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Screaming in crate

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

How can I get my puppy to stop screaming every time I put her in the kennel? I am working with crate training in order to potty train her and it is going very well.

She can hold her potty for a surprisingly long time and now goes to the door 75% of the time if she has to go out. The problem is when she is in the kennel for the night with all her toys and chews she will not stop screaming for hours.

HELP! I'm losing so much sleep and patience with my new baby!

Amber Gack


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. Gosh, I know this is a frustrating problem. I'm happy to hear you are crate training your puppy as that is a very effective way to housetrain your puppy. The behavior of crying or screaming while in the crate is from crate aversion. It is generally caused by the pup never being fully acclimated to the crate rendering it now aversive to your pup.

The crate should be a happy "refuge" that your puppy enjoys. Dr. Nick Dodman is a well known behaviorist and has written many wonderful articles on training and behavior on PetPlace.com.

Nick recommends; the following to prevent or deal with crate aversion:

  • Make the crate a comfortable and cozy place with padded bedding for the dog to lie on. Use bumpers around the side of the crate for the pup to lean on, and place a cover over the top if the crate is made of wire to add that den-like dimension.

  • Make sure the crate is large enough for the dog to be able to stand up and wide enough for him to be able to turn around.

  • Feed the pup progressively closer to the open door of the crate, eventually putting the food bowl just inside the crate so that he has to put his head and shoulders inside to eat.

  • Hide food treats under the padding of the crate and enrich the interior with favorite chew toys.

  • Once the pup has overcome its immediate fear of being near the crate, you can try confining him for short periods of time, say, 5 minutes, immediately after he has finished a burst of highly energetic play and is due to rest. Stay with him and talk to him so he knows he is not alone.

  • Slowly increase the time for which the pup can be enclosed in the crate from 5 to 15 minutes but stay with him and/or have the crate in the same room (15 minutes is a useful period of time to confine the pup for housetraining following an unsuccessful outside "bathroom run").

  • At all other times the crate door should be open and the crate should be enriched in the way described so the pup is free to come and go as he pleases.

    An article that you might find useful on our Petplace.com is Crate Training Your Puppy and Crate Training Problems.

    Good luck,


    Dr. Debra



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