Crate training is an essential part of potty training your dog and just basic training in general. Never will dog parents feel like they have a toddler in the house again as when they are starting to crate train a new puppy.
Aside from house training, crate training is probably the most difficult part of getting a puppy.
In the beginning, your puppy will bark, will cry, will whine, and accidents will happen. Be prepared to do a lot of laundry and lose a lot of sleep during the night.
This type of training is so crucial that starting off on the right foot could set the precedence for how easy the rest of the training period will be. To make sure you’re off to a good start, we have a few pieces of advice to share.
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Canine Sounds & What They Mean
The first and most important thing is to define what your dog wants, and most of the time, this can be done by interpreting the sound they make. Each dog is unique, which also makes his way of communicating one of a kind as well. Once you understand the sounds they make paired with their body language, you can then figure out what your dog needs.
The relationship between a dog owner and the dog takes time to establish. Your dog is observing you, understanding your facial movements, your tone of voice, in order to understand what it is that you want. Over time, you will both know what every look, bark, and touch means.
Reasons Why Dogs Bark in the Crate
What are some of the reasons why a dog could possibly bark in the crate? Knowing what your dog is possibly trying to tell you will also help you define what their barks mean more easily.
They Hate Being Confined
The most obvious reason why your dog is barking in the crate is that he just doesn’t like it in there. Confinement is not a dog’s strong suit, and to be honest, most people are also averse to it. It’s really no surprise that your dog will try to protest with barking, crying, whining, and scratching. Locking your dog in a crate too often for too long will result in health and mental issues.
Solution: The fastest path to a fully crate-trained dog is a strong start. Consider the location of the crate. It should be somewhere close to you during the day and in your bedroom during the night. Although it’s not necessary to do this for all dogs, changing the location of the crate could solve a lot of barking problems.
You should also make the crate an awesome place to be, a place where your dog wants to be, which we will cover in more detail down below.
Maybe a pen would be better than a crate. If your living circumstances allow for a larger confine, then go with a puppy pen. However, some larger or more adventurous and determined dogs may be able to scale the sides and escape. A pen is also not as secure as a crate when you leave the house.
You should also start the crate training gradually. Don’t close the door immediately on your dog, but instead, let him remain in there with the door open before you start closing it after him.
They Need to “Go”
Another very common reason for a dog barking in the crate is nature is calling. Your dog may simply need to relieve himself. Since a crate is a dog’s sanctuary and where he sleeps, it’s not somewhere he will soil. This is why crate training is so important when you’re trying to housebreak your dog. The only way for him to eliminate is for you to let him out, and the best way of doing that is to let him out.
Don’t ignore your dog if he needs to go to the bathroom, because puppies can only hold it for so long. The rule of thumb is your barking dog can only hold it for his age plus 1. For example, if you have a 3-month old pup, then he can hold it for 4 hours at most.
Solution: You can attempt to let your dog out if you suspect he needs to go, but you can only take him directly to his potty spot and do not let him leave until he does his business. If he doesn’t go within 10 minutes, then take your dog back into the crate again.
They Just Want You
This is the type of barking in the crate you should ignore. In the beginning, this type of barking is inevitable. Your dog feels unfamiliar and anxious in a new environment, which is why we suggested keeping the crate in your room during the night and in a space where they can see you during the day. We don’t recommend allowing your puppy to sleep with you in the same bed right from the start, because it’s very unlikely that he will ever want to sleep on his own again.
You shouldn’t reward your dog’s crying with your attention. Most dogs, will bark until they’re tired and then give up. Some dogs are more persistent, but most of the time the dog will learn that there is no use in crying.
Solution: What you should do is ignore the barking and only give attention when your dog stops barking. There will always be a break in between crying and barking sessions, and this is when you encourage him by using treats.
They Want to Play and Explore
Another reason why you may encounter barking dogs in the crate is because of a lot of pent-up energy. Dog owners should always try to tire out their dogs before crating them for a long period. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, so making sure your dog is well stimulated is the key to a quiet pup.
Solution: Give your dog a long walk and mental stimulation with puzzle toys or training before you put them in their crates. You can leave a safe chew toy in the crate with your dog or other treats and toys with your supervision.
They are Hungry or Thirsty
Ideally, you want your dog to calm down and sleep during crating. Something that will help your dog sleep better is definitely some food and water. A dog who is hungry and thirsty will be fussy. Don’t leave your dog in the crate for longer than 4 or 5 hours if you can help it because that’s usually when he will need to eat or drink again. If you won’t be home in time, get a dog sitter, walker, or a friend to help out.
Solution: Before crating your pup, make sure to give him a potty break to empty his bowel and bladder.
Preparing Your Puppy-Friendly Crate
When crate training starts, your dog should have as much positive association with the crate as possible. The first step is getting the right size.
A crate that is too large will give your dog enough space to eliminate in one corner and lay comfortably on the other side without touching it, which is counterintuitive to your crate training.
