Why Is My Dog Suddenly Crying in Her Crate at Night?
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Your dog loves her crate.
She willingly enters it to sleep at night and when you go out.
And she’s been quiet and calm up until now.
But suddenly she’s whining and crying in her crate. And you’re concerned and can’t figure out why.
In this article, I’ll set forth the reasons why your crate-trained pup may suddenly be crying in her crate. In order to help your dog peacefully enjoy her crate again, it’s important to figure out why she’s now restless in her crate.
Of course you don’t want to reinforce the behavior. But if a dog suddenly begins whining in her crate, there’s a reason. And you’ll become her detective when discovering why.
As a dog trainer, I’ve dealt with many different behavior problems. In one of my cases, a dog I was working with suddenly started to whine in his crate.
His crate was still in the family room, and he previously always happily entered and remained there through the night.
In attempting to figure out why he cried in his crate, I discovered that the owner’s cousin started sleeping in the family room while visiting.
After the cousin was moved to another room overnight, the whining stopped.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Crying in Her Crate at Night?
There are numerous physical and behavioral reasons why your dog may suddenly whine in her crate. Dogs are creatures of habit, and certain changes will upset them.
They may adjust to some changes. Or we must make adjustments so that our beloved canines will be able to live a stress-free life.
1. Your Dog May Not Have Been Crate-Trained Sufficiently
In your haste to crate-train your dog, you may have proceeded too quickly. If so, she may have seemed to like her crate because she was tired when she went in or because it was welcoming by containing a stuffed Kong.
But, in reality, she may not have been given a sufficient amount of time to really learn to remain in her crate and not be stressed.
2. Your Puppy May Be Teething
Puppies get their adult teeth between about three months and six months old. During that time, your puppy will feel pain and may whine and cry.
This can seem to come out of the blue. But the whining may go on for months if not dealt with properly.
3. Your Dog May Need a Potty Break
Your pup may simply need to go to the bathroom. She may have ingested too much water after playing and going into her crate.
Or her potty schedule may need to be adjusted depending on her activity level and feeding schedule prior to being crated.
Or she may be experiencing puppy potty training regression, in which formerly house-trained puppies may suffer a lapse in their potty program.
4. A Change in the Household Members May Have Occurred
Additional or fewer household members may have stressed out your dog. And a stressed dog may exhibit that anxiety in many ways—including whining or crying in her crate.
5. A Change in the Household Routine May Have Occurred
Sometimes when a dog’s schedule is changed, she can suffer stress symptoms. Dogs are creatures of habit and rely on events occurring at regular intervals.
So if her sleep times, wake-up times, play times, feeding times, or relaxation time with you change, your pup will probably experience stress. This can result in whining in her crate.
6. There Could Be a Medical Reason
Your dog may whine and cry in pain because of a pain-related issue.
She may have arthritis, a urinary tract infection, worms, or other illness or injury.
Some senior dogs lose their hearing or sight, which may lead to them to be distressed in their crate.
And she may whine and cry in her crate because of these physical issues.
7. Your Puppy May Have Outgrown Her Crate
As a puppy grows, her crate should also be expanded so that she can comfortably stand up, lie down, and sprawl out.
If a crate isn’t big enough, the pup may let you know by whining.or crying because she’s uncomfortable.
8. The Crate May Be in an Uncomfortable or Distracting Area
Your pup’s crate may have been moved to an area with a lot of noise or activity or the area it’s in may have become noisier or have too much activity surrounding it.
Or the area may have become too hot or cold. Or a cat or dog or other animal may suddenly appear outside your dog’s crate.
Any of these changes may lead to your dog crying and whining because she’s over-stimulated or uncomfortable by these activities or environmental differences.
9. Something Scary or Unusual May Have Happened When Your Dog Was in Her Crate
A noise or scary event may have suddenly occurred when your dog was in her crate. This can range from lightning and thunder to someone tapping on the crate.
It may also be the noise from the heating pipes or air conditioner that sets off her whining. Or it can even be an unusual scent she smelled when she was in the crate, such as cleaning solutions.
Any of these stressors may cause a dog to suddenly cry in her crate.
Spencer, one of my rescued golden retrievers, had thunderstorm phobia from living outside before I got him. I managed the issue and, for years, he was fine even during storms.
Then came a horrible thunderstorm while I was out working. The storm was so severe that we even lost power for a few days.
When I arrived home, Spencer was a scared mess with a broken tooth because he attempted to escape from his crate.
He formerly loved his crate. It was his safe space.
I had to once more work on desensitizing him to thunderstorms. After a few months, Spencer again loved his crate and ignored thunderstorms.
