How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in His Crate

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You are so pleased that your dog enjoys being in his crate. However, he's recently started barking for attention while crated. It doesn't make sense. He has an empty bladder and full stomach, and has a super-comfy bed, so what could he want? 

He barks so much you feel duty-bound to check he's okay. But every time you go back in the room, there he is, sitting up wagging his tail looking happy to see you. Indeed, you began to suspect he was barking for attention and out of frustration, you start shouting at him to be quiet. This doesn't seem to work either as he still barks...louder and longer than ever before. 

Unfortunately, what you failed to realize is you've accidentally rewarded the dog's bad behavior with attention. Popping back in to check on him and shouting are wonderful rewards, to a dog's way of thinking. Just how do you break this bad habit? 

Defining Tasks

In an ideal world, in the first instance, your dog wouldn't start barking in the crate at all. This is achieved through correctly crate training your pooch so that he is happy in the crate and doesn't feel the need to bark. To do so, consistent training is needed along with providing a crate that is comfy and fun to be in. If your dog does get into the habit of vocalizing while in this happy place, there are tips to try.

The first move is to retrain your dog so that he discovers barking isn't rewarded. Know the dos and don'ts of a suitable crate and the experiences in it. And be aware of how to associate crate time as a good time. Apply the rules and methods in a kind but firm and unchanging way, because lapses send out mixed messages and can encourage your furry buddy to slide back into bad habits. 

Also, don't expect the problem to be sorted overnight. The more established your dog's barking habit while in the crate, the longer it's going to take to correct it. Remember, the noise may temporarily get worse but will eventually stop. It's a doable task that takes just a few steps.

Getting Started

A few key points about the crate should be covered first. How about the size of the crate? Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around with ease. That is the ideal size because any larger, and it will not feel cozy. As well, some dogs with a crate that is too large will decide to use a corner as a spot to relieve themselves. Then, you have a whole other problem to sort out.

Make sure the crate is a welcoming place with a cozy bed. Some pet parents will even place an old, worn sweatshirt inside. This often soothes the dog, due to the familiar scent. Sturdy toys and a crate cover round out the comfort of the space.

Have treats on hand and be ready to exercise your dog regularly and fully. Finally, to get started in calming a barking dog, you may need to take a few steps back and train your dog all over again.

The Positive Association Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
11 Votes
Step
1
Make the crate the best
Really, you want your dog's crate to be a place they want to rest in. Try covering the crate on three sides so that it is more like a private den, and a place your dog can call their own.
Step
2
Treat time
When your dog is outside with another family member, hide a few treats in the crate. Place them under the blanket, inside a chew toy, and at the entrance to the crate. This is to entice your dog to go there on their own. Let them seek the treats on their own time.
Step
3
Crated mealtime
Once your pup has had a few days of finding fun treats on his own in the crate, feed him his meals there to continue a positive association with the space. On occasion, close the door when you feed him and leave him in the crate for 10 minutes afterward. Don't leave him any longer than that because he'll need a potty break after eating.
Step
4
Gradual stays
A dog should never be confined to a crate for hours on end when you are home. Dogs are social creatures and understandably want to be where you are. However, if you are working on a task such as using cleaners or painting, then the crate may be necessary. Other than when you are at work or not home, let your dog be part of the family.
Step
5
Nighttime necessities
If you are crating your dog at night, feel free to let them share your bedroom. Crating them away from you at night may set the stage for barking. If you eventually want them out of the room, crate them in the room and once they are over the barking phase, move the crate out of the room inches per night until they are in another space for sleeping.
Recommend training method?

