Dog Won’t Go in Crate Even With Treats? [From Hater to Lover]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

So, you’re dealing with a crate-averse pup, huh? Trust me, I feel your frustration.

Picture this: you’ve got a shiny new crate, stocked with yummy treats, ready to provide a cozy den for your furry friend.

But alas, your dog gives you that look as if to say, “No way, buddy, I’m not setting paw in there!”

What’s the problem? Why is it that your dog won’t go in crate even with treats?

In this blog post, we’re diving headfirst and exploring the reasons behind their aversion and equip you with practical tips and techniques to overcome this challenge.

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Why Does My Dog Not Want to Be in Its Crate? 9 Reasons You Should Know

Why Does My Dog Not Want to Be in Its Crate

Like humans, your furbaby might also have a change of heart, especially when it comes to enclosed places like his crate.

One moment your pup has no problem with his crate; the next one, he won’t even be bothered to get inside the crate.

This is a usual occurrence, but I daresay that it’s also something you should look into.

We don’t wanna force dogs to do something they loathe, do we?

There are a lot of reasons why your doggy might not wanna be in his crate, and it’s best that you’ll know what these are.

1. Fear or anxiety

Fear and anxiety aren’t rare among furbabies. You see, they feel these emotions just like humans do.

Hence, your dog can be scared of his crate too. 

Your dog might be scared or anxious about his crate for many reasons that might be too shallow or too deep.

Some dogs are anxious or scared of their crate because the crate reminds them of bad experiences from the past.

Other dogs don’t like being in their crate since it limits their freedom.

Your dog might also feel scared or anxious about going inside his crate if you’ve been using it as his punishment.

Whatever the cause of their fear or anxiety toward their crate, doggies shouldn’t be forced to like their crates.

2. Past negative experiences

Your dog remembers. Perhaps his memories aren’t as good as yours, but when something terrible happens, your dog will surely remember.

If something bad happens to your dog inside his crate, he’ll take note of that negative experience.

Then it won’t be as smooth as you expect it to be the next time you try to let your dog inside his crate again.

The negative experiences your dog had with his crate will remain etched in his mind, which is why he’ll resist going inside his crate for fear that something bad will happen to him again.

3. Lack of crate training

At first glance, your dog will see a crate as a cage that won’t be as fun as running around in a spacious area.

But crate training your pup lets you introduce the crate as a safe space for him to spend some of his time in.

Lack of crate training is sometimes a serious cause of why your dog is afraid and hesitant to get inside his crate.

He doesn’t have any idea what the crate will do to him. The enclosed space will confuse him too much that there’s no way he’ll want to stay inside the crate.

Lack of crate training means a lack of crate knowledge on the part of your pup. And when a dog lacks knowledge about something, he’ll most likely be afraid of it.

4. Feeling trapped or confined

A crate isn’t as big as a lawn or living room that your dog usually roams around. 

It’s small and enclosed, so you can only imagine how claustrophobic it might feel to your dog to stay inside his crate.

Dogs love having their own space to laze and play around, and staying inside a small space with walls around them just won’t do.

There’s a huge possibility that your dog might feel trapped or confined in such a small space; hence he won’t want to be in his crate.

5. Need for social interaction

Staying inside the crate means that your dog won’t be able to spend time with you or your other pets in the house.

This is a problem because dogs are very social, and they thrive when they interact with people and other animals.

Being caged in his crate means that there won’t be any social interaction until you let him out. This makes your dog feel alone and isolated from others.

Your dog might not like that idea at all, so he won’t get inside his crate.

6. Need for physical activity

Doggies have a lot of energy inside their body that builds up over time when they don’t get to burn it off.

Unfortunately for you, the crate limits your furbaby’s space to do any physical activity other than lie down and sleep.

If your furbaby doesn’t get to have enough physical activity to use his boundless energy, chances are he’ll be so restless and uncomfortable.

Your pup knows that his crate won’t have his needed space for any physical activity. That’s why he’ll resist going inside of it.

