What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

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Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time, but it also comes with its challenges, especially when it comes to crate training. Crate training is an essential part of a puppy’s development, providing them with a safe and secure space to call their own. However, it’s not uncommon for puppies to protest and cry when first introduced to their crate. If you find yourself in this situation and wondering what to do when puppy cries in crate, don’t worry – it’s a normal part of the process.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

The key is to remain patient and consistent. Puppies are essentially babies, and crying is their way of communicating their discomfort or need for attention. It’s important to resist the urge to immediately let them out of the crate, as this can reinforce the behavior and make it more difficult to crate train in the long run.

Instead, try to identify the underlying reason for the crying. Is your puppy hungry, thirsty, or in need of a potty break? Address those needs first, and then reintroduce them to the crate in a positive and reassuring manner. With time, patience, and proper crate training techniques, your puppy will learn to love their crate and view it as a safe haven.

Why Do Puppies Cry in Crates?

Separation Anxiety: Missing Out on the Fun

Puppies are social creatures who thrive on companionship and interaction. When left alone in a crate, they may experience separation anxiety, feeling isolated and distressed by the lack of human contact or activity happening around them. This can lead to excessive vocalization, such as whining, barking, or howling, as a way to express their discomfort and attempt to regain your attention.

1. Signs of Separation Anxiety: Vocalization, Destructive Behavior: In addition to persistent crying or barking, puppies experiencing separation anxiety may engage in destructive behavior within the crate, such as excessive chewing or scratching. These actions are often driven by stress and a desire to escape the confining space.

2. Understanding Puppy Development: Building Independence Slowly: It’s important to remember that puppies are still in the early stages of development, and their ability to cope with separation takes time to cultivate. Gradually increasing the duration they spend in the crate and providing positive reinforcement can help build their confidence and independence.

Feeling Uncomfortable: Needs Not Met in the Crate

Sometimes, a puppy’s cries may stem from discomfort or unmet needs within the crate itself. This could include a need for potty breaks, improper temperature regulation, or an uncomfortable sleeping surface.

1. Going Potty Needs: Too Long in a Confined Space: Puppies have limited bladder and bowel control, especially in the early stages of training. If left in the crate for too long, they may cry out of desperation to relieve themselves, as the confined space can become uncomfortable and unsanitary.

2. Temperature Regulation: Too Hot or Too Cold: Puppies are sensitive to temperature changes, and an improperly regulated crate environment can cause discomfort. If the crate is too hot or too cold, they may vocalize their distress, seeking a more comfortable temperature.

Medical Issues: Underlying Problems Needing Vet Attention

In some cases, a puppy’s persistent crying may be indicative of an underlying medical issue that requires professional attention from a veterinarian.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

1. Eliminating Medical Causes: Ruling Out Illness or Discomfort: It’s essential to rule out potential medical causes, such as pain, illness, or discomfort, that could be contributing to the puppy’s vocalization. Consulting with a vet can help identify and address any underlying health concerns.

2. Importance of Regular Vet Checkups: Early Detection and Treatment: Regular veterinary checkups are crucial for monitoring a puppy’s overall health and well-being. Early detection and treatment of any medical issues can prevent further complications and ensure a happy, healthy puppy.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate: Strategies for Calming a Crying Puppy in the Crate

When faced with the question of what to do when puppy cries in crate, there are several effective strategies to help soothe and calm your furry friend. Here are some approaches you can try:

Ignoring the Cries: The Gradual Approach

While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the most effective strategies for dealing with a crying puppy in the crate is to ignore the cries – at least initially. This approach, known as the “gradual approach,” teaches your puppy that crying will not result in being let out of the crate. However, it’s crucial to follow this method correctly to ensure your puppy’s needs are met and to avoid any negative associations with the crate.

1. Ensuring Basic Needs are Met: Comfortable Crate Environment: Before implementing the gradual approach, make sure your puppy’s basic needs are addressed. Provide a comfortable crate environment with proper bedding, access to fresh water, and appropriate temperature regulation. A cozy, inviting space will help your puppy feel more at ease, reducing the likelihood of excessive crying.

Once you’ve ensured your puppy’s comfort, you can begin ignoring the cries. It’s essential to remain consistent and not give in to the crying, as this can reinforce the behavior and make it more difficult to crate train in the long run.

2. Rewarding Quiet Behavior: Building Positive Associations: While ignoring the cries, be on the lookout for moments of quiet behavior. As soon as your puppy stops crying, even for a brief moment, reward them with a treat or verbal praise. This positive reinforcement helps build a positive association with being quiet in the crate.

