How to make your dog’s crate escape-proof

Is your pup an escape artist when it comes to their crate? While it can be maddening to return home to an empty crate, a guilty dog, and a shredded sofa, an escape attempt can also be dangerous for your dog. Military-grade dog crates may seem like the only recourse for your little Houdini, but (almost!) any crate can be made escape-proof.

Labrador lying in crate

Reinforce weak spots

Most dog crates are collapsible for easy transport and storage. However, what makes them convenient can also make them weak. The walls and floor are often your dog’s first point of attack, and the latches that you thought were sturdy can turn out to be child’s play for a determined Fido. Reinforce the walls with zip ties on each corner, taking care to trim the tie short enough that your pup isn’t able to chew them. To reinforce the floor, drill small holes on the corners of the plastic tray and attach zip ties, again taking care to trim the tie. Avoid drilling holes in the bottom of the tray to prevent leakage.

Add padlocks

Dog crates that latch or slide shut may seem secure, but the reality is that brute force and determination is all it takes for your dog to pop the latch and help themselves to yesterday’s trash. Padlocks add an extra level of security and are easy to install. Consider purchasing a small padlock rather than a long one to lessen the amount of wiggle room your pup has should they manage to pop the latch. Less wiggle room means a lesser chance of your dog getting their foot, snout, or ear trapped in the door. Be sure to keep the padlock keys in an easily accessible and memorable place.

Crate train your dog

Proper dog crate training is one of the most important steps in ensuring crate safety. If your dog has never encountered a crate before, don’t just lock them in with a treat and disappear. Imagine if you were left in a cramped, unfamiliar place that you knew nothing about. Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it? Your dog feels the same way! There are countless articles, books, and videos that break crate training down into easily manageable tasks, so pick one that you’re comfortable with and get to work!

Most crate training methods involve introducing your dog to the crate by offering treats in and around it, progressing to feeding meals in the crate, and then locking the crate and retreating to another room for a few minutes before you return and open the crate. Crate training can be a long process with many setbacks, so patience (and plenty of treats!) is key.

Make the crate a retreat

Dogs are den animals. They crave small, dark, comfortable places to relax, de-stress, and sleep. Dogs without a den or a den-like environment tend to wiggle themselves under the couch, in the closet, and in other less than desirable places. Your dog’s crate should be their den. Line the floor with a soft blanket or a shirt with your scent. A dog bed that fits comfortably inside the crate will give your dog a comfortable place to sleep.

Consider purchasing a crate cover to create a darker, more den-like environment. Towels or blankets are good substitutes and provide the same function. If your dog comes to see its crate as its den, they are more likely to seek it out on their own for comfort, making them less likely to hatch an escape plot.

Keep your dog entertained

Small dog in crate with stuffed animals

Some dogs escape their crates simply because they’re bored. You wouldn’t want to be confined to a small space with nothing to do for hours — and your pup wouldn’t want that, either. If you’re sure that your dog will not destroy them, try to include some of their favorite toys. Squeaky toys can provide a fun distraction, and rubber toys can help alleviate the desire to chew on less desirable things, like the dog crate itself. Many pet owners find that a frozen treat can provide hours of distraction. Simply freezing yogurt, peanut butter, canned pumpkin, or other dog-friendly treats in a rubber chew toy can provide your dog with enough entertainment to make their time in their crate more desirable. A distracted pup is a happy pup!

Making your dog’s crate escape-proof doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Simple reinforcements will ensure that almost any crate can take a beating without giving way. Crate training your dog, making the crate a desirable retreat, and entertaining your dog while in their crate can go a long way in making any crate escape-proof, as they simply won’t want to leave. Following these tips just may make your little Houdini hang up their cape! If you want to know more, you can check our different ways on how to puppy proof an apartment.

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