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

Most Recommended
10 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

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

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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Bailey
Pitbull mix
8 Years
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Question
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Bailey
Pitbull mix
8 Years

We rescued Bailey 4 months ago and we began a crate training routine right away. Twice a day for 2 hours (between 12-2 & 430-630) while also crating her at night between 11pm to 730am. She goes on 3 walks a day, usually long ones, including a night time pee walk around the block before bed.

At first, Bailey was doing great and not barking at all in her crate, recently that has changed drastically. Its not continuous by any means. It happens for about 2-5 min bursts when she first gets in the crate, these bursts can last for up to 30 mins.

I'm starting to think that she is comfortable enough in her new home and crating her is actually causing more anxiety than helping when we are also home. This is our first dog so we have no idea how to go about this. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Zuma
cockapoo
6 Months
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Question
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Zuma
cockapoo
6 Months

When he wakes in the morning he’ll bark nonstop until I take him out. I usually wait for him to stop barking before I’ll open the door and I know he needs to go in the morning but is there anyway to calm his barking/get him to “sleep in later” before letting him out?

Also, he doesn’t really voluntarily walk into the crate. I usually pick him up and put him in but he will lay down as soon as he’s in there without barking. How do I get him to voluntarily go in? I’ve tried putting treats in it but it doesn’t seem to work.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Raebekkah, At this age pup will really need to go potty when they wake, so you will have to take them right away, despite barking. What you are doing by waiting for a second of quiet is a good practice. I would work on teaching the Quiet command. Since pup really can't hold it longer at this age, I would either wait a bit until pup is older and you can expect more from them, continuing what you are doing now until then, or after pup goes potty, return them to the crate until it's the time you want them to learn to sleep in later until, before feeding. Ignore pup when they bark when their bladder is empty until they go back to sleep. Returning pup to the crate after they go potty and waiting to feed can help pup's internal clock set to wake at a later time, but you will have to take pup potty when they wake at the earlier time for a while until they can hold it a bit longer. By returning pup to the crate, you are resetting their internal clock to eat later, helping them eventually only be woken up by their need to pee - and as their need to pee becomes less urgent with age and increasing bladder capacity, their new wake up time should become the eating time if that's not longer than 10 hours from when they went to bed the night before. Check out the article I have linked below. In addition to leaving treats in the crate (at times when you aren't trying to close pup in there so they feel like its safe to go in for the treats while you aren't right there, I would also work on the Toy method. First, simply work on getting pup willing to walk into the crate, whether you are by them or not, then start adding a cue when you see pup walk in - like crate or "room". Each time pup walks in when you say the cue word - room, then toss an additional tasty treat into the crate with pup. Work on just getting pup to enter the crate when you say the word, and working on that for a while without closing the door during those sessions (in the meantime, continue to put pup in the crate instead of tell pup to go in, while still teaching this). Once pup wilil eagerly go into the crate on command, then you can use the cue word to tell pup to go in before closing the door, but be sure to still toss in treats when pup goes in willingly, and still practice having pup go in and not always closing the door on them - but still giving the treat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Pretty girl
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
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Question
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Pretty girl
Labrador Retriever
1 Year

My dog messes with my cats a lot and plays really aggressive with them. So when she does that I distract her or sometimes put her in the cage. Or she goes in the cage when we eat and she won’t stop whining and barking. What do I do? I tried everything. Sometimes she’s also aggressive towards me. If I tell her no she starts growling at me and runs away and comes back and bites me not that hard tho or she will jump up and scratch me as well, what do I do about that?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carissa, Because of the aggression toward you, I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues to help you in person with this. She will need to be desensitized to wearing a basket muzzle and the aggression issues worked on first, with respect and trust for you carefully built. With a good foundation or trust and respect, pup's impulse control can be build around the cats, practicing a long Place command, Leave It command, and Out - and pup learning to listen to you better and leave the cat's alone as an extension of your rules. Pup can also be taught a Quiet command and the barking the crate corrected during meals, and quietness also rewarded during meals. I wouldn't work on building impulse control or adding any corrections until safety measures are in place and pup's trust and respect for you is addressed, working with a trainer, first though, for your own safety. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Benji
Yorkshire Terrier
3 Months
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Question
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Benji
Yorkshire Terrier
3 Months

Hi. My puppy constantly wants to follow us round and even when we leave him for less than a minute he is barking for us to come back downstairs. Over the last couple of days we are training him in the crate to be quiet, he doesn’t listen and just seems to constantly bark no matter what. He can last 30 seconds without barking before we let him out of the crate and that’s it. He sleeps in his crate all night no problem but still barks at 5-6am goes toilet then doesn’t seem to want to go back to bed he just wants our attention. We tried the ignore method and he really doesn’t settle down on his own. He constantly wants to be on our knee so we’re trying to teach him to be on his own but it is proving difficult. He’s got a kong which he does enjoy and keeps him quiet for less than 5 minute but he doesn’t settle down in the crate after it he wants to come straight out... the treat method for being quiet doesn’t seem to work 😣 we walk him twice a day and have play time then have to quiet him down sometimes by gently holding his shoulders otherwise he gets out of control and gets fed up of his toys. He’s good with other people and likes other dogs so far but when at home he just constantly wants it attention. This morning he barked for 45 minute non stop and would have gone on for longer if we didn’t say no stop wait and then let him out... we love him he can be a very loving pup but we are struggling to get him to detach from us during the day :-( thank you!

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

Hi there. It sounds like he may 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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Milli
Golden Retriever mix
6 Months
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Question
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Milli
Golden Retriever mix
6 Months

We just recently brought home a new puppy Milli to join our family. We also have a 7 y.o. dog Roscoe. Milli still has puppy energy and that gets to be too much for Roscoe at times and they need a break. She goes into her crate willingly but she barks alot for hours on end. We have tried to not respond to the barks in anyway but that has not worked yet. It seems the only way that she is comfortable in the crate is when some one is in the room with her. Due to her early puppy days she because territorial of her crate so we have not been able to keep it out in a common room without Roscoe freaking out when she starts to bark. Based on this scenario where should we start? We ideally would like her to have free roam of the house but as a puppy we cannot do that just yet

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marc, How long have you been practicing crate training for? If it's been less than two weeks, I recommend practicing the Surprise method from the article I have linked below, continuing to ignore the barking (that tends to take a couple of weeks for older puppies), and giving it a little more time. Surprise method. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If it's been more than two weeks and you aren't seeing at least gradual improvements, you may need to interrupt pup when they bark also. To do that: 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 she 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 her during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. Whenever she cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If she gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if she stays quiet. If she continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at her side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again to interrupt her barking. 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 she cries. When she cries at night before it has been 6 hours, either ignore the crying or tell her Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if she doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. I would only use corrections if you have tried rewarding quietness and ignoring barking for two weeks consistently and have not seen improvement with that (or cannot ignore due to a risk of being evicted or fined) - most dogs take a couple of weeks to adjust, and barking during that time is normal. If pup isn't adjusting, some dogs do need to be interrupted to help them learn, because barking can become habitual, in which case I recommend moving to using the Pet Convinver. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Training Success Stories

Success
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, 2 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.

1 year, 8 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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