How to Train a Doberman Puppy to Not Bite

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

A puppy is so much fun--when your Doberman plays he's all legs and floppy ears. It gives you such joy to see him lolloping over in that gangly way for a game of tug. But later the gloss has gone out of the games because he's becoming increasingly rough. He just doesn't seem to know his own strength, growling and shaking his head, but most worryingly sometimes nipping your clothing or even your hand. 

You've tried shouting at him to stop, but this only makes him more excited. Likewise, you smacked his rump but in a bizarre reaction, he redoubled his efforts at attacking your T-shirt. While this isn't a serious concern right now, what does worry you is that this behavior will continue into adulthood and he might accidentally hurt someone. 

You know this behavior needs nipping in the bud... but how?

Defining Tasks

Puppies investigate most things with their mouths, it's what they do. Thus, it's natural for a puppy to put anything and everything into his mouth, including your hand or skin. While a playful nip from a puppy isn't especially painful, the worrying thing is that it can set a precedent if the puppy isn't corrected. Then as an adult dog with much more powerful jaws, he may think it's OK to nip... and become labeled as aggressive. 

Therefore it's crucial to teach a puppy not to bite or 'bite inhibition'. This makes it second nature for him to never put his teeth on human skin, and makes for a much more reliable adult dog. 

Getting Started

Training a Doberman puppy not to bite requires knowledge of dog psychology and good timing, rather than needing specific equipment. You may find it helpful to have treats handy, to reward the dog when he calms down. However, this isn't always necessary as resuming a game of tug or playing with a toy is often reward enough in itself.

The Calm Play Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Play is an important part of a puppy's development. Not only is it an outlet for energy but he develops social skills during play. However, it's also a time when many pups get over excited and in the heat of the moment are likely to confuse their owner with a toy and play bite. While this is not a disaster with a small pup, if he is not corrected he may believe this is acceptable behavior. An important way to reduce play biting is to teach the dog self-control by having him calm down when getting too rambunctious.
Step
2
Have a plan in place
Have a watch handy so that you can time 15 seconds. Pick a toy that the puppy likes-- a tug type toy is ideal as your hands aren't directly in contact with the puppy. Also, know what to do if the pup ignores the request to quiet down. The best strategy is to leave the room completely (see the 'Teaching Bite Inhibition' method).
Step
3
Play in 15 second bursts
Engage the puppy's attention with the toy (this shouldn't be too difficult!). Move the toy and he'll be keen to chase after it and grab hold. Try to hit the right level of engagement between making the toy appealing but without making the puppy over-excited and giddy. Play for 15 seconds and then stop.
Step
4
Wait for puppy to calm down
Now wait for the puppy to calm down, and only start the game again once he is calmly sitting. When he does this say "Good" in a happy voice, and restart the game. If the puppy keeps mobbing you for the toy then fold your arms, ignore the puppy and turn your back. If he still persists then end the game by leaving the room. Return only when he's calm. By restarting the game his good behavior gets a reward
Step
5
Play in bursts
Repeat the pattern above. By playing for 15 seconds and then having the pup stop, you are teaching him to have self-control and calm down. Again, if he bites or mouths you then the game stops immediately and only resumes when he's calm. As he gets better at this, slowly extend the amount of time he's allowed to play before the game stops. Try 20 seconds, and after several sessions, try 25 seconds. That way the puppy learns that while he plays nicely the game continues. By playing in controlled bursts he also avoids getting to a fever pitch of excitement where he loses control and bites.
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The Teach Bite Inhibition Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Puppies learn not to bite through how their litter mates react during play. If a pup bites his brother, the pup responds with scream or squeal, giving the feedback that the bite was too hard. The first puppy didn't mean any harm and mainly wants the game to continue, so he learns to moderate his mouthiness so that it is gentle and doesn't interrupt the game. Owners can also teach bite inhibition, by mimicking the reaction of a litter mate.
Step
2
Don't be bashful
Your puppy doesn't speak English so be prepared to teach him with sounds and actions. This means squealing when the puppy's mouth makes contact with your skin. This may be alarming to other people in the room who may fear you have been badly injured. It's worth fore-warning them that you are only play acting in order to teach the dog to have a soft mouth.
Step
3
Act at every opportunity
A puppy is most likely to learn when he's not over-excited. Thus, if he's having a cuddle and casually puts your hand in his mouth, then squeal as if he's hurt you. Whimper and look hurt, perhaps even must a tear or two. The idea is to have him think "My, these humans are delicate, I'd better keep my mouth well away." Then when the pup is an adult dog, he will have a very gentle mouth.
Step
4
Be mindful during play
When playing with the puppy, be mindful of when he play bites and be sure to squeal. However, if the puppy is over-excited, then he may not register your cry. If this is the case, then work on the 'Calm Play' method, and play in shorter bursts so the pup doesn't get over excited and stop listening.
Step
5
Let your hand go dead
When puppy bites and you squeal, let your hand go dead. Don't pull it away, as this may trigger the pup to chase it. A limp hand is less fun to play with, so pup is more likely to register that the game stopped when he got too rough.
Step
6
The nuclear option
Puppy wants to play. If he isn't listening and takes your squeals as a super-interesting twist to the game, then end the game by getting up and walking away. Leave the room if necessary. Only by learning play stops when he's too rough, will the message strike home.
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The Do's and Don'ts Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
Don't: Strike or punish the puppy
If the puppy bites you, never smack or strike him. This will only serve to further excite him, and he may take your moving hand as an invitation to pounce again.
Step
2
Do: Say "NO" in a firm voice
The puppy may need feedback that what he is doing with his mouth his wrong. It can be effective to say a firm "No!" as he goes to bite. Then if he backs down, say "Yes" in a happy voice. This instructs him on the right and wrong way to act, and helps him learn.
Step
3
Don't: Leave a puppy unattended with children
A puppy's teeth are sharp as needles. There is a real risk of excited children getting a puppy hyped up, at which point he may lose self-control and nip. It isn't fair to put him in this position and risk being labelled as aggressive through no fault of his own.
Step
4
Do: Work on basic obedience
Basic obedience training helps teach the puppy to listen to you and provides an outlet for mental energy. Never underestimate the value in short, but regular training sessions with a puppy in order to teach him to behave. Even a puppy aged 8 weeks or more can start learning rudimentary commands such as 'sit'.
Step
5
Do: Call in the experts
If you have a problem with your Doberman puppy being over-mouthy, then do ask for help from a certified animal behaviorist. It's never too late to teach a puppy the right way to behave, but this window of opportunity grows less as he gets older and his ability to learn slows up. So seek help sooner rather than later.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Cali
Doberman Pinscher
13 Weeks
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Question
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Cali
Doberman Pinscher
13 Weeks

