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Crate training is often tougher on a dog’s human parents than it is on the dog. Dogs love the safe and den-like feeling of a crate. What they do not like is to be away from their favorite people. There is no better way to get your attention and ask you to climb into the crate with them than to whine. Whether you climb in the crate or you let your pup out of the crate, her whining is communicating her feelings of missing you and wanting to be near you. Over time, crate training gives your dog a safe space while you are away and a personal bedroom space for her even when you are home. If your dog is a puppy, she may also be experiencing a bit of fear of the unknown when she is away from you, along with separation anxiety. No dog owner wants to leave their dog whining all day while they are away at work. If you are in a space such as an apartment where your neighbors could hear, you will want to keep your dog quiet and not whining while in the crate.
Encouraging your pup while in the crate and training her not to whine will make all your lives easier. She will build the confidence she has in you returning to her and loving her, and you will be able to keep her in the crate when you are home and when you are away from home for small periods. Avoid keeping your dog in her crate for long periods while you are home. Remember, puppies who are house training can typically hold their bladder one hour for each month of life. So, a four-month-old puppy should be able to hold it for about four hours. When you are able to let your dog out, be sure to let her go potty right away. Be patient with your dog and be prepared to spend lots of time showing her love, so she knows she is not being punished but rather kept safe while inside her crate.
To crate train your dog, obviously, you will need a crate. To teach your dog not to whine while in a crate, you will need lots of treats and a lovey or blanket she can sleep with while you are away. Some dog owners use an old t-shirt they have slept with, so their dog has a cloth material to snuggle with that smells like their owner. While you are teaching your dog to stay in the crate without you, be sure to be prepared with patience and positive praise.
The Reward Positive Method
If your dog is a puppy, you are probably crate training at the same time you are potty training and everything in their world is new and potentially scary.
Put your puppy in his crate for short periods of time. As you walk away from the crate, give your puppy praises in a soft and tender voice letting him know he is okay.
For these first several times you are leaving him in the crate, stay close by but not where he can see you.
Every so often, come to the crate and offer him a treat and verbal praise.
Each time your dog whines, spend a little time with him offering verbal reassurance and then leave. Revisit when he is not whining and offer a treat.
Continue leaving him and returning when he is not whining, offering a treat every time you catch him acting in a positive manner and not whining.
As he begins to trust that you will always come back, he should settle down.
Each time he whines, ignore him. If he is continuing to whine, every time he is quiet go to him and give him a treat.
Practice on and off several times while he is in the crate.
The Clicker Training Method
If you are using a clicker to train your dog other obedience commands, you can use click training methods to teach your dog not to whine while in the crate too.
Place your dog in the crate and sit nearby. The moment your dog whines used a keyword like “ah ah” or “no.”
When your dog is quiet, even if only for a moment, click and treat, rewarding the positive behavior of not whining.
Settle back down a little further away from the crate and wait for your dog's reaction. When your dog whines repeat your cue words like “no” or “ah ah.”
Click and treat
And again, click and treat once your dog is quiet.
Repeat these steps, moving further and further from the crate.
Be sure to verbally let your dog know his poor behavior with a simple verbal cue.
Always reward quiet behavior while in the crate with positive praise and a click and treat reward.
The Meals Association Method
Place a meal inside your dog's crate. Place your dog in the crate, allowing him to eat his meal inside the crate with the door closed.
When your dog is done with the meal, open the door and remove the bowl, leaving the dog in the crate. Leave the dog alone for about 10 minutes.
With a full meal in his belly, he may need to go potty soon so watch closely. But for the 10 minutes you are leaving him alone, he should settle down and be fairly quiet.
If he can settle down and be quiet, give him a few minutes and then open his crate and take him directly outside to go potty.
Back in crate
Once he is done going potty, bring him back inside and put him in the crate. Give him about 10 minutes of alone time.
Go in and offer him a treat.
Repeat this process for several meals for several days until your dog is used to associating the crate with the positive feeling of having a meal and a full tummy.
Be sure within 30 minutes after a meal to let your dog out back outside to go potty. After your dog has eaten his meal and gone outside, he should settle into his crate for a nap.
A sleepy dog should nap instead of whine.
In about a week your dog should associate the crate with the comfort of food and stop whining while inside the crate.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 01/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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