You bring your new puppy home, only to be met with hours of sleepless nights or noisy days when your puppy barks and cries in his crate.
Puppies can suffer separation anxiety and can be why many dogs will whine when confined or left alone. However, putting the dog in a crate at night or while you leave the house can be helpful for both the pup and the people in the household.
So, you want to train your dog to enjoy the crate at night as her safe den for relaxing, but you don’t want to cause stress to them during the crate training process.
It can be very hard for you and the other people in your home to hear the puppy crying and whining for attention. It is heartbreaking for puppy owners to listen to and also, difficult to get any sleep if barking keeps you up all night.
So below we cover everything to do with dog crate training, difficulties you or your dog may have plus training tips.
Different Types of Crates
There are two common dog kennel or crate types- wire or plastic. Most pet stores sell both and in adult size or smaller products for smaller pups. Both work well for dogs and are pretty easy to keep clean.
What type of crate you decide on as your pup’s kennel and for training is really up to you.
Either option should be made more homely and appealing to your dog by adding soft blankets and their favorite chew toy. Crate training really begins with getting the right crate and making sure it feels like a nice home for your pet.
Additionally, size is quite important too. Whatever option you choose, make sure the dog can turn around and stretch out in the crate. The general advice is for it to not be too big either, enough room for the dog to turn and stretch will work fine.
Too much space and they could start to use the crate for toileting as well as sleeping – this is definitely what you are trying to avoid. A comfortable but somewhat snug fit creates a safe sleep zone and your dog shouldn’t then get confused about its purpose.
Wire dog crates are completely made of wire. They are good because you can easily see into them and the dog can look out – at times when that is what you want. This also means good airflow into your dog s crate.
However, you could also use something as a create cover – a blanket is fine, to make it like a nice den for your dog. Of course, make sure to leave a decent opening at the create door for some airflow.
Due to the sturdy wire material, these kennel options are a long-lasting idea more durable than plastic.
Molded Plastic Crates
There are also dog crates that are predominately molded plastic with a wire door crate opening. These are popular for many pets and good options too. As they are lighter than wire, it can be easier to take your puppies to the vet in them.
These crates are already enclosed so there is no need to add a crate cover to make it cozier.
When to use a Puppy Crate
Not every dog owner will buy a puppy crate. However, it can be an important tool for many in helping with their dog s behavior and keeping your dog safely secured. Some common reasons people may need to use a pet crate are mentioned below.
House Training your Dogs
It can be an important part of house training as the dog learns how to be safely left alone for a period of time so they don’t destroy the house or try to escape. Untrained dog behavior could mean puppy parents come home to scratched up doors and a trashed house.
A crate-trained dog is able to spend time to time in the crate feeling quite relaxed if the dog trainer has been patient with this training process.
It helps the dog with separation anxiety to get used to time periods in the crate, and it helps the pet owners feel reassured the pup is in a calm, safe spot while they aren’t supervising.
Toilet Training for your Pup
A crate can also be useful in toilet training puppies. As a dog owner, you begin to get a feel for the puppy’s daily routine of needing a potty break. Sometimes, it is only after a few accidents inside.
So a puppy crate can be part of the training steps in them learning to go outside for a potty break, never inside.
When the puppy is roughly 10 minutes – 30 minutes from their next expected toilet time, you place them in the crate. Again, the crate should be comfortable and enjoyable. It can be hard to know when they might need to go but do your best.
Then after a few minutes in the create, maybe 10 – 15, and you think your puppy is ready for a bathroom break – you take her out of the crate and put them outside. Place your puppy where you would prefer them to go potty as this habit could stay when they are an adult dog.
When the puppy does go to the toilet outside after a bit of time in the crate, give them lots of praise. Then as positive reinforcement, they do not return to the crate but instead, have plenty of time to play and enjoy some human interaction.
If the puppy wasn’t ready to go, you could try them back in the crate for a few minutes and try again.
Your puppy may have an accident and go in the crate, but that is okay and just something to work on. Remember it is normal behavior for young dogs and don’t be hard on them – they are only babies learning something new.
