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Congratulations on your new furry family member! A puppy is so much fun. But training a pup to like and not bark in his crate can be frustrating. Persistence and patience are key.
Crates can be great aids to help train your puppy. They help to housetrain him and keep him from destroying your house.
We all know of someone whose puppy cries throughout the night. I’ve crate trained all of my dogs–16 in all. Some were easier than others.
I’ve called my current six-month old puppy Milllie, an Aussie mix,the “drama queen” when I first got her. She not only whined but, for the first couple of days, let out a blood-curdling scream occasionally when in her crate.
It took her many days to learn to feel secure in her crate. After persisting and many sleepless nights (for me), she now loves her crate. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth the sleepless nights and frustration. Here are some more great tips on helping a puppy be quiet at night in a crate.
What Should I Do If My Puppy Is Barking In His Crate?
Always Make Sure that the Crate is a Welcoming, Positive Place.
The puppy should look forward to being in his crate. A good way to remember this is the adage “the crate is great.” There are a number of things you can do to achieve this.
- Place a blanket or towels to make it a cozy den. He may even dig into them to make his own bed.
If you can, get one with the scent of his littermates or one from his former placement. It should make him feel calmer to have a familiar smell.
- You can also put a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel in the crate. Or you can purchase something called the Calmeroos Puppy Toy that simulates a heartbeat and has a warming pack, which can help the puppy feel calm and safe.
Where Should I Place My Crate?
Place the crate where your puppy can see you.
Especially during the first couple of weeks, place your puppy’s crate where he can see you. Usually, this is in your bedroom at night.
During the day, you can either move the crate where you’ll hang out the most, such as the family room. If you don’t feel like moving it or it’s inconvenient to do so, you can purchase a second crate, though this can get expensive.
Because I’ve had many dogs over the years, I have multiple crates.
Over time, as your pup learns to like his crate, you can be out-of-sight when he’s in it.
In fact, it’s important that you do this so he doesn’t become too reliant on seeing you. He has to get used to you being away, so he’s not likely to develop separation anxiety.
What Type of Dog Crate Should I Use With My Puppy?
There are many types of dog crates. Although each puppy’s an individual, there are advantages and disadvantages to different types of crates.
Wire Dog Crate
WE LIKE: Midwest LifeStages Dog Crate
Generally, I recommend this type. They’re relatively inexpensive and usually last many years. I have some of my crates over a dozen years.
My current puppy Millie loves her wire crate now and even goes into it on her own to rest.
Buy a wire crate that has a divider, so that you can move it as the puppy grows.
Most come with a plastic tray at the bottom that slides out and can be cleaned. Barring any physical problem, most pups don’t want to soil their crate.
I’ve had success with the Midwest LifeStages crates. We bought a Midwest LifeStages crate for Linus over 15 years ago and use the exact same crate today. – Colby
But, occasionally, a puppy may vomit because of something he ate or may have a bout of diarrhea. So the plastic tray becomes handy then.
One of the benefits of a wire crate is the puppy can feel connected to his surroundings and won’t feel as lonely if he can see you,
For pups that feel more secure in a closed kennel, you can place a blanket over it. Just be sure that your dog isn’t a magician who can pull the blanket in and chew it.
One of my golden retriever rescues, Riley, was about six months old when he came to me. He wasn’t used to a crate, so I put a blanket over it so that he’d feel more secure.
As I observed him the first night, I learned that wasn’t a good idea with him. He started to pull the blanket in, chewing little pieces off.
It turned out he liked being in the wire crate without a cover within a few days and settled down quickly to rest.
WE LIKE: Petmate Plastic Dog Crate
Some dogs like the security of a plastic kennel. I have those too and generally just use them for the dogs while traveling in the minivan.
I make sure they’re secured in the van so the dogs don’t get thrown around.
When I first purchased a plastic kennel, I waited until the dogs were full-grown. If you have a dog like a lab puppy, you’d be spending a fortune in buying crates as he grows.
In larger sizes, they’re often more expensive than their wire counterparts.
Cloth Foldable Crates
WE LIKE: Noz2Noz Soft Crate
These usually have a light-weight frame with a cloth covering and fold up for easy transportation. I love them when I take the dogs somewhere, such as to a hotel room.
But I don’t recommend these for puppies, as they can easily be chewed and ruined in a short time. Puppies probably think they’re big chew toys.
In addition to being ruined, your precious furry companion could get loose and into trouble if he chews his way out.
I currently have my Noz2Noz Soft Crate setup in my office where Elsa likes to rest while I work. However, I don’t recommend leaving your puppy unattended in a soft crate because she may decide to chew through the fabric. – Colby
How Do I Introduce the Crate To My Puppy?
In the beginning, you’ll just have to gently lead the puppy to the crate. I’m not going to kid you, it usually takes a pup some time–sometimes weeks–to accept a crate.
Very few dogs don’t accept the crate if it’s properly introduced.
- The first day, your pup is just getting used to being with you. If your puppy plays with toys, you can throw a toy into the crate to lure him into it. Leave the door open so he can go in and out.
You can show him you’re throwing a few pieces of his kibble.
Calmly praise him when he enters. Ignore when he exits.
- Make sure he’s had a little exercise, such as fetching a toy, before you put him in a crate.
Once he knows some commands like sit, you can also exercise his mind before he goes in.
The goal is to make sure he’s tired before he’s in the crate.
In all you do with your puppy, you want to set him up to succeed!
- You also want to make sure he’s gone potty before he enters the crate, so he doesn’t have an unavoidable accident or scream to let you know he has to go to the bathroom.
- As stated above, make sure that the crate is a welcoming place with a towel or blanket. Also, a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel or a Calmeroos Puppy Toy can help.
