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Crate training a puppy is an exercise in patience (with Stetson it certainly was).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a guide dog puppy raiser it’s how to crate train a puppy.
More importantly, I learned how to stop a puppy from barking in his crate at night!
I’ve been raising puppies now for over fifteen years and I’ve now raised seventeen total puppies.
Stetson, my first guide dog puppy was very stubborn and hated his crate.
Needless to say, Stetson almost ended my guide dog puppy raising career just as it was getting started.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you already know that it took Stetson over four weeks to get used to his crate.
In fact, he did not let me sleep more than two hours in a row during those four weeks. 🙁
The good news is he prepared me for parenthood. My three daughters have all been better sleepers than Stetson! 🙂
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: There are many different types and styles of dog crates. If you haven’t decided on a crate then check out our article on which crate is best for your puppy.
How To Crate Train A Puppy
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When it comes to crate training puppies every puppy is different.
Stetson was an extreme case and after those four weeks of pure torture, much to my joy he went totally silent and would sleep in the crate all morning without a peep.
Dublin was on the other end of the spectrum and only had a couple of nights whimpering before he began sleeping through the night.
Over the years I’ve learned many tips and tricks for crate training puppies.
Today we’re going to first share with you the basics of how to crate train a puppy and second, give you our best tips and tricks for those of you who have a stubborn puppy who doesn’t want to adjust to his crate.
QUICK TIP: We prefer the wire crates over the molded plastic crates for several reasons.
- Our wire crate is collapsible making it easier to store and travel with.
- The wire-style crate circulates air better and gives us an option of either leaving it open or covering it with a blanket to make it more like a den.
- Longevity! We’re still using the same MidWest Life Stages Double Door Crate w/ Divider that we had when we brought home, Linus, over 17 years ago.
As a guide dog puppy raiser, we are given exact steps on how to crate train our puppies.
Here’s what we learned from Guide Dogs of America about crate training puppies:
A crate is a wire or molded plastic kennel that simulates a nest or den environment. A crate can become a puppy’s safe place, not to mention a house saver.
When properly used, the crate becomes a security blanket, a place where the puppy can retreat to escape the household confusion and to feel secure.
Never use the crate as a form of punishment!
The dog crate should offer a positive, secure environment, and a calming zone.
The crate can be effective for in-house training.
Confined to a crate, an unattended puppy cannot destroy or soil anything.
Do not crate the puppy during the day for more than 3 hours.
Start crate training your puppy on his first night.
Place the crate in your bedroom where the puppy can still see and hear what is going on.
Put a blanket or towel in the crate for bedding.
QUICK TIP: We’ve been using the Snuggle Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Pack to help our puppies get used to their crate. It worked great with our most recent golden retriever puppy, Charlie.
A pup will rarely soil the crate, however, if he does, try removing the bedding.
A crate should not be too big, but large enough for the puppy to stand stretch, and turn around.
When placing the puppy in the crate, use the word “kennel” or “kennel up”.
If he should happen to fall asleep somewhere else, pick him up and place him inside, and quietly shut the door.
Do not hesitate to periodically use the crate, even while you are home.
You may feed the puppy in his crate and give him some favorite toys, to keep the experience positive.”
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: From day 1 we start feeding all meals in the crate. We feed all of our pups Wellness Core Puppy Food.
How To Stop A Puppy From Barking In His Crate At Night
Now that we have the basics of crate training down. Let’s talk about the reason why we’re all here…a barking puppy and tips to remedy said barker…
Over the past 10 years we’ve learned quite a bit about crate training starting with:
- Crate training our first puppy, Linus who we rescued from the animal shelter
- Crate training litters of puppies as foster parents
- And finally, crate training over a dozen service dog puppies
As you might have guessed over those 10 years we’ve learned many crate training tips and tricks.
In Episode 1 of Puppy In Training TV we talked about some of the first things we do when bringing home a puppy.
We also talked a little bit about how to crate train a puppy and Dublin’s first night in his crate.
Lucky for us there weren’t too many nights of Dublin howling in his crate although we did catch a little bit of whining on video – see below.
Take a look at some of the basics in our first episode of Puppy In Training TV:
21 Tips To Stop Puppy Barking In Crate
Here’s our comprehensive list for those of you with a stubborn pup who whines, whimpers, barks, yelps, cries, and pretty much any other disturbing noise a pup can make in his crate:
1. Get The Scent Of Your Puppy’s Littermates
If you get to meet your puppy’s litter mates then bring a plush toy (our new favorite plush toy for puppies is the Snuggle Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Pack) or blanket to rub all over his littermates.