10. Your Dog May Sense a Threat
There may be a new person or animal near her crate and she may be attempting to warn you that something is wrong.
Or she may hear a sound such as someone knocking at the door that makes her feel defensive and protective.
In an attempt to warn you and protect you, she may whine and cry in her crate.
11. Your Dog May Hear Something That We May or May Not Hear
She may hear noises from neighbors, barking dogs, car engines, or even small household pests and react by crying and whining while in her crate.
12. Something Unusual May Have Happened to Her Crate
There may be a new smell in the crate because, for example, another animal such as a cat, dog, or ferret–or even a child—may have been in the crate and left his scent.
Dogs are very attuned to scents and this may cause your dog to cry in her crate.
13. She May Be Bored
All of a sudden, your dog may have become bored in her crate. She may have slept more in her crate when younger, but now is awake for longer periods of time and requires more enrichment when in the crate.
14. Her Crate Set-Up May Have Changed
Someone may have changed the interior or exterior of her crate.
They may have put a different or no bed in, different or no toys or chews in, or a cover or no cover on the crate whereas she was used to a different set-up.
Any of these changes may cause your pup to cry in her crate.
How To Stop Your Dog from Whining in Her Crate
Of course, you have to determine why she is whining or crying in her crate. There may be more than one reason.
If the whining and crying is frantic, the dog may detect an immediate threat or be in pain.
The following are some methods that you can try to help your dog be less stressed and end the whining and crying in her crate.
And be sure that everyone in your household and who deals with your pup is consistent in following your rules.
1. Re-Train Her Crate Training
If she doesn’t really understand what’s expected regarding her crate, start at the beginning and re-introduce the crate in a positive way. Make sure that your pup is well-exercised and has pottied before entering the crate.
Make sure that the crate is a welcoming place. Have a soft bed or blanket in it. Leave a safe chew in the crate like an Extreme Kong that’s been stuffed with a yummy filling that’s been frozen.
2. Have Safe Items in the Crate if Your Puppy’s Teething
You can have safe chews like an appropriately-sized Nylabone and Kong to help relieve the pains of teething.
There are even products that can be frozen to help relieve teething pain when chewed.
3. Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian
If there’s any doubt that there’s a physical problem such as a pain-related issue or other medical need, a vet visit is in order.
For example, a urinary tract infection can cause a dog to excessively urinate or worms can cause her to defecate excessively. A dog may whine or cry in her crate because she’s suffering or needs to go to the bathroom,.
4. Change Your Dog’s Potty Schedule
Your pup’s potty schedule may be adjusted depending on her activity level and when she drinks water and eats prior to entering her crate.
Make sure that you take into account when she has to potty, such as after she sleeps, plays, eats, and drinks when deciding on the proper crate schedule.
5. Add Some De-Stressors to Your Dog’s Crate Experiences
If your dog’s had recent stressors such as a change in household members, add some holistic items such as Rescue Remedy, Adaptil, or calming chews.
Always discuss what should be done with your vet. You can also play calming music such as Through a Dog’s Ear to help de-stress your pooch.
6. Stick to a Reliable Routine
If there have been any changes in your dog’s routine, try to help her adjust.
If your schedule has changed, make sure that your dog’s needs are still being met.
She still needs regular feeding times, walks, play time, potty breaks, training time, and just plain relaxation time with you.
As long as the new times meet your pup’s needs, try to keep them as a new established routine.
Change is hard on most dogs, but they can usually adjust if the new schedule is consistent and meets their needs.
7. Make Sure that the Crate is the Correct Size
If your puppy has grown, he may need a larger crate. Most wire crates today can be expanded with a divider.
If you purchased the correct size that she’ll be as an adult, you can adjust the size of the crate as she grows. If it’s a plastic kennel, you’ll have to get a larger size.
8. Place the Crate in a Location that’s Safe and Free from Distractions
If the area in which the crate is placed has become too busy, loud, or otherwise upsetting to your beloved dog, move it to a calmer environment.
But make sure that you help your dog adjust to the new place by making the crate very welcoming and serene.
This could also help if the crate is near an area such as a door where your dog feels the need to protect you.
9. Use Devices that Will Block Ambient Noise
If your dog is crying in her crate because of noise–even if we might not hear it–you can try something that will block the noise.
A radio or television played at a low volume can work. Or you can try a white noise machine that masks surrounding noise.
10. Clean Her Crate
If there’s any doubt regarding whether anyone or any animal has somehow added a scent to your dog’s crate, you have to clean the crate to eliminate the odor.
