How to stop a dog from barking in their crate
By Kathryn Rosenberg published October 20, 2021
Wondering how to stop a dog from barking in their crate? You’ll find all the tips and tricks you need to help your dog stay settled and quiet right here
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Learning how to stop a dog from barking in their crate is likely high on your agenda if you’re finding your usually restful night’s sleep being interrupted by howling and whining.
Once you’ve figured out how to crate train a dog and mastered that, the next step is to get them to settle quietly and stay quiet for however long they’re needing to be in their crate.
A common mistake we often make as pet parents is to reward our dog’s bad behavior with attention and this reinforcement can cause the barking to continue. The more established your dog’s barking pattern is, the longer it’s going to take to break it, but the good news is, it can be done.
You may find that your dog’s barking when crated initially gets worse before it gets better - that’s normal. The key is to remain patient and persistent and over time you’ll find the barking begins to lessen until you reach the point where your dog can remain quiet when they’re in their crate.
Below we talk you through a variety of tips and tricks that will stop your dog from barking in their crate, but first, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons that could be causing this behavior in the first place.
Why is my dog barking in their crate?
When you have a dog who’s constantly barking, howling, or whining every time they’re in their crate, it’s natural to want to jump straight into the solutions. But it can be worthwhile taking a moment to consider why they’re barking in the first place.
While a lot of the time this irritating behavior is likely a cry for attention, there are other legitimate reasons you’re dog may be barking, and understanding these can help you to figure out the best method to employ to stop it.
- They want out
One of the most obvious reasons for barking is simply that your dog wants out of their crate. To a dog, a crate is a cage that separates them from you and it’s normal for most dogs to bark or whine as a way to get you to come back.
- They want to go to the toilet
Another common cause of barking is that your dog needs to go to the toilet. If you find your dog settles into their crate comfortably but starts barking during the night, letting them out to go to the toilet may help them settle down again.
- They’re bored
A bored dog tends to be a loud dog and boredom can be a particular issue if you put your dog in their crate when they’re not tired. Exhausted dogs will tend to settle and fall asleep quickly, whereas dogs that are still alert need something to keep them occupied until sleepiness sets in.
- They’re hungry
If you’re anything like us, there’s nothing worse than going to bed hungry! A rumbling tummy can keep anyone awake and it’s much the same for dogs. Making sure your dog has eaten a good meal before they’re crated will help to eliminate barking that stems from hunger.
- They’ve sensed something unusual in their environment
Your dog may be barking to alert you to a noise they’ve heard outside or to something going on inside the house that you may not be aware of. When a dog is crated they’re not able to go and investigate in the way they normally would and so barking is their way of communicating that they’re picking up on something that’s out of the ordinary.
How can I stop my dog from barking in their crate?
Now that you know some of the common reasons your dog may be barking in their crate it’s time to look at a range of ways that you can stop this behavior and get your dog to settle quietly. Let’s take a look at two common approaches and a range of additional helpful tips.
- The positive association method
As you’ve probably guessed, the positive association method is all about getting your dog to see their crate as a space where good things happen. If they view their crate as being more like a reward and less like a punishment, they’re less likely to bark. Here are some ways you can make your dog’s crate a fun place to be.
- Make it cozy
You want your dog to view their crate as a safe and snuggly space, so if you have one of the best dog beds pop that inside the crate as well as a cozy blanket to make it an inviting space.
- Add in some boredom busters
As well as furnishing the crate with a bed and blanket, it’s also worth including one or two of the best dog toys to give your canine companion a buddy to play with and cuddle.
- Hide a few treats
When your dog is elsewhere, hide a few of the best dog treats in and around their crate. Place a few under their blanket, in their bed, in a toy, and around the entrance. This will help entice your pup to want to go into their crate.
- Crated mealtimes
Another way to get your dog to associate their crate with positive things is to consider feeding them in their crate. You can start by doing this with the door open and then gradually work your way up to crating them with the door shut for around 10 minutes.
- Gradual stays
It’s important to start slowly so that your dog has time to adjust to being in their crate. Begin by popping them in there for short bursts of around 15-30 minutes while you’re doing a task around the house, working your way up to longer periods if you’re needing to leave the home for a few hours.
- Nighttime crating
Your dog is far less likely to bark in their crate overnight if they’re in the same room as you, so if you’re comfortable doing so, bring their crate into your bedroom so that they know you’re there.
If you don’t want this being a permanent arrangement, wait until they’re sleeping through the night without barking and then slowly start to inch the crate out of your bedroom a little more each night until they’re in another room
- The ignore method
The other option you have when it comes to getting your dog to stop barking in their crate is to use the ignore method. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how to implement it to give you the best chance of success.
- Don’t respond
It’s important if you’re using the ignore method to not give your dog any attention when they bark - this means both positive and negative attention which work equally well in reinforcing the behavior you don’t want to see.
- No talking
As well as not entering the room, you also want to avoid speaking to your dog from another room as hearing your voice will only encourage your pup to continue to bark.
- Use music
Recent studies conducted on dogs at animal shelters found that playing relaxing music can put a stop to barking while also lowering respiratory rates and the stress hormone cortisol. Consider popping on some soothing music in the same room as your dog’s crate to help reduce anxiety.
- Consider white noise
When your dog is crated, they may be barking at sounds they can hear outside, in which case, white noise can be a great way of drowning out the sounds of voices and cars. Try running a fan or humidifier near their crate to give your dog a quieter space.
- Try doggy pheromones
A holistic device that emits high-frequency sounds that help soothe stressed-out furkids can be another way to help keep your dog calm while they’re in their crate. We love the RelaxoPet Pro, but there are plenty of other great options on the market.
Do’s and don’ts
Alongside the above two methods, here are some additional do’s and don’ts that will help stop your dog from barking when they’re in their crate.
Do consider your dog’s age and schedule: If your dog is a puppy, you’ll need to release them from their crate more frequently for toilet breaks than you would an adult dog. Also, avoid crating your dog when they haven’t been exercised or before they’ve been fed as restlessness and hunger will increase the likelihood of barking.
Don’t forget to give them a toilet break first: Always take your pup outside so that they have a chance to do their business before you put them in their crate.
Do feed them before crating them: Make sure your dog has been fed 1-2 hours before they go into their crate.
Don’t use the crate as a punishment: Never use the crate as a punishment for bad behavior. Remember, positively reinforcing and rewarding good behavior via praise and treats is far more effective.
Do tire them out: A tired dog is a sleepy dog, so make sure they’ve had plenty of exercise before they go into their crate.
Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.