For anybody out there who has a puppy, you know just how hard it can be to train them. They whine, they chew stuff up, they poop everywhere, and destruction is the name of the game. When it comes to being alone in the house for a couple of hours or when it comes to sleepy time, most people put their puppies in a little crate.
Crates can be great ways to give your puppy a secure feeling place, kind of like an indoor dog house, plus it stops them from destroying your home while you sleep. The problem is that many puppies get really nervous, anxious, or just downright angry that they are in a crate. This leads to a lot of whimpering, whining, and tons of noise, which leads to the common question of “how to calm a puppy down in a crate” which we are here to answer today in 5 essential points;
1. Make It A Friendly Space
The first and most important thing that you can do to calm your puppy down inside of its crate is to make it a friendly space. It’s a great idea to put some soft blankets in there, a little doggy bed, and even some toys too. Being in a friendly space that feels like home will encourage the dog to calm down and to behave. Just imagine if you were in a bare cage with no bedding or toys. You would not like it either.
On that same note, dogs usually feel much more secure when they are in a bit of a tight space, like a dog house or a den. So, something you can do to calm your puppy down is put the crate in a corner. The solid walls outside of the crate will make your puppy feel safer.
Alternatively, you can use a big towel or blanket to cover the crate up. Now, don’t completely cover the crate so the dog can’t see out anymore. Leave the front or even the front and one side exposed so the puppy can still see what is going on outside of the crate.
2. Do Not Use The Crate As A Punishment
One mistake that many people make is to use the crate as a punishment, or at least they make it seem as a punishment. This is a huge mistake because if you ever want the dog to feel comfortable in the crate, it needs to be a good thing, not a bad thing. Putting your puppy in the crate right after you have scolded it for relieving itself inside or destroying something is very bad. Also, never put the puppy in the crate when you are clearly angry or in a bad mood.
Your puppy will associate the crate with a punishment, which will lead to anxiety, whimpering, whining, and a general sense that the crate is a very bad thing. Once it has been established that the crate is a punishment, it will be nearly impossible to get your puppy to view it as a good place to be. You need to make the crate a friendly and good place, almost like a reward.
What is great is when your puppy does something you like, you can praise the puppy, give it a treat, and then put it in the crate quickly. You can even leave the door open when you do this. This will go a long way in reinforcing the fact that the crate is actually more of a reward and not a punishment. If your puppy feels like the crate is a reward, it won’t mind being in there so much.
3. The Time Approach
Another good way to help get your puppy accustomed to its crate is to slowly introduce it to the crate at night time. When you know it is time for the puppy to go in its crate, try doing so when you are still around for a few minutes. Put the puppy in the crate while you do the last cleanup of the day or just while you are finishing the last episode of Law & Order for the night.
As time goes on, spend less and time with your puppy while it is crated. First you might stick around for 30 minutes, then 20, 10, 5, and then eventually you can put the puppy in the crate and go to bed right away. This will help reinforce the fact that the crate is not such a bad place to be.
4. Is It Urgent?
Of course, not all puppies will senselessly cry just because they are lonely, want attention, or don’t like the crate. Some puppies, especially really young ones, may genuinely have to go do a number one or number two in the middle of the night. Puppies are not very big, so they can’t hold in food or liquids too long.
If your puppy is not calm during the night and is crying, it may need to be led outside to do its business. Now, this can be a little tricky, because puppies do want attention and if they are not used to being alone at night, the crate will be a problem. Your puppy will quickly learn that crying and whimpering will get him attention.
You are going to have tap into your inner Cesar Milan here and do a little dog whispering. You need to be able to tell the difference between genuine crying because your puppy needs something like a potty break and crying for attention. They do sound different and you need to be aware of this.
A good thing to do to make sure that your puppy does not need to use the bathroom at night is to take them out to do their business right before you put them in the crate for the night. This will minimize the chances of them needing to go during the night. Also, don’t feed them any food for at least 3 hours before bed time, and don’t give them water for 2 hours before bed. This will also help minimize the chances of needing to go during the night.
5. Don’t Scold Them For Crying In The Crate
One thing to avoid is to get mad or frustrated when your puppy is crying in the crate. Getting mad and scolding the puppy will do nothing more than make them even more anxious and possible scared too. Yes, if your puppy needs to go do its business, just let it out, and take it outside quickly.
It might be hard to know whether your dog has a genuine pee problem or if it just wants attention, but this is something you will have to learn as a dog owner either way. They are just like children and yes they get good at faking it. If your puppy is just crying for attention, do nothing, and just let it cry.
It will eventually realize that its efforts for attention are totally futile. You can try using firm but kind commands such as “quiet” or “stop barking”, but try not to reward the puppy when it does stop. This will reinforce the puppy’s thought that it can cry for attention then get rewarded when it starts being quiet.
It will keep doing this because it is a form of attention on its own. If you have no other options left and your puppy is being loud and rowdy in its crate, try giving it a spritz with a spray bottle and some cold water.
Crates can be a really difficult thing for puppies to get used to. It takes a lot of patience to get puppies accustomed to crates and to stop them from acting out inside of them, especially during the night. Your best friend here is patience. Just be patient, follow our tips, and everything should work out just fine. Let’s just hope that by the time you get your puppy used to the crate, it’s not already to big to fit inside of it!