Crate training a dog can be a wonderful dog training tool in the arsenal of any dog owner. However, if proper kennel training does not occur, or if the crate is misused, it can lead to issues such as incessant barking anytime the dog is in his or her kennel.
This is the absolute last thing we want, as the crate should be seen as a positive place to the dog, not a place that causes anxiety or as a place of punishment. In fact, most dogs that have been properly crate trained will actually go to their kennel on their own volition, kind of like their own little spot to get away and relax. This is natural for a domesticated dog, as it appeals to the den-like instincts of canines. Below are four tips to keep in mind to help stop your dog from barking in the crate.
1. Proper Crate Training
The most important bit of advice to stop your dog from barking in the crate, is taking the time to properly crate train your pet. This will take some time, patience, and repetition in the beginning. The most important thing, as with any dog training goals, is to make sure the entire household follows the established training guidelines, so the dog isn’t receiving different signals from different people.
To properly crate train a dog, follow the basic steps below.
- Place the crate in a room where the humans and the dog tend to spend time together. Place some comfortable bedding in the crate and leave the door open. Allow the dog to enter and exit the crate as he or she pleases.
- Place some treats by the open door of the crate. Over the period of a few days, move the treats inside the crate and, eventually, all the way in the back of the crate. At this point, the dog should still be allowed to enter and exit the crate at will, and the door should be left open.
- After a week or two, close the door after the dog has entered the crate. By now, the crate should be a place of comfort for the dog, instead of the old association of the stress and anxiety of being “locked up”. Do not leave the room and only leave the door closed for a few minutes. Over the next week or two, gradually increase the time the door is closed and start leaving the room for brief periods.
- If, at any point, the dog barks or carries on, you will want to go back to the previous step for another period of time and repeat until the dog can handle the next step without barking or getting upset.
As you go through the above steps, keep in mind that every dog is different. Some will require a longer time for training while others will pick it up quickly.
2. Do Not Misuse the Crate
Some dog owners angrily toss their dogs into the kennel as punishment, and then wonder why the dog does not want to be in there while the owner goes to work. The crate cannot be used as a punishment tool if you want it to be a place where the dog spends time while you are away.
The crate must only be associated with positive things if the dog is to enjoy spending time there. NEVER use the crate for punishment or you will make proper crate training almost impossible.
3. Do Not Overuse Crate
Another common mistake is to overuse the crate. Some dog owners crate the dog all day while they are at work and then again all night while they are in bed. That means the dog spends more time in the crate than out of the crate. This is not appropriate.
If you want your dog or dogs to be crated while you are at work then they must be allowed to stay out of the crates overnight. If you want them locked up at night then they must be allowed to remain out of the crates while you are work. A dog should not remain in the crate any longer than 8 hours per day. Otherwise that sense of anxiety and frustration is bound to surface.
4. Be Willing to Start from Square One
If you have made mistakes in crate training or proper use of the crate, it is not too late to stop your dog from barking in the crate. You will simply have to start back at square one when it comes to proper kennel training. If the dog has a particular issue with the kennel, it may take several months to correct, but it will be well worth all your patience and effort in the end!