Positive Crate Training To Stop Barking And Whining At Night
Does your puppy keep you up all night?
Sleepless nights take the fun out of having a new puppy. We’ve all been there!
It takes a bit of patience to teach your puppy to love their crate, but you’ll settle into a bedtime routine before you know it. Our force-free methods help you get there sooner, with less stress.
These methods also work for adult dogs who have never been crate-trained.
Why You Should NEVER Punish Your Dog For Barking In The Crate
When it’s 3 AM and your puppy is barking and whining in their crate, you’re bound to be a bit annoyed. It’s tempting to yell at your puppy or turn to aversive training methods, but that’s always a bad idea.
The problem with punishments is that they deceptively create a “quick fix”. Your puppy might quiet down for a few minutes – but they’ll still feel scared and alone, yet unable to express that. This also means the puppy may continue to bark when nobody is home to punish them.
You want your puppy to feel safe and secure, so they don’t even want to bark. When the crate is a part of their nighttime routine, they’ll start to fall asleep within minutes of going inside for the night. If they love their crate, they’ll happily nap when you’re not home instead of barking the whole time.
Force-free crate training means your puppy will not be afraid to bark if they have to go potty, if someone breaks into your home, or if there’s something wrong. Your puppy will sleep peacefully in their crate because they feel safe and secure, and they have learned that they can trust you to be there when they really need you.
Preparing Your Puppy-Friendly Crate
Your puppy’s crate will be their safe haven.
Line it with a bed that is thick enough to keep your puppy from sinking to the bottom. Furnish it with enough blankets for your puppy to burrow. You may want to use old towels if you’re concerned about chewing or potty accidents.
Crates are valuable tools for potty training because puppies typically do not go potty in them – if the crate is set up correctly. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and stretch out, but not so big that they will use one side as a restroom. Most crates come with dividers to make the interior space smaller; then you can make it larger as your puppy grows.
You can use a crate cover or blanket to block out light and sound. That way, your puppy will be able to sleep peacefully inside, even during the day.
Crate Training During The Day
An 8-week-old puppy will need to sleep up to 20 hours per day, broken up into naps. So, you’ll have lots of opportunities to create positive crate experiences before bedtime.
The crate should be open most of the time when you are home. You can hide little treats inside for your puppy to find on their own.
Whenever you play with your puppy, you’ll notice that they get very sleepy after about 30 minutes. Encourage your puppy to go into the crate on their own for naps. If it’s comfy enough, your puppy will seek it out without being placed inside.
You can practice locking your puppy in the crate for 15 to 30-minute sessions during the day. Do this while you are in the room, perhaps watching television or washing dishes.
Try putting your puppy in the crate with a Kong or similar fillable food toy. Puppies have sensitive tummies, so go easy on rich treats like peanut butter. You can fill it with their canned or raw food or kibble that has been soaked in water.
The goal is to crate your puppy for short periods of time so they do not experience separation anxiety. Realistically, though, your puppy may need to be crated for a few hours at a time when you are not home. This will be stressful for them in the beginning, but most dogs adjust quickly.
Crate Training When You Go To Work
If you work at a full-time job every day, you’ll need to speed up your puppy’s crate training. There are plenty of ways to make it easier.
Before you leave, make sure your puppy has pottied, eaten, and had water to drink. Play with your puppy and/or go for a walk so that they are sleepy. Tuck your puppy in. Within a few weeks, your puppy’s sleeping schedule will be synchronized with your work schedule.
At 8-10 weeks old, your puppy will need to go potty at least once every three hours. Smaller puppies may need up to 4 potty breaks during an 8-hour workday. You can hire a dog walker or pet sitter to let your puppy out or take them on walks.
To prevent barking when you are not around, try putting some music on. Music has been shown in studies to have a calming effect on dogs, particularly reggae and classical tunes. The music can also help drown out the sounds of passersby, which can keep your dog on alert.
The First Few Nights
A bedtime routine will make adjusting to night-time crating so much easier.
Make sure your puppy goes potty one last time. Play until they get tired. Many puppies get wound up at night and tend to nip. Make sure they run out of steam before even attempting to crate them.
You can use a lavender-based essential oil scent to lull your puppy to sleep. Some essential oils are harmful to dogs, so it’s best to use a calming spray that is made for pets.
What To Do If Your Dog Starts Barking In The Crate
A little bit of barking and whining is to be expected at first.
Your first response to crying should be to take your puppy out and give them a chance to go potty. Regardless of whether they “go” or not, they will need to wind down again once they go back in the crate. Tuck them in again. Wait for those little eyes to close.
If you’re certain that your puppy is “empty,” they might be lonely. Place the crate right next to your bed, if possible. Your pup might settle down if they can cuddle with an unlaundered t-shirt that carries your scent.
You could also try emulating the warmth and sounds of sleeping with littermates. A ticking clock and a heat source like a microwaved sock full of rice can help.
Sometimes, puppies bark because they’re bored. If your puppy is awake with the late-night puppy zoomies, they may need more exercise during the day. An overstimulated puppy is the hardest to put to bed; it’s better to spend a few extra minutes playing than to let them bark and bark for hours.
Help For Sleep Deprived Puppy Parents
Crate training is one of the hardest parts of having a puppy. If you stick through those first few weeks, though, it’ll be so worth it. And you don’t have to go at it alone.
At Healthy Houndz, we’ve overcome every imaginable puppy problem without using force, pain or fear. Bark Less, Love More. Explore Crate Training Essentials.