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The 5 Reasons Your Puppy Is Crying In The Crate & What You Can Do About It

Crate training is no easy task!

Your schedule is hectic and unpredictable. Some days you have more energy, patience, and time than others. In addition to that, your puppy isn't in any way born knowing how to be away from you for more than a second, let alone within a confined space!

This means that crate training is something we have to teach our puppies, while this is also a process that goes against his social animal instincts, which tell him he has no clue how to behave on his own without someone being there to guide him.

But there's hope! You've seen others do it so you know there's a way to.

Here are the 5 reasons your puppy is crying when inside the crate.

1. In your puppy's eyes, you have become/might be becoming a source of excitement. Especially the moment you're getting ready to leave the house by saying goodbye in a baby voice, and the moment you come back and say hello in a similar, excited manner, and thus your puppy just can't help but feel a big difference when he is alone, compared to when you're home.

What you can do about this:

We know how hard it is to just behave in a calm manner around your puppy at all times. This is tough because when we look at our puppy, we can't help but feel this tingling sensation that makes us excited that we have a puppy!

However, that's not exactly how your puppy sees you, nor himself. Your puppy associates you with guidance and it's important that you remember that on a daily basis. Without you, he doesn't feel like he knows what to do, and if your guidance represents excitement above all, he won't ever know what to do when you're away, in a calm manner. You want to be more of an authoritative figure in your puppy's life, much like a policeman or security guard is to you, as opposed to that friend you have that behaves in comedic ways 24/7.

So, next time you put your dog in his crate, practice avoiding eye contact, saying anything, or petting him goodbye. When you come back home, you will need to open his crate to let him pee, but just the same, try no eye contact, no touch, or sounds until your puppy is behaving as calmly as he can. This will tell him that if he behaves calmly and does his best to be patient whether you're at work or really close to him, you will only be there and then provide him with everything he loves about you!

2. Left in the crate full of physical and mental energy.

What you can do about this:

We've all heard it, go for walks and tire out your puppy! A tired puppy is a happy puppy and being physically and mentally tired provides your puppy with the association that the crate is the place he gets to go to, to find rest and relaxation, not anxiety and excitement.

Here is the secret formula to this: "After X (minutes) amount of Y (physical and/or mentally stimulating game) activity, my puppy sleeps for X amount of time."

This tells you everything you need to know to be able to plan ahead and to know when the right time to leave your dog in the crate is. Have to leave for work at 8? You now know how much time you need to give yourself so that your pup is set for success!

Unfortunately, we can't just sit down and talk to our dogs to explain to them why he needs to be calm and wait because the clock says 8:00 AM. And thus, the only way for our dog to give us what we want when we want it is for us to provide them with what they need beforehand.

Not sure if the games you're doing with your dog are actually tiring him out physically and mentally? Is he maybe just lying down asleep because he is bored? Test him! You can test if your dog is really tired, as you work daily trying to master the secret formula, by getting his triggers going. A common one is the doorbell, or knocking on the wall. If your puppy reacts to either of these with a 10 out of 10, then you know you haven't yet found the 'Y' to the formula, that actually challenges your pup and makes him want to look for rest and have zero energy to react to his surroundings.

3. The crate represents something negative.

What you can do about this:

The most common association people make with the crate is that it is the place you put your dog in when they have misbehaved, and this is perhaps the worst thing you can do with your puppy. Instead of doing this, practice #1 and #2 for your puppy to make the proper association with the crate, above all others. This will make the next point much easier to practice.

4. He only gets placed in the crate when you are away.

What you can do about this:

Not engaging with your puppy while he is outside of his crate? You've already stimulated him physically and mentally? In the crate, he goes!

If you're not guiding your puppy by socializing him or challenging him while he is awake, there is no reason why he should be allowed to roam free if you don't yet trust him to behave the way you would like, whether you're right next to him or not. A pup being allowed to roam free without guidance is a negative outcome waiting to happen.

The more you practice putting your already stimulated/tired puppy in his crate (even if you're not leaving the house) just because, the more he will learn that all he needs to do is go inside the crate, stay put, wait, and trust that you will take him out when you have something for him to do (Refer to #2). This will carry over to when you leave the house and your pup, has by then, practiced simply being in the crate calm and patient waiting for you.

5. You leave for longer than your puppy can handle.

A common mistake a lot of owners make is they bring a new puppy home and decide to take a week off of work (like a paw-ternity leave) or even a month, and when that week is over, they head back to their regular work schedule, without having prepared the pup for this reality, which doesn't include someone being at home with him 24/7.

Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some time off work when you get a new puppy, it's important that you take that free time you have to work with your puppy as if you weren't off from work. This means that you should be walking in and out of your house regularly, and make yourself busy so that not all of your attention is on your puppy. This makes it so your puppy will have an easier time getting accustomed to reality and can then begin practicing being alone. Doing so then paves the way for to you learn, as a pet parent, how much time your pup is able to handle being on his own.

When practicing leaving your pup alone in his crate, try doing so in small time increments. Try leaving him alone in the crate for 5 seconds, even if you're standing 2 feet away from him, and once the 5 seconds are up, invite him out and repeat. As you practice this, you will see you can start pushing the amount of time your puppy is in the crate. This is his way of telling you what he is capable of. Do not wait until he begins crying or whining to let him out of the crate, otherwise, he will learn that whining and crying is what gets your attention and opens the crate. Bonus reason: Not all dogs are capable of handling being crated and/or being away from you. No matter how well you set everything up, unfortunately, there are other dogs that by nature just struggle with crate training much more than others (regardless of the breed).


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