How to stop a puppy crying in their crate is one of the first things new pet parents Google when they’ve just welcomed a new ball of fur into their family. While you’re likely head over heels in love with your puppy, we have a feeling you might not be so fond of all the crying that takes place when your little baby is left alone in their crate.
Puppies are adorable, but they can be hard work too. They require a lot of diligent training and a great deal of patience on your part in order for that training to be effective and to ensure that unwelcome puppy behavior is stamped out early on before it becomes an ingrained habit. Unfortunately, deciding on the best dog crate for your pup is only half the battle.
You may have thought the hardest part of bringing home your new addition would be trying to choose from the huge array of puppy food options that are lining the shelves right now, but if you’ve just started crate training, you’ve probably quickly discovered that food shopping is a cinch in comparison!
The good news is that while you may not be able to completely curb your pup's whining behavior, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can minimize the crying and help make those first few months easier for both you and your furkid.
Why do puppies cry in their crate?
Firstly, it’s important to keep in mind that crying in their crate is pretty normal puppy behavior. Dealing with separation anxiety is one of the biggest issues for parents of a new pup as this is likely the first time they’ve been on their own since leaving their mother.
Loneliness, fear, boredom, missing their littermates, missing you, and needing the toilet are all common reasons for crying and it’s a natural response to finding themselves in a new environment, says vet Linda Campbell.
“Dogs new to being crated may whine or cry because they are not accustomed to the confinement,” she says. “Puppies, recently separated from their littermates, are often confused and lonely and will vocalize.”
Puppies and dogs are highly social animals and they don’t enjoy being separated from their pack, but after a few weeks your puppy will cotton onto the fact that you always come back and they’ll slowly begin to settle down.
How to stop your puppy from crying in their crate
Even with the best training practices, you may still find your puppy cries or whines to begin with. But the most important thing is to be consistent and to start the training early on to avoid your puppy picking up any bad habits or behaviors that will be difficult to curb when they get older. Here are a few tips to help you get your puppy to stay quiet while they’re in their crate.
1. Pick the right size crate
We know, it seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how much crying comes from pet parents choosing a crate that’s too small. While they may be small, your puppy still needs enough room to stand up, turn around comfortably, and play with their toys.
Many of the best dog crates come with dividers which allow you to expand the size of the crate as your puppy grows. This can be a great way of both saving you money in the long run by ensuring you don’t have to purchase a new crate when your pup gets older, while also letting you create a space that feels both cozy and roomy.
2. Consider the location
Just like with property, when it comes to your puppy’s crate it’s all about location, location, location!
One thing you want to avoid is putting your puppy’s crate too far away from where you are, so steer clear of the other end of the house and rooms like the garage or basement which often have a cold feel that can leave your fur ball feeling isolated.
Instead, choose an area where you tend to spend a lot of time, like a living area as this will help your pup feel more secure. You might even want to consider investing in two crates and keeping one near the end of your bed at night so your puppy is still in the same room as you. Not only can this help your furkid feel less lonely, you’ll also be able to hear when they need to be let out to go to the toilet.
3. Get your puppy comfortable
Think about how you feel when you go on holiday and are staying in a new place for the first time. You want it to feel warm and inviting rather than cold and sterile, right? The same is true for your puppy, so focus on creating a comfortable and homely environment within their crate.
Invest in one of the best dog beds and a nice snuggly blanket to help them feel secure. Dog beds that are donut shaped or have higher sides can be really great for creating a feeling of safety and self-warming beds can help mimic the warmth of your pup's mother, which can be hugely comforting.
Next up is purchasing a few of the best puppy toys so that your little fur ball has something to play with. Consider getting one good chew toy to help soothe sore gums during the teething phase and another plush toy that they can cozy up with.
Make sure your puppy sees their crate as a happy and comfortable space to hang out in. With that in mind, never use the crate as a form of punishment - you want every experience to be a positive one so that your puppy associates good things with being in their crate.
4. Give them plenty of exercise before crate time
One of the best ways to get your puppy to be quiet when they’re in their crate is to tire them out before putting them in there, so don’t underestimate the power of a good play session. The more energy your puppy burns beforehand, the more likely they are to want to take a nap.
Once it’s time for them to be crated, give them a toy that can be filled with the best puppy treats so that even when they’re settling down, they still have something to amuse themselves with until they fall asleep. We love the KONG puppy toy for this as it can be smeared with a little peanut butter or a dog food paste and then you can use the stickiness to hold a few kibble-like treats in there as well.
6. Factor in potty breaks
Just like a toddler, puppies can’t ‘hold it’ for anywhere near as long as adult humans and dogs can and crying is often a sign they need to go to the toilet, so you’ll want to factor in potty breaks.
A good rule of thumb when trying to figure out how frequently your puppy will need the toilet is to take their age and add one. That means that a two-month-old puppy will usually be able to wait three hours between potty breaks.
However, when you’re learning how to potty train a puppy, there’s no such thing as too many breaks, so feel free to take them outside more until you get a sense of how often they need to go.
7. Ignore their whining
We know it’s hard, but the worst thing you can do is to give your puppy lots of attention every time they cry or to remove them from the crate the minute they start acting up.
According to veterinary technician Linda Campbell you should avoid giving your puppy any attention until they’ve gone quiet. “The goal is to teach the puppy that quiet, calm behavior results in a release,” she says. “The puppy can be released after waking up from his nap or after a few minutes of quiet behavior.”
What if your puppy still won’t stop crying?
If you’ve tried all of the tips and tricks above and you’re still not having any luck getting your puppy to stop crying, try placing a blanket over the crate. This can provide comfort by helping your puppy feel more secure.
There are also a range of puppy sleep aids on the market that can also be useful in helping your young one to settle. And remember, the most important thing is that your puppy knows that you’re in charge - if you don’t respond to every cry, they’ll soon get the message that whining isn’t an effective way to get what they want.
Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.
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