Keep in mind, it could also mean you are leaving them in the crate for too long. Did you lose track of time or get distracted? Has the crate been used more so that you didn’t have to keep an eye on the pup? It can happen.
However, this may only incidentally train your puppies to use the crate as a toilet – you definitely don’t want that! Do the hard work with the early training and you will be thankful.
If they go potty in the crate when they are starting out, it is still normally better than somewhere in your house – like on the carpet where it will stain and smell.
If your pup is still toilet training and likely to have a few accidents, it is not advised to place the crate in your bedroom or any other spots. A laundry, or somewhere with easy-to-clean hard surfaces are normally best.
A Safe Place For Your Dogs to Rest
Your puppy or dog needs a quiet, safe place to rest every day. So, if you want a well-trained dog in your home it is a good idea to use the crate as the dog’s haven.
If you always leave the crate door open and you have made the dog crate inviting, you will find in the time the dog will happily rest in the crate to escape the exposure and noise in the house.
Dogs love attention and to socialize, but they also need undisturbed quiet time.
How not to use a Puppy Crate
On the other hand, a puppy crate could be used in unhelpful ways that are not fair to your dog.
You are aiming to encourage your puppy to go into the crate as a place they like and feel safe. Then when they are adult dogs, it is easy, they like it and the training worked.
So it would be counter to all your hard work in puppy crate training to use the crate to punish the pup. You want them to have a lasting positive association with their crate overall. At first, they may bark and whine but then it can become something they consider home.
So, don’t make the kennel or dog crate a place for bad behavior because it will confuse the training.
For Long Periods of Time
Dogs need proper socialization plus physical and mental exercise. The crate shouldn’t become a way to lock the dog up and give them improper attention. Sadly, some dog owners make use of the crate in the wrong way by putting the dog in there for most of the time.
Really, your dog shouldn’t stay in the crate for longer than a couple of hours during the day – and only if really needed. Definitely, no more than 3 to 4 hours if needed.
Once they are trained at using the crate for nights, that isn’t an issue because they will be sleeping. However, dogs should never be kept in a crate most of the day and the night.
So, avoid locking them up all day when you are at work or not home. It isn’t fair on the pup and not good for their overall wellbeing. If you aren’t home much or will be away, it is probably kinder to organize a pet sitter.
Additionally, older dogs and puppies will need regular toilet breaks. So you need to make sure you take them out of the crate regularly, even overnight when they are young. As mentioned above, too long in the crate and the dog may start to think that is where it is supposed to go potty.
As they become adult dogs, they can usually hold out until the morning or might even bark to let you know they want to go.
How to Train Your Dog To Use The Crate and Reduce Whining
Here is a quick guide to crate train your puppy.
Step 1 is to introduce the crate to your puppies. Place it in a common area and let the dog sniff and investigate. You can utilize treats to encourage your pup’s curiosity. Throw them a treat either in or very close to the crate as they check it out.
If your dog does willingly enter the crate and lay down, don’t close the door. You want to make it a fun and well-paced transition. Closing the door too quickly might scare your dog and be a step backward in the training process.
It takes time to crate train a puppy or dog, and they may have resistance for a variety of reasons. If your puppy was mistreated or had bad experiences in the past, they might not like the sight of the crate at first.
If you know puppies, you will understand that they love mealtime. So a great way to give your puppy a positive association with the crate is to do the feeding in there.
Leave the crate door open at all times and at mealtime, place the bowl in the crate. Your pup won’t be able to resist. If they are super reluctant, you could place it just outside the door to start with.
In time your dog will associate mealtime with the crate, and might even hop in before the bowl is in there. After a few feeding times, test out closing the door – but only for a few moments while your dog is busy eating. Open it again so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
In time, you can increase the time the door is shut as your dog adjusts to this new environment. Continue to increase the time periods so the dog will not only enter for food but will be comfortable laying down in the crate afterward.
Your dog might start barking or whine, but don’t go to them immediately. Wait for them to stop and then you can quietly let them out or give them a treat. This way you don’t accidentally encourage the barking with treats.
