Puppy Crying In Crate – 15 Tips To Help Your Pet

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Do you have a new puppy? Congratulations! But how do you stop your puppy from crying in his crate at night? 

Surely, all that whining that can’t be normal? Have you done something wrong? Maybe you’re simply not cut out to be a dog owner!

Actually, it’s very common for a puppy to cry in his crate, especially at night or when you leave the room. But don’t panic! We’ve put together this helpful list of tips and tricks to cure your puppy of crying in his crate.

Keep reading for 15 top tips to help calm your crying puppy.

Is Crying Normal?

It’s absolutely normal and to be expected for young puppies to cry in a crate for the first few weeks of life in their new home with you and your family. If you think of it from your puppy’s point of view, he has been taken away from his mother, siblings, and the familiar surroundings of his breeder’s home or kennels. So, it’s little wonder that your furry friend is upset and disoriented at first.

One of the most common crate training mistakes is to expect a puppy to spend too long in his crate. Puppies of four to five months can only be crated for a relatively short period of time. Young puppies simply don’t have the bladder control that they need to be able to remain in their crate for long, and they will cry instinctively when left alone and deprived of company.

So, how long can you expect your puppy to wait in his crate before you need to let him out for a bathroom break? 

Puppy Age vs. Potty Break Waiting Time

Age in months

Waiting Time

Puppies under 6 months

1 to 3 hours

Puppies over 6 months

2 to 6 hours

Adult dogs under 7 years

6 to 8 hours

Senior dogs aged over 7 years

4 to 6 hours

Senior dogs aged over 12 years

2 to 4 hours

Age in months

Puppies under 6 months

Waiting Time

1 to 3 hours

Age in months

Puppies over 6 months

Waiting Time

2 to 6 hours

Age in months

Adult dogs under 7 years

Waiting Time

6 to 8 hours

Age in months

Senior dogs aged over 7 years

Waiting Time

4 to 6 hours

Age in months

Senior dogs aged over 12 years

Waiting Time

2 to 4 hours

So, you can see from the table above that a puppy aged over six months, should be able to wait for up to six hours with proper crate training before he needs to take a bathroom break. However, very small puppies only have very small bladders and might need to go more frequently than that.

Why Do Puppies Cry In Their Crate?

There are several primary reasons why your puppy cries in his crate. 

Insecurity

Dogs are natural pack animals that need some company to feel secure and safe. 

In your home situation, you are effectively the “Alpha” or pack leader. Young dogs and puppies, especially, look to you for guidance, food, shelter, and safety. So, when you leave your furry friend alone, you remove that all-important security blanket. That’s usually why your puppy cries when you’re not around.

Boredom

puppy in crate

If your puppy is left alone in his crate with nothing to keep him amused, he will quickly get bored and might begin barking or exhibiting whining behavior. Sometimes a chewable treat or a fun treat game can be all it takes to entertain your puppy and help to settle him down.

Fear

Although most dogs get used to spending time in a crate, young puppies can find the whole experience frightening, especially if the crate training process is not carried out properly.

If your puppy is afraid, he might begin crying.

Potty Time!

If your puppy is crate-trained and potty trained, he might cry or whine because he needs to relieve himself. Your pet knows that he mustn’t do his business in his crate, and he’s crying to let you know that he needs to go.

In that case, you should always praise your puppy and reward him for his good behavior in letting you know that he needs time out for a bathroom break.

Separation Anxiety

Some dog breeds, such as Goldendoodles and French Bulldogs, are prone to a condition called separation anxiety.

Issues with separation anxiety are caused by stress and manifest in several ways, as well as whining and crying, which can be very distressing for both the dog and his doting pet parents.

Toileting

Some toilet-trained dogs resort to peeing or pooping in their crate when left alone or out of sight of their pet parents.

Crying, Barking, and Howling

Often, dogs with separation anxiety will cry, bark, or howl when left alone. That kind of behavior generally happens whenever the dog is left alone.

Destructive Behavior

Dog chewung a white rug

Although puppies can be destructive, especially when teething, if your dog demonstrates serious chewing, digging, or generally trashing their surroundings, it’s possible that your pet is suffering from separation anxiety.

Often, a distressed dog will injure itself, apparently oblivious to that.

Escaping

Dogs with separation anxiety issues might attempt to escape from their crate. Sometimes, that drastic behavior can result in scraped paws, torn nails, and even broken teeth.

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

It’s not clear why some dogs develop major separation anxiety. However, the condition seems to be more prevalent in dogs from shelters and rescues and puppy mills

It might be that these dogs are accustomed to being surrounded by other pups, and when they come to your home, that familiar pack scenario is removed. 

