Table of Contents
- Why do Dogs Escape their Crate?
- How to Reinforce a Crate
- Choosing the Best Crate
- Exercise Before Crating
- Providing Safe Distractions
- The Importance of a Comfortable Crate
- Ensure the Crate is in the Optimal Location in the House
- Understanding your Dog
- Let Technology Help You
- Final Thoughts
Most people who crate their dog have a bit of whining or an accident or two, but for some of us, our dogs are absolute Houdinis.
Sophie happens to be one of those dogs. She cannot be crated since she suffers from barrier anxiety.
If put in a crate, Sophie will destroy it, often harming herself in the process.
Though I could reinforce the kennel to contain her, she would end up causing significant injury to herself.
Instead of a crate, we use baby gates to contain her to specific areas of our home.
However, even that has needed some jerry-rigging. Sophie tore the bottom of the gate from the base (see the evidence below).
We use steel plates in the corners now to prevent further destruction.
Though this is about crates and not gates (nice rhyming, huh?), I felt these photos would provide a better picture of what a dog is capable of doing.
Though I don’t have pictures of Sophie’s crate antics, you can imagine the damage she did to a wire crate.
After I reinforced the door to prevent her escape, I came home to her in an absolute panic. She was drooling, and the crate suffered severe damage. Seeing her in such a state, I knew that crating was not an option.
Sophie is an extreme case, and most dogs can be trained and contained in their crates.
Keeping your dog from escaping their kennel is not just about reinforcing the crate. So, it is essential to discover the root cause of why your dog won’t stay crated.
Why do Dogs Escape their Crate?
The first step in keeping your dog from escaping their crate is to discover why they want out so bad.
There are a variety of reasons dogs escape their crate:
- Excess energy
- Too much time spent in the crate
- Wrong crate type or size
- Location of the crate in the house
- Separation anxiety
How to Reinforce a Crate
If a dog is bored, they will often start testing the boundaries of the crate, usually discovering a weak point.
For the less tenacious dogs, making a few adjustments to reinforce the crate and securing the door will be enough to prevent your dog from escaping.
Securing a Crate Door
Because wire crates offer a certain amount of give, some dogs can push the door open wide enough to fit through.
By adding additional clips on the door and better securing it in place, you can prevent the door from being pushed open.
It is best to clip the door in the middle, however, for exceptionally tenacious dogs you may consider clipping the top, middle, and bottom.
Some dogs paw at the handle or latch and can then open the door from the inside. If this is the situation you’re facing, add a carabiner to the latches to prevent the door from being opened.
Also, if your dog is bending the door in you can try using steel plates in the corners to help add additional strength to the door.
Proper Crate Assembly
Right now, you might be rolling your eyes, thinking, “Of course, I would assemble the crate correctly!”
However, on wire crates, it is easy to miss the various hooks that reinforce the sturdiness of the kennel.
The first picture shows the hook on the inside, and the second picture shows the proper placement of the hook.
Because I use the crate for training and not when I am gone, I didn’t pay attention to the assembly, and if Ginger wanted to, she would have no problems wiggling out.
I didn’t notice that I hadn’t bothered with the hooks until I went to take pictures of the crate.
Choosing the Best Crate
The size and style of the crate can make a big difference in your dog’s comfort.
I use wire crates because I like the way they fold down and my dogs do better with being able to see their surroundings. I used to use soft-sided crates, but my foster dogs showed me how flimsy those crates could be.
There is a large variety of crates available, and ensuring the crate is the proper style in size is critical.
Some dogs do better in open kennels like the wire style, where other dogs do better with less visibility.
If you aren’t sure how to select the right one, check out our article on how to pick the right crate.
Not all crates are created equal.
Sometimes the focus is more on aesthetics, such as furniture style crates. Furniture style crates are perfect for blending into any home but are not made to hold up against escape artists.
Alternately, there are crates made with the intent of preventing escapees, such as the Haige Pet Crate, with anti-escape locks and heavy-duty bars.
Exercise Before Crating
Both working with dogs and being a dog mom, I am the first person to say that exercise is vital.
I find an abundance of behavioral issues can be resolved by draining excess energy, especially when it comes to crate training.
Putting any overly exuberant dog in a crate for the day is a recipe for disaster.
If you can reduce some of their energy through exercise, you will find that your dog will be more content to spend time in their crate.
