Even angelic dogs can turn into demons when a crate is involved. There are a few factors that can motivate your pet to bite when you put him in his cage. Fortunately, you can train your dog out of this behavior with time, effort and professional assistance.
Frustration and Barrier Aggression
Your dog may be a friendly and obedient companion, but he's still an animal with a strong survival instinct. Like most animals, dogs don't like to have their movements restricted. Some pups get stressed when they're behind bars, particularly if they've spent too much or too little time in a cage, according to Atlanta Dog Trainer. If your pup isn't used to staying in a crate, he may develop a phobia of his cage if he's suddenly spending hours there at a time. Likewise, dogs who spend more time in the kennel than out won't want to go back in once they're free. Start by crating dogs for an hour at a time for a few weeks before increasing the amount of time he spends in there.
Other Causes of Aggression
If your dog only turns to attack once he's inside the cage, he may be protecting his "den" and the treats or toys he's stored inside. He may also have developed a negative association with kennels from a lengthy stay in a shelter or a previous owner that neglected him. If you put your dog into the kennel to break up a fight between him and another pet, he may bite and growl at you in a case of redirected aggression, according to Toledo Area Humane Society. Regardless of the cause, don't let your dog interact with strange people or animals until you have a better handle on his behavior.
One of the biggest dog training mistakes you can make is using the cage to punish your dog. The last thing you want is for your dog to associate the crate with negative feelings. It should be a safe area where he is comfortable and happy, not a prison. Develop a positive association between your dog and his cage by giving him a bone or treat when he goes inside. Teach him to respond to a simple verbal command, like "cage" or "kennel," by saying the words before guiding him into crate. Reward him every time for the first month or two. The goal is for the dog to enter the crate of his own will, not because he's forced to.
Don't wait until your dog causes a serious bite wound before taking steps to deal with bad behavior. If your dog makes a habit out of snapping and growling, contact a behavioral consultant and consider enrolling your dog in socialization and obedience classes. Schedule a vet visit to make sure your dog isn't suffering pain or discomfort from an unknown ailment. Move your dog's crate to a low-traffic, quiet area of the house. He needs a stress-free environment to sleep and relax, just like you do. Drape a blanket over his crate when it's his bed time to help him ignore what's happening around him.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.