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Puppy Crying in His Crate? Here’s What To Do

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting yet challenging experience for any pet parent. Among the many responsibilities you’ll encounter, crate training stands out as one of the most crucial tasks. While crates provide a safe and secure environment for puppies, it’s not uncommon for them to cry when left alone. Understanding why puppies cry and how to address this behavior is key to a successful transition. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind a puppy's crate-related distress, offer practical solutions, and provide real-world perspectives to help you and your puppy thrive.

Is It Normal for a Puppy to Cry in His Crate?

In our society, it’s typical for puppies to be adopted or sold to pet parents at around 8 weeks old. This is a critical period as puppies transition from sleeping with their mother and littermates to being alone in a new environment. Naturally, this change can be frightening and distressing, leading to crying, whining, barking, or howling when left alone in the crate. This behavior is entirely normal for a puppy separated from its litter and adjusting to a new home.

Why Do Puppies Cry in Their Crate?

There are several reasons why a puppy might cry in their crate, including:

  • Unfamiliar Environment: A puppy that has never been introduced to a crate may cry because he’s in an unfamiliar location. The crate may seem confining and intimidating.

  • Separation Anxiety: A new puppy might cry at bedtime because he misses the warmth and companionship of his littermates.

  • Loneliness: Puppies may cry when left alone in the crate while their pet parents are away or busy with other activities.

  • Bathroom Needs: Puppies have small bladders and may cry if they need to go to the bathroom.

  • Desire for Attention: A puppy placed in the crate while family members are around may cry out of frustration from not being able to interact.

How To Get a Puppy to Stop Crying in Their Crate

Here are some effective methods to stop your puppy from crying in his crate:

Ignore the Puppy Crying

When placing your puppy in the crate and walking away, you can choose to ignore their initial cries. The puppy may be contact calling to see if you’re nearby. If you don’t respond right away and the puppy settles within a few minutes, you don’t need to go back into the room. However, if the crying continues for more than about two minutes, you can make a brief verbal response to the puppy’s cry. This step can be repeated two or three times.

Give Your Pup Comfort

If the vocalizations continue and escalate in frequency and duration, go back into the room. Many pet parents are concerned that their appearance may reinforce the crying, but it’s important to comfort a puppy if he’s in distress. Traumatic and stressful events learned early in a puppy’s life can have a negative effect on his ability to cope with stressors and build up resiliency.

Pet parents who are opposed to entering a room while the puppy is crying can wait for a brief break in between the cries before entering. You can also make a novel sound, such as a light knock on the wall, to temporarily distract and disrupt the puppy’s crying before you enter the room.

Reduce Your Puppy’s Alone Time

If the puppy still doesn’t stop crying in the crate, this indicates that you need to spend more time working on gradually leaving the puppy alone. Crate training needs to be done slowly and at a pace your puppy is comfortable with. You may be leaving your pup alone for lengths of time he isn’t ready for yet.

Make the Crate a Positive Place

Make sure the puppy has positive experiences being in the crate. Place the crate in the room where the family spends the majority of their time. Ideally, offer one crate the puppy can spend time in during the day, and another crate for him to sleep in at night that’s placed in your bedroom.

Make the crate a cozy place for the puppy. The crate should contain a comfortable bed and plush toys. You can even use a dog-appeasing pheromone to send a chemical message of safety and security to the crying puppy and play calming music next to the crate.

Provide Enough Bathroom Breaks

Puppies often cry when they need to urinate or defecate. They can only hold their bladder for a short period of time, and pet parents must provide enough potty breaks.

To figure out how many hours your pup can go between bathroom breaks, take your puppy’s age in months and add one. For example, a 2-month-old puppy can hold his bladder for three hours at most. A 4-month-old puppy can hold his bladder for up to five hours.

Give Your Puppy Enough Exercise

Sometimes, tiring the puppy out can help him fall asleep faster when confined. It takes a fairly lengthy play session to really tire out a puppy.

However, if the puppy has formed a negative association with being left in the crate, then no matter how tired he is, he may still cry and protest at being left alone in the crate. He also may escalate to screaming, pawing, and biting at the door and sides of the crate.

Should I Be Worried When My Puppy Cries in His Crate?

It’s normal for puppies to cry in their crate if they’re left completely alone without being properly acclimated to crating. But if your puppy appears overly scared and distressed and you’re not making progress with crate training, seek professional help with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behaviorist.

Real-World Perspectives

Case Study: Max's Crate Training Journey

Max, a Golden Retriever puppy, had a tough time adjusting to his crate. His owners, Sarah and John, were at their wit's end with his nightly crying. They initially tried to ignore his cries, but Max's distress was apparent. After consulting with their veterinarian, they learned that Max needed more gradual acclimation to the crate.

They started by placing the crate in the living room, where Max could see and hear them. They left the door open and placed his favorite toys and a comfortable bed inside. Gradually, they began closing the door for short periods while they were still in the room. Over time, Max became more comfortable, and his crying decreased.

Expert Insight

Dr. Emily Roberts, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, emphasizes the importance of patience and consistency. "Puppies need time to adjust to new environments and routines. Gradual exposure to the crate, combined with positive reinforcement, can make a significant difference in reducing anxiety and crying."

Q&A Section

Q: How long should I ignore my puppy's cries in the crate?A: If the crying persists for more than two minutes, make a brief verbal response. If it continues, comfort your puppy, but try to wait for a break in the crying before entering the room.

Q: What should I do if my puppy cries every night in his crate?A: Gradually acclimate your puppy to the crate by placing it in a familiar environment and using positive reinforcement. Ensure the crate is comfortable and provide plenty of exercise and bathroom breaks.

Q: Is it okay to let my puppy sleep in my bedroom?A: Yes, having the crate in your bedroom can help your puppy feel more secure. Over time, you can gradually move the crate to its permanent location.

FAQ Section

Q: How can I make the crate a positive place for my puppy?A: Use comfortable bedding, favorite toys, and treats to create a positive association with the crate. Consider using a dog-appeasing pheromone and playing calming music.

Q: How often should I take my puppy out for bathroom breaks at night?A: Take your puppy's age in months and add one to determine the maximum number of hours they can hold their bladder. For example, a 3-month-old puppy can hold it for about four hours.

Q: Should I use a second crate for nighttime?A: Yes, having a separate crate in your bedroom for nighttime can help your puppy feel more secure and make the transition smoother.

Q: How much exercise does my puppy need to tire him out for bedtime?A: Engage in play sessions and walks that are appropriate for your puppy's age and breed. Be mindful not to over-exercise, especially with young puppies.

Q: When should I seek professional help for crate training issues?A: If your puppy appears overly scared and distressed and you’re not making progress, consult a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behaviorist.


Crate training is a valuable tool for helping puppies adjust to their new homes and providing them with a safe space. Understanding why puppies cry in their crate and implementing gradual, positive training techniques can ease this transition. Remember to be patient and consistent, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if needed. For more tips and resources on crate training and puppy care, visit

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your puppy's crate becomes a place of comfort and security, setting the foundation for a happy and well-adjusted adult dog.

Puppy Crying in His Crate? Here’s What To Do
Puppy Crying in His Crate? Here’s What To Do


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