You hate to do it, but sometimes you’ve got to put man’s best friend into a crate. Whether it’s for safety reasons or training purposes, a crate is an essential tool for any dog owner.
But what’s up with all that barking when he’s in the crate? You probably ask yourself that as you scramble to see what the fuss is all about.
You’ve taken him out to do his business already and he’s eaten. The doggie bed you’ve tucked in there is super-soft and comfortable…top of the line.
When you get there though, the barking ceases and you’re met with a happy, wagging-tailed pup. Was he just trying to get your attention? Annoyed, you bark (or ‘yell’ as we humans tend to call it) back at him. But your shouts to shush him only make him bark louder and longer.
Is he just trying to make you crazy? Honestly, dogs aren’t diabolical creatures. However, when you do acknowledge his sucky barking in the crate at 2am, even by shouting at him to shut it, you’re inadvertently rewarding him by giving him attention. Never mind that it’s negative attention. If you have kids, you might see a pattern here.
And if you don’t have human children, then you’re about to learn that pups are fairly similar to toddlers in many ways. Among those similarities comes the craving for attention. Even negative attention such as this is considered a reward by your dog who is likely thinking, “Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! It worked! My human came back! YAY!”
So, you’re likely wondering what it is you’re supposed to do when you’re awoken by your dog’s barking from the crate. And how to handle the neighbors who complain about it too, no doubt less enamored with your pup no matter how cute he is.
To get to the bottom of it and keep the peace in your home (and your neighborhood), you’ll need to first find out why your pup is barking.
Keep reading and you’ll learn all that and plenty more so you can keep your dog from barking in his crate!
Here’s Why Your Puppy Barks
So, your new puppy is in his crate at night. You’ve taken him out before bedtime. You’ve fed him an appropriate dinner. You tuck him in and go to bed yourself, only to be woken up by his incessant barking.
It’s a story as old as time for dog owners, one that makes them wonder if:
- They were insane for taking in a creature that barks all night
- They should get up every time and quiet the dog down
- Something is wrong with that crazy dog
- They can ever stop that barking.
As we mentioned above, popping in to tell the dog to pipe down rewards negative behavior.
So, do you just ignore it? Pull the covers over your head and jam some earplugs into your ears and pray you get even the teensiest bit of sleep before your alarm summons you to get up for work in the morning?
It’s actually a very common problem for new puppy owners. Puppies are going through changes… growing themselves and adjusting to you as parents, so part of this is all very normal. They whine, bark, yip, and howl as a way to express themselves.
If you ignore the barking with a new puppy though, you might be missing out on a crucial clue.
For starters, new puppies are much like new babies. They need a bit more attention. They’re getting used to being in your home and following your rules.
So your puppy may be trying to tell you that he has to go potty again. When puppies are young, they have a more difficult time making it through the night without going to the bathroom in the middle of it.
Other reasons little pups cry in their crates is because they just might not be used to the solitude. If your pup was always around a litter or his mom, then you have to be a bit sympathetic to the changes he’s going through. The only way to truly know for sure what’s going on is to have a chat with the veterinarian.
You should be taking your pup there anyway to make sure shots are current and that there are no underlying health issues that could be causing that nighttime whimpering, whining, and barking.
Sometimes, it could be a urinary tract infection causing your dog pain that he’s trying to tell you about which your vet can diagnose and treat.
Vets also know what’s normal and what isn’t in dog behavior, so make sure you let them know how your pup is behaving in the crate and have your dog fully examined to be sure there are no health problems causing the barking.
It might not even be physical… dogs have been known to display separation anxiety which can be treated easily with the help of your vet.
After a trip to the vet, you can finally enact some steps to keep your dog from barking in his crate. Keep reading and soon you’ll have what it takes to enjoy blissful silence at night from now on.
How to Stop Your Dog from Barking in His Crate
Whether your pup is barking, whining, whimpering, yelping, howling or making some other dog noise in the crate, you’re about to find out how to make it stop and create a peaceful existence with your new four-legged companion.
Crate training is very useful for many dog owners but when you have a dog that starts barking in that crate, it can be a nuisance.
If you live in an apartment, condo, townhome, or your house is fairly close to your neighbors’, you might draw ire from others for your dog’s barking at night. And even if you don’t care what the neighbors think, you surely must miss sleeping without having to get up and see what’s going on.
Without further ado, here’s what to do to keep a pup from barking in his crate!
