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NachoAlbear

Adopted Husky Crate Anxiety/Trouble

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My girlfriend and I recently adopted ~2 year old husky and we're noticing some pretty bad anxiety issues with the crate. We've only had him for about 2 weeks and we do feel like we messed up the initial crate training (we gently pushed him into the crate the first time).

Ever since, he's been more and more reluctant at going inside the crate. At night, he's starting to pace a lot more and whine more and louder as well. What we've tried to do and have tried to do:

1) Giving lots of praise and treats when he goes near or into the crate
2) Giving his food/water inside the crate. This step we've off and on either closed or locked the door behind him as well to help get him used to it while we're still in sight.
3) We put all his toys and everything inside the crate with him as well.

But unfortunately, he's seemed to learn at this point that food inside the crate is bad because he's extremely reluctant to go inside the crate completely. Even during normal feeding times, he'll only put in his front two paws. As for the praise and toys, he appears to be completely uninterested in both of those; he barely plays with the toys we got him and seems unfazed when we try to praise at all.

So at this point, we're at a loss. We feel awful for our dog that he sounds to be in a great deal of anxiety/distress when he's in the crate. And we do have a feeling that we crate trained him wrong at this point. We're just out of ideas on how to get him to better associate the crate with positivity. 

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Hi there, 2 weeks isn't a long time really for training especially for an older dog who may not be used to something. Consistency is the main thing
How long are you putting him in the crate for?
I wouldn't put his food and all his toys in the crate. If he destroyed a toy and you weren't there he might choke, and I think they should have a separate eating area
With mine I give them a Kong Extreme each filled with peanut butter and treats which if possible I leave in the freezer overnight so it lasts longer. They both love it and wait inside the crate!
Because your dog is now scared of the crate you will need to do some desensitisation training. Your doing the right thing by praising him when he goes in the crate. Try sitting in the crate yourself with some treats and wait for him to come to you so he can see it's not scary
You'll have to slowly introduce him to the crate, start by leaving him in the crate for a minute or 2 and gradually build the time up
If you're leaving the house, never say bye or anything else they will associate with being left along
Try getting a crate cover to make it more into a den for him rather than a cage, this will make him feel safe


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Hi! Thanks for the response!

Yeah, unfortunately we're afraid that we jumped the gun with putting him in the crate so quickly. We really only put him in the crate when we go to sleep at night. We are starting to slowly re-introduce the crate to him during the day at small but increasing intervals. As for the toys, that's a good point, but at the same time, he's pretty much shown zero interest in toys; he's maybe sniffed them once and never really touched them again. 

We do have a kong for him, but again, he seems completely disinterested in it. We can try to put some peanut butter with it too. 

And I see your point about the no food in the crate, but I've also read a bunch of time that having food there may help him associate the crate with some positive (e.g. food)? Unfortunately, at this point, he seems very reluctant to go inside the crate or anywhere near it really without putting food/treats in there

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If he's got anxiety he's going to be more likely to destroy things like toys. Another thing you have to remember is you've only had him for 2 weeks, he's getting used to a completely new environment and might feel a bit overwhelmed which is why he seems so disinterested in things. Plus if you've adopted him you don't know his background, he might have been kept in a crate for long periods of time before or he might have been put in a cage as a punishment
With feeding him in the cage, he's obviously stressing out about going in the cage at the moment so putting his bowls in the crate is probably just stressing him out even more. Dogs like any animal are on edge when they eat (in the wild they are most at risk of being attacked when eating because their attention is diverted and they have their back to you), so it's important for them to have 'an escape route' when eating, being in a cage they are closed in and don't have anywhere to run. You're not going to attack him obviously but that kind of instinct is still embedded in them


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Yeah, the unknown of his previous experience with crates/previous owner(s) is something we thought about too.

We'll consider giving food outside the crate, but the problem is just getting him  into the crate. We can certainly try treats but he's really reluctant to go in at all. That's sorta how we ended up with putting food in the cage.

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Must admit, we've always introduced crate training (to our dogs many years ago! and fosters) by putting food in the crate - never failed yet and fosters all run into crate at food time (all the dogs wander in and out the rest of the time). Don't think you've been doing anything wrong and definitely worth putting high value treat inside (and then just leave him to go in his own time). A couple of ours don't play with toys, so that's not unusual. As mentioned, think you just need to persevere with coaxing him in

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Two of mine were hard to crate train, but over time it ended up working out.   Nikko would just whine and cry if you put him in the crate at first, but after about a month or so he got used to it.  I never crated him at night just when I was gone. I didn't put any food or toys in his crate (just a kong), but I would get him to go in with a treat.  I was always afraid he would chew up a toy and swallow a small piece. 

With Kodiak, I had the airline style crate and he would NOT want to go in, and would break out all the time.  I had to put zip ties to keep him in, and it got so bad he hurt his muzzle trying to get out.  I did the same thing with lots of praise going in, and not making a big deal when i left. 

 

It takes awhile, and some dogs it is faster than others.  After like 4 years I finally got rid of the crates and they have been great though!

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