Why You Must NOT Punish A Dog That’s Crying In His Crate

Although a whining puppy can drive pet parents crazy, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep, it’s crucial that you don’t punish your pup.

Don’t Destroy Trust!

It’s likely that your puppy is already anxious, and if you yell at him, you will only make him even more afraid.

You want to build a bond of trust with your pet. Frightening him can very quickly destroy that fragile bond and undo all your efforts at crate training your puppy.

Attention Seeking

dog jumping for a stick

If your puppy is whining because he’s seeking attention, you might be giving him the attention he craves by shouting at him! 

Weirdly, your puppy might quiet down purely because he’s managed to get the attention he wanted and not because he’s doing what you want.

Negative Attention

If you go across to your puppy’s crate to scold him every time he cries, he’s training you! 

Think about it from your pet’s point of view. Each time he whinges, you come over to him. Very quickly, your pup learns that he can summon you to him whenever he wants to, simply by crying. That’s called “negative attention,” and it can be a very hard habit to break.

Tips To Stop Your Puppy From Crying In His Crate

Now, here are 15 top tips to help stop your puppy from crying in his crate.

1. Is Your Puppy In Pain?

Sometimes a puppy will cry because he is in discomfort. So, the first thing you need to do is check if there’s something amiss with your furry friend.

Has your pet got an upset tummy from eating too many treats or from a change of food? Does your puppy have parasites? Is your puppy teething? Perhaps a frozen chew toy might help.

2. Is Your Puppy Hungry?

Growing puppies need plenty of calories to keep them feeling full and giving them the energy they need to grow and play. Your pup might cry if he’s hungry, so perhaps a snack or some of his favorite treats might help to settle him.

3. Is Your Puppy Thirsty?

dog drinking from a water bottle
Image Source: Istagram.com

It’s crucial that your puppy has clean water available 24/7 to prevent dehydration, especially when he’s in his crate. Make sure that the crate is equipped with a water bottle or clip-on water bowl, and make sure that it’s always full. 

4. Check The Temperature

When contained in his crate, your puppy cannot move to a cooler or warmer area if he wants to. Overheating can be dangerous for dogs, as can being too cold. 

If your puppy is cold, make sure that his crate has an insulated cover to keep out drafts, and invest in a cozy crate pad or mat for him to snuggle into on chilly nights. Never put the crate in a spot where it’s exposed to direct sunlight or too close to a heat source that could make the crate uncomfortably warm for your puppy.

5. Peace And Quiet

Believe it or not, even puppies need some peace and quiet between playtimes! 

In a busy household full of life and laughter, your pet needs some quiet time to recover and rest without any distractions. So, choose a peaceful spot for your pup’s crate where he can sleep without feeling that he’s missing out.

6. Is There A Pattern To Your Puppy’s Behavior?

Before you can cure your puppy of crying in his crate, you need to work out why he’s doing that in the first place. Looking for a pattern in the behavior can help you to do that. Keep a diary of your puppy’s crying behavior, as that can help to identify the cause. 

7. Don’t Leave Your Puppy Alone Only At Bedtime

37. Seat With A View
Image Source: www.instructables.com

Rather than crating your puppy only at night, make sure that he takes naps throughout the day, too. That enables your puppy to practice being on his own in his crate for short periods, ideally keeping the crate close to you.

8. Keep Your Puppy’s Crate Next To You When You Sleep

A very effective tactic to prevent a puppy from crying at night is to place his crate next to your bed at night. 

That allows your puppy to smell and hear you close to him when you both settle down for the night. If your puppy wakes during the night and starts crying, take him outside for a potty stop, and then put him back into his crate. If your furbaby still doesn’t settle, you can reach around and push your fingers into the crate so that the puppy knows you’re there.

9. Use Visual Barriers

If your puppy has an all-around view of his surroundings, he will probably find it difficult to settle down, especially in a busy household. You might find that using a crate cover or blanket to block out distractions helps to encourage your puppy to settle down.

10. Make The Crate A Fun Place To Be!

A crate can be a very boring place for a puppy. All the action takes place outside the crate in the big wide world, so it’s no wonder that your furry friend starts crying when it’s time to go into his crate.

Make sure you provide your puppy with a few interactive toys to play with, especially a tasty chew or Kong toy packed with treats, to keep your pup occupied while he’s inside his crate. 

11. Provide Comfort For Your Puppy

You need to make the crate comfy for your puppy. 

As a newborn, your pup would have enjoyed the comfort of cuddling up in a pile with his littermates to settle down to sleep at night. So, it’s little wonder that being alone is stressful and can lead to crying. 

