If your dog has been properly crate/kennel-trained, he should enjoy time spent there. But what do you do if a crate-trained dog no longer likes the private "den" he once enjoyed? Since it's hard to get a straight answer about why he won't go in his crate, we have to ask ourselves the questions like, did something in the crate scare him? Has the crate been used as punishment? Does the crate smell like another dog or something else he doesn't like? Did he accidentally get injured or startled while he was being crateed? Does he only go in his crate when you're leaving the house?
The Crate as a Safe Place
Knowing what happened to make your four-legged friend not want to go in his crate anymore will help you figure out how to persuade him to go back. If something in his crate scared him, he'll need to be shown he's safe there. Make sure no loud noises are occurring around his crate. It should be in a quiet place where he can see what's going on but still be out of the way of heavy foot traffic.
The Crate Should Not Be Punishment
If you use the crate as a timeout for your puppy, he'll think he's in trouble every time you want him to go in there. Find a new method to train him that centers on positive reinforcement, and keep his crate as his happy place.
A Clean Crate Is a Happy Crate
Cleaning his bedding and toys regularly might go a long way to making your dog's crate seem welcoming to him. It's OK for it to smell like you, him and his favorite stuff, but that's about it. Any unusual smells can make a sensitive dog hesitant to enter.
Look for Injury
A dog that gets pinched or poked in his crate isn't going to want to go back in. Check your baby for an injury that may have occurred in the crate, and check the crate for anything he could injure himself on and remove it. Once you know it's safe, prove it to him over and over again till he feels safe inside.
If you crate your dog only when you leave the house, why should he get excited about going in there? Put him in the crate while you're there sometimes and reward him when he settles down. Stick around till he figures out that crate time doesn't have to mean alone time. Give him his favorite toys and treats while he's in the crate.
Crate Time as Fun Time
Get excited about crate time and your dog will, too. Ask your vet about safe food puzzles for him to work on while he's in his crate, and only give him certain treats and toys when he cooperates about crate time. A consistent crate routine will help him feel secure about going in there.
By Cait Smith
About the Author
Cait Smith has been writing professionally since 2003 when she wrote and edited for her college paper, "The Cherokee Signal" for three years. She then wrote for two years at her university paper "The Echo," while she studied journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.