Our pup won’t stop biting. She continues to bite hard to myself and two daughters. She doesn’t do it that much to my husband. We have tried everything. Please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cindy, Check out the article linked below. Follow the Leave It method. Once she knows the Leave It command, use the Pressure method to enforce the command when she disobeys Leave It. She needs to learn what "Leave It" means and to develop the skills through practice to have that self-control before using the pressure method or she may just think you are wrestling. Leave It and Pressure methods - Leave It method first, Pressure method after she knows "Leave It" really well. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, teach pup an Out command -which means leave the area. There is a section in the article I have linked below on How to Teach the Out Command. Follow that section, then once pup knows Out, use the section about "How to Use Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior" to make her walk away from the kids when she is being too rough with them and not listening to other commands. Finally, when she gets especially excitable and can't seem to calm down, put her into a crate or exercise pen with a food stuffed chew toy. Puppies can get really crazy when they are overtired and they actually need some rest time to calm back down then. If a pup is feeling really crazy it's usually because they need to rest, or if they haven't been trained or walked yet that day - they need mental or physical stimulation. Know that the biting is completely normal at this age. Your puppy isn't unusual or more problematic. Some pup's personalities are stronger so it can seem worse with those puppies but it is a normal part of puppy development. That doesn't mean they don't need to learn how to treat you like a person instead of a dog though! And it certainly can hurt and be scary for kids, but it doesn't necessarily signal deeper problems later on - all puppies tend to bite at this age as long as that biting seems like pup is trying to roughhouse and get attention, and is not vengeful or intentionally going for throats or faces. If the later is happening, hire professional help from someone who is very experienced with aggression. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rocky
Dobberman
5 Weeks
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Question
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Rocky
Dobberman
5 Weeks

Rocky is trying to bite everything possible. He just bite my track pants and was holding it so hard with his tight that i could not move my leg. Can you please tell me how do i train him in being calm.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kale, Check out the article linked below and work on teaching the Bite Inhibition method and the Leave It method - the leave it method will take a bit more time, so start using the bite inhibition method immediately while pup is still learning the meaning of leave it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, check out the free PDF e-book on puppies that can be downloaded at the link below. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Dobie Wan
Doberman Pinscher
10 Weeks
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Question
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Dobie Wan
Doberman Pinscher
10 Weeks

We got our puppy 2 weeks ago and he has been nipping non-stop. We have toys of all textures and we give them to him when he starts nipping at us or the furniture, but he always comes back at us.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Very cute! Puppies of this age may be teething but it is still necessary to nip it in the bud if they are not stopping after a bit, or not listening. Dobie Wan is not too young for training. I would start training him in all obedience commands right away. Keep his mind constantly busy and his body, too. Play and play some more to burn off that mischievous puppy energy. Take a look here: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-nipping. Use the Channel Aggression Method. As well, start working on his listening skills: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you. All of the methods are excellent. Have fun and happy training!

