Dogs see their crates as a sanctuary from the noise and activity of the world, and you're dealing with an extra nervous dog, his crate may also means safety from danger. If you attempt to remove him incorrectly, his fear and reluctance to leave his "den" may turn to aggression (a.k.a. "fear biting"). It's essential to act passively toward him when he's in there. Reaching in to get him out, even if only once, can startle him and create a fear response thereafter. You can fix this problem by encouraging the dog to choose to come out of the crate at his own pace.
Step 1 - Encourage your dog into the crate in the normal way. The best way to encourage a dog into his crate is to put in a few of his favorite toys and a few treats while leaving the door open. This way, he'll enter of his own volition.
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Step 2 - Leave him in the crate while you go about your business. If he is reluctant to come out of the crate, it's most probable that he actually enjoys being in there, so you should have no problems getting him in and leaving him there for a good while. Most dog owners experience the opposite problem and find it harder to get the dog in the crate and easier to get him out.
Step 3 - Place a line of food treats on the ground, leading from the crate to you, approximately 5 feet apart. Do this 10 minutes before you plan to get Lucky out of the crate. By using treats as a lure, Lucky will exit the crate himself.
Step 4 - Open the door to the crate and slowly walk away. Go back to reading your book or watching a movie. It's important that you ignore Lucky while he is still in the crate.
Step 5 - Observe Lucky as he steps out, but resist the urge to praise him. You must be as passive as possible while he is in or near the crate.
Step 6 - Praise Lucky only when he gets at least 2 feet away from the crate, by which time he has mentally detached himself from the sanctuary of the crate. Don't get up, just calmly say "good boy." The treats are reward enough, as well as a lure to coax him out.
Step 7 - Repeat this process every day. Each time you do it, position yourself a little closer to the crate after you open it. A good method of measuring success is to remove one treat from the treat trail per day. By putting yourself closer to the crate each time, you gradually desensitize Lucky to the most likely fear stimulus: yourself. This combination of reward training and desensitization will eventually help Lucky get used to exiting the crate while you're there.
By Simon Foden
Petfinder: Common Dog Aggression Problems
ASPCA: Weekend Crate Training
Perfect Paws: Shyness and Fear in Dogs and Puppies
About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.