How to Get a Puppy to Stop Whining in a Crate

By Lisa McQuerrey

Crate training your puppy can help you establish an effective obedience training routine as well as provide a safe and comfortable retreat for your pup. While some degree of whining and crying is to be expected during the early training stages, ignoring the behavior is the best course of action. Getting past the initial rough spots will yield positive, long-lasting results for both of you.

Start Early

Puppies are naturally inclined to seek out safe, cave-like shelters, so have an appropriately sized kennel on hand when you first bring your puppy home. The crate should be just large enough for your pup to stand up and turn around in. If possible, place the crate in a central area where your puppy can see you and hear you when you’re at home. This will help reduce the potential for separation anxiety and whining. Once crate training is complete, you can move the kennel to a different location, if you wish.

Make it Comfy

Your puppy’s crate should be a comfortable and inviting environment where he feels happy and secure, not scared and whiny. Include a blanket or dog bed and safe chew toys to make it enticing. Cover the crate with a blanket if your pup seems anxious. When you first begin training, sit and play near the crate and place treats around the opening and just inside the door. Place your pup’s feeding dish near the opening and gradually move the bowl inside the crate. Reward him with praise and treats when he enters on his own.

Go Slow

Gradually build up the amount of time your pup is crated. Start by closing the door behind him as he eats and let him out 10 minutes after. If he cries or whines, ignore the behavior until it stops and then let him out. While you don’t want to ignore cries that signal the need for a bathroom break, you don’t want to reinforce the idea that whining is a way out of the kennel.

Take Care of Necessities

As you get to know your pup, you’ll learn to recognize he has different whines when he’s hungry, scared, wants attention or needs to potty. Young puppies, in particular, can hold their bladders for just a few hours at a time, so be mindful of those needs. Don’t overdo crate time. Dogs and puppies shouldn’t be crated all day or all night. If you have a busy schedule or a dog who is destructive in your absence, employ the help of a friend, neighbor or dog-walker to spend time with your dog outside the crate.

Cries of Distress

If your puppy is crying incessantly, panting heavily, having accidents in his crate or trembling, he may be suffering from anxiety. Yelling at your puppy or hitting him or his kennel will only make the problem worse. He may become distrustful of you. Consult your vet or an animal behavioral specialist for advice on how to handle this delicate situation.