If your pooch has been properly crate trained but suddenly refuses to go into her kennel, something's definitely amiss. You can try asking your furry little buddy what the problem is, but that's unlikely to yield a good answer. You'll probably have to figure out what's going on yourself.
Crating is great sometimes, like when you're housebreaking or providing daily calm-down time. But it's easy to stick your pooch in the kennel too often or for too long, especially when you're busy, having guests over or maybe needing a break from being slobbered on. If your dog's spending too much time in confinement, she's not getting enough attention, affection, stimulation or exercise. That makes her reluctant to crawl back in, not to mention it's unhealthy. Consult your vet for personalized advice on how long you can crate each day. For puppies, it's typically somewhere between half an hour and three hours; adult dogs generally have maximum daily confinement times of four to six hours. This means cumulatively, not in a single stretch.
Your pooch may experience pain in her kennel. If she's aging, arthritis, hip dysplasia or other health problems affecting the joints, bones or muscles might be making crating uncomfortable. Younger dogs aren't immune to conditions and injuries that can interfere with comfortable confinement, either. If you notice your four-legged friend limping, struggling to get up or lie down, having difficulty running or climbing stairs, showing reluctance to get physical, gaining weight, having mood swings or otherwise exhibiting causes for concern, see your vet. Also, inspect inside the kennel for pokey bits of plastic, metal or wire and give your pooch a thorough examination for injuries that may have come from the crate.
Your canine companion's kennel is supposed to be a safe, comforting place for her to chill out. If she's developed some bad associations with confinement, this ceases to be the case and she won't want to get in. Her kennel might set off separation anxiety if you've fallen into a pattern of only crating when you're going out. Did another dog snoop around inside the crate? If so, her scent all over the once-familiar enclosure may be stressing your dog. Perhaps there's some new source of loud or persistent noises or unpleasant odor near your pooch's crate. Check out the environment around the kennel for potential sources of stress.
Obviously, how to get your furry friend back into her kennel depends on what's making her refuse. If you're over-crating, cut back and spend more interactive time with your pet and see to it she's getting enough stimulation and exercise. Address physical discomfort by repairing any problems on the crate itself, adding soft bedding, providing a roomier enclosure or otherwise accommodating your pooch's needs. Mental and emotional discomfort from anxiety can be trickier; eliminate the stressor if possible or ask your vet or a trainer for help with a desensitization program. Sometimes, alternatives to the kennel, such as confinement in the laundry room, hiring a dog-sitter or enrolling in a doggy daycare, work best.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.