Crate training can be the bee’s knees when it goes right. Your puppy gets their very own space to relax safely. But for some puppies, if training’s not quite gone to plan, it can be really stressful. For many, puppy anxiety in a crate can actually be quite common, and being enclosed is hard to deal with, so much so that it causes them to panic. 

In this article, we’ll get into puppy anxiety in a crate and look at the reasons that puppies get anxious during crate training, tips to handle and calm your puppy’s anxiety in their crate, what to do if your puppy has separation anxiety in their crate, and what to do if you simply can’t crate train your puppy.

Download the Zigzag puppy training app, and we can help you with your pup’s anxiety in a crate with tailored advice from our team of professional dog trainers. We can also help advise you with getting your puppy to sleep through the night, with or without a crate. Our Zigzag training programme will also help you crate train your puppy and teach them other important life skills, like socialisation, walking on the lead and much more. 

Why do puppies get anxious during crate training?

It takes time for puppies to feel at home in their crate. If your puppy hasn’t got used to being in a crate at their breeder’s or previous home, then it’s likely they will need some time to learn that crates are nice things, and you’re not imprisoning them! We tend to rush crate training and this is why puppies get anxious. 

Crate anxiety, barrier frustration, confinement frustration and confinement anxiety are some of the many names that are given when puppies get anxious during crate training. Fact is, crate anxiety can actually be really common for lots of puppies. 

Tips to calm your puppy’s anxiety in their crate

To create a well crate trained puppy (ha, geddit) there are some things you want to be aware of, here’s our tips for successful crate training without anxiety.

Introduce the crate gradually

Crates aren’t something you can just shut puppies in and hope they’ll get on with it. They need time to get used to them.

Build positive associations to the crate

Feed their meals and use food toys inside the crate to help them learn that nice things go on in their crate.

Play crate games

Teach them in and out of the crate, gradually building up to the crate door being closed. 

Find more games in our training games library.

Don’t close the door yet

Closing the door too soon is a prime cause of crate anxiety. It’s a good idea to wait until they are comfortable sleeping in the crate at night with the door closed before you attempt to close it during the day. Most puppies will accept it being closed at night. 

Take them out of the crate regularly

Leaving your puppy in the crate too long can cause them to have accidents and leave them feeling stressed about being in the crate.

Make sure they’re ready to be crated

Your puppy needs appropriate levels of physical exercise (yes, walks if it’s safe for them to go outside) so that they’re not full of beans when it’s time to crate them. If your puppy needs the toilet, they’re also not going to want to go in or stay in their crate very long. 

Keep an eye on them with a puppy cam

If you want to leave your puppy in their crate, do a few trial runs and leave a puppy cam on and see how they cope.

What if my puppy has separation anxiety during crate training?

Many puppies, who we think have separation anxiety, actually have crate anxiety and are much happier if left home alone with more room to roam. You can use management like baby gates, or a playpen to help them stay safe but with more space.

Read more in our full guide to puppy separation anxiety, and how to crate train your puppy.

What to do if your puppy won’t crate train? 

It needn’t be the end of the world if your puppy won’t crate train, it’s not essential that you use them, but they are a useful tool. Download the Zigzag app to find more help on crate training, or help with your puppy sleeping outside their crate.

Puppy anxiety in crate FAQs

Are some dogs impossible to crate train?

If a dog has had a bad experience with being crate trained, then it’s not impossible, but it might be more difficult, and will take you time.

How do I get my puppy to stop screaming in his crate?

Take training back to basics, and start crate training at a level that your puppy is comfortable with, then you won’t get any screaming!We hope that’s helped you learn a bit more about puppy crate anxiety, and now you can take steps to help your puppy if they’re crying in their crate. We have more problem-solving content in the Zigzag puppy training app, download today and follow a personalised programme with your puppy. There’s also a team of professional dog trainers to help you via our in-app chat, 24/7, every step of the way.