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Many dogs struggle a lot with crate training. How should you respond when your dog barks non-stop in his kennel?
In today’s Ask a Behavior Consultant, we’re tackling the following query from our reader:
“My 7 month old Chihuahua -I just got him this Saturday- wont stop barking in his kennel, we’ve tried everything. I’ve put a blanket over his kennel, ignored him and everything. If we don’t get this together I’m going to have to get rid of him, please help.”
– Sincerely, Non-Stop Barker
If you’re dealing with a dog who barks non-stop in their kennel, be sure to check out the following resources from Journey Dog Training:
- Crate Training Basics
- Should I crate train my puppy if he hates the crate?
- Reasons why your dog barks when left alone
- Our email and text support subscription packages.
- Our 15-minute and one-hour phone consultations or video training sessions.
I’ve crate trained a lot of dogs, and I know firsthand how hard it can be to deal with a dog who barks non-stop in his kennel.
I’m glad that our reader being so proactive by seeking help for her dog’s crate-barking problem right away. That said, I hope she’s able to work through it for at least a week or two.
When she wrote to me, she’d only had the dog for three days. Fixing most behavior problems will take more time than that!
Let’s get into how to teach a dog to stop barking in his kennel.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking Non-Stop in His Kennel
This owner said that she’d tried putting a blanket over the dog’s kennel and ignoring the dog. Those techniques are quite common. They also are not always the best tactics.
Sure, some dogs will quiet down when their kennel is dark. Other dogs will give up if their barking is ignored. But many dogs don’t give up so easily! Here’s what I’d suggest doing instead:
- Consider crate location. Simply moving your crate to be right next to your desk during the day or bed at night often solves the problem. You can then gradually move the crate to wherever you need it to be – but start out with success by putting the crate close to you where you can reward your pup for being quiet. Once you’ve got success there, we can move towards the final location for the crate!
- Make the crate an awesome place to be. Use puzzle toys and Karen Overall’s Relaxation protocol to teach your dog to quietly and calmly hang out in the crate.
- Consider using an exercise pen instead of a crate. Some dogs just do better with more space! And who can blame them? Crates are tiny. Exercise pens or baby-gated rooms give your dog the ability to play, sleep, drink, or even use the bathroom if you give her a puppy litter box. Much better, right?
- Build up your dog’s crate tolerance. You don’t start marathon training with a 25-mile run. You start with 3 miles, maybe less. If your goal is a crate-trained dog, start with 1- minute training sessions (or less in some cases). If your dog is crying in the crate, you’re moving too fast.
- That said, there are probably going to be times where life dictates another schedule. That’s where the next step comes in.
- If your dog starts to fuss in the crate, let her out right away. Take her outside to go to the bathroom. Wait outside with her on leash for 2 minutes. Then go back inside. Don’t scold her or play with her. You’re totally ignoring your dog, other than the fact that you’re on the other end of the leash! Just show her that crying gets her a potty break, nothing more. If she goes to the bathroom, great! If not, that’s ok too.
- This teaches your dog that she can get a bathroom break by crying (a great skill), avoids teaching your dog how to cry for hours on end, and avoids rewarding your dog with social attention for crying.
- When you return inside, give your dog something to distract her. Put her back in her crate or exercise pen, but give her something else to do. Puzzle toys are great for this.
- Only let her out of the crate for playtime or cuddles when she’s quiet. If you want, you can release your pup as soon as she quiets down. Or you can wait until the end of your nap – but try to only release her from the crate for fun times when she’s quiet. This avoids rewarding your dog for making a fuss.
Crate training can be a total drag. If you don’t travel or do dog sports, you might not really need to crate train your dog. But if crate training is a must for your house, this is how I do it.
Kayla grew up in northern Wisconsin and studied ecology and animal behavior at Colorado College. She founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She’s an avid adventurer and has driven much of the Pan-American Highway with her border collie Barley. She now travels the US in a 2006 Sprinter with her two border collies, Barley and Niffler. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams.