Dog Crying In Crate: How To Stop It?Medically Reviewed
You would like your dog to be calm in the crate but he doesn't seem to share your opinion? Why can't he stop crying and whining? This is not an unusual problem, on the contrary. In this article we're letting you in on some tips towards stopping the crying!
Is your dog giving you a hard time when he’s in his crate? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Fortunately, this isn’t a problem without a solution. Crate training can be very frustrating and difficult at times, but the sooner you start the better!
Therefore, we’re presenting various tips and tricks that will help to make the whole process easier.
Before we start, let’s clear up something many dog owners wonder about, especially when your dog doesn’t seem to like it.
Is Crate Training Good For Your Dog?
Most experts agree that the answer to this question is – yes!
Leaving puppies alone in the crate isn’t only something you have to do in certain situations, but it’s also very beneficial long term for the behavior and temperament of your dog. Crate training will hopefully lead to independence and prevent separation anxiety.
However, you shouldn’t use the crate as a place of punishment or for very long periods of time. If you’re putting your dog in a crate too often or for too long those could be the reasons why your dog is whining.
Now, let’s take a look at possible reasons behind the crying. In order to stop something you have to know what’s causing it, right?
Why Is Your Dog Crying In The Crate?
Is your dog still whining even though you did everything you should during the crate training ? Maybe you went too quickly through the process? Try again, but more slowly this time.
If he keeps crying after that, he’s maybe doing it out of attention. In that case, don’t pay attention to the whining if you don’t want your dog to make a habit out of it and whine every time it wants attention.
However, don’t just assume at once that it’s out of attention before having first checked if all his needs are fulfilled. This is especially the case if your dog is crying at night.
Dog Whining At Night
The only thing worse than a dog whining in the crate during the day is a dog doing it at night!
Dogs whining or barking at night isn’t something you want to be a part of. Nor your neighbors for that matter. In order to prevent whining at night time you have to make sure that you’ve taken care of all his needs before bedtime.
These are some common reasons could for night whining:
1. Too much energy
Dogs, and puppies especially, have a lot of energy. Sometimes when your dog hasn’t had sufficient activity during the day, he’s not feeling tired when it’s bedtime. Naturally, he won’t be very happy when you put him in a crate.
In order to avoid the whining and crying, take your dog for a walk before bedtime and play as much as you can. That way you’ll tire him or her out and your dog will fall asleep before you know it.
2. Uncomfortable crate
Usually it takes more than a good crate for the dog to feel comfortable. Puffing up the crate with good bedding and a couple of your dog’s favorite toys is very important.
Another thing to consider is the room temperature where the crate is located. Make sure it’s not cold as puppies and smaller dogs tend to get cold easier. Make sure it’s not too hot, as it will make the dog feel very uncomfortable too. Also, make sure that the crate isn’t too big or small, as this could be intimidating to your dog.
3. Physiological needs
This is one of the most common reasons for crying. Many dogs, especially puppies, have bladders that can’t last long without going to the toilet. So, going to bed without all their needs fulfilled is a valid reason for whining, don’t you think?
This is why you have to make sure that everything that should be done is done before bedtime. You’ll save your dog from discomfort and your neighbors and yourself from the whining.
If you have a puppy, he or she will not be able to last the entire night in the crate without having to relieve itself at least one time during the night. If your puppy wakes up crying, take him to the potty spot immediately. When he’s finished, take him back to the crate without playing or doing anything else that could prevent the dog from going back to sleep.
The reasons behind your dog’s crying in crate could be: lack of exercise, uncomfortable crate or unfulfilled physiological needs.
How Do I Stop The Crying?
If your dog is whining in his crate, here’s how you can handle it:
Give Meals In The Crate
This is the first step towards your dog feeling comfortable in the crate. By associating the crate with something every dog likes – eating – it will become a comfortable place.
If your dog refuses to eat inside the crate in the beginning, start by giving small treats in the crate, or by putting the meals just outside the crate. When that becomes comfortable, move the food inside the crate, just enough so he doesn’t have to go in but just enough to stick his head inside.
Move the food further inside every time and within a couple of days your dog will be comfortable eating inside. When you see that that’s the case, you can start trying to close the door of the crate while he’s eating.
Learn To Earn Program
If the method above doesn’t work, it’s time to change the approach. This program is based on the principle that you have to learn your dog to get what it wants by sitting.
This starts by teaching her to sit in order to get a treat from you. Just hold the treat and stand still until she sits down. Give the treat while she’s sitting and repeat this until it becomes an automatic reaction.
When your dog has mastered this, it’s time to apply this to other situations. One common exercise is called the ”leave-it-game”. It works by having your dog on leash and throwing something out of its reach.
Naturally, she’ll pull until she realizes she can’t get the treat that way. She will then come back to you and sit and look at you, as she knows that this is the way of getting what she wants. Give her the treat and reward the polite ”please”.
The goal is to teach self control. Instead of barking or whining to get what she wants, asking politely will get her what she wants and, more importantly, that it’s the right way to obtain attention.
Transfer To Crate
Having learned that politely asking will get your attention, your dog is ready to transfer this knowledge to the crate.
Have her go in and block her from going out at once, by shoving your hand with a treat right in her face. Once she’s stopped, guide her into sitting or lying down.
Continue with a few more treats every few seconds and reward her for remaining in place. Then let her out of the crate. Now she’s getting rewards for going in and going out of the crate. Repeat until she’s having fun going in and out, as she knows that she will earn your attention that way and get rewards.
Close The Crate Door
This is the final phase. After having let your dog inside the crate and while she’s lying down, feed her treats and then open the door – while she’s still lying down. The door should be closed for a very short period of time, leaving her no time to think about being locked inside.
As you can imagine by now, the time the door is closed should be gradually increased. There’s no exact rule by how much you should increase it. As long as the dog stays focused on the food, relaxed and lying down it’s all good.
This final stage should go rather fast because your dog should be relaxed in the crate by the time you get to closing the door.
In order to stop your dog’s crying in crate you will have to start from most basic things and commands. With patience and the right approach for your dog, she will learn that being in the crate is not so scary in the end.
5 Steps Towards Ending The Crying
If you’ve done the big steps mentioned above but your dog is still crying in crate, it’s time to give the details some thought! Follow these 5 steps and put an end to the whining!
1. Discover the reason behind the crying
- Is your dog tired enough?
- Do you have to take him out one more time?
- Is he hungry or thirsty?
- Is he comfortable?
If you’ve done everything to fulfill your dog’s needs, it’s possible that he’s just whining because he wants to get out of the crate.
2. Ignore the crying
If you know that no actual need is behind the crying, try to ignore it until it stops. If you acknowledge the barking your dog will get what it wants – your attention.
By attention we don’t mean only letting your dog out, but also all kinds of negative attention, such as shushing or shouting. Even if it’s negative, it’s rewarding their behavior and encourages the whining.
We know that ignoring your dog can be difficult and you may start doubting whether you’ve done everything you should, but try not to give in! Like the case with attention barking, the whining will only become worse because he now expects you to let him out of the crate as soon as he starts begging.
3. Make the crate inviting
You can make the crate more appealing with comfortable bedding and some toys that can keep your dog distracted, especially those with hidden treats.
If you just got a puppy, it’s probably used to sleeping with its mum and other puppies. If that’s the case, you can wrap a clock with a loud ticking sound in something (in order to protect it). Make sure there are no small parts that can be easily swallowed.
The ticking clock mimics the heart beat, which will make your puppy relaxed and get him to fall asleep more easily until he gets used to the crate. Today there are special heartbeat toys, so that’s also an option if you don’t want to use a ticking clock.
4. Leave something that reminds your dog of you
If your dog has been with you for a while, he or she is probably used to having you around. When alone in a crate during the night he may feel abandoned and miss you.
If you leave something of yours in the crate, such as an old jumper or scarf, your dog will feel your scent and get more comfort in the crate.
5. Place the crate somewhere visible
Some dogs hate being alone. If that’s the case, place your dog’s crate somewhere he can see you. During the night, put it in your bedroom where your dog can see that you’re sleeping and that everything is fine. If he starts crying hang down your arm so he can smell your scent and calm down.
If the previous approach of implementing basic command training doesn’t help, a couple of other tips can do the trick quite well. Try implementing one of these five tricks until you get the result you want.
- Leave the door to the crate open
If you leave the door open when your dog isn’t in the crate, he will know that it’s an inviting place and that he can enter whenever he feels like it.
- Praise and reward when he enters the crate and when he’s quiet in there
- Provide exercise
If you know that you’ll be using the crate for more than usual one day, try giving your dog a lot of walks and exercise in between crate times. A puppy’s bladder can’t go forever without relief, so leaving your dog in the crate 8-10 hours in there is not a good way to go.
- Give meals in the crate. This will help your dog associate the crate with something enjoyable.
- Feed him at least an hour and a half before bedtime.
- Don’t keep your dog in the crate too long. If your puppy is two months old, he can be inside for two hours. If he is three months old, he can be inside for three hours etc. Time for adjustment is necessary!
- Don’t use the crate for punishment
- Don’t put your dog in the crate if he’s anxious or agitated, wait until he calms down
- Don’t reward your puppy for whining
- Don’t give water before bedtime so he doesn’t have to wake up and pee during the night
Yes, crate training can be very frustrating and take some time and patience, but it’s worth it in the end. Having your dog whining and crying isn’t an ideal situation in any way, so don’t put off trying to stop it.
Try to figure out the cause behind it and act accordingly. By following our tips and tricks, you will be able to step by step make your dog more comfortable in the crate. And as you know – a happy dog equals a happy dog owner!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.