- Make sure you don’t feed him for at least two hours before he’s going into the crate for the night. I don’t withhold water because I want him to stay hydrated.
- A ticking clock placed outside the crate helps some pups relax. Even the soothing sounds of soft music or white noise or a relaxation sound such as ocean waves can help some puppies be calm.
- Each pup’s an individual. You’ll have to see what works for your new addition.
A shih tzu puppy I had appropriately named Cuddles really settled down when I played a sound machine of ocean waves.
You can get an app on most smartphones today to play such soothing sounds.
- It’s important to find what works best for your pup, so that he doesn’t cry in his crate. It’s really distressing hearing a puppy whine and, in an apartment, condo, or attached house can disrupt neighbors.
- The first night and succeeding nights, you’ll have to lure him with kibble, a pea-sized dog treat, or a toy to go into the crate. If he doesn’t go in, you’ll have to gently place him in and close the door.
- Over the next days and weeks with your puppy, you can work on luring him in the crate. Make sure he’s tired before entering to set him up to succeed.
Eventually, you can close the door for short times (seconds at first), opening the crate door when he’s quiet. Gradually build time.
We have an extensive step-by-step guide detailing how to slowly introduce the crate to a new puppy. If you’re having trouble with crate training this slow approach may work better with your puppy.
PRO TIP: Give your pup something safe to distract him and make his crate a happier place. I recommend the Extreme Kong. I freeze it when some mashed dog food about a quarter full. Then give it to the puppy to occupy him in his new “den.” My golden retriever puppy Riley would actually run into his crate when he’d see me put his Kong in his crate! It made his training so much easier.
What Should I Do If the Puppy Cries in His Crate?
Don’t panic! Unfortunately, it’s common for most puppies to cry the first night in their crate. Some let out a little whimper, others have a full barking session, and everything in between.
No matter how many dogs I’ve had, that sad sound is still hard to take. Puppies are such small, helpless creatures. Their distress is real.
Puppies cry in their crates for many reasons such as: loneliness; fear; boredom; having to potty; or missing their littermates. They aren’t just throwing a tantrum.
- If there’s any doubt whether the puppy has to go to the bathroom, err on the side of caution and take him to his potty spot. But don’t play with him there. He’s there to “do his doody.”
Give him a few minutes. If he doesn’t potty, put him gently back into his crate.
- You can take him out a few times if he keeps crying. But after three or four times of trying to get him to potty, I let the puppy cry themselves out. If you’ve tired him out before he’s gone in his crate, he shouldn’t whine for hours on end.
- If the puppy is whining for too long, make sure you’ve set up his crate for success as described above.
- A puppy can “hold it” overnight for approximately one hour longer than his age in months. So, a two-month old puppy can hold it for about three hours overnight.
- Remember: it will get better. The vast majority of young puppies adapt to a crate.
- There are other things you can do to help your pup to adapt to his crate, such as plug in an Adaptil diffuser (a dog-appeasing pheromone) near the crate.
It mimics the puppy’s mother’s scent and should have a calming effect on the furry baby. It’s sort of like a Glade plug-in to calm dogs. There’s no scent that we smell, however.
- If all else fails, there are many brands of calming sprays that can be sprayed on your puppy’s bedding. I would ask my vet first to see if they approve, though I’ve had success with them.
An adult dog that I adopted had major separation anxiety. Spraying his bedding with one of these seemed to help. Many have had success with the ThunderEssence spray.
- Although calming music and white noise sounds may help, there’s even music that’s been compiled for calming a puppy. Through a Dog’s Ear is a compilation of music that’s been tested to calm puppies. Some of my dog training clients have had great success playing this near their pup’s crate at night.
- Calmly praise when the puppy’s calm and quiet. But don’t talk more than a short “good puppy” or he’ll become reliant on your constantly talking to him.
What Shouldn’t I Do If the Puppy Cries in His Crate?
There are some methods that were used in the past to try to make a puppy quiet down in his crate. I don’t recommend them. Not only don’t they usually work, but they can also be cruel to a puppy in distress.
- Banging On the Crate. Although some puppies may quiet down, it will make the crate a terrifying place the pup will avoid.
- Using the Crate as Punishment. Even though our instincts may be to punish a puppy who’s chewing on our couch by putting him in his crate, this is not advisable.
The crate should always be a positive place (“The Crate Is Great”). You can always deal with the wayward chewing by giving the pup more exercise or redirecting him to an appropriate toy or chewy.
- Hollering at the Puppy to Be Quiet. Doing this can make a new puppy fear you. Also, some puppies may bark more because they’ll think that you’re barking along!
- Spraying the Puppy With Water. This method was used years ago by many puppy owners. Some still use it. I don’t recommend it as it makes the crate an unpredictable, unwelcome place.
- Shaking a Can Filled With Pennies. Some trainers still use “shake cans” or similar noise devices to stop a dog’s unwanted behaviors. They use an empty soda can filled with about 10 pennies, taping the opening so the pennies don’t fly out.
I don’t recommend doing this, because it can make the crate a scary place. Definitely not calming.
Even though some puppies may be quiet out of fear of the sound, the next time they’ll probably fight going into the crate again. Also, I don’t want to scare a dog and make him stressed trying to achieve a desired behavior.
Remember “The Crate Is Great!”
We crate train all of our puppies. One important fact everyone needs to remember is that every puppy is different.
Some puppies adjust to the crate right away without a peep. While others may cry, bark, and whine for days, weeks, and even months.
We detail several things you can do to help your puppy stop barking in his crate at night.
One final thing to remember is when it comes to training your puppy be patient, persistent, and consistent. It can take some time, but in our experience every puppy eventually figures out and loves his crate.
Do you have a puppy that barks in his crate at night?
Are you having trouble with crate training?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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