One of the most interesting things that I’ve seen my dog do has become instantly depressed when in a crate. Due to that depression, my dog doesn’t play with toys in crate. The whole point of crate training is to provide a place for a dog to relax and have some 1 on 1 time. So, if your dog doesn’t play with toys in a crate – you’re not alone.
Why It’s Important for Dogs to Play with Toys
Playing is an important part of a dog’s overall physical and mental well-being. It can help keep your dog fit and healthy, and also provide an outlet for their natural behaviors, such as chasing and fetching. Playing with toys gives dogs mental stimulation, which can keep them from engaging in destructive behavior.
Of course, it’s not your fault that your dog doesn’t play with toys in crate, but it is a good idea to find out why so you can help your dog become more comfortable doing it. Below are reasons a dog doesn’t play with toys in crate.
Reasons a Dog Doesn’t Play with Toys in Crate
There are many reasons, besides being depressed, to explain why a dog doesn’t play with toys in crate. The following are the most common ones.
Unfinished Crate Training
It can take a long time for some dogs – even adult dogs – to learn from crate training. They believe they are being punished as soon as they pass through the crate door.
The good news is that your dog will get used to the crate over time and will end up loving it if you go through the entire crate training process.
Out of all the anxieties dogs suffer from, separation anxiety is the most common one. Who can blame them? When dog owners leave, it’s like a piece of their heart leaves too. The good news is that after a while a dog can recover from separation anxiety by understanding you’ll be back soon.
If your pup has extreme anxiety, you may want to consider CBD for dogs. There are CBD oils, CBD dog treats, CBD dog chews, and many other CBD dog products you can give your dog to help with the nervousness of you leaving.
Bored of Toys
A pup is just like a child. After playing with particular dog toys – even a favorite toy – it simply doesn’t have the appeal it did when it was first given. That’s why it’s important to switch out dog toys in your dog’s crate often.
Types of dog toys that are best for adult dogs are:
The last two types of toys are best for dogs that require mental stimulation, which is mostly for all dogs. They not only fun, but they make their brains work for a reward, like a piece of food or a treat.
By the way, a good sign a dog is bored in a crate is when the dog tears up bed. If that occurs often, it’s likely time to increase the available options for play in the crate.
Too Long in the Crate
Dogs are only meant to be in a crate for a short time. Dog owners: if you leave your dog in a crate for 8 or more hours, you should consider hiring a dog walker. The dog walker can come midway through the day to release your puppy from the crate for a walk in the dog park or to visit the potty area.
When you don’t make your pup’s crate a lifetime sentence (8 hours is nearly a lifetime for a puppy or dog), your dog will be happier and more likely to play with the dog toys you offer.
Older dogs play less, especially with difficult dog toys like puzzle toys and interactive toys. It’s a good idea to offer more cuddly, safe toys to older dogs such as stuffed toys.
Create Positive Associations
A puppy’s crate should be a safe place. That means that it’s a good idea to make positive associations with the crate as much as possible.
Some ways to create positive associations include:
- Leave your dog’s crate open during the day, so it’s available for a place to relax.
- Make it cozy with a soft blanket and soft toys.
- Provide chew toys that take a long time to work on, such as the kong toy. Fill it with peanut butter, freeze it, and your dog will be happy for at least an hour.
- Play crate games! You can hide stuff in your puppy’s crate and tell him/her to find them. That makes your pup’s crate a fun place to be because there’s a surprise. Crate games can be played with all puppies and dogs from new puppies to senior dogs.
No Room to Play
The right size crate matters. When you get a new puppy, you’ll need to switch to different sizes are your young puppy grows. A wire crate is usually the most inexpensive way to go until your puppy is fully grown. That’s when you can buy those really nice crates that are like furniture for your living room.
Another reason a dog doesn’t play with toys in crate is feeling isolated. Be sure your dog crate isn’t tucked away far from the rest of the family and household activities. The best place is in a living room or kitchen since that’s where people congregate the most.
Always remember, your beloved pet wants to be around family all the time, even when in the dog crate. If you have a safe place in an area other people are, there’s a higher chance that your pup will love to go inside it.
Tips When Trying to Get Your Dog to Play with Toys in Crate
As you are trying to get your dog to love the crate more, keep the following in mind.
Choose Safe Toys
Dogs can swallow pieces of toys easily, which can lead to a medical emergency. The Kong toy is a great safe toy because most dogs can’t get through it.
Always inspect dog toys after your dog has been playing with them to ensure they do not pose a threat.
Introduce the Crate in Short Periods
Even if you’ve been using a dog crate for years, start the training process again. You can do this by introducing the crate in short periods. Maybe 5 minutes, and then open the door with a lot of positive reinforcement that your pup was able to stay inside for that long.
Work your way up to 30 minutes and then longer periods of time. You can also work your way up to the entire night.
This can work with senior dogs (especially those that develop incontinence). It may take longer, though. Put your patience hat on and just keep at it for short periods of crate time and a lot of positive reinforcement with yummy treats like peanut butter after each time in the crate.
Don’t Skip Regular Meals
An additional reason a dog doesn’t play with toys in crate is being hungry. Make sure your beloved pet doesn’t skip regular meals while in the crate. We all know what hangry feels like and well, that’s not going to create positive associations with the crate.
Again, if you’re gone for longer periods, hire a dog walker or dog sitter to help with visits to the dog park, potty area, and even feedings.
Dog Doesn’t Play with Toys in Crate
Now you know the most common reasons a dog doesn’t play with toys in create. Work on the feelings your dog has with the crate and while inside of it. Provide good things for your pup to do inside, such as dog toys. When you’re home, leave the door open as much as possible.
With time and patience, your dog or puppy can learn to love the crate and the dog toys inside of it. Just don’t give up.