Listening to your puppy cry in their crate isn’t easy… particularly during the first few days (or weeks.)
You may start to wonder if crate training is worth the hassle… especially when you’re being kept up at night.
Even worse: You might feel like you’re being mean or cruel to your pup… so you just want to rescue them from their solitude.
But that only starts the process over from the beginning… and you’re stuck not being able to crate train your dog at all.
In this guide, you’ll find answers to all the questions you might have about a pup crying in the crate… and you’ll also discover a few tricks that’ll speed up the process of crate acclimatization.
Let’s get started.
Is It Normal For A Puppy To Cry In The Crate?
It usually takes a few weeks before your pup is used to the crate.
It’s best to get them accustomed to the crate gradually. Younger puppies (under 6 months) should stick to just a couple of hours at first.
They’ll often cry the most during the first few days. It can be a difficult process for many owners (so you’re not alone.) But most puppies will settle down over time.
Why Is My Puppy Crying?
There are many reasons why a puppy cries in the crate (and resolving these causes may reduce the crying, too.) In most cases, crying is a natural instinct when they’re separated from you.
But over time… most dogs can be crate trained and won’t have any issues.
Reasons why a puppy cries in the crate:
- Boredom. If your pup’s crate has no entertainment to offer, they’ll quickly get bored and restless. If they’re not sleeping, then they may bark or cry due to boredom.
- Fear. Is your dog scared? If so, your dog will cry for attention and want rescuing. Finding (and removing) the thing that spooks your pup may help.
- Anxiety. Many young dogs struggle to be away from their owners, so it could be separation anxiety. Some dogs may start to panic quickly, while others can tolerate more time alone before they cry out.
Some pups may engage in destructive behaviors when they’re left alone. Often, these dogs will still be stressed even outside the crate… so the trigger isn’t the crate itself, but simply your absence. Extreme separation anxiety can be very distressing for your dog. It’s worth talking to a vet for further advice (and possibly medication.)
- Restlessness. If they’ve been in the crate for too long, they may simply be restless and need some activity. These dogs are generally fine with crate training and don’t make much fuss… until the duration has become too long.
- Bladder Control. If your dog needs to empty their bladder, they may cry to be let out of the crate. When your dog is already crate trained and usually happy by themselves inside it, this could be the main reason.
How Long Will My Puppy Cry?
The time it takes for your puppy to feel safe and settled can vary.
But when your pup feels familiar and comfortable with their crate, they should settle down.
The first few days (or weeks) are usually the most difficult, but you should notice a reduction of crying overtime… especially if all their other needs are catered for and there’s no reason for them to dislike the crate.
Should I Let My Puppy Cry in His Crate?
If their needs haven’t been met, then you shouldn’t let them cry. Instead, you should tend to their needs first. Afterward, you should give them time to settle down and get used to the crate.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Has your dog been let out to pee before bed?
- Are they feeling comfortable in their crate?
- Do they have enough quality bedding?
- Do they have familiar toys and other comforts?
- Have they been for a walk to tire them out?
- Is the temperature too hot or too cold?
- Do they have a chew toy to occupy them if bored?
14 Ways To Stop Your Puppy Crying In The Crate
Even though most puppies will learn to settle down over time… there are still things you can do to speed up the process and ensure your dog is as happy as possible.
Let’s take a look.
- Treats. Adding a few of your dog’s favorite treats can make a difference. You can leave their favorite chews or treats, and this will keep your dog occupied when they’re first placed in the crate.
- Kong toys. Another great option is to use a treat-stuffed Kong toy. You can freeze them with some paste treats inside, and this will keep your dog busy for longer while they get used to the crate.
- Make it comfortable. If your pup is uncomfortable, they won’t settle in the crate. Make sure you have a soft, comfy crate pad, some blankets, and something that reminds them of you (like an item of clothing.)
- Don’t leave your pup too long. When you’re starting out with crate training, short sessions are better. You shouldn’t leave your dog for more than a few hours… especially when they’re young and can’t hold their bladder.
- Dinner time. One way to create a positive association with the crate is to feed your pup dinner in the crate. You just need to place their food bowl in the crate, and they’ll soon begin to have a better feeling about it.
- Crate placement. Is your pup’s crate left in the corner of a room with no people nearby? If so, your pup will get lonely and feel excluded, which leads to crying. Instead, keep the crate in a busy area that’s near to the household action.
- Exercise. A tired pup has less energy for crying, and they’ll settle down much quicker. Whenever possible, give your dog some exercise (either a walk or playtime) so they’ll feel more relaxed when they’re in the crate.
- Obedience training. Another great way to tire your pup out mentally is to practice some basic obedience lessons before bedtime. Even 5 to 10 minutes can be enough to tire your dog out and help them settle before they sleep.
- Crate size. Your pup needs enough space to be comfortable, but not so much space that they can run around and not settle down. You want your dog to relax in the crate, so getting the right size is vital. If you’re concerned about your pup outgrowing the crate, buy an adjustable crate with a divider.
- Give bathroom breaks. If your pup needs to pee, it’s a good idea to let them out of the crate! Sometimes, your pup might just need to relieve themselves.
- Be consistent. If you’re letting your pup cry it out, then do your best to stick to your chosen training method. Inconsistency could make the crying persist for longer. Reducing any confusion and mixed signals is important for success.
- Don’t respond too quickly. When all it takes is a minor whimper to gain your attention, your pup may use this method rather than develop their own self-soothing skills. If you know your pup is warm, comfy, fed, and doesn’t need to pee… then try to give them some time to settle down before attending to them.
- Never punish. A key rule with crate training is to never use the crate for “time outs” or “punishment”. After all, you want your pup to have only positive associations with the crate!
- Stay close. Some owners find their pups settle down quickly if the crate is placed in the same room as them, particularly at night. Keeping the crate in your own bedroom can help to alleviate some of the separation anxiety your dog may be feeling.
How Do You Get a Puppy To Stop Whining at Night?
Some puppies only whine in their crate at night time.
In this case, try to rule out anything that may be causing the upset.
- Is your dog warm and comfortable?
- Have they been let out to pee?
- Do they have some toys?
- Have they been exercised?
If they keep crying, you could try putting the crate in your bedroom with you, so your dog knows your nearby.
What If Crate Training Isn’t Working?
It’s important to have realistic expectations and be prepared for some initial difficulties. Most dogs will get used to the crate over time. However, if it’s really not working, you could try some alternative strategies.
For example, some owners find that a puppy playpen is a better solution, as it gives their pup more space to explore. In this case, they’ll feel less “cooped up” and may find it easier to settle down this way.
If your dog was previously well-crate-trained… and has only recently started having problems, then take a look at any possible triggers that may be causing the new difficulties.
It’s also useful to talk with a vet about your specific case, as they may have further tips and advice that’ll help in your situation.
Crate training a fresh pup can be a challenging time. And as dog owners, it can be difficult to hear your pup when they’re crying and not do anything.
But if you apply the tips in this guide, you should be able to make some great progress.
As long as your pup has their basic needs met, they should eventually learn to relax and be comfortable in the crate. But it can require patience and persistence at first.