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My Dog Will Not Leave His Crate, What Should I Do?

Key Takeaways

  • Learned helplessness, adjusting to a new environment, separation anxiety, fear, etc. are some of the reasons why a dog may not leave his crate.
  • Depending on the reason, a professional dog trainer and a vet can help your dog.
  • Always foster calm, positive energy when dealing with dogs with this issue. Patience and love will help your dog return to normal at his own pace.

If your dog will not leave his crate, it could be for a number of reasons including a new environment, medications, a medical condition, separation anxiety, and fear. Rescue dogs that have lived in shelters for a long time are especially prone to this behavior.

Does your dog stay in a crate for many hours? Have you tried everything to get your dog out of the crate? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I am happy to let you know that there is something you can do to help your pup.  

A crate may be a safe space for your pup, but it doesn’t mean he should stay inside more than outside. I have enumerated below the reasons why your dog will not leave the crate, and what you should do about it. 

Why Your Dog Refuses To Leave A Crate

Reason #1: Your Dog May Be Experiencing Learned Helplessness 

I have seen many rescue dogs who have lived in a shelter for a long time suffering from learned helplessness. This is a condition that basically causes dogs to give up when they’re dealing with a scary situation—also a common behavior of recently adopted dogs.

If your rescue dog was forced to spend a lot of time in a kennel at one point in time, he may have just gotten used to being in it. Your rescue dog may view the kennel as inescapable. 

Reason #2: Your Dog Is Adjusting To A New Environment 

Whenever pet owners bring dogs home, their newly adopted dogs have to adjust to a new environment. For many pups, adjusting to a new environment takes some time. 

Many dogs are scared of a new environment, so that can cause them to spend a lot of time in a dog crate. 

Reason #3: Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety 

According to much research, separation anxiety in dogs is actually a common condition. 

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, stress or fear could cause him to stay in the crate because it is his safe space. 

The most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs are whining, pacing, and refusing to eat. 

Reason #4: Your Dog Is Really Scared

Many dogs are scared of loud sounds, new people/pets, car rides, vet visits, and specific objects—I know dogs that get spooked at the site of vacuum cleaners or humans on bicycles. 

If your scared dog experiences any of those stressors, he may also hide in a crate. Take note of a dog’s body language that indicate fear such as lowered head or body, crouching, lowered or tucked tail, shaking or trembling, etc.

Reason #5: Your Dog Is Simply Exhausted 

Extremely tired dogs may spend more time in a crate than well-rested pups. After a long day outside, my pups automatically head to their crates to claim their much needed rest—and this is only normal!

Older dogs are more likely to be easily exhausted. Overactive dogs are also prone to exhaustion. 

Reason #6: Your Dog Doesn’t Like Medication 

Do you give your dog medication every day? If your dog refuses to leave a crate, it’s possible that he wants to avoid medication. 

Reason #7: Your Dog Has A Medical Condition 

If your dog is sick, he may prefer to stay in the crate. 

I notice a lot of dogs try to hide when they are in pain or simply not feeling well. Be sure to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect that he is sick. 

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How To Get Your Dog To Leave A Crate 

When it comes to getting your dog out of a crate, there are actually many things that you can do. Check out my list below.

Lure Your Dog Out With Treats 

Dog bones and treats.

Almost every pup loves a treat, and you can offer dog treats as a way to guide your dog out of a crate. 

While you’re giving your furry friend a treat, you can relax your best pal by rubbing his back. 

Build Trust With Your Pup

When you develop a trusting relationship with your pup, your dog is more likely to leave the crate. 

You can build trust with your dog by playing with him, giving him lots of praise, rubbing his back, and spending time together in different areas of the house. For me, trust is the most important thing to have with your dog.

Encourage Your Dog To Become Active 

Dog running with owner.

A great way to get your dog out of a crate is to take it on a walk or let it play at the dog park. 

Over time, your dog may want to go outside more often. 

Try Feeding Your Dog Outside The Crate  

By feeding your dog in another area of the house, your dog is forced to come out of the crate at mealtimes. 

After your dog eats his food, I suggest you try playing with him for a while so that he doesn’t go immediately back to the crate. 

Avoid Leaving The Crate Door Open 

Person closing crate.

Another simple thing that you can do is keep the crate door closed. 

Your dog can’t get into a crate if the door isn’t open. Similarly, do not push a dog inside the crate during crate training so it doesn’t get aggressive or have learned helplessness in the long run.

Talk To A Professional Dog Trainer 

If you’ve tried your best to get your dog out of his crate but nothing seems to work, you may want to talk with a dog trainer. A dog trainer may be able to give some great crate training tips and help you understand and correct your dog’s behavior. Positive reinforcement dog training always helps.

Always Stay Calm 

While getting your dog to leave a crate isn’t particularly easy, you should always be patient with your pup. 

Your dog can sense your emotions, and he may even mimic what you’re feeling. With that being said, if you stay calm, your dog is more likely to be calm too. 

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1. Why does my dog stay in her crate?

Your dog may stay in her crate for a number of reasons including a new environment, medications, a medical condition, separation anxiety, and fear. 

Your rescue dog may not come out of a crate due to learned helplessness. 

2. How do I get my dog out of the crate?

As far as getting your dog out of a crate, there are several things that you can do. One of the best ways to get your dog out of a crate is to use treats because most dogs can’t resist these. 

You can also try getting your dog out of a crate by taking him for a walk, feeding him in a different part of the house, playing with him, and building trust with your pup. Make sure that you’re always patient with your dog. 

3. How long is too long for a dog to be in a crate?

Many experts would say that a dog shouldn’t be in a crate for more than eight hours. 

If you work more than eight hours a day, you may want to take your pup to dog daycare. That way your pup can get a chance to run around and play with other dogs. 

4. How do I get my dog to sleep out of his crate?

If you create a comfortable spot in another area of the house for your pup, your dog is more likely to sleep out of his crate. 

Make sure to add a comfy bed, toys, and blankets to your dog’s sleeping spot. 

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