Buy your puppy a snuggly, stuffed animal with the sound of a heartbeat, provide blankets for burrowing, and perhaps include a heating pad to keep your puppy comfortable, cozy, and warm. You might also want to try using a plug-in DAP (Dog Appearing Pheromone) that can help to keep your puppy calm.

12. Don’t Leave Your Puppy To Cry It Out!

sad puppy crying howling in shelter cage unhappy emotional moment adopt me concept space for

Although it might be tempting to ignore your crying puppy in the hope that he’ll eventually stop, we don’t recommend that you do that. A puppy in distress needs to know that you are there for him, and if you simply ignore your pet, he will become more and more distressed and upset.

Don’t remove the puppy from the crate. Just take a little time to speak to him and calm him until he settles down. Perhaps provide your puppy with a treat or favorite toy, then carry on with what you were doing. 

If you leave your puppy to cry, that can increase stress hormone production, effectively teaching your puppy that spending time in his crate is an unpleasant, stressful experience and creating a viscious circle. Crating a new puppy is a learning process for you, too! 

You need to learn how to tell the difference between a puppy that’s just complaining for a few minutes before he settles down, and one that’s genuinely afraid, in pain, or distressed. A puppy that’s distressed will vocalize loudly, his pupils will become dilated, his respiration rate will increase, and he might even begin trembling and shaking.

13. Choose The Correct Crate Size

Although it might seem an obvious thing to do, it’s crucial that you pick the correct crate size for your puppy. 

A very common cause of a crying puppy is a crate that’s too small for him. Even though your puppy might be tiny, he still needs a crate with sufficient space. Your puppy’s crate should provide him with enough space to:

  • Stand up without hitting his head or catching his ears on the roof of the crate
  • Lie down completely flat out without his paws or nails becoming caught in the wire mesh of the crate
  • Sit down without hitting his head or catching his ears on the top of the crate
  • Turn around without bumping into the sides of the crate

Ideally, your puppy should have sufficient space to be able to play with his toys, too.

That said, you don’t want to give your puppy a crate that’s too large. Dog’s naturally do not like soiling their sleeping areas. However, you don’t want to give your puppy too much room or he might decide to use one end of his crate as a potty area, and get into bad habits that will destroy all your hard work in toilet training your pup.

Puppy Dividers

Crates are quite an expensive investment, so you don’t want to have to buy a whole series of new ones to accommodate a growing puppy. So, what’s the solution?

Well, many wire crates come with a crate divider included, although you can buy them to fit most crates, too. A crate divider allows you to make the crate smaller, expanding the size of the crate as your puppy grows. You can also use a crate divider when you’re potty training your puppy.

14. Location, Location, Location!

Choosing the correct crate placement spot is also essential.

You should not put the crate too far away from you and your family, or your puppy will probably start crying. Puppies need to feel that they are safe and protected by their human pack family, and your little furry friend will feel isolated and abandoned if you put his crat out in your garage or in your basement.

Instead, crate placement needs to be in a place where you generally hang out, such as a living room or kitchen. That way, your puppy can feel that he’s in the center of things the entire time, even if he’s contained in his crate. You might also want to consider buying another crate to keep in your bedroom overnight. That way, your puppy won’t feel that he’s been abandoned when you head off to bed. Also, your puppy will be able to tell you when he needs to go outside for a potty break.

15. Make The Crate An Appealing Place To Be

Understair Dog Crate
Image Source: www.decorpad.com

Like babies, puppies will always settle better if they are warm and comfortable. If your puppy’s crate feels cold, sterile, and uninviting, he’s much less likely to be happy and will most likely start whining and crying. So, you should focus on making the crate a homely, snug, space that your pup will love spending time in.

Most wire crates come with a removable plastic tray to catch any accidents and to make cleanup hassle-free and easy. However, a hard plastic tray is not the most comfortable place to sleep! So, you need to buy a high-quality dog bed or comfortable crate mat and a super-snuggly blanket to create an environment that feels secure and safe for your puppy. 

A self-warming blanket or a heat pad can be an excellent option, and a donut bed with high sides can create a cozy, safe feeling for your baby dog. Basically, you want to try to replicate that warm, secure feeling that your puppy enjoyed when he was with his mother and siblings.

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our guide on what to do if your new puppy won’t stop crying in his crate. If you found the information helpful, please share the article before you go.

There are many reasons why a puppy whines and cries in his crate. Check that your puppy isn’t in pain or discomfort, and then make sure that he’s not hungry or thirsty and has had plenty of exercise before crate time. The crate must be a safe, comfortable, welcoming place for your puppy to spend time. So, fill the crate with a comfy bed, add a few toys, and put the crate somewhere that your pup can see you and your family.

Did your puppy cry when you first began crating him? How did you solve the problem? Share your story with us in the comments section below.

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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