How to Stop your Puppy from Whining in the Crate

Listening to your puppy whining and barking in the crate can be all most impossible to ignore. It tugs on your heart strings, causes you frustration, and makes you the target of social ridicule if you live in an apartment setting.

I would say whining in the crate is the main reason why people stop crate training or avoid it all together.  However, if you know the proper procedures to implement, you can reach your goal of having a puppy or dog that learns to tolerate and even enjoy being inside the crate.

Begin implementing these 5 procedures today to stop your puppy from whining in the crate

The amount of time it will take to curb the whining will depend on past learning experiences your puppy has had with the crate, but you should start to see dramatic results after 1 week of implementing these procedures.

1) Build up positive associations to the crate
You should not view the crate as only a place to keep your dog when you are away from the home.  Your goal is to make the puppy view the crate as a cozy area where good things happen. This should include feeding meals in the crate, giving special chew toys/bones inside the crate, and encouraging the puppy to go in the crate to find small hidden pieces of kibble or treats. Good things should happen inside the crate on a daily bases during the initial stages of crate training and then should occur periodically throughout adolescents.

2) Teach the puppy how to cope with being alone in the crate
When you close the puppy in the crate for the first time, your puppy is going to whine and bark. You will probably feel bad for the puppy, and your parental instincts may tell you that you need to immediately rescue your puppy. You must learn to hold back on your rescue efforts as puppies learn fast and if they learn that whining in the crate causes you to let them out, they will make whining their go to strategy when they want out of the crate.

Remember that you will not be able to be with your puppy at all hours of the day every day and the sooner they learn to cope with this actuality, the better.

The only time you should let your puppy out of the crate when they are whining is when you are in the early house training process usually between 8-12ish weeks. You may take the puppy out in the middle of the night when they are whining to see if they need to go to the bathroom, however you should then return them to the crate and ignore further whining rather than putting them in bed with you.  Ignoring your puppy’s whining may cause some interrupted sleep at night for the first week, but it will pay off soon once the puppy is able to control their bladder for longer periods and understands whining does not lead to sleeping with you.

3) Desensitize the puppy to you leaving the home
Most owners skip this step entirely and it is detrimental to crate training. You should desensitize your puppy to you leaving the home by giving the puppy an extra special chew toy such as a bully stick or stuffed Kong inside the crate and then walk out the front door.Spend a couple of minutes outside and then come back inside. Pay no attention to the puppy when you come back inside the home. Your puppy may start whining initially but they should return to consuming their exciting chew toy. Repeat a couple of times a day. You can also do this during meal times while the puppy is eating one of their meals inside the crate. Continue to increase the amount of time you stay outside from a couple of minutes to 5 or 10.

4) Teach the puppy to stay in the crate as a training exercise
This is an excellent trick that I often use with dogs that are sent to me for training and are whining initially because they are in new environment. This training exercise works best with a puppy that is 16 weeks or older. It works extremely well for adolescent dogs that whine in the crate.

Many dogs have not been taught how to stay in any area for any length of time, and being crated causes a lot of frustration which is one emotion that drives the whining and barking behavior.

Practice teaching the puppy to stay inside the crate with YOU acting as the boundary rather than a metal door. The exercise goes like this:

  1. Lure the puppy in the crate with kibble or a small treat
  2. Take a step back and then step forward and feed the puppy another piece of food
  3. Now take 3 steps back and then return to the puppy and feed a piece of food
  4. Anytime the puppy tries to come out of the crate, you will block them with your hands or your body to make the puppy stay inside the crate with the door open.
  5. Practice until you can make the puppy stay in the crate for a few minutes with the door open and you sitting a few feet away from the crate.
  6. Add the finishing touches on this exercise by closing and opening the door throughout stay period.

5) Make the crate as comfortable as possible
This may take a little experimenting, but you should try figuring out if you can make the crate more appealing to your puppy.  You may try covering the crate fully or partially with a blanket if you have a wired crate. If you have a young 8-12 week old puppy, you may add a chew proof bottle with warm water to simulate body heat from the puppy’s littermates.

2 Actions to Avoid When Crate Training

  • Do not take your puppy out and put them in bed with you at night when they are whining
  • Do not only keep the puppy confined when you are away from the home. Puppies should spend short periods of time in crates and play pens while you are home so they understand that this is natural.

Teaching your puppy to be quiet in the crate takes some initial training exercises so that they learn to cope with being in their crate. The puppy also needs to learn that whining does not cause you to let them out. Stay diligent and consistent with your efforts and in a few weeks, whining in the crate will be a thing of the past.

If your dog displays excessive salivation, loss of control over their bowels, or trembling when inside the crate, you may be dealing with severe separation anxiety and may need additional help. You can contact me by clicking here if you think your dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety and would like some advice.


Published on July 23, 2017

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