Crates can be valuable tools for dog training and providing a safe space for your canine companion. Most dogs in their lifetimes may have to be contained within a crate, e.g., at the vets, the groomers, or when boarding. Being comfortable resting in a crate is a life-skill for dogs. However, some dogs experience crate anxiety, which can lead to stress and discomfort. As a specialist separation anxiety dog trainer in the Cotswolds, I’m here to shed light on how crate anxiety can make dogs more stressed when left at home alone.

Understanding Crate Anxiety:

Crate anxiety is a condition in which dogs feel fear or unease when confined to a crate. This anxiety can manifest as whining, barking, pacing, or attempts to escape. Add this anxiety to separation anxiety and you have the ingredients for a very stressed dog. 

Reasons for Crate Anxiety:

Negative Associations: If a dog has experienced negative associations with the crate, such as being punished or left alone for extended periods, they may associate the crate with negative emotions.

Lack of Familiarity: Dogs that have not been positively introduced to a crate may feel uncertain or uncomfortable about being confined in an unfamiliar space.

Isolation Fear: For dogs with separation anxiety, being confined in a crate can add to feelings of isolation and panic.

Addressing Crate Anxiety:

Tip 1: Positive Associations

Create positive associations with the crate by making it a pleasant and rewarding place for your dog. Offer treats and toys inside the crate, feed them there and use positive reinforcement when they voluntarily enter.

Tip 2: Gradual Introductions

Introduce the crate gradually (usually this would start at the puppy stage), allowing your dog to explore and associate it with positive experiences at their own pace. Never force them into the crate, as this can heighten anxiety.

Tip 3: Short Periods of Crate Time

Start with short periods of crate time and gradually increase the duration. This helps your dog build confidence and trust in the crate. To begin with, always leave the door open so the dog has free choice to be there. Only start to close the door when your dog is 100% certain he’s happy there.

Tip 4: Avoid Prolonged Confinement

Avoid leaving your dog in the crate for extended periods. Dogs need to change their position, take a stroll, sniff and explore their surroundings. Always make sure you have met their needs in terms of exercise, food and opportunity to wee and poo before confining in a crate.

Tip 5: Crates vs Space

If your dog has separation anxiety, crate anxiety may be making this worse. Instead of confining in a crate, manage space. Use the space your dog feels most comfortable in and do a safety audit: remove anything which may be harmful or you would like to keep safe. Shut doors to rooms you don’t want your dog to go in, or use child gates in doorways. You may be surprised how this helps your dog.

Tip 6: Seek Professional Guidance

Particularly if your dog has separation anxiety. A qualified trainer in separation anxiety will know how to assess your dog in crate vs space and support and guide you accordingly. As a specialist anxiety trainer, I understand that there are good reasons you may choose to use a crate and will fully empathise with this.


Crate anxiety is a common concern among dog guardians, but with patience and positive training techniques, it can be overcome. By creating positive associations with the crate, gradually introducing crate time, and seeking professional guidance if needed, you can help your dog view the crate as a safe and comfortable space.

As a specialist dog trainer in the Cotswolds, I’m here to support you and your dog through the process of addressing crate anxiety alongside separation anxiety. Together, we can ensure that your much-loved dog feels secure and content while you are away from home, supporting a happy and harmonious relationship between you and your beloved canine friend.

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