Although crate training sounds fairly simple and straightforward in theory, it can be a whole different story in practice!
Your puppy may be inclined to bite the crate and try to chew their way out, something no one wants. Luckily, there are ways to discourage this type of behavior (both for their safety and for your sanity).
Puppies bite their crate when teething, anxious, or bored. You should not allow your puppy to bite the crate because it can damage their teeth and bite, they can swallow dislodged pieces of the crate, and it teaches them that chewing objects is okay. Offering chews and stimulating toys, exercising, using chewing deterrents, and training can help stop crate biting.
In this article, I will help you stop your puppy from biting the crate as it could be hazardous for their health.
I will also explain exactly what may be causing your puppy to bite and how to put an end to this!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Much like children, young puppies learn about their world through touching and biting. Testing something and putting it in their mouth gives the puppy a lot of information as to what something is.
That being said, testing the bars of a crate to learn more about it and chewing are two very different things. If your dog is biting their crate frequently, here are some reasons why.
Around 12 to 16 weeks of age, puppies begin losing their little baby shark teeth and bringing in those beautiful big adult teeth. As exciting as this sign of maturity is, the teething phase can be a bit of a pain in the butt!
Puppies start to feel “itchy” gums, which refers to their desire to chew to relieve teething discomfort. Of course, human babies go through this as well!
If you are crate training your puppy during the teething phase, you will likely find that your pup is gnawing on the crate bars - as, in their eyes, it’s a chewable object directly in front of them!
To your dog, crate training also means being away from you.
If you have a dog (or breed of dog) predisposed to separation anxiety or anxious behavior when away from you, biting the crate is one of the symptoms.
If anxiety is the culprit, your puppy is biting to try and get out of the crate, which can be dangerous as dogs tend to be quite excessive when they are panicked.
You can tell if biting is anxiety-induced based on their other behaviors, such as drooling, panting, whining, and throwing tantrums when you are out of their sight.
Sometimes, chewing or biting is truly as simple as boredom.
If your puppy has not had enough stimulation to be mentally and physically tired or is left in the crate for a prolonged period, chewing can be a way to relieve boredom.
After all, a dog left to their own devices will find ways to entertain themselves - and those ways are often not the ones we want!
Some people believe that if the bars of your crate are strong enough to withstand the biting and chewing (such as non-destructible Impact Crates), you should let your dog wear themselves out, and they will eventually stop.
I disagree with this method of thinking! Biting and chewing a crate could be problematic health-wise and is a behavior you do not want to encourage.
Firstly, young puppies can damage their bite by chewing on hard objects when they are still too young.
The ‘bite’ of a dog refers to how a dog’s jaw closes with their teeth. You want dog jaws to close evenly, with each tooth having a proper place to go.
When a puppy chews on a hard object, such as metal crate bars, at an age at which their bite is still forming and developing, you could cause permanent damage and end up with a bad bite.
A bad bite can impact their ability to eat comfortably, play with toys, and even the health of their teeth and gums. Repairing a bite usually requires removing teeth, and no one wants to do that! Even in an adult dog, chewing on something too hard will cause tooth injuries.
Secondly, your dog could injure themselves if the crate bars snap.
If you are using a crate that can be damaged, pieces of the crate that end up dislodged could be swallowed by your dog, resulting in impaction or obstruction (which can be fatal) and other types of bodily harm. These are emergency situations as your dog’s stomach could be perforated.
Third, you don’t want your puppy to think chewing something other than their toys is okay.
If you don’t stop the behavior of chewing on objects that aren’t designated as chews, your house can end up destroyed!
Puppyhood is the exact time when you set your dog up for either failure or success based on what you teach them.
On to the moment of truth: how to get the biting to stop!
Regarding crate biting, you’ll be happy to know that regardless of their reason for biting, you might be able to combat it with the same techniques.
I will note that if your dog is chewing due to anxiety and displaying severe anxious behavior, getting a certified dog trainer specializing in separation and other types of anxieties is a really good call.
If your puppy is biting due to teething or boredom, throwing some stimulating chew toys into the crate is a great idea.
These toys don’t have to be anything super fancy; a Kong with some frozen peanut butter on the inside can be all it takes to do the trick!
Other chews that do well are rawhide treats, uncooked bones, and frozen treats.
The best puppy is a tired puppy, and being exhausted helps quelm any undesirable behaviors!
The crate should be associated with sleepy time and relaxation, so getting your puppy into that mood before crating them is a great idea.
Try to plan your walks and playtime around the time your puppy needs to be crated so that by the time they are put in the kennel, they’re tired.
Puppies need training, and part of that training is teaching them not to chew on anything that isn’t designated as a chew for them.
Reinforce good chewing behavior and don’t encourage bad chewing behavior!
Offer your puppy lots of praise and excitement when they aren’t chewing on their crate (but are still inside or near the crate, so there is an association with the object) and offer a firm “no” when they do try to chew the crate.
Once your dog has understood your intent, you won’t need to reinforce non-chewing behavior as much anymore!
If the above methods have not worked and your dog is still chewing, using a chew deterrent can be a great way to prevent any sort of harm or injury to your pup.
Chew deterrents are sprays or rubs that you put on the crate bars to encourage your dog not to chew because they taste bitter or otherwise unpleasant.
When using a chew deterrent, never cover your entire kennel - only the spot that your dog tends to chew. You don’t want to discourage them from using the crate as a whole or have a very negative association with it!
Ensure that whatever chew deterrent you are getting is safe and non-toxic for your pet. Read the reviews!
NaturVet is one such brand that is safe to use.