Boredom or lack of mental stimulation

As a fur parent, I know you know that a crate doesn’t really provide any entertainment to your dog.

This sucks because dogs are smart animals that love mental stimulation. Without anything that entertains your pup’s restless brain, he’ll grow bored 

The small space of your dog’s crate won’t really provide any fun things to do. To avoid such boredom, he’ll no longer want to stay inside his crate again.

7. Separation anxiety

A dog’s love for connection and hatred for isolation is real. They don’t like being separated from the rest of the household.

Your dog thinks that once you put him inside his crate, he’ll be detached from you. This will make your doggy sad, more so if he is a clingy furbaby.

There will be times when your dog’s separation anxiety becomes too much ’til he’ll no longer want to stay inside his crate just so he can be next to you.

8. Physical discomfort or pain

Your dog might experience discomfort or pain if his crate is too small, cramped and has no comfortable bed to lay on, 

Since dogs are smart, your doggy will eventually realize that his crate is what’s causing him discomfort, and he’ll instantly avoid being in it.

9. Desire for freedom or independence

Dogs love being out and about while having full control of their independence by running here and there.

They love roaming around and playing everywhere they think is playable.

You can only imagine the sadness and annoyance your dog will feel when you make him stay inside a small space that is his crate.

Your dog’s crate is obviously limiting his freedom and ability to exercise his independence.

The whole crate thing will make him feel trapped, and that’s just a big NO for most doggies. 

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What Should You Do if Your Dog Won’t Go in Its Crate? 9 Practical Tips

What Should You Do if Your Dog Won't Go in Its Crate

1. Gradually introduce the crate

When you force things on dogs, they resist more.

The key to warming up your doggy to his crate is to introduce him gradually to it.

Start by leaving your dog and the crate in one room. Let your dog check the crate out and sniff it for a while.

Soon enough, coax your dog inside the crate but don’t lock him inside. Just let him stay for as long as he wants to.

These gradual steps will let your dog think that the crate isn’t a prison he can’t escape but rather a space where he can relax inside.

2. Make the crate a positive and comfortable space

Decorate your dog’s crate with his favorite toys and scatter some of his favorite treats inside.

It’s always a nice trick to associate your dog’s crate with everything he loves so that he’ll quickly get comfortable in it.

Praise and pet your dog, too, each time he voluntarily gets inside his crate so he’ll know that staying in it makes his beloved hooman happy.

3. Use treats and rewards to encourage entry

Spoil your dog from time to time with treats and rewards while coaxing him inside his crate.

Scatter a few treats outside the crate but more inside. This will make your dog think that staying inside his crate has more treats to offer than being outside.

4. Practice short crate sessions and gradually increase the duration

At first, just let your dog stay in his crate for a few seconds or minutes. It’ll help your dog understand that he isn’t being trapped.

After a few days, when he’s already getting used to being inside the crate, make him stay a little longer without locking the door.

Do this repeatedly until he is already comfortable staying overnight inside his crate.

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5. Use a cue word or phrase to associate with entering the crate

Use cue words or phrases like “bedtime” to your dog when you want him to get inside his crate.

For example, say “bedtime” while pointing at his crate with some treats by the door of the crate.

Regularly do it for a couple of weeks until the tour dog will already remember what “bedtime” means.

6. Don’t force the dog into the crate

If your dog doesn’t like staying in his crate, don’t force him into it. Doing so will only make him violent or scared.

Force and shouting will only make a negative association with the crate. If this happens, your dog will just resist more from staying inside his crate.

7. Use a crate cover to create a den-like environment

Before dogs were domesticated, most of them sought shelter in the wild by digging a burrow where they could be safe from danger.

You can mimic the original favorite habitat of dogs using a crate cover to create a den-like environment.

When I say den-like, make sure the crate is enclosed BUT cozy. Place some soft bedding, too, so your dog will be more comfortable.

8. Provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation

Engage your dog in physical activity by providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation before sending him inside his crate.

The exercise and mental stimulation your dog has been engaged in will be enough to tire him out. With that, he’ll most likely just get inside his crate and sleep without any hesitation.