■ Bring a Plushie with You to the Litter
If you are in the preliminary phase before taking your new pup home, take a plush toy along or even a blanket. Let the others in the litter snuggle all over this item.
Then take it and put it in the crate you’re putting your chosen pup in. The scent of the other dogs will keep your pup calm and may be enough to make him fall right asleep without a single peep.
■ Take a Crying Pup to His Potty Spot
When your pup wakes up crying at some ungodly hour of the night, take him out of the crate and promptly to where you bring him to do his business to relieve himself.
Once he’s done, take him right back and put him into the crate. Don’t do anything else. If he doesn’t go, put him right back in without a word.
■ Make Feeding Time an Hour and a Half before Bedtime
By making sure you don’t feed your new dog too late, you’ll ensure he has time to poop before bedtime.
You might be inclined to cut off water too, but don’t do that. Dogs need hydration, especially puppies.
They get used to a schedule and going soon enough so have a heart!
■ Wear Him Out
Remember what we said about puppies being like toddlers? When it comes to playtime, it’s especially true! Your pup needs lots of activity to burn off that energy.
If you take him to play fetch in the yard, chase him around the house, or play tug of war (or all of these things) for an extended time period just before bed, your pup will be pleasantly pooped and will likely crash out in the crate without incident.
Dogs want our attention just like kids and giving them that plus expending their energy should really do the trick.
■ Try a Sheet
For wire crates, sometimes adding a sheet on top of it will make your dog feel enclosed and comfortable.
Make sure it’s a sheet you don’t care about though because if he gets feisty and chews on it, you’ll be kicking yourself.
■ Put the Crate near You
One mistake new dog owners make is putting the crate out in the living room or den, far from where they’re sleeping.
You should keep it near you, preferably near your bed so you don’t have to get up when your pup whimpers, initially at least.
Many puppies feel instantly calmed when they can see their human. For others, they may quiet down once you put your hand down by the crate so they can smell you. If that doesn’t work, you can sleep on the floor next to the crate.
■ Serve Mealtime in the Crate
When you feed your dog in the crate, he becomes more comfortable entering it. This is a great idea for skittish pups or if none of the other tricks on this list have worked for you.
■ Give Him a Stash of Pup Toys
Another way to keep a dog from barking in his crate is to give him a variety of appropriate playthings to keep him busy.
Make sure they’re appropriate and safe though as dogs can rip through certain types of toys which can be dangerous if swallowed!
■ Let Him Nap in the Crate
Just like human babies need to be put into the crib when they go to sleep, so too does a dog.
Though for dogs, that’s the crate, not the crib! If your dog falls asleep on the floor, move him into the crate. You can leave the door of the crate open initially and then move on to closing it.
Another way to do it is to just leave the door of the crate open but lie down across from the doorway of it so he feels like you’re taking a nap with him. In this position, you’ll block the door and keep him contained yet make him feel safe.
■ Praise Him for Being Quiet
One of the most crucial times for lavishing your dog with praise is when he’s being quiet in the crate.
Tell him he’s the best boy, because like a small child, your dog will soon learn that by being quiet, he’s going to get lots of happy attention from you.
■ See about the Heartbeat Toy
For puppies, the heartbeat toy simulates his mom’s heartbeat. Like human babies, puppies want to be near their moms.
In the womb, the body makes lots of noises which comfort babies (and this is also the case with puppies).
Putting this toy in with your pup will ease the transition from being inside the womb to being in the real world.
■ Comfort with Ticking Sounds
The Snuggle Puppy toy has garnered lots of affection from new dog owners, but if you don’t have one, in a pinch, you can take a ticking clock and see if that helps your pooch snooze.
■ Or Try a KONG
The KONG is a great toy for dogs (KONG Extreme is better for strong chewers though). You can stuff them with treats that your dog will love, anything from rice and chicken to bananas and yogurt. Put this in the crate with your dog and enjoy the silence.
■ Give Him a Chew
There are different types of chews you can give your pup that will encourage him to stay in the crate and be quiet.
Though with these, it’s best to be supervising for safety. Never give him one and just go off to bed.
■ Go for Heated Toys
Some puppy toys, like the Snuggle Puppy with a heartbeat, have heat pads. This is wonderful for young puppies which helps them feel cozy like they’re all snuggled up with their littermates. Add to that the heartbeat and it’s a solid move for a quiet pup.
