What To Do When a Dog Hates Being Contained

training-dog-that-hates-being-containedIt's a common scenario. A person brings home a new dog or puppy, puts the dog in a crate, and quickly realizes that the dog doesn't like being in there. Some dogs may whine, cry, or bark in the crate, while others may go so far as causing real damage to a crate or a room. This type of behavior is often attributed to separation anxiety. But is that always the issue? Here are some training tips for dogs that don't do well being contained.

1. See things from the dog's point of view. Going into a completely new environment and then quickly being forced into a crate or an empty room can be stressful on any dog, regardless of their level of confidence or history of anxiety. For most dogs, these are entirely new experiences that need to be introduced slowly.

2. Try leaving your dog loose in the house. It may sound crazy, but in many cases, the barking, whining, and destruction that can take place when a dog is crated occurs because a dog does not like the small confinement of the crate. Some dogs are content and well-behaved when left out of the crate.

  • If you want to try this approach, start by leaving your dog for short periods at first to see how they handle being alone.
  • Note: This approach should only be used for adult dogs, as you're not setting a puppy up for success by leaving them unconfined.
  • Leave your dog with something to keep them entertained, like an interactive toy or a toy stuffed with peanut butter and a few of Fido's favorite treats. You might be surprised by your dog's behavior!
  • If your dog has a history of being destructive, find out what is causing the behavior and work with your dog so she no longer feels the need to destroy things before you leave her alone unconfined. Dogs that are anxious, unstimulated and/or bored are more likely to be destructive than dogs whose individual needs are met every day.

3. Build up a positive association with the crate or room. If you have a puppy that's still learning not to chew or potty in the house, or if you prefer to keep your adult dog contained, there are some easy steps you can take to slowly condition your dog to enjoy being in a crate, puppy pen, or room. If you've moved too quickly with this in the past, it may take some additional time for your dog to build up a positive association.

Here are the steps for teaching your dog to enjoy being in the crate and specific tips for crate training a puppy.

4. Determine if you're dealing with separation anxiety or boredom. If your dog chews things up or barks when left alone, this isn't necessarily a sign of separation anxiety. Some dogs need more mental and physical stimulation than they're getting, and that can result in these types of unwanted behaviors. Try increasing the amount of exercise you give your dog, and leave them with a toy stuffed with some great treats to keep their mind busy while you're gone. Here are some more tips on determining if you're dealing with boredom or anxiety.

5. Call in a trainer. If you have a dog that's exhibiting signs of severe stress or is causing extreme damage to your home (like the dog pictured above), you'll be doing yourself and your dog a favor by calling in a qualified trainer to help you.

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


One thought on “What To Do When a Dog Hates Being Contained

  1. A Better Dog

    Yes, it's vital to determine whether the undesirable behaviour is stemming from separation anxiety, isolation distress, confinement anxiety or merely that the dog is bored/frustrated. The best place to start with figuring this out is by taking video... set up a smart phone, tablet or other video-taking device and capture the sights and sounds that take place after you've left the house. This will help you figure out what's going on, when it begins, how long it continues, etc. 🙂

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