He won’t have to be bored being locked up inside his crate either since he already had enough mental stimulation.

9. Consider seeking professional help or guidance from a trainer

If none of those tips work, it’s high time to seek professional help or guidance from a trainer to crate train your dog.

Trainers will have better tricks up their sleeves to get your dog to stay in his crate.

Find a professional trainer near you. Then choose the one with reputable ratings so you can be sure that the training will be effective for your dog.

What is Caged Dog Syndrome?

Caged Dog Syndrome happens when a dog is left inside his small and cramped crate for too long that he already feels too much discomfort and isolation.

This is caused by having to sit, crouch and lie down for a long period.

Add to the fact that being inside a crate means a dog doesn’t get to interact with people and other animals too.

When a poor pup gets exposed to this kind of situation, he may develop a physical disability and mental trauma.

How to Get Your Dog to Like Its Crate? Best Way to Set Up

Although it might seem super straightforward, setting up a crate does take a bit more than leaving it in a corner and expecting it to work.

Here are a few simple tips to make a crate enticing for your dog:

  1. Set up the crate where the household usually spends time.
  2. Place a soft blanket inside the crate.
  3. Put your dog’s favorite toys inside the crate. But make sure it doesn’t cramp the crate.
  4. Hide some treats among the toys and blanket so your doggy finds some “surprises” from time to time.

Why Does My Dog Hate His Crate All of a Sudden?

Your dog already loves his crate, BUT suddenly, he no longer wants to stay inside of it?

Well, perhaps the crate has become uncomfortable for him already. Has your doggy gained weight?

If yes, the crate might no longer be a perfect size for him, and staying inside it makes his muscles sore.

It could also be that he lacks exercise, and his energy stays inside his little body, waiting to be used.

If this is the case, your dog won’t like staying inside his crate because he wanna engage in physical activities first.

You might also have made some changes inside his crate; that’s why he no longer wants to be in it. Have you removed his toys or blankets?

My Dog Won’t Go in His Crate Even With Treats

My Dog Won't Go in His Crate Even With Treats

Sometimes, your dog can be too stubborn that no amount of treats can make him bend to your favor.

If the reason why he doesn’t like going inside his crate is already too serious, treats will no longer work.

It’s time to check if the crate is still big enough for your dog. It’s also best to engage him in more physical and mental activities to tire him out ’til crate time.

Talking to professionals who crate-train dogs will also help find out what’s causing your dog’s sudden dislike toward his crate.

My Dog Doesn’t Like the Door Closed on Crate, Now What?

Call your dog inside his crate and talk calmly to him for a while.

Then you should try quickly closing and opening the door a couple of times while giving your dog treats each time you close the door of the crate.

If your dog isn’t complaining about the closing and opening of the door, try to shut the door for a couple of minutes.

Give him some treats when he still behaves after that.

Do this trick every day until your dog becomes alright with the closed door.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog hate his crate at night?

There are many reasons why a dog may dislike his crate. To name some, your dog hates his crate at night might be due to separation anxiety, fear, negative past experiences, or boredom.

Should I force my dog into his crate?

You should not force your dog into his crate since it will only create a negative association with crates. Your dog will become more hesitant and afraid of crates when this happens. 

Can I crate my dog for 8 hours at night?

You can crate adult dogs for 6 to 8 hours at night. However, you need a different approach with puppies. The younger they are, the shorter the duration they can be kept in a crate. Start with an hour and increase accordingly.

When should I start crate training?

You should start crate training once your dog turns 8 weeks and above. This is already a suitable age for dogs to be crated at night as well, although at a limited time.

In Conclusion: Dog Won’t Go in Crate Even With Treats

Yes, crate training can be a tricky endeavor, but with patience, understanding, and the right approach, you can help your dog conquer their fear and embrace the crate as a safe haven.

Remember, every dog is unique, so be flexible and adapt your training methods accordingly.

Keep at it, and soon enough, your pup will be happily snoozing away in its crate.

Good luck!

Check out other dog behavior articles here too:

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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