Dog Ownership

Dog Sleeps in the Crate with the Door Open


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Many dog owners question why their dog sleeps in the crate with the door open. Understanding why your dog does this and if it’s okay is important, so keep reading to learn more about it.

Why a Dog Sleeps in the Crate with the Door Open

There are many reasons a dog sleeps in a crate with the door open, and not all reasons apply to all dogs. Each dog is unique. Identifying why your dog does it can help you determine if you should be concerned.

dog sleeping in the crate with door op

The following are the reasons a dog sleeps in the crate with the door open.

Den Animals

Dogs are considered den animals. Canines need a place to call their own. It should be large enough for them to comfortably lie down and even crawl up.


Since dogs are den animals, they use their dog crate as a place to go to when they are stressed. This includes when they just need a break from the environment or feel sleepy.


Sometimes, when a dog sleeps in a crate with the door open, he/she feels sick. The crate is a safe place and is comforting, so a dog will go there in hopes of feeling better.


Since the dog crate is a safe place, some dogs lie inside by themselves when they know they’ve done something wrong. This is usually what happens if the crate has ever been used to punish a dog.


Along the lines of guilt, a dog will lie inside a crate with the door open after going potty in the house. When a dog is almost done with potty training, he/she knows it’s not right to use the potty inside the house. Going into the crate is a way to not get into trouble.

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A dog that is placed in a crate for punishment will learn that it’s where he/she should go after breaking a house rule. For example, if a dog makes a mistake in the house training process, he/she may go into the crate as a way of punishing him/herself.

Read More: How to Discipline a Dog After Fighting or Are Kennels Bad for Dogs

Protect Possessions

Dogs who are territorial will hide their favorite toys, treats, and even food in their crate to prevent someone from taking them away. A dog may sleep in a crate with the door open to stand guard.

Comfortable Bed

A large crate with a comfortable bed can be very motivating for a dog. A dog may sleep in a crate with the door open just to enjoy the comfiness of the bed.

Check this site out for AWESOME dog beds for crates.

Avoid Other Animals

Since the dog crate is a safe space, a dog may go into the crate to avoid other animals in the home. The dog believes being inside the crate means no one (including animals) will be able to or will bother him/her.


A dog may sleep in a crate with the door open because it’s time to sleep. It’s a habit to go to the crate at the end of the day. The door is open because no one closed it.

dog crate with door open

Important Things to Keep in Mind with a Dog’s Crate

While there’s isn’t anything necessarily wrong with your dog sleeping in the crate with the door open (unless there’s illness, which means calling the vet), it’s a good idea to keep the following in mind.

Don’t Use It for Punishment

A dog’s crate is a safe space for many, so never use it as punishment. Making a dog feel bad for being in the crate will ruin the positive feelings associated with it.

Leave the Door Open During the Day

The dog’s crate door should be open the whole day to make it a welcoming place, recommends American Humane. It should not be a place that opens and closes for certain situations because in a den situation, it is always open.

Keep It a Safe Place

A dog sleeps in a crate with the door open because it is a good place to be, which means it was used in proper crate training. A puppy’s crate may have initially been used for potty training and keeping the puppy out of trouble, but if it was used as a sanctuary as well, the puppy grew up viewing it as their own safe space.

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Avoid Locking the Door When at Home

A dog should not be locked up in a crate when everyone is home. A dog needs to socialize with his/her family members for bonding and comfort.

Close the Door at Night

A dog crate’s door can be closed at night if desired. Just be sure to provide necessary potty breaks and avoid locking your pup up for a long time.

Read More: Should Puppies Sleep in the Dark?

Choose the Right Size

Dog experts recommend that the crate not be too big or too small. The crate should be just big enough to turn around 360 degrees and stand up without difficulty.

Clean the Dog Bed Regularly

To keep odor levels low and germs away, wash the dog bed at least weekly if not more. This is especially true for a new puppy who may have urinated or pooped in the process of house training. Older dogs may also have accidents, so it’s important to check daily.

Read More: Do Dogs Sleep In Their Own Poop?

Encourage Exercise

While some adult dogs and older dogs may want to spend a lot of time in their crate with the door open, exercise is important. Be sure to take your dog for walks each day.

Place the Crate in a Sheltered Place

It’s best to have the crate in the living room and tucked up with something around it. This will mimic the way that a den is in the wild – nice and tucked away.

Keep an Eye on Chew Toys

While it may seem okay to have your pup enjoy a chew toy inside of the crate with the door open, be sure to keep an eye on him/her. Chew toys can be dangerous if a piece comes off and it’s swallowed.

Chew toys aren’t the only dangerous items that can cause serious medical issues. Ribbons, strings, etc. are dangerous, too. Learn more about that here: My Dog Swallowed a Ribbon

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dog sleeping in kennel with door open

Benefits of Your Dog Sleeping in the Crate with the Door Open

There are many benefits of having a dog that enjoys sleeping in a crate with the door open.

  • If you ever have to move to a new home, the crate remains constant between the homes, which can make the transition much easier.
  • By having the crate in the living room, you can enjoy each other’s company without having your pup on your couch (if you’d rather not have him/her on it).
  • A puppy won’t usually go to the bathroom inside of the crate (well, not all of them) so it can make it much easier to house-train your new puppy.
  • If your dog enjoys the crate and you bring home a new young puppy, the crate training process may be easier because the new dog may see how much your dog loves it and feel the same way. This can make it much easier for puppy sleep training as well. Just be sure to have your puppy’s crate in the eyesight of your older dog’s crate.

Some dogs lick the crate, which can be a sign of a problem. With the door open, that is less likely. Learn more: Why Do Dogs Lick Their Cage

Overview of Dog Sleeps in Crate with Door Open

If your dog sleeps in the crate with the door open, don’t worry too much about it UNLESS your dog seems to be suffering from symptoms of illness. Look out for diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness. If your pup has any of those symptoms and spends a lot of the day sleeping, contact the veterinarian for advice. Otherwise, your pup is doing what he loves – resting in his sanctuary.

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