Crate training is a method of house training dogs where a pet is kept in a crate or cage when it cannot be supervised. It leverages the dog’s instinct not to soil its sleeping area, aiding in potty training. When used properly, it can also discourage excessive barking by creating a safe, quiet space for the dog, reducing anxiety, and promoting self-control.
How does Crate Training help Reduce Dog Barking?
Creates a Safe Space
A crate serves as a ‘den’ for a dog, providing a safe and comfortable space to retreat when they’re scared or anxious. For instance, if your dog tends to bark excessively due to noises from a thunderstorm, having a safe crate to retreat to can help calm them and reduce barking.
Reduces Separation Anxiety
For dogs experiencing separation anxiety, a crate can serve as a familiar and secure place when their owners are away. This can alleviate their anxiety and decrease the chances of excessive barking. For example, a dog that gets anxious and barks a lot when left alone might start feeling more secure and bark less when left in its crate.
Provides Routine and Structure
Dogs often feel more secure with a structured routine. A crate can help establish a clear routine for them, which can help reduce anxious and stress-related barking. A dog may bark less, knowing that it’s time for them to rest or sleep in their crate, reducing uncertainty and anxiety.
Limits External Stimuli
A crate can shield dogs from excessive external stimuli that may cause them to bark. For instance, a dog that tends to bark at certain people or other animals outside might be less likely to do so when in its crate, as it won’t be as exposed to these stimuli.
Bark Control Training
The crate can be used as a tool for bark control training. For example, when the dog starts barking excessively, you can place them in the crate (without punishment) until they calm down. Over time, they can associate excessive barking with being removed from the family’s presence, encouraging more controlled behavior.
How to Select the Best Crate for Your Dog?
Size of the Crate
Your dog’s crate should be large enough to stand up, turn around, and lie comfortably. However, it shouldn’t be so large that your dog can sleep on one side and eliminate it on the other. For example, if you’re crate training a puppy, you might consider a crate with a divider so it can grow with them.
Crates come in various materials like wire, plastic, or soft-sided fabric. Wire crates offer good ventilation and visibility, but plastic ones may feel more den-like and secure to some dogs. Soft-sided crates are portable but may not withstand a dog that chews or tries to escape. The choice depends on your dog’s temperament and the crate’s intended use.
If you plan to travel with the crate or use it for transport, consider one that’s lightweight and easy to carry. Plastic crates often have handles for easier movement and soft-sided crates can be folded down for transport.
Ease of Cleaning
Crates should be easy to clean to maintain hygiene. Wire and plastic crates usually have a removable bottom tray for easy cleaning, while fabric crates should ideally be machine washable.
The crate should have a secure latch that your dog can’t easily open but allows quick human access in an emergency.
Adequate ventilation ensures your dog’s comfort, especially in warmer climates. Wire crates typically offer the most ventilation.
Reasons a Dog Barks Inside Crate
- Separation Anxiety: The dog may feel anxious when left alone.
- Fear or Stress: The crate or environment may cause fear or stress.
- Attention Seeking: The dog may be trying to get the owner’s attention.
- Needs to Go Outside: The dog may need a bathroom break.
- Boredom: Lack of mental and physical stimulation can lead to barking.
- Physical Discomfort: The dog may be in pain or discomfort.
- Hunger or Thirst: The dog may need food or water.
Tips to Stop Dog Barking in Crate
Proper Crate Training: Ensure your dog is properly trained and views the crate as a positive, safe space.
Regular Exercise: Ensure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental exercise daily to reduce boredom and excess energy.
Use of Toys and Treats: Keep your dog occupied with chew toys or treats in the crate, which can help reduce barking out of boredom.
Consistent Feeding and Potty Schedules: Regular feeding and potty schedules can prevent barking due to hunger or the need to go outside.
Covering the Crate: Some dogs may feel more secure and bark less if their crate is covered, creating a den-like environment.
Addressing Separation Anxiety: If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, consider working with a professional to address this issue.
Noise Masking: Using white noise machines or quiet music can help mask outside noises that might cause your dog to bark.
Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog when they are quiet in the crate, reinforcing your desired behavior.
Patience and Consistency: Consistency in routine and handling barking behavior is key; remember, it takes time for a dog to learn new habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time can I put my dog in a crate?
The amount of time a dog can spend in a crate varies based on age and individual needs. However, a general rule of thumb is no longer than 5 hours at a time for adult dogs. Puppies under six months shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than 3-4 hours, as they have smaller bladders and higher activity levels.
Can my dog hurt himself in a crate?
If a crate is properly introduced and used correctly, it is generally safe. However, dogs can hurt themselves if they try to escape from a crate due to anxiety, fear, or frustration. The crate should be the right size and free from dangerous objects to prevent injury.
Can I put my puppy in a crate at night?
You can put your puppy in a crate at night, aiding in house training. The crate should be close to your bedroom so you can hear if your puppy needs to go out during the night. Remember, puppies have small bladders, so overnight crate time should be paired with regular bathroom breaks.