Containment phobia in dogs is the fear of being confined to one area and goes way beyond just not being good in a crate. The size of that area differs from dog to dog but can be anything from a crate to a bedroom, to fenced-in backyard. When the dog is faced with the realization that they cannot move freely, panic, destruction, and severe escape attempts will ensue and injuries to your dog and destruction to your home can follow. Although the exact cause of containment phobia in dogs can be hard to pinpoint, there are some theories that it actually begins during the birthing process if/when there is difficulty moving through the birthing canal.
There is not a lot of accurate information out there about containment phobia in dogs (even finding an appropriate photo for this post was impossible) and it’s often confused with separation anxiety due to the containment phobia being sometimes triggered when the dog owner leaves the home. Although one common trigger for containment phobia is being alone, I have also seen dogs that are fine with their owners leaving the home but then triggered by something else, such as a thunderstorm.
Here are some signs that a dog may have containment phobia:
Containment phobia is more difficult to deal with than separation anxiety due to the likelihood of intensifying with time. Giving a dog with containment phobia more room and space is not always the answer. For example, it may be logical to leave your dog in a larger space, such as a bathroom, if your dog is escaping the crate. However, eventually the bathroom will no longer be large enough and the dog chews a hole in the door and escapes. The next step would be to let your dog have free reign of the home but now the dog starts targeting the doors and window as escape points. Next logical step may be to install a doggie door so they can travel freely in and out of the home. Unfortunately many dogs will start to feel confined in that area and start to chew through the outdoor fencing, squeeze through the fence, or jump over it. Eventually a dog requires acres and acres of room to freely travel and not feel confined.
Cases of containment phobia in dogs can have different and varying factors and fortunately, true containment phobia cases are few and far between. If you suspect your dog has containment phobia, the best recommendation I can make is to contact a qualified trainer who has experiencing working with containment phobia and can help. I can tell you that, in my opinion, it’s one of the most difficult dog issues to try to manage and correct. You and your dog may be in for a long ride, but hang in there; there is hope!