The Dos and Don'ts Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
7 Votes
Step
1
Do: consider your schedule
Before you begin working with your dog to break the habit of barking while in the crate, give thought to your schedule and work or home life requirements and work out a plan.
Step
2
Do: consider your dog's schedule
Think about your pup's requirements. Take into account his age, potty training stage, best mealtimes, and so on. You want to pinpoint the most appropriate times for crate training and barking avoidance.
Step
3
Don't: put him in hungry
Make sure that your dog is not hungry when you put him in the crate. The eating window shouldn't be any longer than 90 minutes before you put your pooch in the crate.
Step
4
Don't: forget the pee break
Once you've fed your four-legger, take him out for a pee break before crate time. Remember, dogs often have a need to have a bowel movement in the morning after eating. Be sure to allow for plenty of time.
Step
5
Do: provide toys and outlets for play
You can't blame a dog for being bored in the crate. Give your companion stimulating outlets like a Kong-type toy to lick and chew on when confined. Take the sturdy toy and fill it with moistened kibble and dog-safe peanut butter. Freeze it, and give it to your dog only on the occasions when he goes in the crate.
Step
6
Do: tire him out
Exercise is a key component to a dog's life. A happy and tired dog who has enjoyed a long walk and a rousing gamer of fetch or two will relax and rest in the crate. When you are working to stop the barking habit, make sure your dog has had plenty of exercise to tire him out.
Step
7
Don't: use the crate as punishment
Your dog's crate cannot be used as punishment. If you do that, your pooch will associate it as such. Make the crate a fun and relaxing place to be and the vibe will soon take over.
Recommend training method?

The Not Respond Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Convincing your dog otherwise
Training your dog to not bark in their crate means convincing them that the action brings no rewards. This means no patting and no treats when they are vocalizing in a negative manner while in the crate.
Step
2
Don't call out
Along with not responding through petting or any other type of face to face contact is to not shout from the other room, either. Calling out an order sometimes seems as though you are joining in, encouraging your pup to bark louder.
Step
3
Music to the ears
If you have a pooch who is insisting on barking while in the crate, respond from afar by piping relaxing music into the room where they are crated. This may provide a distraction and will also drown out the sound for you so that you can be firmer in your resolve.
Step
4
White noise
Your dog may be barking at the sounds they hear in the street or outside the window. White noise is a solution used in many circumstances as a way to drown out unwelcome sound. Give your dog a quieter space by running a fan or humidifier in the room.
Step
5
DAP
Dog appeasing pheromones are a natural way that some pet parents calm a barking dog. After all, your pup is barking for a reason. Buy an infuser and plug it in near your pooch's crate. The DAP may provide a calming sensation for your dog.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Pippa Elliott

Published: 11/08/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Cyborg
Labrador Husky
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Cyborg
Labrador Husky
3 Years

She has a problem with barking in the crate, or whenever she isn't near me and cannot get to me, it's causing me to not have anywhere to live as this happens all day while im at work, and no apartment or townhouse will allow her to be there

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello, The first step is to work on building her independence and her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that she does not anticipate alone time and build up her anxiety before you leave - which is hard for her to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give her something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on); this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs with more severe separation anxiety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs, and is likely the better route in your case. Ideally, if you go this route, I would hire a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol too. Here are the details on how to go about the protocol though. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of pup's life too. Second, purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on her. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear her but she will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on her while she is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on her, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if she responds to the collar at all (if you use a collar like mini educator, most pup's can't even feel the first few levels out of the 100 levels - you are trying to find the level where she begins to feel it without going too high for her). Look for subtle signs such as turning her head, moving her ears, biting her fur, moving away from where she was, or changing her expression. If she does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when she is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing her reaction at that level until she indicates a little bit that she can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and she will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for her and have it correctly fitted on her, have her wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on her while she is in the crate. Put her into the crate while she is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on her from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her barking or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate her collar again. If her fur is long, make sure the metal contact points are both touching her skin, and be sure to order longer contact points - many come with a short and long set). If she does not decrease her barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. She may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator, or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because she has not learned what she is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if her level is 16 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 19 right now. The level you end up using on her on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first fifty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for her before proceeding at a higher level. If she continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting her from outside when she barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when she stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when she is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk I would also put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with her. Once she is less anxious she will likely enjoy it even if she didn't pay any attention to it in the past, and that will help her to enjoy the crate more. First, she may need her anxious state of mind interrupted so that she is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give her a food stuffed Kong in the crate for her to relieve her boredom instead of barking, since she will need something other than barking to do at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Luca
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Months
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Luca
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Months

We have had Luca for 3 weeks and began crate training him from day one. He seems to do alright when we leave him in the crate to run errands or go to work. He cries for a few minutes but quickly stops. During the day we take him to daycare, walk him after work and reward him for going into his crate on his own. However, when it is time to go to bed, his barking is unbearable. His crate is in our bedroom. We have given him treats when he gets into his crate but after he immediately barks. The only way to get him to stop is to sleep on the floor next to him. We have tried melatonin, toys, kongs, puppy music. He rarely wakes up during the night to go out (maybe once) and then we put him back into the crate and the barking starts again. We are very tired and do not know what else to try. We have tried "quiet" but he just barks back at us. I am at a loss!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, It sounds like pup does well in the day when you aren't there. If you have the option I would start with moving pup's crate out of your room. Even into your bathroom or a master closet, as long as they are climate controlled. A second bedroom if you have one, or downstairs if you have a two story home. Pup being able to see you might be contributing to pup not settling down. Since pup does still wake up once a night to go potty, I would put an audio baby monitor in the room with pup and have that on at night in your room so that when pup wakes and cries to go potty you will hear it to go to pup to take them out, while still removing the visual of pup seeing you at night. You also need to give this a consistent two weeks of not lying on the floor next to pup or going to pup in the night when they cry if it's been less than four hours since pup last went potty so you know the crying is for attention and not a potty need. Every time you go to pup they will learn if they cry you come and give attention, so pup is essentially being trained to cry at night accidently. This is hard I know! The first three nights are going to be long with a lot of crying on and off all night long, but if you can stay strong for at least three nights, you should see that length of time shorten gradually after those three nights until pup has adjusted by week two and everyone is able to sleep again. If you have already tried this approach and pup isn't improving, you have kids you are worried about waking, or neighbors close enough to complain, I would go straight to correcting pup. This is generally done at five months and beyond, and ignoring and removing stimuli is done for younger puppies, but some puppies are more persistent than the typical pup and it can be done a little younger. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Since pup does fine with you out of the room, I would practice crating pup for 1-3 hours while in the same room as pup specifically during the day, starting with less time and working up to more gradually. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. When he cries at night (in the crate - where he needs to be sleeping for now) before it has been 4 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. Don't give treats during night practice though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Luca
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Luca
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Months

