Getting a new puppy is one of the most thrilling experiences for all the family.
What can you do, though, if your new furball has been in his crate for hours and won’t stop crying out?
Well, you don’t need to suffer in silence, and your puppy doesn’t need to suffer either. Today, we’ll be walking you through all aspects of stopping excessive whining in a dog crate.
Before we look at how to get a puppy to stop crying in his crate, though, why should you crate Fido in the first place?
I. Why Should You Crate Your Dog?
There are 3 main purposes for crating a dog:
- Toilet training your puppy
- Stopping damage when dogs left unsupervised
- Traveling with your dog
Familiarizing your dog with a crate is a smart move as it will help remove the stress out of crating him for the above reasons, or when he needs medical attention.
What can you expect, then, when you start crate training your puppy?
II. What To Expect When Crate Training
If you have a very young puppy under 4 months old, chances are that he won’t stay in a crate for more than a few hours without creating mayhem. Not only will a young puppy tend to cry instinctively, but he’ll also lack the bladder control to stay put for long when he needs to go.
Allowing your dog to simply cry it out in the crate is an antiquated strategy that’s also questionable in terms of effectiveness.
Instead, read on to see how you can better deal with the issue head-on.
Now, while most dogs will soon settle down in their crate, you should keep your expectations reasonable. A new puppy is just like a new baby: long and disturbed nights are a given.
Although most dogs will settle down eventually, there’s plenty you can do to ease the transition to a stress-free experience.
First, it pays to get a better understanding of why your dog is crying in the crate in the first place.
III. Why Dogs Cry in the Crate
Here are some of the most common reasons for dogs crying in the crate:
- Loneliness: If your new puppy is used to constant contact all day, when you head upstairs to bed, it’s natural for him to start crying in his crate. This form of crying will typically stop pretty soon
- Fear: Whether your puppy is scared of the crate or scared of being separated from you, sometimes fear underpins crying in the crate
- Boredom: If you leave a dog in a crate for extended periods, expect crying out of sheer boredom at an unstimulating environment
- Your dog needs to get out: Maybe your dog feels sick, or perhaps he needs to pee or poop. Either way, he may simply need to get out of his confines
In the above scenarios, the crying problem can usually be managed quite easily.
If a dog suffers from separation anxiety, though, this will require ongoing training, management, and possibly even medication. If your dog is biting, digging, or taking other extreme measures to get out of his crate, this could point toward separation anxiety.
For dogs with separation anxiety, being left out of the crate often won’t improve things much. Their issue is being left behind, not where they are being left. Since dogs with separation anxiety often don’t eat or drink, and they won’t be able to relax either, this problem will need addressing. You should consider speaking with your vet.
Read our related article on How to Crate Train an Older Dog With Separation Anxiety. Help your dog feel safe in its crate with these tried and true methods.
Now, one final pitstop before we outline how to get a puppy to stop crying in his crate.
Here’s what not to do…
IV. NEVER Punish Dogs For Crying in The Crate
We get it, your dog has been crying or howling in his crate despite your best efforts to train him – more on that below – and you’re losing your temper.
Resist the temptation to punish him for this, though. There are several strong reasons why you should avoid punishing canine crying in the crate:
- Your dog may already feel anxious. If he’s already scared, shouting at him will only inflame the issue
- Some dogs crave any attention, even negative attention, so he might be crying deliberately
So, be calm and instead teach your dog the right way.
V. 3 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Crying in His Crate
Stopping crying in the crate when you have a new puppy isn’t that tough.
Here’s what you need to do in 3 relatively easy steps:
- Create a welcoming environment in the crate
- Exercise your dog before crate time
- Train your dog so he knows crying = toilet break only
1) Create a welcoming environment in the crate
Before anything else, ensure the crate is a welcoming environment for your furball. If you expect him to stay in there, make it comfortable.
Consider sprinkling some of his favorite dog treats in the crate. Frozen KONG toys work well as freezing these treat dispensing toys makes them last longer and guarantees slow delivery of treats rather than your puppy wolfing them all down at once and then crying.
Think about feeding your dog in his crate to start creating a positive association for him.
Don’t forget to add some dog toys, too. It’s amazing how a handful of squeaky toys can entice your puppy inside somewhere he wouldn’t otherwise fancy going. Chew toys also work well and keep your pup entertained.
Build in a dog mat as well to make sure Fido is sleeping in comfort.
