Kennel Crazy is a term used to refer to dogs that remain too long cooped up in a kennel or crate. They have spent far too much time alone and have gone without affection, attention or interaction. There are a host of behaviors in how this can play out with the dog, but it’s a clear example of canine mental illness.
Kennel Crazy dogs will bark incessantly, jump around, try to free themselves, get violent with people and growl, among a host of other possibilities. This is a common condition dogs develop as a result of being in a shelter or rescue after a long period of time. Another reason could be due to owners keeping them locked up for most of the day.
Table of Contents
- How Do Kennel Crazy Dogs Act?
- How Do Dogs Become Kennel Crazy?
- Do Dogs Want to be Kennel Crazy?
- How Do You Maintain Safety with a Kennel Crazy Dog?
- Can You Help a Kennel Crazy Dog?
How Do Kennel Crazy Dogs Act?
Kennel Crazy dogs will often have the appearance of stress and anxiety. In most cases, their behavior is outlandish and out of control. They bite, nip, misbehave, yelp and perform a variety of unpleasant and desirable actions. Some will even self-mutilate, biting off chunks of skin and fur.
These symptoms can be so bad that most people consider them “unadoptable.” In fact, a study from the University of Bristol examined 30 police dogs that stayed in their crates after the work day was over. They exhibited signs of temporary mental illness that involved stress, mania, jumping, bouncing, pacing, walking in circles and spinning.
Because the dogs are essentially isolated from all human contact, they had an aversion to human interactions later on. This is why they will bite, nip, bark and sometimes attack people even after being out of the kennel.
How Do Dogs Become Kennel Crazy?
If anyone leaves a dog too long locked up in a kennel for extended periods of time, the dog will become Kennel Crazy. This is a frequent occurrence at places like animal shelters and rescues, especially overcrowded ones. There simply isn’t enough staff and resources to ensure the dogs’ mental health on a daily basis.
A typical dog should have personalized attention, regular exercise and plenty of mentally challenging activities throughout the day. Dogs that live in kennels for most of the day don’t get this kind of essential interaction.
If they’re in a shelter of some kind, then they spend the whole day confined in this tiny space. What’s more, they’re surrounded by other dogs that are also experiencing stress. This comes complete with the smell of urine, feces and chemical cleaners.
Do Dogs Want to be Kennel Crazy?
No dog desires to be Kennel Crazy. It’s the reaction that results when they aren’t allowed to be themselves on top of being inside a locked cage for hours at a time. Think of it in regards to people and the idea of “cabin fever” or how some prisoners are put into isolation.
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Many studies throughout the decades show that people also suffer from mental illness when they go without human contact for too long. As a matter of fact, it’s illegal to keep prisoners in solitary confinement for more than three days. This is precisely because it’s cruel and unusual punishment to do so.
How Do You Maintain Safety with a Kennel Crazy Dog?
Whether you’re one of the staff at a shelter or looking to adopt, there are several things you should do when approaching a kennel crazy dog. This will be particularly true if it’s a large dog exhibiting severe signs of stress, the risk of injury from the dog increases exponentially.
Be Mentally & Physically Fit
The most important thing is to know yourself and ensure you’re mentally and physically able to tackle the challenge of a Kennel Crazy dog. If you have any doubts, enlist the aid of another person to help. It’s also crucial to maintain a mindset of compassion tempered with firmness.
Distract the Dog before Opening the Door
When you approach the kennel, toss in a treat for the dog and then open the door. If the dog likes to bite and is overzealous, bring a tug toy so you can initiate a sense of play. It will also prevent the dog from tearing, jumping up or biting you.
Wait before Attaching the Leash
If the dog wants to run to the door, let it. Don’t try to put the leash on just yet. Gently grab the dog by the collar and guide it outside. Then put on the leash once you notice the dog relax a little bit. Allow the dog to use the bathroom and frolic as it sees fit.
Once the dog calms down, it will begin to listen and behave. You will be able to go for a walk or do some training at this point.
Can You Help a Kennel Crazy Dog?
Even though a dog may act entirely out of control, there are some things you can do to help a Kennel Crazy dog. Whether you brought one home or work at a shelter, your object should be to keep the dog calm while increasing its sense of happiness.
Tone & Speech
It’s important to speak to the dog in a calm and pleasant manner, giving it personal attention and affection. Speak kindly to the dog and make sure it develops a sense of safety and security. If you have to return it to the kennel, spend a little extra time with the dog. Give it plenty of reassurance.
But, if you own a Kennel Crazy dog, it’s best to not use a kennel or crate. You will only reinforce and continue the dog’s behavior; even if it’s for a much shorter time than the shelter from where you acquired the dog.
Games, Toys & Activities
Ensure the dog has plenty of activities and toys to play with, especially in the kennel. These should be mentally and physically engaging to keep the dog busy and distracted. Varying walk environments will also be very important. It will provide new, fresh, interesting and stimulating smells.