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Alternatives to Crate Training Your Puppy to Control Barking

crate training alternatives for puppies

You want to control your puppy’s nonstop barking, but you decided against crate training. We get it. It’s a personal choice, a matter of preference for both you and your dog. Some puppies don’t do well with crate training, while others take to it quickly. Read on for alternatives to crate training your puppy, especially if you’re trying to curb unwanted barking.

By the way, we have a related post that offers tips for puppy crate training.

Is crate training necessary? No. Crate training can provide you and your dog several benefits, like keeping your pet safe and giving it some independence in its own den-like space.  

When you train a puppy to stop barking, remember that barking is how dogs communicate. Your goal should be to teach your dog to stop barking on command, not to silence your dog forever.

Benefits of Not Crate Training 

When it comes to crate training puppies, a potential problem arises when owners use the crate as a place of punishment. If a dog does something bad, “go to your crate” can teach it to negatively view the kennel. Dogs have simple minds. If you use a crate for both punishment and a “safe place,” you can see how these mixed messages can backfire during your puppy training efforts. So, a benefit of not using a crate for dog training is you teach your dog how you want it to behave in its natural environment, both indoors and outdoors. 

Secondarily, crated dogs can become uncomfortable, restless and fearful if you leave them crated for long periods. Crates can lead them to feel excluded from you, especially companion dogs and breeds that tend to be clingy. Consider exploring alternatives to crate training to stop or control puppy barking.

Alternatives to Crate Training for Puppies

The choice to crate train is a matter of personal preference. There is no right or wrong (although we do lean toward “wrong” when it comes to using a crate as punishment). What can you do in lieu of crating to prevent your puppy from running around with reckless abandon and barking like a fool? Plan to invest time. 

Young puppies have seemingly unlimited amounts of energy and need to explore their environments, so — just like babies and toddlers — you need to watch over them. Of course, it’s impossible to watch your puppy 24/7, so some form of confinement can protect your pet when you’re unable to have your eyes on him. 

  • Get a removable barrier, like a puppy gate or baby gate to limit where your puppy can roam, especially when you are not home or when you’re distracted.
  • A “pet-pen” is another alternative that fences an area in your home where your puppy can continue playing without getting into trouble.

How to Stop Puppy Barking Without Crate Training?

At around 7-16 weeks, puppies begin to bark as a way to communicate their needs and emotions. If your pup holds out until he’s 4 months old, congrats. For the pet parents whose puppies begin barking early, it may seem like your puppy barks at everything.

Of course, how much and how often your dog vocalizes depends on many factors such as his breed, personality, temperament, and its environment. Some reasons a pup barks include:

  • Excitement 
  • Play
  • Needs to go potty
  • Separation anxiety
  • Underlying medical issues
  • Fear (unfamiliar sounds or people)

5 Steps to Curb Your Puppy’s Barking

The reason behind your puppy’s incessant barking will help determine what things you can do to limit this type of behavior. While the following tips can help reduce your puppy’s barking, they are not intended to stop your pet’s vocalizations entirely, nor are they going to fix the problem overnight. Remember: Dogs bark to communicate. Your goal is to teach them to stop barking on your command, not to silence them.

With that said, patience and consistency increase your chances of success. Let’s get to it. 

  1. To rule out medical issues as the cause of your pet’s barking, schedule a visit to the veterinarian.
  2. Puppies tend to have boundless energy. Playtime and mental stimulation can tire him out and quiet him down. 
  3. If your pet barks out of fear or anxiety, comfort him to increase his trust and bond with you. Although it’s normal for a puppy to bark out of fear, as they have little to no life experience, so be careful not to coddle him too much. Overindulgence can lead to attention-seeking barks, which is a negative behavior he can take into adulthood.
  4. As early as 7-8 weeks, young puppies can learn basic commands like sit, stay, and come. Reward with high-quality puppy treats and positive reinforcement, so you train your dog when it’s the right time to bark. Offer a treat (immediately) any time your puppy complies with your command. Rewarding good behavior throughout the day can also encourage your puppy to be quieter. 
  5. Avoid scolding your puppy for his vocalizations, as this can increase fear or anxiety he may have and lead to him barking even more. 

Addressing your puppy’s barking sooner, rather than later, can help ensure the behavior doesn’t continue as he matures. Trust us, incessant barking in an adult dog can be a complex behavior to change.