Crates are a great way to help keep our four-legged friends safe, and throughout the crate training process we strive to make sure our dogs are comfortable and happy in their crates.
Throughout the crate training process and beyond, we help create a positive association with the crate. While we always hope that our dogs will love their crates, there may be moments where we might have to look a little further into particular behaviors our pups are showing, particularly when they suddenly seem to start loving their crate far more than they did previously.
But why might our dogs suddenly start loving their crates?
The most likely reason as to why a dog suddenly loves their crate is because they have worked through the crate training process and determined it is a safe place to be that results in a reward. In rare cases, they may suddenly love their crate due to an underlying medical or behavioral issue.
In the article below, we’ll look at five possible reasons as to why your pup may suddenly be loving their crate, as well as why your pup may suddenly be sleeping in their crate more or even refusing to leave their crate.
We’ll also discuss when these behaviors could be a cause for concern, and how to approach a dog who is refusing to leave their crate.
5 Reasons Why Your Dog Suddenly Loves Their Crate
If you’ve noticed that your pup suddenly loves being in their crate, it might be because of one of the following reasons.
1. Crate Training Has Been Completed
The crate training process can vary from dog to dog, but if you’ve been consistent and patient throughout the process, then seeing your pup suddenly loving their crate may be a sign that the crate training process has been completed or is nearing completion.
While you may see glimpses of your dog seeking out his crate during the training process, once the training has truly clicked into place your dog may actively choose to suddenly start going to his crate of his own free will or staying in it for longer periods of time without fuss.
Similar to you suddenly “getting” something when learning something new, your dog has now most likely made that same connection and understands that his crate is a safe place to be.
It is worth noting that even though your dog is suddenly loving their crate and you feel as if the training has been completed at this time, it is still important to continue with the crate training process for the next several weeks else you accidentally encourage what’s called a spontaneous recovery period.
This is a period in which the dog reverts to his old behaviors if he ever receives even an accidental reinforcement of those unwanted behaviors and can cause a setback in the overall crate training process.
Sticking to a good crate training schedule for your puppy or dog will help you stay on track and encourage your pup to love their crate.
2. Your Dog Has Associated A Reward With Their Crate
A key component of how dogs learn is how they create associations with things in their minds, and creating a positive association with the crate is an important part of the crate training process. This association learning directs a dogs behavior and their interest in doing (or not doing) something.
While this connection most often occurs when a dog is still in the crate training process, it can also occur after the crate training process has been completed and may be the reason why your crate-trained dog, who may have been fairly reluctant to go to their crate previously but would still tolerate it, is now suddenly loving being in their crate.
Have you recently started giving your dog food-stuffed toys when they go to their crate? Or are you offering them another tasty, high value treat whenever they go into their crate? Providing any type of reward when putting your dog into their crate will increase the dog’s positive association with their crate, thus they may suddenly go into their crate throughout the day with much enthusiasm in the hopes it gets them a reward.
If you stop giving them the food-stuffed toy or treat when putting them up, then you may find that they’ll suddenly stop loving their crate and they may revert back to being a little more reluctant to enter their crate if they go too long without receiving that special reward again.
Alternatively, your dog may suddenly be “loving” their crate because they’ve learned that it gets them out of doing something they don’t want to do.
While it’s nowhere near a bad thing if your dog really loves being in their crate, if they suddenly develop an interest in going to their crate rather than to the tub for a bath or to the kitchen to take their medications, then it’s more of a training issue rather than your pup truly loving being in their crate.
You can use positive reinforcement training to help overcome this issue or reach out to a local trainer to get more personalized solutions to your situation.
3. Your Pup Is Unwell
If your dog is normally very reluctant to be in their crate (or tolerant at best), but is suddenly seemingly loving their crate, it may be worth ruling out any potential medical issues.
Dogs who are sick or injured may naturally seek out a quiet, safe place in which to hide out, and a crate is often the number one choice if access is available to it.
If your dog is suddenly “loving” their crate and spending an excessive amount of time in there, be aware of any other signs or symptoms of illness or injury that may be present and suggest that their sudden love of the crate is due to a negative issue rather than a positive one. Is your pup drinking and eating normally? Are they lethargic? Are they showing any other signs or symptoms of being unwell?
If you suspect your pup’s sudden love of their crate is due to an underlying medical issue, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to get your dog checked out.
4. Something Has Scared Your Dog
Some dogs have a greater reaction to something scary or anxiety-inducing than others, and one of the behaviors those dogs may exhibit is seeking out a hiding place. If your dog is crate trained and seems to otherwise only tolerate their crate but is now suddenly staying in their crate and even refusing to leave their crate (or suddenly whining excessively while in their crate), it could be due to fear or anxiety.
Has your pup recently experienced something scary? Is there something or someone new in the house? Dogs can find anything and everything scary if they lack socialization skills or associate a negative experience with an object or person, so if your pup is suddenly staying in their crate a little too much it might be worth looking into fear or anxiety as the reason.
If you can’t recall what may have scared your pup, you can reach out to a local dog trainer who specializes in anxiety cases and who can help you narrow down why your pup may be suddenly staying in their crate.
Changing whatever negative association your dog has with something outside the crate into a positive one will help ease your dog’s worries and encourage them to not stay in their crate so much.
