog will do it may not be the same reason another will this way.
All dogs are unique and different from one another. Some will refuse to even stay two minutes in their crate (which is a whole other issue). But, others seem to become too attached to their enclosed space.
But, this is not always a bad thing. It could mean they feel safe in their little space of solitude. It can be a place for them to rest and recharge.
Like humans, many dogs need time on their own and away from people.
If you’re concerned about your dog not leaving their crate, we want to put your mind at ease.
In today’s post, we are going to discuss some possible reasons why your pup is staying put in their crate. Some are to do with tiredness and most reasons have nothing to do with health.
So, don’t panic! Let’s get started and find out why your dog prefers being alone sometimes.
Table of Contents:
Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Leave Their Crate
There can be a multitude of reasons why your pooch refuses to leave his or her crate.
Whilst some can be a sign of something more serious, such as behavioral or health issues, most of the time, it’s down to a change in environment or stress.
Crate training takes time and sometimes, there may be something holding your dog back from leaving their enclosure.
Here are some of the most common reasons for this behavior.
1. Your Dog Simply Feels Safe in Their Crate
Dogs love to spend time with themselves just as much as humans. For many, they have a space which makes them feel safe and content.
It can be argued that many canines gravitate toward warrens, burrows, and cave-like areas, known as dens, to relax in, because of a link to their ancestors.
When a crate is appropriately used, this can be a dog’s safe, secure space.
If your dog seems to remain in their crate when you have strangers over, this could be because they feel more comfortable and safe away from them.
This can also be the case when a baby is brought home as the dog will be unfamiliar with your little bundle of joy. They may even be frightened by the infant.
Also, loud, sharp noises, such as alarms or smoke detectors can cause fear in dogs. Even someone who regularly shouts or argues can create fear for a pet.
Simply slamming a door can scare a dog and if this happens regularly, it could have a negative effect on the dog in the long run.
So, consider whether your home needs to have a calmer air. A calmer atmosphere is better for your family and your pets.
2. A Change of Environment
Dogs can react and emote to different occurrences around them. If there has been a change in your home’s environment, they may feel unsafe.
Again, in this instance, the crate may act as a safety net for them. As soon as they feel uncomfortable, they will retreat to their safe crate.
Even small changes can affect your dog, such as someone staying in your home for a few days, or a loud argument.
Bigger changes such as moving home can be a huge factor in different behavioral patterns in pets, so think about anything like this that may have happened recently.
3. Your Dog is From A Shelter
If your pooch was adopted, they may have come from a difficult background and had a stressful early life. For shelter dogs, they have probably spent long periods of time alone and inside a cage or crate.
Of course, not all shelters treat their dogs like this. Consider how your dog was used to living before and perhaps contact the shelter you purchased them from to find out more about your dog’s background.
4. The Way you Behave Around the Dog
The next time you notice your dog is not leaving his or her crate, evaluate how you’re acting at that time. Maybe you’re frustrated, annoyed, or even angry.
Any of these emotions can be picked up by your dog very quickly, making them feel uncomfortable and possibly scared to leave.
Animals tend to be very good at picking up on different human emotions, especially dogs.
They are usually great judges of character, so if you’re angry or upset with your dog when they will not leave their crate, simply step away and leave them alone.
5. Possible Medical Issue
In some cases, there could be an unrecognized medical concern keeping your dog in their crate.
If you have eliminated all other factors, you should take your pooch to the vet. This is just as a precaution, as it is likely they will be perfectly healthy.
But, if this behavior has come on suddenly, you should get your dog checked out.
Sometimes, your dog staying alone in their crate could even be a sign of depression. That’s right, dogs can suffer from depression like humans.
As we mentioned, a change of environment, a new family member, or a family member who has moved away can all have negative effects on a dog. For some, this can even lead to depression.
Depression in a dog can cause them to become more withdrawn. They may lack energy and motivation, meaning they will find it harder to leave their crate.
Some common reasons why a dog may become depressed are that they don’t receive enough attention, they don’t get enough physical or mental exercise (often in the form of play time), they get ignored or even replaced by something else, such as a baby or new puppy, or a family member who was around often has died or moved away.
If you think depression is the reason, you can talk to your vet about ways to help your furry best friend. More often than not though, lots of attention and exercise will do wonders.
How Can You Entice Your Dog to Leave Their Crate?
Unless there is a serious medical issue behind your dog’s behavior, you can do some things to try and get your dog to leave their crate more often.
We DO NOT recommend forcing your dog to leave their safe space as this can break a bond of trust behind you both. Here are some things you can try:
Going for a walk is something most dogs love the most. Even dogs who love their crates will jump at the opportunity of running around outdoors, even on a leash.
Pull out your dog’s leash and see how they react (see also ‘Dog Refuses To Walk‘). If not, try our next method.
Dig Out The Treats
As well as walks, dogs love treats the most in the world. So, you can always try breaking out some treats, such as dog cookies. Yes, it may be bribery but sometimes, that’s the only way with dogs!
Begin by placing some treats in front of their crate, close enough for them to smell but far enough away for them to step their front paws outside the crate.
As soon as your pooch puts their paws outside the crate, praise them like you’ve never praised them before.
Treats are one of the best ways to encourage dogs to leave their crates. If you find typical dog treats aren’t working, try some small chunks of hot dog. Your dog will find it hard to ignore!
There are a whole host of possible reasons why dogs refuse to leave their crates. From fear to stress and confusion to illness, all dogs will behave differently at some stages of their lives.
If you believe your dog may be acting differently due to illness, however, visit your vet as soon as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.