When it comes time to put your pup in his crate leave the toy or blanket in the crate with the scent of his litter mates this may help your pup sleep better at night. This worked well with Dublin.
2. Take Your Puppy Out For A Potty Break
If your pup wakes up crying in the middle of the night take him straight to his potty spot to relieve himself. As soon as he finishes up his business take him straight back to his crate without any playtime or other distractions.
3. Feed Your Puppy Early
Make sure you feed him at least an hour and a half before bedtime. Also, it’s been suggested to cut off water an hour and a half before bedtime so he won’t have to pee in the middle of the night.
We don’t cut off water for our puppy because it’s so important to keep your puppy hydrated.
4. Play With Your Puppy Before Bedtime
Play with your puppy for an extended period of time just before bedtime to tire him out. A good game of fetch always works well with our pups.
5. Cover Your Wire Crate With A Bedsheet
If you have a wire crate try putting a sheet over it to make him feel more cozy and enclosed. Be careful because I’ve had pups pull and chew on the bedsheet over the crate.
6. Put Your Crate Next To Your Bed
Put your crate near the bed (we swapped out our nightstands for crates) where your puppy can see you and if he starts crying hang your arm down so he can smell your scent. and if that doesn’t work then…
7. Sleep On The Floor Next To The Crate
You can try sleeping on the floor next to the crate. This worked with my rescue puppy, Linus. I slept on the floor next to the crate in my sleeping bag and Linus stopped barking.
8. Feed Your Puppy’s Meals In The Crate
We recommend feeding meals in the create from day 1. This will make your puppy more comfortable when he enters the crate.
9. Give Your Puppy Different Textured Toys In The Crate
Put different textured toys in the crate to keep him company. Be careful. I’ve had pups chew, destroy and swallow plush toys when unsupervised. Super durable toys like the Nylabone DuraChew have worked well for us in the past.
10. Get Your Puppy Used To The Crate Before Nighttime
If he takes a nap during the day move him from the floor into the crate. Try doing this with the door open and closed.
11. Lie Next To The Crate With The Door Open
Try leaving the door open but lying down across the doorway of the crate as if to nap with him, to make him feel more comfortable in the crate, and at the same time make your body block the doorway.
12. Praise Your Puppy When He’s Good
When he’s in the crate and being quiet make sure to give him lots of praise.
13. Put A Heartbeat Toy In Your Puppy’s Crate
Try the heartbeat toy. I’ve heard of a toy that simulates the mom’s heartbeat that helps the puppy sleep. We haven’t tried this one yet, but if we have another stubborn pup it will be on our wish list.
UPDATE: We used the Snuggle Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Pack with Charlie and his first night in his crate…not a peep!
14. Put A Ticking Clock In Your Puppy’s Crate
Do you have a ticking clock lying around the house? You might try that instead of purchasing the Snuggle Puppy. It may help soothe your puppy to sleep and save you a few bucks.
15. Put A Stuffed KONG In Your Puppy’s Crate
Try putting a stuffed KONG (we like the KONG Extreme which is better for heavy chewers like our Lab puppies) in the crate with your puppy.
We’ve tried peanut butter (make sure the PB is safe for dogs), but you can try adding other treats like bananas, rice, chicken, and yogurt to help get your puppy accustomed to being in the crate.
16. Put Your Puppy’s Favorite Chew Toy In The Crate
You can also help your puppy get accustomed to the crate (and stop the barking) by giving him his favorite chew toy, one of our favorites are Bully Sticks. Just make sure you monitor your pup if you give him a chew he can consume like a Bully Stick.
17. Comfort Your Puppy When He’s Quiet
This one that worked for me and Stetson – I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate.
The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent until he stopped). To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.
18. Put A Heated Toy In The Crate To Simulate A Littermate
Try a heated toy. There are many different toys that are designed to help your puppy get used to the crate.
We’ve seen one that you can heat up in the microwave before putting it with your puppy in the crate. This makes your puppy feel like he’s with one of his littermates.
The Snuggle Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat we mentioned earlier comes with both a heartbeat and three heat packs to last you through the first few nights.
19. Use A Warm Water Bottle To Simulate A Littermate
You’ll have to purchase extra heat pads for the Snuggle Puppy Toy after the first night.
Why not try filling a water bottle up with warm water and putting it inside a thick comfy sock (extra points if you rub the sock on littermates and mama to get their scent).