You can use an odor neutralizer in the empty crate. Also clean and wash all that was in her crate–toys, beds, dishes and the like.
If something was in the crate that can’t be cleaned such as a chew like a bully stick, remove it and replace it with a new on.
11. Make the Crate Set-Up More Interesting
If your dog becomes bored in her crate, add something new and exciting that’s safe.
It can be a frozen stuffed Kong or Toppl or a maze dish that has some frozen treats in it.
It also helps to be sure that your pup is well-exercised physically and mentally prior to entering the crate so that she has less excess energy. This can be a walk, fetch session, or training session.
12. Take Her Out To Potty
If there’s any doubt when your dog cries in her crate that she needs to go to the bathroom, take your pup out to potty.
Just make sure that she’s just there to potty and not play and taken right back to her crate. It’s better to err on the side of caution than inadvertently force her to have an accident in her crate.
And puppies around four months old may experience puppy potty training regression where they were housetrained but seem to have forgotten the rules. Just help them remember through retraining sessions.
13. Make Sure that the Crate Is in a Temperature-Controlled Location
Some dogs–especially puppies–may cry in their crates if it’s too hot or too cold.
A short-coated dog may suffer in an area that’s too cool or has an air current that’s frigid. Similarly, a double-coated breed may not do well in an area that’s too warm.
So move the crate to a more temperate area or adjust your heater or air conditioner to an appropriate temperature in the area in which the crate’s located.
14. Try a Different Set-Up
If for some reason your dog will no longer accept the crate even after trying to make it work, you can try a different set-up.
You can use a secure exercise pen or a safe room where there’s nothing that the dog can destroy or be injured by.
- Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried to pinpoint why your dog’s suddenly crying in her crate and nothing you have tried has solved the problem, seek out the help of a positive reinforcement trainer or veterinary behaviorist.
Don’t Try This at Home: What NOT To Do
There are many things that you shouldn’t do to try to fix the crying problem. Harsh corrections can make the problem much worse.
Don’t correct your dog
If you try to correct your dog by banging on the crate, hollering at her, or even spraying her with water, the problem will inevitably become worse. Much worse.
And, of course, don’t use anything as harsh as a shock collar (also known as an e-collar). The crate will then become a place to be feared.
In addition to whining or crying, your dog may try to escape out of the crate–potentially even getting injured in the process.
And harsh treatment may even lead to other behavior problems such as aggression.
Don’t let others interfere with your crating program
Many friends and well-wishers will probably try to help you resolve your problem regarding why your dog’s crying in her crate.
Although you can listen to their ideas to determine whether they have merit, it’s important to not have them institute them with your pup.
Your pup needs consistency and a well-thought-out program.
And having strangers or multiple people who don’t regularly work with her deal with the issue may make the crate a place to be feared, not the safe haven that it should be.
Should I ignore my puppy crying in her crate?
If it just occurs a few times, you should just take the dog out to see if she has to potty. Then just return her to her crate.
But if the whining becomes a regular occurrence, you need to determine why she’s suddenly so stressed. And you can then solve the issue.
Should I correct my puppy from crying in her crate?
No! Doing any type of corrections–such as hollering at her, banging on the crate, or spraying her with water–will make the problem worse.
The crate will then be a cruel, fearful place. Instead, determine why she’s crying and fix the problem.
Should I stop crating my puppy if she’s suddenly crying in her crate?
Probably not. If she was properly crate-trained and previously liked her crate, you just need to determine why she’s whining and correct the problem that’s causing her distress.
Don’t despair if your dog suddenly starts to cry in her crate. There’s a reason why she’s whining.
After you determine what’s suddenly wrong and work to resolve the issue, your beloved dog will again love her crate. And you’ll have some needed quiet.
Has your dog ever started suddenly whining in her crate? Did you discover why? What did you do to resolve the situation? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
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We recently was able to get a larger crate for our dog (she is almost 2 years old and is 55lbs), and since then she has woken up in the middle of the night winning every night. The last crate was definitely way too small, so it shouldn’t be because of size. I’m positive it’s not because she needs to potty, and we still have our routine every night. The crate is in the same spot as the old one and it’s not noisy. She’s got her old comfy bed from the daytime crate, so she should have some familiar smells. The only thing that’s changed is her crate being bigger. How do we correct this? We can’t just return the crate , and she’s fine in the one we have for her while we are at work during the day.
In 26 years of having dogs and training lots of puppies… this summer I have a barker who lets me know when he needed a drink in the middle of the night. Like a small kid he woke me by barking to tell me he needed a glass of water, without a drink he wouldn’t stop… sometimes things are super simple.