The right size will be one that’s long enough for your dog to lie down on his side and tall enough for him to stand up and turn around.
We understand that not every pet parent wants to invest in more than one crate in their dog’s lifetime. Puppies will grow into adults and unless you have a small breed dog, most will require a different crate.
A way around this is to purchase a large crate with a divider in the middle. You can shift the divider panel as needed as your dog grows and eventually do away with it when your dog is large enough.
Make sure to line the bottom of the crate with something soft and comfortable, but hopefully, something that is not easily destroyed. When you’re just starting out, you can try to line the crate with old towels or clothes just in case there are accidents.
Feed your dog in the crate so he thinks it’s a fun place to be. Give him his treats in there so he believes only good things can come from being inside the crate. You can place his favorite chew toys that don’t require supervision inside the crate to keep him occupied.
What Should I Do If My Dog Starts Barking in the Cage?
The first step is to determine what your dog wants. A loving dog parent’s first instinct is to cater to their fur baby whether it’s to soothe their crying by cuddling them or giving in and letting them into your bed for one night (which will eventually turn into forever).
If it’s not an emergency and you have already made sure your dog is exercised, fed, watered, and had a bathroom break, then try to put something into the crate that’s comforting such as a weighted blanket or an old sweater that smells like you. Do anything you can to soothe your dog’s separation anxiety.
Calming collars with relaxing lavender scents, toys with a ticking mechanism will simulate a dog mom’s heartbeat, which is calming for puppies because that’s what they hear in the womb, and sometimes a large stuffed animal can also bring a puppy comfort.
Pay Attention to the Environment
Dogs can suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and sometimes a puppy won’t calm down simply because he feels like he’s missing out on all the action. If you place his crate in an area of the house with a lot of foot traffic, it’ll be more difficult for him to relax.
A simple solution would be to cover the dog’s crate with a crate cover to shield him from unwanted attention or to move it to a quieter spot.
Some dogs may even prefer the crate to be covered because it simulates a private den. It’s important to consider the surroundings around the crate and not just what’s going on inside. Your dog might still be barking in the crate despite you making it a very comfortable space because the location is near a window that’s always open and your dog can hear other dogs outside.
We suggest placing your dog’s crate in a part of the house that doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic, is away from any stimuli, and is relatively quiet. If he quiets down and relaxes in the crate, do not forget to encourage this behavior with positive reinforcement.
Leash correction is something we want to address because it is suggested by some experts, but condemned by others and labeled as cruel. Leash correction is when you tug on a leash in order to get your dog to stop unacceptable behavior.
Some believe this is a form of punishment and is unideal because positive reinforcement is the best way to solidify your dog’s behavior.
Leash correction should only be used on dogs that have experience with obedience training and leash corrections under the guidance of a professional. Leash correcting in a crate would involve you leashing your dog inside the crate and tugging on his leash when he starts to bark.
There are plenty of other ways to deter your dog and train him to stop barking in the crate, so if leash correction is uncomfortable for you, then try some of the other methods below.
Bark deterrents come in many forms such as bitter sprays, bark collars, or anything that makes a loud and obnoxious sound that your dog dislikes. Bark deterrents are meant to distract or surprise your dog long enough for him to stop barking.
Bitter sprays can be administered from a spray bottle or you can purchase a collar that disperses an unpleasant scent when dogs bark.
Bark collars function as spray collars do except they emit either an ultrasonic sound, which only dogs can hear, or they vibrate at different levels of severity to stop your dog’s barking.
The ultrasonic and vibrating bark collars usually have customizable levels so you can play around with the settings until you find one that’s effective. We would recommend starting low and then gradually increasing the levels instead of starting off high.
If you are reluctant to using devices such as prong collars, spray collars, dog shock collars or ultrasonic collars, there are more gentle alternatives that could aid with your regular training. One of those devices is the PetGentle – an innovative dog whistle with a flashlight. Learn more about PetGentle.
Keep in mind that bark deterrents may not always work. Dogs are unique creatures each with their own personalities just like humans, so some canines might like the unpleasant scent of citronella that most other dogs dislike.
We have also known some dogs from stubborn breeds such as Siberian Huskies that power through vibrations and ultrasonic sounds.
It’s difficult to find a guaranteed solution, so your best bet is to try different things until you find one that works. It may take some time, but there is bound to be at least one method that is effective.
Sometimes the best way is to give it time. Your dog may realize over the course of a few days to a few weeks that crying in the crate doesn’t get him what he wants (if you remain vigilant), and he will understand that he just needs to wait and he will be let out eventually.
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Crate Training During the Day and Night
We would suggest initiating crate training right when you bring your new pup home. Most dogs are welcomed into their new home at around 8 weeks old. This is still a little young to start potty training, but we recommend beginning at this point, knowing that there will undoubtedly be accidents. The reason for introducing crate training at such a young age is to get your pup to understand the concept.
