How to Crate Train a Puppy That Cries: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Crate Train a Puppy That Cries

Crate training a puppy can be challenging, especially when your puppy cries and whines when first placed in their crate. Crate training is an important part of housetraining your puppy and teaching them to settle down when you are not around. With patience and consistency, you can get even the most vocal puppy comfortable with their crate. Here are some tips for how to crate train a puppy that cries.

Why Puppies Cry in Their Crates

Puppies cry and fuss in their crates for a few common reasons:

  • Separation Anxiety. Puppies are social animals and being left alone can create anxiety. Crying is your puppy's way of expressing this anxiety.

  • Need for Comfort. The crate is a new and unfamiliar place for a puppy. Crying helps soothe your puppy when they feel insecure.

  • Boredom. Puppies need plenty of stimulation and activity. Being confined can cause puppy boredom and vocal demanding for attention.

  • Need to Relieve Themselves. Puppies have small bladders and frequent urination needs. Crying in the crate could signal they need to go potty.

It's important not to just let your puppy 'cry it out' as this can worsen separation anxiety. With time and training, you can teach your puppy to see their crate as a comforting den.

Setting Up the Crate Properly

Making sure your puppy's crate setup meets all their needs will help minimize crying and resistance to the crate:

  • Size. Get a crate that allows enough room for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. But don't go too big, as they may use one side as a bathroom.

  • Bedding. Place a comfy blanket and some favorite toys inside for security. Some pups like a t-shirt with your smell.

  • Location. Set up the crate in a central spot near family activities, not isolated away.

  • Covering. A light cover over part of the crate can create a cozy, den-like feel.

A proper crate setup goes a long way towards making it a place your puppy feels relaxed and happy to be.

Crate Training Techniques for Puppies That Cry

If your puppy fusses and cries in their crate, try these training techniques:

1. Positive Associations

  • Feed your puppy their meals inside their crate with the door open so they associate it with good things.

  • Randomly toss high-value treats into the crate throughout the day for your puppy to happily discover.

  • Place new and exciting toys in the crate that your puppy only has access to when inside.

2. Gradual Alone Time

  • Start leaving your puppy alone in the crate for very short periods of just a few seconds or minutes.

  • When they are quiet, praise them calmly and give a reward.

  • Slowly increase the alone time working up to the maximum time you will be gone.

3. Tire Them Out

  • Make sure your puppy gets plenty of exercise and play before crating periods.

  • A tired puppy is more likely to settle down and nap than fuss.

4. Ignore the Fussing

  • Once you know your puppy doesn't need to go potty, ignore minor fussing behaviors.

  • Reward and let them out when quiet to reinforce this calm behavior.

Consistency and time will win out. Your puppy will come to see their crate as their own special sleeping and chilling zone.

Transition Cues

You can develop certain cues that let your puppy know it's time to go in their crate:

  • Have a phrase like "crate time!" that you use every time right before confining your puppy.

  • Give a treat or engage in brief play as you guide them into the crate.

  • Always use the same command such as "go to your crate".

  • Use these cues consistently so your puppy learns the routine.

These cues along with your calm demeanor will help signal to your puppy that everything is fine when it's time for the crate. They will be less likely to fuss and cry.

Managing Potty Needs

Your puppy could be crying because they need to go potty. To minimize this:

  • Take your puppy out to relieve themselves right before crating. Offer praise and rewards for going potty outside.

  • Limit access to food and water for at least an hour before crating to help avoid accidents.

  • Choose a small crate space so your puppy can't go potty in one corner and sleep in another.

  • Pay attention to when your puppy cries to go out and adjust their schedule accordingly. Consider setting an alarm to take them out during the night.

As bladder control improves, your puppy will learn to comfortably hold it in the crate for longer periods.

When to Call the Vet

Most puppy crying is normal, but call your vet if:

  • The crying sounds like whining, howling or abnormal distress

  • Your puppy isn't settling down over the course of several weeks

  • You notice other signs of illness like lethargy or loss of appetite

  • Your puppy soils the crate frequently despite proper housetraining

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea occur in the crate

While some fussing is expected, abnormal crying could indicate an underlying health issue requiring veterinary attention.

Be Patient and Consistent

Crate training takes time, but the payoff is worth it. With consistent methods and patience, even noisy puppies will come to see their crate as a place of security and solitude. Proper crate training sets up good behaviors that will last your puppy a lifetime.

Key Takeaways

  • Puppies may cry in crates due to separation anxiety, need for comfort, boredom or needing to potty.
  • Prepare the crate to meet all your puppy's needs for optimal comfort.
  • Use positive associations, gradual alone time, exercise and ignoring to help your puppy adapt.
  • Develop transition cues to signal crate time security to your puppy.
  • Manage your puppy’s potty schedule to avoid accidents.
  • Most crying is normal but contact your vet if abnormal or excessive.
  • With patience and consistency, even vocal pups will successfully crate train.

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