Hey…you do what you can with the things you have around the house. 🙂
20. Play Soothing Music For Your Puppy
One of our readers had a great suggestion: “We now have a new furbaby, another Golden. He is 8 wks and boy has he reminded us how much older we are now. We use the same nighttime method with the soothing music and it’s worked like a charm again!”
We play soothing music for our older dogs when we leave the house. It never occurred to us to use soothing music to help our pups get used to their crate and new environment. Thank you K.Y. for the suggestion.
21. Tire Your Puppy Out Mentally With Basic Obedience Training
Tire your puppy out mentally by working on his training right before bedtime. It doesn’t take much to tire a puppy out mentally. Try working on some basic obedience for 10 minutes right before it’s time to go in the crate.
FAQ’s Puppy Barking In Crate
Should I Ignore Puppy Barking In Crate At Night?
ANSWER: Yes and No, it depends on your puppy. One thing we’ve learned over the years is that puppies will bark for different reasons while their in the crate. In general if our puppy is barking we’ll ignore him for at least the first 10-15 minutes. Most will calm down after that time. As soon as our puppy is calm we give him praise.
However, as I said it depends on your puppy. You do not want to ignore your puppy if:
- He’s experiencing anxiety in the crate. In this case we try to take a slower approach to introducing our puppy to the crate.
- He has to go potty.
- He’s experiencing some kind of health issue.
If you’re having problems with your puppy barking in his crate then leave us a comment or even better contact a local certified professional dog trainer.
How Long Do You Let A Puppy Bark In A Crate?
ANSWER: If we don’t notice any other issues (see above FAQ) then we’ll let our puppy bark for 10-15 minutes. Most puppies will calm down and stop barking within this time frame. We’ll extend this a bit longer if we notice that it’s just attention barking.
It’s very important that you don’t let your puppy out when he is barking. Wait until he stops for at least a split second before you open the door.
If you open the door and let him out while he’s barking then he’ll associate barking with getting out of the crate. No bueno.
What Should I Put In My Puppy’s Crate At Night?
ANSWER: We start all of our puppies off with two items in the crate. A Snuggle Puppy Heartbeat Toy and a blanket. We then monitor our puppy to make sure he does not destroy the Snuggle Puppy and/or blanket.
However, the long answer for what should I put in my puppy’s crate is it depends. If we have a destructive puppy then we may not want to have anything in the crate.
If our puppy is having potty accidents in the crate then we take out the blanket.
If our puppy is having trouble getting used to the crate then we’ll sometimes use different types of toys like Nylabones, KONGs, and even chews like Bully Sticks.
If you put a toy or chew that your puppy could potentially destroy or swallow like plush toys and bully sticks then be sure and supervise him while he’s in the crate with said toys until you’re certain he’s not going to swallow or choke on anything.
How Long Does It Take For A Puppy To Stop Barking In The Crate At Night?
ANSWER: Over the years we’ve crate trained dozens of puppies. In our experience most puppies are stop barking in the crate at night after the first 5-7 days.
However, there have been outliers.
Our first guide dog puppy, Stetson took four weeks before he stopped barking in the crate at night.
On the flipside, our English Cream Golden Retriever pup, Charlie never barked in his crate at night.
Puppies will often adjust to their crates based on past experiences.
A responsible breeder may have already started crate training puppies before going to their homes. A puppy rescued from a shelter may not have known anything other than the kennel run he grew up in.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. It depends, every puppy is different.
Those are my best tips and trick for getting your puppy to stop barking in the crate along with answer to some of the most common questions we get about puppies barking in their crates.
How about you guys?
Do you have any tips or tricks on how to stop a puppy from barking in his crate?
We’d love to hear about your experiences with crate training your puppy.
Is this one of your first nights home with your new puppy?
If so, check out Stetson’s first night home and read about what we did to ease him into his new home.
ONE FINAL NOTE: We recently found and plan on ordering the Snuggle Puppy – New Puppy Starter Kit which includes the Snuggle Puppy Toy, heartbeat, additional heat pads, chew toys, and blanket.
Also, we recently put together our New Puppy Checklist detailing all the products we recommend for new puppy owners.
We plan on using this new puppy starter kit with our next puppy who will be arriving in early 2019…stay tuned 🙂
UPDATE: We got the Snuggle Puppy New Puppy Starter Kit and Charlie loved it. Not a peep from him his first night in his crate.
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UPDATE: This post was originally posted on July 11th, 2011. It has been updated with new information based on our experiences over the years.
Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Best Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.