An 8-week-old puppy will not have much bladder control and will need to go at least every 3 hours and you will find that they eliminate themselves quite soon after meals and drinking.
A young puppy will also protest in the loudest way possible when he is first placed in the crate with the door shut. If you have a lot of free time, then it will be easier to teach your puppy how not to bark in the crate by using our suggestions above. Being around your pup for most of the day will also allow you to train him more consistently.
For those that need to go to work, you must take a break between and come home to take your dog out for a walk and a potty break. Try not to make your dog hold it for too long. Remember, a dog can only hold it for as long as his age plus one for the first 6 months.
Crate training during the night can be very brutal. Besides the potty breaks, it’s the constant crying ad howling that will put stress and strain on new puppy parents.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as puppy parental leave from work, so you will have to tough it out the next day. To keep barking to a minimum at night and to avoid neighbors filing noise complaints, we suggest keeping your dog’s crate near you and to get up every 3 to 4 hours for a potty break.
Any crying that happens despite you already making sure your dog has gone to the potty will need to be ignored. For most dogs, it can take anywhere from a few days to a week or two for the crying to stop.
Why You Should Never Punish Your Dog for Barking in the Cage?
When in a cage they can be asleep within an instant of getting there. Force-free kitten building means your baby isn’t afraid to bark on the streets if she hasn’t reached a toilet or if someone comes into your house.
Your puppy sleeps peacefully inside his car because they’ll be safe. They’ll even trust you when they need you. If he loves his cage he’ll sleep while they’re away. He’ll instead bark all the time. We can’t be at school to punish them.
As said before, positive reinforcement is the way to go. For whatever type of training you do, you never want your dog to associate something you want with negative emotions. If he is punished for barking in a crate, he will start to hate being inside even more than before.
This will only lead to a more difficult training period than it needed to be. Our rule of thumb is to reward the good behavior and ignore the bad ones.
Earning His Freedom
How does your dog “earn his freedom”? By being silent.
Every time you let your dog out, it needs to be during his quiet period. Try to ignore him and avoid eye contact until your puppy settles down. No matter how hard your dog is crying, whining, and howling, there is bound to be a break in between.
However, the break needs to be long enough for your dog to make the connection. We would say a good baseline is a quiet period of more than 5 seconds.
Once your dog is quiet for the appropriate amount of time, you should seize the opportunity by praising him, letting him out, and then rewarding him with tons of belly rubs, words of encouragement in an excited tone, and his favorite treat.
Help for Sleep-Deprived Parents
The worst part about crate training is the crying at night. It’s pretty on par with having to wake up in the middle of the night to let your dog out for a potty break. If you have a significant other, try to take turns with the potty breaks so at least one person gets more rest each night. As for the crying and barking in the crate, it’s almost inevitable for the first few nights.
What can help is a stuffed toy with a ticker mechanism. This works wonders because a new puppy that you bring home will be in a completely new environment and away from his litter and, more importantly, his mother.
The ticking toy will simulate the sounds he heard in his mother’s womb or while sleeping next to her side, which has a calming effect.
You are all your dog knows at the time you bring him home, and you will most likely have spent the day getting to know each other and setting the foundations for a bond. Having your dog’s crate near your bed at night will really help. Some pet parents have said sticking their fingers in between the wiring of the crate at times can also soothe a new puppy.
Some dogs like the crate covered and some don’t. To figure out what your dog likes, we suggest trying both to see how he feels. Unless you plan to have your dog sleep in your bed for the rest of his life, we wouldn’t suggest letting him sleep with you, especially since new puppies are not fully potty trained yet. We will say that sleeping in your bed with you will keep them quiet, so the decision is yours.
Other than these tips above, there is really nothing you can do to get your dog to stop barking in the crate. It will take time for your dog to get used to the new dynamic so we suggest just ignoring the barking as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I ignore a dog barking in a crate?
Yes, you should ignore barking in the crate unless you think something is wrong with your dog. Your dog may be signaling he needs to relieve himself, so make sure you give your dog a bathroom break before putting him in.
If it’s at night, the best thing to do is to ignore the behavior. If you know your dog is barking for attention or out of boredom, then do not reward him by giving in.
Is it normal for a dog to bark in a crate?
Yes, it is completely normal for a dog to bark in a crate. In fact, dog owners should expect this for at least the first few days.
No dog likes to be confined, so it will take time and consistent training for your dog to understand that crating him is a part of life in his new home and he is perfectly safe in there. Make the crate more inviting by making it a nice place to be. Put his favorite toys in the crate and line them with comfortable padding.
Crate training entails a lot of barking, so make sure you’re ready. Most of the time, the best antidote for constant barking is to ignore it. However, you must make sure your dog isn’t trying to communicate something such as having to go to the bathroom or feelings of discomfort.
If he seems okay, then do your best to ignore the barking. We also suggest exercising your dog thoroughly every day to reduce the barking and to make sure the crate is in a quiet environment free of stimuli.