Crate Training Your Dog (and What to Do About Dog Barking in Its Crate)
Not All Dogs are ‘Crated’ Equally
When crate training your dog, you might notice your dog barking in its crate and at night while crated. This behavior can become problematic and force some sleepless nights on you if not handled quickly. Let’s take a look at what you can do to control your dog’s behavior.
Dogs are den animals. They seek small, enclosed spaces to keep safe from danger, rest, and raise a family. Because dogs don’t like to soil their dens, crate training is one way some dog owners choose to introduce their pets to house training.
How your dog adapts to crating depends on her nature, her history, her environment, and her temperament. As with all dog training, crate training takes patience and consistency. Any time your dog seems stressed or exhibits unusual behavior, consult your vet.
Is Crate Training Good for Dogs?
A crate can keep your pet protected and prevent your house from being destroyed while you’re away. However, your dog may experience separation anxiety when you leave, and a crate might not quell her fear. It may, in fact, cause your dog to start howling or whining to get out of her kennel to be with you.
Both the Humane Society and the American Kennel Club say that crate training can be good for dogs if it is used properly. In other words, crates should not be used as punishments; otherwise, your dog will associate the crate with negative reinforcement. The Humane Society advises you to use the crate while you’re house-training your dog, until you can trust them not to soil or destroy your home. AKC advocates for crate training for life, especially if there is an emergency in the home; a crated dog is easier to rescue.
How Can I Stop My Dog Barking in Her Crate?
Dogs bark as a way to communicate with you about their needs, whether she needs to go potty, she’s in distress, or merely wants your attention. No matter the reasoning, there’s a bark for it. In the case of separation anxiety or fear of her crate, your dog may bark while crated to voice her anguish.
Teach from the beginning
The best way to keep your dog from barking while in her crate is to teach her at a young age that barking won’t get her out of the kennel.
It’s also essential that your dog has good experiences with her crate, which can be accomplished through encouragement in the form of praise and treats.
Exercise before crating
A tired dog is less likely to bark constantly while in a cage, so take your dog for a walk or play with her for 20-30 minutes before she goes into her crate.
Eliminate reasons for barking
Eliminate other reasons for your dog’s barking like hunger or the need to go potty by ensuring your dog is fed and has gone outside for a bathroom break before crating.
Place the crate in an area close to you
Your dog loves being near you. Placing her kennel in the room where you spend most of your time will allow your dog to see you, alleviating separation anxiety or feeling of isolation. If you’re crating your dog at night and she’s barking or whining, place her crate in your bedroom. This move may be close enough to you that she will calm down and rest without making a fuss.
Do Bark Collars Work When Dogs Bark in Their Crates?
Dogs should never have collars or tags or anything on when they’re in the crate. If your dog were to get her collar tangled while you’re away, the outcome could be tragic. For this reason, a remote-style training device like the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool could help stop your dog’s barking in her crate without the need for a collar or contact with your dog.
The use of BarxBuddy is not recommended for puppies under six months because the high-frequency sound may frighten your pup and may not be practical due to puppies’ short-attention span.
Tips for Effective Crate Training
If this is your first attempt at crate training, several tips can help ensure that the process is positive and that your dog is happy and content with her kennel.
Choose the right crate for your dog
You’ll need to select a crate that is just big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. If she isn’t fully grown, you can buy a kennel that will suit her adult size, providing you block off the excess space to prevent your dog from “going” in one area and returning to the other.
Make the crate comfortable
Like you, your dog wants to feel comfortable in her surroundings. Placing some bedding or a blanket in her crate along with a blanket over the top of the kennel can create a relaxed area.
Keep the door open
Keep the door open while your dog isn’t in it or you’re at home. With the cage door open, your dog understands it’s safe to explore the space on her terms. After some time, your pet may, on occasion, prefer to lay in her crate over sitting on the couch.
Be sure to leave toys in the crate
Make sure your dog has a few safe toys in her crate that can help keep her occupied while you’re away. Puzzle games are an excellent option. Bones are not.
Never leave your pet with a bone unattended.
Use treats and praise
Any time you see your dog displaying good behavior while in her kennel or entering the crate on her own, reward her with praise (a treat helps too!). Any positive reinforcement you give will increase her comfort level with the kennel.
Keep an eye on the time
Keep the time that your dog is in her cage reasonable. This practice is especially true for puppies or older dogs that have trouble controlling their bladders or bowels. Regardless of age, your dog needs exercise and human interaction for her well-being. Cooped up in a crate for extended periods may cause her to become anxious or depressed and act out. The rule of thumb is: Any puppy under six months shouldn’t stay crated for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
Don’t use the crate as punishment
Never use your dog’s kennel as a punishment. If you do, your dog may grow to fear her crate and make any existing barking habit worse.
As with any dog training, you must be patient with your pet. She can sense any apprehension or frustration you may be feeling, so use a calm approach and give crate training time.