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Lando
European Doberman
14 Weeks
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Lando
European Doberman
14 Weeks

My dog is constantly biting and jumping. He will sit on command but even walking around the house he is insane. “No” or raising voice does absolutely nothing. He doesn’t acknowledge it. He doesn’t play with toys with us he like just chewing bones. He bites EVERYTHING. Even if you act like it hurts or just put your hand on his back to make him lay down until he’s calm, he’ll just get back up and bite your entire arm. I’m considering rehoming him, he’s not improving. I’m out of ideas.

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

Hello! While this is fairly common for dogs his age, it is definitely something you want to put a stop to so it doesn't become a habit that follows him into adulthood. I am going to send you information on the nipping/biting, as well as jumping. Both of these behaviors are attention seeking/play engaging behaviors. The best you can do for both is to completely ignore. But I am sending information with much more detail than that! Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Jumping: Teach your dog that they receive no attention for jumping on you or anyone else. Teach your dog to do something that is incompatible with jumping up, such as sitting. They can't sit and jump up at the same time. If they are not sitting, they get no attention. It is important to be consistent. Everyone in your family must follow the training program all the time. You can't let your dog jump on people in some circumstances, but not others. Training techniques: When your dog… Jumps on other people: Ask a family member or friend to assist with training. Your assistant must be someone your dog likes and wants to greet. Your dog should never be forced to greet someone who scares them. Give your dog the "sit" command. (This exercise assumes your dog already knows how to "sit.") The greeter approaches you and your dog. If your dog stands up, the greeter immediately turns and walks away. Ask your dog to "sit," and have the greeter approach again. Keep repeating until your dog remains seated as the greeter approaches. If your dog does remain seated, the greeter can give your dog a treat as a reward. When you encounter someone while out walking your dog, you must manage the situation and train your dog at the same time. Stop the person from approaching by telling them you don't want your dog to jump. Hand the person a treat. Ask your dog to "sit." Tell the person they can pet your dog and give them the treat as long as your dog remains seated. Some people will tell you they don't mind if your dog jumps on them, especially if your dog is small and fluffy or a puppy. But you should mind. Remember you need to be consistent in training. If you don't want your dog to jump on people, stick to your training and don't make exceptions. Jumps on you when you come in the door: Keep greetings quiet and low-key. If your dog jumps on you, ignore them. Turn and go out the door. Try again. You may have to come in and go out dozens of times before your dog learns they only gets your attention when they keep all four feet on the floor. Jumps on you when you're sitting: If you are sitting and your dog jumps up on you, stand up. Don't talk to your dog or push them away. Just ignore them until all four feet are on the ground. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Ada
Doberman Pinscher
9 Weeks
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Question
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Ada
Doberman Pinscher
9 Weeks

I am aware that she is still very young, however distractions with another toy, ignoring her completely and attempting to calm her with a hand on her back is still not working to stop her from biting humans. I am aware that she is teething and needs to chew, however she seems to prefer chewing on an arm, ankle or fingers is much better than any of her hundreds of toys!!

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

Hello! Since you have tried most methods that are usually suggested, I would go with simply getting up and removing yourself EVERY time she lays a tooth on you. I know this is tedious, but it is your best bet. Still provide an alternative chewing toy, but get up and leave completely without any verbal cues, eye contact or anything. You may have to shut her in another room, etc if she is biting at your ankles during this process.

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daisy
Doberman Pinscher
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
daisy
Doberman Pinscher
11 Weeks

we’ve had her for about 3 weeks, and she still pees on the floor, especially when she doesn’t get her way. she doesn’t listen to simple commands. and we’re trying to teach her now while she’s a puppy and tiny before she’s big.

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

Hello! I am going to send you quite a bit of information on potty training and using the crate to aid in that process. Some of it you may know already, but somewhere in the info, you may see something that you missed. Hi! I am going to send you information on both potty training and crate training should you decide to utilize a crate to aid in potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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