The question I often get is, how much exercise does a dog need?
Unfortunately, there is no answer. Much depends on your dog’s breed and age, but all dogs are different.
If you don’t have enough time to exercise your dog before heading to work, consider hiring a dog walker. A dog walker can help break up your dog’s day and allow them to get additional exercise and stimulation.
Providing Safe Distractions
Dogs, like humans, get bored.
If your dog doesn’t have any form of entertainment, they will find something to occupy themselves. Bored dogs will chew and scratch at their crate, often resulting in an escape.
For added entertainment, try freezing the Kong with peanut butter or canned food inside. Freezing the Kong will make the fun last longer.
- Kong Classic Chew Toy Check Price
- Coppthinktu Snuffle Mat Check Price
- West Paw Zogoflex Puzzle Treat Toy Check Price
The Importance of a Comfortable Crate
Imagine spending hours lying on a hard-plastic flooring.
I think we can all agree we would prefer getting out and back to the comfort of our beds.
Adding safe bedding and blankets can make all the difference in your dog’s comfort, especially if you have a senior dog.
However, you can also have too much stuff in the crate resulting in your dog feeling cramped or overly warm, too.
Try and find a balance that will best meet your dog’s needs.
Check out my article “How to Make a Dog Crate More Comfortable” for additional ideas.
Ensure the Crate is in the Optimal Location in the House
The placement of your dog’s crate can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s overall contentment with crate time.
It is essential to choose a place for the crate that isn’t too warm, drafty, or loud. If your dog is feeling significant discomfort, it makes sense for them to try and escape that situation.
I prefer to crate my dogs in the bedroom.
It helps to reduce stimulus caused by outside noises such as deliveries, vehicles, and voices outside our home.
An overly stimulated dog may direct their frustration and energy on their crate.
So, keeping your pup in an area that reduces outside noises can help keep your dog calm.
Additionally, providing white noise can also mask exciting sounds.
For additional information, you may be interested in reading our article: Where to Put a Dog Crate.
Understanding your Dog
As a dog parent, you know your pup the best.
Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety or barrier anxiety and require more than comfort and heavy-duty crates.
Anxiety in dogs can be mild or severe. The more severe cases will require professional intervention.
Dogs with a strong desire to get out a crate may injure themselves in the process, so it is vital to address your dog’s anxiety.
Sophie has ongoing dental issues due to being crated for the first two years of her life. I didn’t do the crating; she came to me through rescue and ended up as a foster fail.
Besides anxiety, sometimes it is a matter of properly training your dog to understand a crate is a safe place. Many rescue dogs associate the crate with negative feelings.
So, it may be necessary to retrain your dog to view their kennel as a safe place.
Let Technology Help You
After dealing with Sophie’s shenanigans, we opted to invest in cameras.
e now have two nanny cams so we can keep an eye on things.
A while ago, Daisy had to be kenneled after her ACL surgery. The first time we crated her, we were startled to find her running free.
After consulting the cameras, we were able to discover Sophie let her out.
The next time we put Daisy in the kennel, we activated the motion sensor notification.
It wasn’t long before we were notified something was going on.
When we consulted the cameras on our phone, we saw Sophie monkeying around Daisy’s kennel. She was attempting to get the Kong out of the crate.
We used the built-in two-way speaker to tell her to knock it off.
It had the desired effect of startling her, and thankfully she ceased her antics for the day.
You can see to the right how Sophie dragged Daisy’s kennel out to the middle of the floor.
But, thanks to the camera, she didn’t let Daisy out again (Sophie is the little face in the corner)!
There are several great cameras on the market. I would recommend getting one with a two-way speaker so you can tell your dog to stop their unwanted behavior.
Also, you will want to find one with a motion sensor so you’ll be notified when the camera catches activity.
We have the 4sDot, and I have been delighted with it.
Dealing with a dog that escapes its crate can be a nightmare!
Obviously, if you’ve chosen to crate your dog, it’s because they are not able to be out on their own. So, if your dog escapes their kennel, they will likely wreak havoc on the house.
Speaking from personal experience, I have come home to quite a few disasters. So, I fully understand any dog parent’s struggles with escapees.
Below are pictures of what we have come home to, and can honestly say I feel your pain! (Yes, that is the dishwasher rack!)