Ideally a crate should be mutually beneficial to both dog and owner.
For a dog, a crate can be a secure place of their own and should feel very natural as instinctively in the wild, they would use a den to sleep, raise a family and provide safety.
For a dog owner, a crate can provide peace of mind that their dogs are safe and are also not destroying anything in the house while they are out. It can also be used to help a dog learn the rules of the house and many dog owners use the crate for housetraining as dogs don’t like to soil in a small confined space (and if they are pooping or urinating in their crate their is usually other problems going on).
Why is Your Dog Whining in Their Crate
There’s two primary reasons why your dog is whining in their crate. The first is to get your attention and the second is because of separation anxiety in dogs.
Dogs quite naturally want to be with the rest of the pack, so when you separate them in their crate, even if they can still see you, some dogs will whine to get your attention and to be let out. Quite simply they would rather be with you than on their own in the crate.
Separation anxiety in dogs could also be behind your dog whining in his crate. Some dogs will whine the minute they can’t see you, and others will whine constantly if you go out and leave them home alone. In this scenario, the whining is not so much to do with the crate, because they would do it in or out of a crate, but more to do with the anxiety caused by being separated from you.
How to Stop Your Dog Whining in Their Crate
If your dog is whining for attention seeking reasons, the best thing you can do is ignore it. That might sound harsh, but if you give into the whining and pay them any attention or let them out, you will have just given them a good reason to do it again.
Dogs will do what works, and if the whining doesn’t get them the attention they want, eventually they will stop. But ignoring really means just that, so you shouldn’t be looking at your dog when they whine, or speaking to them, touching them, or letting them out. Only let them out when they are quiet.
Don’t feel guilty. Make sure their crate is comfortable with some bedding and that they have been outside to toilet and have been fed and had water. This way you will be confident that they are not whining because of discomfort.
Try building up the time they spend in the crate a few minutes at a time and use praise and positive reinforcement to get them in there. Once in the crate it’s important that you stay calm as your dog will pick up on any anxiety you are feeling and it will increase their own anxiety. Walk past the crate during the time they are in their without paying any attention to your dog and treat it like its a completely normal thing for them to do.
Your dog should take their lead from you, so if you’re not anxious about the situation they should stay calm themselves. This is especially important if your dog is whining because of separation anxiety either at night or during the day.
What About a Dog Whining in Their Crate at Night
I stopped my dog whining at night and introduced him to sleeping in his crate by putting the crate where I wanted it to be permanently and then camping out on the sofa nearby for the first 3 nights. Every time he whined I would just murmer “good boy” without getting up, or looking at him. Within 3 nights the whining had stopped, I could return to my own bed and he’s never whined at night since.
Problems with Separation Anxiety
If your dog is struggling with separation anxiety, you have a slightly more difficult job on your hands to stop the whining.
The whining will be because they are worrying about where you have gone and whether you will be able to find your way back. Although separation anxiety is often talked about simply as a dog missing you, it has also been linked with a dog assuming that they are the pack leader and therefore responsible for the safety of the rest of the pack. It makes sense that if they are locked in a small crate and you have gone out, they can’t look after you and will therefore be anxious.
A dog separation anxiety training program will usually help, but it needs to include training that shows you how to demonstrate to your dog that you are leader of the pack. When they accept this, their anxiety will go down and the whining in the crate should stop. Here’s a great video that will tell you all you need to know about dog separation anxiety plus what you need to do to get rid of it. Check it out – it’s created by a professional dog trainer and won’t costs you a thing!