Oh no, is your puppy whining in their crate? There’s nothing more heartbreaking than the sound of a whining puppy in a crate, is there?

Honestly, it’s one of our bottom lip wobble moments, to hear them howl so pitifully, I could cry thinking about it, and I bet you feel the same too? 

You might have read a few websites and articles about puppy training and a puppy barking in a crate might be something you’re looking for help with. 

We’ve got you covered as we’ll be going through

  • All the reasons a puppy might be barking in their crate
  • How to stop a puppy whining in their crate
  • What not to do when a puppy is whining in their crate

We have a full crate training and being alone programme in our Zigzag puppy training app as well as a team of Zigzag puppy training coaches to help you with any problems you might be having with your puppy whining or barking in their crate. 

Why do puppies start whining in their crate?

There are many reasons puppies whine or bark in their crate. Start by thinking about why your puppy might be doing it, this will help you spot any patterns, then you can work out how to help them cope better with being confined for short periods.

pug looking sad lying on the floor
Photo by Jorge Zapata on Unsplash

They haven’t had any experience of being confined in a crate

You can’t just confine your puppy in a crate and expect them to love it, some do but most will take some time to learn that being confined isn’t so scary. Take it slowly and gently so they learn it’s a great place to be. 

They have had negative experiences of being confined in a crate

If your puppy has associated negative feelings with being in a crate then they may struggle. Being crated for too long, being left to cry it out, being crated with too many puppies in a commercial or puppy farm set up, or being crated in a scary situation like in a noisy van or cargo hold, any prior negative experience can cause anxiety around the crate. 

Dogs are social creatures and want to be with us

It’s no wonder that your puppy is whining if they are on their own. This is especially true if they haven’t long left their littermates, they feel lonely and isolated and they want to know where you are so they will call out for you. 

Being in a crate is boring for a puppy

Puppies need a lot of stimulation, and being shut in a crate can be boring for a brainy puppy. All the fun stuff happens outside of the crate, so, naturally, your puppy would prefer to be out there with you, than on their own, in there.

Puppies need the toilet a lot!

Make sure your puppy is getting regular toilet breaks, as they may be whining or barking in their crate as they’re desperate for the toilet. Puppies don’t like to go to the toilet where they sleep so will naturally call out for you and want to get out when they need the loo! 

pug lying in bed in a crate
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

How to stop a puppy from whining in the crate?

A puppy whining in their crate is not something anyone wants to see, or hear. To get a handle on the barking in the crate, first, we need to establish why our puppy is crying in their crate to create a training plan to help them like it. 

We first look at some basics of selecting the right crate and making it the best place for the puppy to be, making sure their needs outside of the crate are being met, and then start teaching them that they’ll only be in the crate as long as they can cope with. 

Start with the right crate and make it the best place to be

  • Choose the right size and style crate for your puppy and your home set up, we reviewed some puppy crates here for you
  • Make sure the crate is comfy and cosy – some puppies prefer a blanket over the top to darken things a little, all puppies will want a nice cosy puppy bed to sleep in.
  • Provide fun things to do in your puppy’s crate, perhaps the crate fairy can come and hide treats and toys for your puppy to find on their own?
  • Feed your puppy their meals in the crate, with the door open to begin with.

Put the crate in the right place in your house. 

We recommend this is in your bedroom at night time, especially in the first few weeks. Once they’ve settled in and are sleeping through the night you can move the crate.

In the daytime, you’ll want the crate in your main living space, that way you can keep an eye on your puppy and what they’re up to, and they can tell you when they need the toilet! 

To make sure all of your puppy’s needs are met you will need to:

  • Ensure your puppy is getting enough exercise before expecting them to be ok resting
  • Ensure your pet is getting the right kind of puppy nutrition – we get hangry, and it’s not surprising puppies do too! (We have an in-app food calculator so you can check how much you should be feeding your puppy as they grow.)
  • Give your puppy lots of chew toys in their crate as they will be teething, it’s also worth looking at if your puppy is in pain with their teeth. Those sore gums are enough to make anyone cry a little. 
  • Make sure water is available to your puppy 24/7. Here at Zigzag, we don’t recommend removing water at night, if your puppy is a bowl tipper then get a bowl that attaches to their crate. Simples!
  • Regulate the temperature, your puppy won’t appreciate being in a draughty hallway, or in an airless room, so keep an eye on how hot or cold the area is, especially overnight.

Transfer your puppy to the crate when they are sleeping

Puppies like to fall asleep everywhere, especially on us! When they fall asleep elsewhere, transfer them to the crate so they get used to sleeping in there and waking up there. A heated toy like the snuggle safe pad or snuggle sheep can help to keep the crate warm and snuggly and less of a shock of being transferred into a cold blanket which can wake a puppy up.

small pup being held up by owner
Photo by Jacinto Diego on Unsplash

Start a proper crate training programme 

To teach your puppy to really love being in their crate and cope with alone times, we recommend you work through a comprehensive puppy crate training guide or follow our programme in the Zigzag puppy training app

Don’t close the door and confine your puppy until they have been through a training programme

The biggest mistake that people make when crate training is closing the puppy in before they are ready. Don’t rush the process, but do it at your puppies pace instead, so they won’t feel the need to panic at being shut-in. 

Teach your puppy in and out of the crate 

This way they get used to the door being closed and opened and that they come out when quiet and calm. It teaches them not to scratch or bark for attention because they’ve learnt what they need to do to be let out. 

What not to do when the puppy is whining?

So we’ve hopefully given you a list of things to do to stop your puppy whining in their crate, but maybe there are some things we need to help you understand not to do?

Don’t let them cry it out

We hear this so often, ‘I thought she’d stop eventually’ but umm, well she didn’t did she? In fact, what tends to happen when we let puppies cry it out is a few things:

The crying gets louder

They learn to cry louder because eventually, we can’t take listening any more, or more often our worry about the neighbours complaining increases and we go to them, so they learn that ‘wow, crying worked after all, better keep going with that tactic’ and eventually they learn just to do it as an automatic behaviour.

They injure themselves trying to escape.

When crying doesn’t work a frightened puppy will try other means of getting to you, or getting out of the prison they feel they are locked in. They can do themselves serious injury, losing teeth, pulling out claws or even getting their face trapped in the crate. I know, it’s scary but it’s pretty serious. 

They give up and this has a devastating effect on their emotional wellbeing.

When an animal has tried many ways to change the outcome of their circumstances, and nothing they try works they give up and often go into a state of what’s called Learned Helplessness. This can impact the way they feel about other situations and scenarios as they do not feel in control and this anxiety can generalise across your puppy’s day to day life. 

Don’t punish them

Punishment is not going to work to help your puppy feel better is it? Yet still, we hear of people who shout at or bang the crate to frighten the puppy to make them be quiet. The logic is so flawed, we can’t believe it either, but still, it persists. 

We know it can be frustrating, but honestly, go in the garden and have a scream if it makes you feel better, punishing and telling off your puppy for being upset will not make the situation better. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this article on how to stop your puppy whining in their crate. If you have questions on crate training, or how to stop your puppy barking in their crate then feel free to reach out to our Zigzag Puppy Coaches, you’ll find the contact details in the Zigzag puppy training app

By the way, did you check out our review of the best puppy crates yet?