Make certain you get the crate size right. If you have a larger dog rather than a puppy, you can find plenty of dog crates for larger dogs, so don’t panic. The crate should give your dog enough room to stand up and turn around in, but that’s about the limit.
Finally, installing the dog crate in a common area might help to reduce the amount of crying.
2) Exercise your dog before crate time
Now, if your dog is still full of beans when you pop him in his crate, how easily do you think he’ll settle down?
Always ensure your pup is properly exercised before he goes inside the crate. Make sure the amount of exercise he gets is appropriate to his breed and life stage. That might be a walk around the backyard, or a 30 minute stroll around the neighborhood. It all depends on your dog.
3) Train your dog so he knows crying = toilet break only
Allowing a dog to cry it out in the crate is not effective for all dogs and is dying out in terms of popularity among dog trainers.
Instead, show your puppy that if he cries in the crate, he’ll come out for the toilet but nothing else. No treats, no cuddles, no playing around.
To achieve this, you’ll need to remove your dog from the crate when he starts crying. Do so firmly but without anger. Then, carry him outside, or put on his leash. Stand outside for at most 2 minutes with no kind of interaction with your dog. Reward him if he goes to the toilet, but if he doesn’t, just return him to the crate with no treats.
As with most aspects of basic dog training, you shouldn’t need to repeat this too often to see your puppy begin complying.
By taking the time and trouble to instruct your puppy, you’ll notice some benefits.
- You show your dog what he needs to do in order to get what he wants
- Your dog should stop crying continuously
- This approach shows your dog that you are there for his needs
- You won’t get stressed by ignoring a crying dog
So, while the strategy of doing nothing and ignoring your crying canine might work for some dogs, it’s not the best option at your disposal.
You may need to pack plenty of patience, though. While some dog will learn this behavior quickly, others may take a number of repetitions.
If your pup constantly cries despite regular toilet breaks as outlined above, you might need to probe deeper into the underlying cause. Is your dog getting enough exercise? Does he have plenty of treats on hand?
If all this fails and your dog is still crying around the clock, consider trying a different crate or engaging the services of a trainer.
So, now you’ve seen how to crate train your puppy the easy way, how about things you should avoid?
VI. Common Crate Training Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some of the most common issues when crate training a dog:
- Inconsistency: Regardless of the method you employ, the goal should be the same: teaching your dog that crying in the crate gets a toilet break and nothing more. If you mix up your strategies and sometimes allow your dog to keep crying, sometimes let him out for a toilet break, and sometimes let him out to play, he’ll receive mixed message and this will render your training ineffective. Consistency is key
- Punishing your dog: This is ineffective and counterproductive. You should also, of course, not like the idea of punishing your dog anyway. Positive reinforcement always works better with training
- Expecting your puppy to stay in the crate for too long: If you are unrealistic and expect a teacup puppy to remain crated while you’re at work all day without crying the house down, you should rethink
- Teaching your puppy to equate crying with attention: If you don’t remain rigid while teaching your dog that crying will get him nothing beyond a potty break, you’re likely to inflame the problem and cause him to cry more
VII. Do You Need a Dog Crate?
Now, you may have read this far and you’re still asking yourself if you really need a dog crate.
Maybe you don’t, but you probably still need some way to stop your dog from causing damage within the home when he’s left unattended.
A dog pen can work well if you need to give your pup a little more freedom than a crate provides without allowing him the run of the house. All dogs are different and it could be that yours is already well-trained enough to know that he can’t chew on the furniture or your shoes, but in many cases, puppies will need some form of restraint.
Dog walkers provide another outlet if you feel your pooch needs some company and exercise when you’re away from home. This obviously won’t be effective if your dog is crying all night in his crate, but makes a solid strategy for daytime whiners.
As with all elements of owning a puppy, you need to personalize things. Focus on the specific nature of your dog crying in his crate. Take plenty of time to train him with a positive attitude and positive reinforcement. Don’t reward him for crying in the crate with anything at all except a toilet break with no further interaction or affection. This is probably the most demanding part of training: keeping a hard heart while you watch your beloved new puppy eager for cuddles. Resist this urge, though, and you should put a stop to your dog crying in his crate permanently.
Before you head off today, we’d urge you to take a moment to bookmark BarkVA. We’re here to help you out with all aspects of dog ownership. We understand the pain of finding the best dog gear from collars, leashes, and crates through to toys, food, and much, much more. We review all the products here impartially with only one goal in mind: helping you determine which makes the best fit for you.
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