Over time, your puppy will learn that crying does not result in being let out, but quiet behavior is rewarded. This gradual process can be challenging, but it’s an effective way to teach your puppy that the crate is a safe and comfortable space.

It’s important to note that the gradual approach should only be used for short periods and not neglect your puppy’s needs for extended periods. If the crying persists for an extended time, it may be a sign that your puppy needs a potty break or has other unmet needs that should be addressed.

Remember, consistency and patience are key when using the gradual approach. With time and positive reinforcement, your furry friend will learn to love their crate and feel secure in their cozy space.

Creating a Calming Routine: Soothing Techniques Before Crating

Establishing a calming routine before crating your puppy can help them associate the crate with a relaxing experience, reducing the likelihood of crying and distress. By incorporating soothing techniques into your pre-crating routine, you can help your furry friend feel more at ease and better prepared for crate time.

1. Exercise Before Crate Time: Releasing Energy: Before crating your puppy, engage them in physical activity or playtime. This can help release pent-up energy and mentally stimulate them, making it easier for them to settle down and rest in the crate. A tired puppy is often a calmer puppy, and they may be less likely to cry or whine when it’s time to crate.

Take your puppy for a walk, play fetch, or have an interactive training session. The key is to ensure they have an opportunity to expend their energy in a positive way before being confined to the crate.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

2. Snuggle Time and Calming Scents: Relaxation Before Separation: After exercise, spend some quality snuggle time with your puppy. Physical contact and gentle petting can be incredibly soothing and help them relax before being separated from you and placed in the crate.

Additionally, you can introduce calming scents or pheromones into their crate environment. Products like lavender-scented sprays or pheromone diffusers can help promote relaxation and a sense of security for your puppy.

By incorporating these soothing techniques into your pre-crating routine, you’ll be helping your puppy transition into the crate in a calm and relaxed state of mind. This can reduce the likelihood of crying and distress, making the crating experience more positive for both you and your furry friend.

Covering the Crate: Providing a Sense of Security

For many puppies, the crate can be an unfamiliar and potentially unsettling environment, especially in the early stages of training. Covering the crate with a breathable fabric can create a cozy, den-like atmosphere that offers a sense of security and comfort for your furry friend. This simple strategy can help alleviate anxiety and reduce the likelihood of excessive crying or whining.

1. Using a Breathable Fabric: Airflow and Visibility: When covering the crate, it’s crucial to use a lightweight, breathable fabric that allows for proper airflow and visibility. Materials like lightweight cotton or mesh are ideal choices, as they provide a cozy enclosure while still allowing your puppy to see and breathe easily.

Avoid using heavy blankets or towels that could potentially restrict airflow or create a stuffy environment, as this can lead to discomfort and distress for your puppy.

Additionally, ensure that the cover is secured in a way that allows you to easily check on your puppy and make adjustments if needed. Visibility is important for monitoring your puppy’s well-being and addressing any concerns promptly.

2. Matching Crate Cover to Environment: To create a seamless and calming environment, consider choosing a crate cover that blends in with your home’s decor. Opt for colors and patterns that complement the surrounding space, creating a cohesive and inviting atmosphere for your puppy to rest in.

By blending the crate into its surroundings, you can help your puppy feel less isolated and more at ease in their cozy den. This can reduce the sense of separation and potentially minimize crying or whining caused by feeling disconnected from the familiar environment.

Understanding When It’s Not Crying, But Other Vocalizations

Puppies are vocal creatures, and it’s essential to distinguish between different types of vocalizations. While crying typically indicates distress or discomfort, your puppy may also exhibit other sounds, such as whining, barking, or howling, which can have different meanings and require different responses.

Whining: Seeking Attention or Communication

Whining is a common vocalization in puppies and can signify various needs or desires. It’s essential to identify the underlying cause of the whining to address it appropriately.

1. Expressing Needs: Hunger, Thirst, or Potty Breaks: Your puppy may whine to communicate basic needs, such as hunger, thirst, or the need for a potty break. Pay attention to the context and timing of the whining to determine the appropriate response.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

2. Seeking Attention: Boredom or Desire for Interaction: Sometimes, puppies whine simply to get your attention, especially if they’re feeling bored or want to play or interact with you. Providing mental stimulation and regular playtime can help alleviate this type of whining.

Barking: Alertness or Excitement

Barking is a natural behavior for dogs, and puppies often bark to express excitement, alertness, or even frustration. It’s crucial to distinguish between different types of barking and respond accordingly.

1. Alarm Barking: Alerting to Potential Threats: Puppies may bark to alert you to potential threats or perceived dangers, such as unfamiliar sounds or people approaching. Remain calm and provide reassurance, as this barking is a protective instinct.

