Most pet owners will need to learn how to stop their dog from barking in a crate at some stage, particularly if a new puppy joins the household.
There are many reasons for crating dogs, including:
- Potty training.
- Security when your dog is left unattended.
- Air travel.
- Transportation in the car.
- Containment for trips to the vet or the groomer.
While most dogs will take to a crate without too much fuss, you might find that Fido starts barking, whining, or howling when crated – especially if you need to crate him overnight.
Of all areas of dog training, crate training is among the most challenging. Before we highlight how you can stop your dog from barking when he is crated, you should determine the underlying reasons for this behavior.
Why Is Your Dog Barking Inside the Crate?
Rather than immediately focusing on potential solutions to your dog barking inside his crate, it is worth exploring the reasons for this destructive behavior.
Barking can be a cry for attention, but there are many other reasons for dogs whining and barking when crated, including:
- Requiring a toilet break
- They want out of the crate
- Location of crate
- Detecting something unusual in the environment
Requiring a toilet break
One of the most common reasons for dogs barking inside a crate is that they need a toilet break. Barking is the only way they can communicate this need to you. One way to get around this is to let them pop outside for a few minutes before they enter their crate. This should give Fido the chance to empty his bladder before tucking up for bed.
They want out of the crate
Even though most dogs will tolerate crating, they obviously prefer to roam freely. Sometimes, a dog barking inside a crate is just their way of telling you that they would sooner be by your side than alone in their crate.
Bored dogs tend to be vocal dogs. If you put your dog inside his crate before he is tired, this can easily trigger boredom and barking. If, on the other hand, you wait until Rover is exhausted before crating him for the night, you should find this issue is eliminated.
If you give your furry friend a substantial meal about two hours before he enters his crate, this can help to stave off hunger. If your dog is hungry, he is liable to start barking. Another good option is to throw some long-lasting doggie chews inside the crate to prevent hunger pangs triggering a barking fit.
Location of crate
The ideal location for a dog crate is an area of the home that is well used – the dining room or the living room, for example. If you place your dog’s crate in an isolated, quiet, or dark area, they might feel spooked or scared.
Detecting something unusual in the environment
Dogs have acute hearing and the ability to pick up on things of which we humans are unaware. If your dog hears a perceived threat when he is crated, his protective instincts will kick in, causing him to bark to get your attention.
How to Stop Barking in a Crate
Now you have a better idea about why your dog is barking in a crate, what can you do about it?
There are two different approaches you can take when tackling a dog barking in a crate:
- Positive association
- Ignoring the barking
1) Positive association
If your dog associates his crate with any form of punishment, this will increase the chance of barking becoming a chronic issue. By helping your dog create a positive association with the crate, you should eliminate destructive behaviors like excessive barking.
Here’s how to make his crate a more attractive and welcoming environment:
- Make sure the crate is cozy: Does your doggie have a dedicated bed? If so, place this inside his crate. Donut style beds for dogs have high sides and replicate the warmth of their mother. If your dog doesn’t have his own bed and he dislikes sleeping on the hard floor, put some blankets inside his crate.
- Include plenty of boredom busters: If you contain your pooch in a crate for extended periods and he has nothing to do, there is a strong chance that he’ll start barking. In addition to a bed and a blanket, add some dog toys to the crate to mitigate boredom and barking.
- Conceal some doggie treats inside the crate: Wait until your dog pops outside then sneak in and hide some treats inside their crate. Put some in the bed, some under the blanket, and a few scattered around the entrance to entice him. This will serve to redirect Rover’s attention and minimize the likelihood of barking.
- Crated mealtimes: There are many ways in which you can help your dog to associate their crate with positive things. One of the most effective of these methods is to feed Fido inside his crate. Start slowly by leaving the crate door open while your doggie chows down. You can then gradually close the door for a short period. Incrementally increase this time until your dog feels comfortable eating when crated.
- Gradual crating: When you start to crate train your dog, it is imperative to start slowly. A good way to begin is by popping them inside the crate for short spells of perhaps 15 to 30 minutes as you occupy yourself with some tasks or housework. If you use this approach, you can start building up to longer periods crated without spooking your furball or making him feel uncomfortable. If you use the gradual crating approach, you should not be menaced by excessive canine barking.
- Crating overnight: If you are able to crate your dog overnight in the same room as you are in, they will feel much more comfortable and secure. We appreciate that you might not want this to become a permanent arrangement, though. Try waiting until your dog is sleeping throughout the night without barking before slowly starting to inch their crate out of the bedroom by more distance each night. Eventually, you can position your dog’s crate in another room without him barking to complain.
If you try using this approach and you don’t seem to be able to create a positive association for your dog with the crate, you could consider using the ignore method.
2) Ignoring the barking
Here is how to ignore your dog when he barks in the crate without being driven insane!
- Do not respond to Rover barking: Regardless of whether barking generates positive or negative attention, every time you respond to canine barking, this conditions them to keep on repeating this behavior as a means of getting your attention. If you do not reinforce this behavior, there is much less chance that your furball will repeat it.
- Don’t talk to your dog: Stay out of the room where your dog is crated if he barks and do not speak to him from another room. Hearing your voice will simply encourage him to continue barking.
- Add in some music: If your dog continues to bark excessively when crated, you might consider playing some relaxing music. This can help to reduce your dog’s stress hormone – cortisol – and it can also lower their breathing rate, promoting relaxation rather than barking. You have nothing to lose by giving this method a try, and if it doesn’t work, there are other options that don’t involve music.
- Use white noise: Some dogs bark inside their crate in response to noises they can hear from outside. By playing some white noise, this can drown in the noise of traffic and pedestrians from outside, giving your dog less stimulation. Running a humidifier or a fan can also cut out some background noise that provokes barking.
If neither of these methods work and you find that your furball is still barking uncontrollably when crated, you might think about consulting a professional trainer. Speak with your vet and ask for recommendations.
Crate training a dog can be challenging and it can be frustrating, but you should eventually encourage your dog to view his crate like a sanctuary and a safe space rather than as something to avoid.
We hope today’s guide has given you some pointers if you have found your dog continuously barking when crated. As long as you always include a lot of positive reinforcement with your training, you should find that most dogs come around in the end, it may just require a little patience and commitment on your part.
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