Barking constantly in crate at night

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, How long has pup been doing this? If it's been less than two weeks, know that this is normal. It generally takes puppies around two weeks to adjust to being crated. Ignore the crying when pup doesn't need to go potty, make sure you are giving pup plenty or mental and physical stimulation during the day when not crated, and practice the Surprise method when you are home (you can still crate pup for longer at other times if needed, and skip to the point where the door is closed, but rewarding pup for quietness when home can help pup make the connection between being crated and being able to calm himself down). Give a dog foods stuffed chew toy like a kong in the crate when leaving pup for longer periods during the day. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At this age, pup may still need to go potty once per night occasionally, to minimize other wake-ups I recommend the following though. Go with pup when you take them potty right before bed to ensure they are really going potty fully and not getting distracted. Take them right before bed, not an hour or more beforehand. Remove all food and water 2 hours before bed to minimize bathroom breaks before bed. Make sure pup has plenty of chances to drink during the day though. When pup wakes after it's been at least 4-5 hours, take pup potty outside on a leash, but keep the trip super boring. No play, little talk, no treat, no feeding breakfast early, then straight back to the crate if it's not time to wake up for the day yet. Ignore the barking that happens when you return them to the crate. An hour of barking the first few days you do this is normal for some older puppies. Stay strong and consistent. If you let pup out for barking or give attention, pup will just learn to bark again the next night because it worked. Generally this route works for most puppies if you can stay consistent for long enough. Sometimes older puppies or puppies who don't improve need a different route though. For pups who aren't improving I recommend doing the below also. Keeping in mind that pup may still need that nightly potty trip to avoid an accident for another month or two, but you can correct if they bark after returned to the crate, or if they wake and bark before its been long enough to need a potty trip. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. Practice for a few days until he is doing well during the day. When he cries at night before it has been 4 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. If you go straight to nights and days like this you will probably have about 3 rough nights, with lots of correcting before he gets quiet - don't give in and let him out or this will take much longer! But the overall process will go faster if you can stay strong. If you practice the daytime routine first while your husband sleeps on the couch for a few more days, then start the nighttime routine once pup understands the new rules, the night should go easier when you do make the transition. Either way you need to stay very consistent for this to work - expect pup to protest and for you to have to correct a lot. You may want to pretend like you are all going to bed two hours early and read in bed with the lights off - anticipating having to get up a lot the first couple of hours to correct - so that you don't loose as much sleep. Ultimately, every ones relationships being healthy and rested is better for pup too. If pup is having accidents in the crate before 4 hours, and there isn't anything absorbent in the crate and the crate is small enough to discourage accidents, or pup has another issue, I would also involve your vet in this. In case there is a physical reason why pup is waking a lot, like pup having an upset stomach. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Tobin
Bichon Frise
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Tobin
Bichon Frise
6 Years

I rescued a Bichon Frise from Taiwan a month ago. He was given up by his previous owners after 6 years and he has clearly been in a loving home and is fully potty trained but never crate trained. His crate is in another room and I feed his meals and he sleeps in there and he generally does okay but will stop barking nonstop once he finishes his meal or wakes up in the morning. I have tried to let him bark it out but he can bark for an hour or more, not sure if I should be correcting him now.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
240 Dog owners recommended

Hello! It sounds like you have some separation anxiety going on. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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Joey
Golden Retriever
6 Months
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Joey
Golden Retriever
6 Months

My puppy has a little separation anxiety and he barks as soon as I put him inside the crate and gets very uncomfortable. I've tried positive reinforcement, putting comfortable blankets with my scent, etc. It doesn't seem to work. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ishita, First, how long have you been crating pup for? If it's been less than 4 weeks, pup may simply need more time to adjust using the positive reinforcement methods. If it's been at least a couple of weeks, you can correct too. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. I would also work on commands that help build confidence and independence in general, like working up to a 1 hour Place command, a structured Heel during walks, and a distance Down-Stay using a long training leash and padded back clip harness. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Miggy
Golden Retriever
1 Year

I feel for you...we had problems with our dog also. He used to hate other dogs/people... Both my husband and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care (he is always surrounded by dogs) what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer. I love this trainer https://bit.ly/2MJj46k It helped us a lot, and I strongly recommend it for you.

1 year, 12 months ago
Success
Nicco
West Highland White Terrier
3 Months

I can't. I just can't. It's been litterally 50 minutes since we left him with his crate open in the laundry room and he keeps barking and crying. I'm about to cry, I just don't want to hear him anymore. I'm so tired of him. Maybe it was a mistake having him. Please, do you know what I should do? I'm so tired of him. He just won't stop.

2 years, 6 months ago
I feel for you. You aren't alone. Stress is very high right now. Take a step back. Do some self care. Get some sleep and refocus. Once we have a plan we can start to implement it and move from where we are. I am going through a similar situation with my puppy. He is so brilliantly smart and he is nearly potty trained and barely mouths me now but the barking is absolutely maddening. You may want to check out AbsoluteDogs (it is all games and fun). There's the Happy Puppy Handbook, Victoria Stillwell etc. I am live in an apartment so I am definitely concerned with the barking Sully is doing. Sending you gentle hugs should you want them.
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
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