■ Use a Bottle of Warm Water
If you’re not able to get a heated toy, grab a water bottle and fill it with warm water. Then, dress it in a thick sock (one you don’t care about) so it retains its warmth.
■ Try Soothing Music
A trick that works on older dogs could be one of your best bark-stopping solutions too. If you play soothing music for older dogs when you leave the house, chances are they stay calm.
Using this on young pups also helps. Plus, who doesn’t love soothing music? It can really help to get them used to their crate and their new home.
The What NOT to Do Method
Everything we’ve detailed above can be extraordinarily helpful when it comes to getting your dog to stop barking in his crate. You may have to try a combination of those things or perhaps one of those tricks will do the trick.
But there are some things you shouldn’t ever do. These things can work against you so keep reading to get a good handle on how to stop your dog from barking in his crate.
■ Be Careful That You Don’t Reward Barking by Accident
Shouting at your dog to be quiet while he’s barking in the crate is merely rewarding him. From his perspective, you’re barking too, just horribly off-key.
It only excites him as he thinks, “Look! Do it like me! BARK! See? Like this! BARK! BARK! BARK!” The best thing to do is stay silent.
■ Say ‘No’ to Shock Collars
Shock collars should never be used when you’re trying to train your dog not to bark in his crate.
Remember Pavlov? If you keep shocking your dog in the crate, he’ll associate the crate with that painful shock. This will make him hesitant about getting in the crate and downright fearful of it.
■ Barking Could Get Worse before It Improves
As mentioned, if your dog barks in the crate, ignoring him is the best way to stop it. But sometimes, it will get worse before it improves.
He’s just trying to get your attention, but if you cave in and tell him to put a sock in it, he wins.
If you keep quiet and stick with it, he’s going to get the message that his barking in the crate no longer gets your attention.
■ But Don’t Ignore Him If He Really Needs You
If your dog has been in the crate for several hours and then starts barking, it’s very likely he’s trying to tell you something, like he needs to go out and do his business.
While it’s ideal that you should only let him out of the crate while he’s quiet, if he’s been in there for a while, put his collar on and lead him outside so he can go.
Don’t interact with him until he goes, and when he does, then you can let him know what a good boy he is (such a good boy!).
■ Find Creative Solutions
You certainly want your dog to bark if an intruder comes, but if your dog can see people riding their bikes in the street, joggers, the mail carrier, and other things going by (even that evil squirrel), he’s going to bark at them.
You don’t need to put him in a corner though. Think about covering the lower part of your window that he can see out of with something that obscures it. This way, he won’t bark every time a leaf blows by.
Be Sure Your Dog’s on a Reasonable Schedule
Don’t forget that you should look at what kind of schedule you’ve got your dog on. Think about when he eats, when you take him out to potty, and when you give him play and exercise time.
If you’re putting him into the crate right after he eats or laps up a whole bowl of water, he’s going to be uncomfortable.
This is why it’s so important to make sure you feed him no later than an hour and a half before securing him in the crate. And before you put him in that crate, make sure you take him out to go potty one last time.
Perhaps you’re exhausted from work, but if you’re not giving your pup enough exercise, he’s going to have too much energy to burn. If you don’t take him to run it off, he might just act out by misbehaving in his crate.
Dogs need to go for walks, play with their humans or other dogs, run in the yard, and do dog stuff. They just want to get out and sniff and explore.
It’s unkind to keep him closed up in his crate all the time. He’ll take it out on you in other ways. If you have a large yard, let him out there. And don’t just expect him to run around. Go play with him too.
Even if you give him just 10 minutes of your time and let him explore, it will make a huge difference.
Yes, your workday was long, but your dog was waiting at home for you and he’s so excited you’re home.
Give him that attention and make sure you run him around so he gets extra tired. It will be worth it.
Plus, exercise is good for you too!
There are many reasons why dogs bark in their crates which is why it’s important to figure out why he’s doing it first.
Always start with making sure your dog is in good health to rule out any medical conditions that could be making him uncomfortable.
After that, think about how young your pup is. If you have a wee pup, you’re going to need to simulate Mama pup and the other puppies in the litter to have better success getting him to become comfortable in his new home.
If your pup is a little older than that, you can try some of the other tricks we mentioned above to see if those will restore order in your home.
Always remember that your dog needs to eat and go to potty before going into the crate for the night. And that giving your dog exercise and playtime will make a huge difference on how well he sleeps.
Puppies have tons of energy and allowing them to release it may be all you need to bring the silence back into your home.