Crate Without Food
Hopefully, your dog has now had more time in the crate without food being the only motivation. Dogs are clever and you should decide on a word for crate training that works as a command.
Simply saying ‘crate’ or ‘go to bed’ every time will assist in the crate training process as your dog learns what that command means. Decide on the words to use and stick to it for consistency.
You can make the dog feel more comfortable by staying close to the crate and handing them a treat, chew toy, or dog toy that dispenses treats as they play. They will be reassured by your presence and also have a fun distraction. This is then setting up more routines of being in the crate that isn’t only at mealtime.
You might start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase from there.
After the dog has settled a little, you can quietly move away. Come back in intermittently when the dog displays acceptable behavior and praise them or give them a small treat.
With plenty of patience from you, your dog should be content to stay in his crate without barking all night.
If there is nighttime barking, you might want to revisit some of the previous steps and advice. Keep in mind, the dogs bark could be a valid message that they need to go to the toilet outside – or they have heard something and it’s a natural response.
FAQs for crate training and to stop barking.
What do you do when your puppy cries in his crate?
Your puppy is young and often just wants comfort when they are getting used to their new life away from their dog mommy. An interesting idea can be to play classical music, or other gentle sounds to help the dog relax and for some background noise.
You might want to make sure you keep loved toys in the crate or even a rag with your scent on it for comfort too.
As mentioned, don’t force your puppy to stay in the crate for too long. Their whines might actually mean they need to go to the toilet so stay alert.
If you want a dog that is well house trained and won’t try to jump on the lounge or on your bed, it’s best to resist the urge to cuddle them in these places every time they whine. You are trying to make the crate their go-to bed and comfort so this would only confuse them.
You can use treats to reward them when they have been quiet from whining for a while too. When giving them the treat, remain quiet, and do not stay long.
How do I stop my puppy from barking in the crate?
Dogs are smart and overtime, they get used to the times that you let them out. So, is the dog barking in the crate because it’s the regular time to get let out?
If so, it could be worth varying how long the dog spends in the crate, so you can break this routine. The dogs can almost be like alarm clocks when they are so used to a certain routine.
Consider if it has been too long and the dog is trying to tell you he needs something. Your dog might want to go outside to the toilet or be hungry. However, if you know it isn’t those things and he is just vocalizing for attention, you can ignore the barking for the time being.
When they are still getting used to the crate, you could give them a treat or some peanut butter to lick off their paws to keep them occupied.
Please note though, do not go to them when they are barking with a reward. This will only tell them that barking was the right response and further develop the habit of barking. Instead, wait until they are quiet for sometime before entering. Limit interaction and quietly do what you need to, such as put a leash on and take them outside, or give them a treat.
Some pet owners get so over the barking that they purchase an anti-bark collar. However, it isn’t very pleasant for your dog. The first choice to stop barking is to use behavior training techniques first, and potentially even get a professional dog trainer.
Should I ignore a puppy barking in a crate?
As mentioned in the previous question, you can ignore the barking sometimes. However, remember barking is your puppy’s way of communicating so attempt to understand what they are telling you.
The barking could be a message that he needs a toilet break, which you don’t want to ignore. However, dogs can start barking from even a faint noise with their excellent hearing. A young pup may bark to get your attention – more or less because they miss you!
So, if you know the barking isn’t likely to be for a toilet break because they just had one, you can ignore it for a little while. Maybe 5 – 10 minutes. Wait for a period of time when the barking completely stops before letting your pup out or giving them a treat.
How long will it take for my puppy to stop crying in his crate?
There is no definitive answer to this question, sorry. It can depend on many factors and your pup’s unique persona. Many puppies will whine the first few nights, even if they are not in a crate.
Be patient with your dog during training and try to stick to the guidance as it will mean the crying should stop sooner rather than later.
You don’t need to be too cruel either – when they are very young they will need your attention and interactions so there is no need to leave them to cry in the crate for long periods for the sake of training. You should follow your dogs lead and go at their pace.
If you have a rescue dog, their history may mean that they take a little longer to train as well. Time, love, and repetitive training will always work though so be patient and you will soon enough enjoy the results – so will your dog!