2. Excitement Barking: High-energy or Playful Behavior: Puppies may bark out of excitement, especially during playtime or when they’re feeling particularly energetic. While this barking is not necessarily a cause for concern, you may want to teach them a “quiet” command to manage the behavior.

Howling: An Ancient Communication Method

Howling is a deep, prolonged vocalization that dogs often use for long-distance communication. While it may seem concerning, howling is a natural behavior for puppies and can have various triggers.

1. Responding to Sirens or High-Pitched Sounds: Certain high-pitched sounds, such as sirens or musical instruments, can trigger howling in puppies. This behavior is instinctive and not a cause for concern.

2. Separation Anxiety or Distress: In some cases, howling can be a sign of separation anxiety or distress, particularly when left alone. If your puppy’s howling is accompanied by other signs of anxiety, it’s essential to address the underlying issue through proper training and socialization.

By understanding the different types of vocalizations and their potential meanings, you can better respond to your puppy’s needs and address any concerns appropriately. Remember, effective communication and patience are key to fostering a strong bond with your furry companion.

Crate Training Techniques for Different Age Groups

Bringing Your New Puppy Home: Establishing Crate Routine

When you bring home a new puppy, it’s essential to start crate training as soon as possible. The earlier you introduce the crate, the easier it will be for your puppy to adapt to this new routine.

  1. Short Crate Sessions with Supervision: Building Positive Associations Begin with short crate sessions while you’re present and supervising. Offer treats and praise when your puppy enters the crate willingly, helping them associate the crate with positive experiences.
  2. Gradually Increasing Crate Time: Patience and Consistency Slowly increase the duration your puppy spends in the crate, but remember to be patient and consistent. Rushing the process can lead to setbacks and may undermine the positive associations you’re trying to build.
What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

Crate Training for Older Puppies: Addressing Existing Issues

If you’ve adopted an older puppy or are starting crate training later, you may encounter some additional challenges. However, with the right approach, you can overcome these obstacles and successfully crate-train your furry friend.

  1. Desensitization Techniques: Gradually Increasing Time in Crate Use desensitization techniques to help your puppy become comfortable with the crate. Start by allowing them to explore the crate with the door open, and gradually increase the time they spend inside with the door closed.
  2. Rewarding Calm Behavior: Positive Reinforcement Consistently reward calm and quiet behavior in the crate with treats, praise, or a favorite toy. This positive reinforcement will help your puppy associate the crate with pleasant experiences and encourage desired behavior.

Nighttime Crate Training: Ensuring Restful Sleep for Everyone

Crate training can be especially beneficial during the night, ensuring both you and your puppy get a good night’s sleep. However, it’s important to approach nighttime crate training with care and consideration.

  1. Crate Placement in Your Bedroom: Offering Comfort and Security Place your puppy’s crate in your bedroom, close to your bed. This proximity can provide comfort and security, reducing anxiety and potential crying during the night.
  2. Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Setting Expectations Develop a consistent bedtime routine that includes potty breaks, playtime, and a calming activity before placing your puppy in the crate for the night. This routine will help set expectations and create a sense of familiarity.

Remember, crate training is a gradual process that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By tailoring your approach to your puppy’s age and individual needs, you can create a positive association with the crate and foster a sense of security and comfort for your furry companion.

Advanced Crate Training Tips and Troubleshooting

Addressing Separation Anxiety in the Crate

Even after successful crate training, some puppies may still exhibit signs of separation anxiety when left alone in the crate. This can lead to excessive barking, whining, or destructive behavior.

1. Desensitization Exercises: Building Confidence and Independence: To combat separation anxiety, gradually desensitize your puppy to being alone in the crate. Start by leaving them for short periods, rewarding calm behavior upon your return. Slowly increase the duration and distance over time.

2. Providing Mental Stimulation: Keeping Them Engaged: Offer puzzle toys or stuffed Kongs filled with treats to keep your puppy mentally stimulated and engaged while in the crate. This can help alleviate boredom and anxiety during your absence.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

Crate Training for Specific Scenarios

Crate training can be beneficial in various situations, but it may require some adjustments and additional techniques.

1. Traveling with a Crate: Ensuring Comfort and Safety: When traveling with your puppy, make sure their crate is a familiar and comfortable space. Introduce the travel crate gradually, and provide plenty of positive reinforcement during the journey.

2. Using the Crate for Potty Training: Consistency and Patience: The crate can be an effective tool for potty training, but it requires consistency and patience. Establish a regular schedule for potty breaks and reward your puppy for going potty in the designated area.

Seeking Professional Help: When to Consult Experts

In some cases, despite your best efforts, your puppy may continue to struggle with crate training or exhibit persistent behavioral issues.

