Understanding Cage Rage

Understanding Cage Rage

Have you ever heard the term “cage rage”? Cage rage looks like an intense aggression problem. Dogs are naturally den animals. They should enjoy their crates and see them as a refuge to get away from it all some times. Cage rage is not an aggression problem at all, but it’s based on being anxious and fearful and not trusting the crate.

Some dogs have anxiety from the beginning. Crying, screaming, and yelling to get out of the crate on their first time. We see many of these behaviors begin early. Maybe they have an early case of separation anxiety, or, maybe they’re claustrophobic. In any regard, they’re making a negative association with the crate. Now, add to the fact that there is no escape route. They are confined, anxious, and nervous. Some personality types will lash out when they feel this way. Others will not. It’s all about the experience that the dog is having with the crate. Remember that dogs are associative animals: A equals B. If the crate equals anxiety, fear, and nervousness, some dogs will display that in an aggressive state. Then through practice it becomes an ingrained habit. Closing the crate door or run door equals “go ballistic.”

If your dog is behaving in an aggressive manner, please do not try any of my techniques alone. Seek the help and advice of a behavior specialist in your area.

The first thing we must do, is accomplish a more calm behavior while in the crate with the door open. Have the dog go inside, but don’t allow them to exit. Leave the door open. Then just wait and remember to relax yourself. Now, maintain that stay in the crate. Just don’t close the door. Occupy yourself for little bit while still staying in touch and paying attention to the dog. When they attempt to come out, block them. The brain can only stay in the anxious state for so long. Especially when you’re not feeding the negative energy back to them. Eventually they will calm down and relax. You may even notice after a while they will even lay down or fall asleep. This relaxed state would be a great time to share a treat quietly without talking. Remain calm confident and quiet. Words at this juncture will only introduce excitement and undo all of the hard work that you have just finished.

Once you share a treat, and the dog is calm and at a zero or zen energy level, invite him out of the crate. Don’t have crazy fanfare. Just be happy. Then back in the crate. Same thing. You will notice how much more quickly he comes down this time. I recommend doing a few sessions before trying to close the door. The dog needs to be in a totally calm state every time before you attempt to close the door and should only remain closed for a moment before you open it and start again. Remember to slow down and take baby steps.

Everything takes time. To rehabilitate a severe problem, it can take months to accomplish real measurable success. It all depends on the severity of the issue. Always remember to exercise the dog before you start working on a situation that may be difficult for him.

Stay calm and confident.

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