5. Your Dog Is Entering The Whelping Period
If you have a pregnant dog and find that she’s suddenly loving her crate much more than she did previously, it may be an indicator that she is about to give birth and enter into the whelping period.
You may see indicators a few days to a few weeks prior to the delivery where she will begin nesting in her crate, and as the delivery period gets closer, she may seem restless and anxious.
If your dog suddenly loving her crate is due to an impending birth, it’s best to relocate her to a larger, more comfortable area than her crate as most crates are a little too small for a dog to comfortably give birth in and a larger, more open area allows for easier access for the breeder to make sure mom and pups are doing okay throughout the birthing process. Whelping boxes or secure, sterile bathrooms or laundry rooms are all good areas for mom to give birth and feel safe and comfortable.
Alternatively, if you have an intact female dog who is suddenly loving their crate and who is also exhibiting the same behaviors a pregnant female might display, but who you know for a fact is not pregnant, then your pup may be going through what is called a pseudopregnancy, or false pregnancy.
Intact female dogs who have gone through an estrus cycle but were not mated may show all the same maternal and nesting behaviors that an actual pregnant dog may display but will never give birth. Almost all intact females will go through a pseudopregnancy at some point in their life, and while in most cases the issue will resolve on its own in rare instances it may require further veterinary intervention.
If your intact female dog is suddenly loving her crate and beginning to show those maternal characteristics, it’s best to reach out to your vet to ensure that your dog has not unknowingly (at least to you!) become pregnant and to monitor her health throughout the false pregnancy.
Spaying your pup is the only way to prevent false pregnancies.
Is It Bad If My Dog Suddenly Wants To Stay In His Crate?
In general, it’s probably nothing to worry about if your pup is suddenly loving their crate.
It’s most likely a result of positive reinforcement training and them understanding that the crate is a good place to be.
If your dog is displaying any odd behaviors in addition to suddenly loving their crate, though, then it’s probably best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Sleeping In Her Crate?
If your dog is suddenly choosing to sleep within her crate rather than elsewhere in the house (if she has the option to), then it could be she’s decided that her crate is the most comfortable place to sleep.
This is especially true if you have guests, a new baby, or another new pup in the household and your dog is seeking privacy to sleep and relax away from all the commotion. Just like people, dogs can get very overwhelmed by a lot of commotion in a household, which is why it’s so important to be mindful of where to place your dog’s crate.
If your pup is otherwise acting normally and only chooses to sleep in the crate periodically rather than stay in there constantly, then it’s probably nothing to be concerned about.
But if your pup is exhibiting other signs or symptoms of a potential illness, injury, or behavioral issue, then it’s wise to speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.
Why Does My Dog Stay In His Crate All Day?
If your dog is otherwise loose in the house throughout the day, but they choose to stay within their crate, then it could potentially be a cause for concern if it happens suddenly rather than being a normal behavior for your pup (many dogs actually love to stay in their crate even with the crate door open).
In addition to physical ailments or injuries a dog may be suffering from, they can also experience depression and may choose to stay in their crate rather than be involved with the household. If you feel that your dog staying in his crate is unusual behavior for him, speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical or behavioral issues.
Why Does My Dog Not Want To Leave Her Cage?
The most likely reason as to why your dog suddenly does not want to leave their cage is because they’ve experienced something negative (or that they perceive as negative) outside of the cage or crate.
Whether this experience was intentional or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you will need to work on encouraging your pup to leave the crate using positive reinforcement and showing them that it’s safe for them to leave the crate.
Dogs who come from pet stores or puppy mills may also show reluctance for leaving their cage as that is often the only place they have ever experienced. Positive, reward-based training is the best way to approach this particular issue of a dog not wanting to leave their crate, and a local dog trainer will also be able to help you address this issue with your pup.
Another possible reason as to why your dog does not want to leave his cage might be that he is injured or ill. If a medical issue is suspected as the reason for your pup not wanting to get out of his crate, seek out the advice of your veterinarian on how to help your pup.
Should I Force My Dog Out Of Her Crate?
No, you should never attempt to force your dog to do anything they don’t want to do, including trying to force them out of their crate.
If your dog is suddenly choosing to stay within their crate and you are working to identify the reason as to why they are suddenly wanting to be in their crate so much, then you can use rewards to help coax your pup out of the crate and help them with whatever issue they are currently experiencing.
Providing treats, food, and other fun things when your dog leaves the crate are all great ways to help get them out but in a more positive and humane way than forcing them out of the crate.
The exception to this is if there is an emergency and your dog must exit their crate immediately, but care should still be taken to make it as calming of an experience as possible. Once your dog is out of the crate, then you can start working to identify why they wanted to stay in their crate in the first place.
For the most part, there’s probably no cause for concern if your dog is suddenly loving their crate a lot more than they used to. It’s most likely due to a positive experience in their training process and should be celebrated!
In rare instances it may be due to an underlying medical or behavioral issue, in which case you should seek out the advice of a veterinarian.
But if your pup is suddenly loving their crate because they’ve learned it’s a great place to be, then keep up the positive reinforcement and continue to work through the crate training process.
You always want to make sure that your pup sees the crate as a place that is safe and comfortable, so use reward-based training to your advantage to help them create that positive association and learn to love their crate (or at least tolerate it!).