1. Consulting a Certified Dog Trainer: Personalized Guidance: Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a certified dog trainer or behavior specialist. They can provide personalized guidance and strategies tailored to your puppy’s specific needs.

2. Ruling Out Medical Issues: Veterinary Consultation: If your puppy’s distress in the crate seems excessive or unusual, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be contributing to the behavior.

By incorporating these advanced tips and troubleshooting techniques, you can address common challenges and ensure a successful and positive crate training experience for both you and your furry companion.

Alternatives to Crate Training: When Crates Aren’t the Right Fit

While crate training is a popular and effective method for many puppy owners, it may not be the ideal solution for every situation. If you find yourself asking, “What to do when puppy cries in crate?” and the traditional crate training approach isn’t working, consider exploring alternative options that may better suit your puppy’s needs and your lifestyle.

Puppy-Proofing Your Home: Creating a Safe Space for Exploration

Instead of confining your puppy to a crate, you can puppy-proof a designated area of your home, allowing them more freedom to explore and play safely.

1. Blocking Off Hazardous Areas: Chewing Hazards and Electrical Cords: Start by identifying and blocking off any potential hazards, such as electrical cords, toxic plants, or small objects that your puppy might chew on or ingest.

2. Providing Safe Chew Toys and Enrichment Activities: Mental Stimulation: Ensure your puppy has access to plenty of safe chew toys and enrichment activities to keep them mentally stimulated and prevent destructive behavior.

What to Do When Puppy Cries in Crate

Using a Playpen or Exercise Pen: Offering More Room to Roam

An exercise pen or playpen can provide a happy medium between the confinement of a crate and the freedom of a puppy-proofed space.

1. Similar Principles to Crate Training: Positive Reinforcement and Supervision: Like crate training, using a playpen requires positive reinforcement and gradual introduction, as well as supervision to ensure your puppy’s safety and well-being.

2. Choosing the Right Size Playpen: Preventing Accidents and Escape: When selecting a playpen, choose one that’s large enough for your puppy to move around comfortably, yet small enough to prevent accidents and potential escapes.

By exploring alternatives to crate training, you may find a solution that better aligns with your puppy’s needs and your lifestyle. However, it’s important to remember that consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are still essential components of any training approach you choose.

Remember, every puppy is unique, and finding the right training method may involve some trial and error. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from professionals or experienced puppy owners if you encounter challenges along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why Is My Puppy Crying in Their Crate?

A: There could be several reasons. Your puppy might be feeling anxious, lonely, or simply needs to relieve themselves. They could also be uncomfortable due to the crate’s size or bedding.

Q: How Can I Tell if My Puppy’s Cries Are Due to Distress or Just Adjustment?

A: If your puppy’s cries are continuous and accompanied by signs of distress like pacing, whining, or excessive drooling, they might need attention. However, if the cries are intermittent and gradually decreasing, it might be part of the adjustment process to crate training.

Q: Should I Let My Puppy out Of the Crate when They Cry?

A: It depends on the context. If you’ve ruled out the need for the bathroom break and your puppy seems otherwise fine, it’s best to avoid reinforcing crying behavior by letting them out immediately. However, for young puppies who might need to relieve themselves, it’s crucial to take them out to avoid accidents.

Q: How Can I Comfort My Puppy without Reinforcing Crying Behavior?

A: Offer reassurance without giving in to their demands. Speak to them in a calm, soothing voice from a distance. Avoid opening the crate or making direct physical contact until they’ve quieted down.


Crate training can be a challenging but rewarding process for both you and your furry companion. While it’s natural for puppies to cry or vocalize their discomfort when first introduced to the crate, it’s essential to address the underlying causes and respond appropriately. If you find yourself asking “what to do when puppy cries in crate,” this guide has provided strategies to help you navigate this common issue.

Remember, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are the keys to successful crate training. By following the strategies outlined in this guide, such as creating a calming routine, providing mental stimulation, and gradually building positive associations with the crate, you can help your puppy overcome their initial distress and learn to love their cozy den.

However, it’s also important to recognize that every puppy is unique, and crate training may not be the ideal solution for every situation. If your puppy continues to struggle despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to explore alternative options like puppy-proofing a designated area or using an exercise pen. Seeking guidance from professionals or experienced puppy owners can also provide valuable insights and personalized strategies.

Ultimately, the goal is to foster a safe, secure, and nurturing environment for your furry friend while also addressing their unique needs and temperament. With time, patience, and a willingness to adapt, you can overcome the challenges of crate training and establish a strong bond with your puppy, setting the foundation for a lifetime of love and companionship.

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