Getting a new puppy is extremely exciting. Inviting a dog into your home to live and become another member of the family is full of sweet moments and happy memories. However, there are obstacles that you both will have to overcome to make the transition a smooth one.
Crate training may be one of these obstacles, especially for new dog parents. Using a crate is a common way to deal with extended absences when you don’t know yet if you can trust the dog to be alone in the home.
Just because the crate seems like a magic fix-all for humans, it might not be for your puppy. If they don’t enjoy being in their crate and cry and bark when they are inside, you might feel as though you are doing something wrong.
Most dogs only cry for a little while and eventually settle down. However, even that can be disturbing to your work, your neighbors, or during sleep at night.
There are many facets of crate training that are important to understand during the process and are helpful even after you have started. Understanding how your pup is feeling can help fix the situation. If you hear your puppy crying in the crate when left alone, here’s what you should do:
A Dog Has Natural Den Animal Instincts
The first thing to understand is that you are not unnaturally caging them and that it is wrong for the dog. Just be sure to follow the general rules of thumb for good kennel practices.
Dogs have natural den instincts from their wild ancestors. Their dens were like their homes, offering a place of respite from danger, to sleep soundly, and to raise a family safely.
Ideally, your puppy’s crate should be like their den. The crate should be a safe space, where they take a nap or can hide away if they feel like there is danger, like during a thunderstorm.
How to Crate Your Puppy
Using a crate doesn’t magically fix any of the problems that you and your puppy might be having. Don’t expect a kennel to cure them of any sort of destructive behavior. Also, be aware that crying is normal during the first steps in the process of training.
These guidelines for crate training can help the transition move smoothly and correct any damaging perspectives that you might hold about using a kennel.
Why Your Dog Is Crying in the Crate
There are many reasons that a dog whines when they are in their crate. Some of these are easily fixed, while others may take more patience and training to ease.
Most dog owners are familiar with the concept of separation anxiety. It is useful to realize that just because a dog is lonely, that doesn’t mean they have separation anxiety.
Dogs are social creatures, and they instinctively feel that they should belong to a pack. A new puppy wants to be around you all the time, especially if you are at home. They could be crying because they miss you.
A good sign that loneliness is the only reason that your puppy is crying is if they settle down once they believe that you are gone.
The idea that dogs like to have a safe space should not be used against them. If they feel uncomfortable in the crate, they might cry out because it feels like a cage instead of a happy place.
Prevent this by finding the right size crate, like the typical collapsible wire dog crate, or get one that matches interior décor better while satisfying the size needs of your pup, like furniture-style dog crates.
The crate itself isn’t the only important part of ensuring that your dog feels at home. Put in something they find comforting, like a blanket or a toy. They should also have some sort of bed to cushion their joints during the hours they spend inside. Use a rectangular bolster bed or a dog pillow with a removable cover to make cleaning up accidents easier.
Dogs are intelligent creatures, some breeds even more than others. If they are consistently left in their crate for too long, they may get bored. Kennels are not the most mentally stimulating location.
If it comes down to boredom, don’t reward them with attention until they are let out of the kennel. The pups will quickly learn that whining doesn’t get them what they want.
Just like humans can get claustrophobic, some dogs don’t like being caged in a small space and are afraid of the kennel. If you have adopted a dog who has been a victim of some sort of abuse, be ready for more extended training, equipping yourself with plenty of patience.
A dog may want to be let out of their crate if they need to pee or are nauseous. A good sign that this is the case is if your dog behaves typically well in a crate and suddenly starts whining or barking without stopping.
Actual separation anxiety is an emotional illness in dogs, being more prevalent in some dog breeds than others. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety can experience panic attacks and deep anxiety when they are left by themselves.
If your puppy suffers from separation anxiety, it might be something you want to discuss how to treat with your pup’s vet. They will need more of a long-term management plan for training to be left alone.
Is Crate Training Even Necessary?
You might be thinking, “Is this all even necessary? I don’t want to cause my puppy any pain!”
This feeling is understandable. However, done the right way, spending time in a kennel should not be a negative experience for your pup. Having them trained to be at peace in their kennel also helps when vet checkups are required or if any travel comes up.
Having a puppy comfortable with spending time in their kennel helps you avoid coming home to a mess. It regulates the pups so they can learn how to behave around their new home without negative instances flaring up between the puppy and your family.
The 3 Tips to Prevent Your Puppy From Crying in the Crate
Even if problems arise during the training, it is not too late to fix it. There are plenty of methods to work around any negative associations your dog has toward their kennel. Stop your fur-baby from crying for hours by trying out one or more of these tips.
1. Build the Crate Up
Make the crate a desirable place for your dog to be. You shouldn’t have to convince or cajole your dog to get into their crate; they should want to. There are many ways to do this.
2. Get Rid of the Wiggles
All dogs are active creatures. Some breeds only need a small amount of exercise because of their size and genetics. However, most dogs need at least one long, 30-minute walk or run each day. High-energy dogs need even more.
If you put your pup in their kennel before you leave in the morning and have to be gone for a while, get up early enough to walk them around. Dogs should be able to stand up in their crate, but that doesn’t mean they will be able to get exercise. Early exercise helps get them tired enough to settle down and keep them calm.
3. Teach Them What Crying Means
Crate training doesn’t occur only at the beginning of the process. Dogs who develop problems during the training process signify a need for training to go in a different direction. Make sure they are comfortable; take them out for a potty break and exercise beforehand, and choose the right place in the home.
However, some dogs realize that when they cry, they receive attention from their humans. The useful reason that a pup may cry in their crate is if they are trying to tell you that they need the bathroom or feel sick. It is not good when they do it just to get you to come closer, though.
The correct response to a crying puppy, once everything else has been done, is to respond in a way that encourages proper warning behavior. Every time your dog starts to cry, take them out to the bathroom.
When you take your puppy out, use a leash, so they don’t get to run around. Don’t talk to them, pet them, or even look at them. Any physical response is gratifying for them. Allow them outside, standing as still as possible for their bathroom needs, for five minutes.
If they haven’t used the bathroom in five minutes, take them back in and put them immediately in the kennel. Do this each time they start to cry. Dogs quickly learn what the rewards are for their actions.
Responding in this way doesn’t reward the dogs in any way for poor behavior. However, it affirms that they can always let you know if they desperately need to go to the bathroom.
How to Stop Your Puppy From Crying During the Night
The methods used to stop your dog crying at night are similar to those used during the day.
A pup realizes what specific actions merit rewards quickly. If they figure out that crying sometimes results in freedom and getting to be close to you, they will cry for hours and hours to get what they want again.
You should be asleep during the night, and even if you aren’t, it is best to act the norm. Take your dog out right before you put them in their kennel for long enough to go to the bathroom. Once they go into the kennel and you go to bed, then go ahead and sleep, or pretend to sleep. Don’t let the pup out again, or they will learn that crying means freedom.
If the dog struggles from separation anxiety or loneliness, try placing the kennel closer to you where they can at least still see you. Hopefully, this helps mitigate these emotions and make the dog feel safer.
Getting a new puppy isn’t always a bed of roses. However, transitioning together is the key. Try to understand how your dog is thinking, what they might be trying to communicate to you.
Dogs don’t make noise just to be annoying, and they thrive knowing what they are supposed to do to make you happy and still get their needs recognized.
Work together in training with patience, and eventually, everything will fall into a smooth schedule. Your puppy is satisfied because they know that they are doing the right thing, and you are happy because your puppy isn’t crying anymore.
Featured Image Credit: Chonlawut, Shutterstock