No matter how much attention you give your new puppy, he
is likely to whine and cry after you take him home. This is
because he is used to having his siblings and dam around and he will
be stressed and upset by the sudden loss of his "pack". Not
only that, he will be having to adjust to numerous other changes
in his life and routine - new pack members, new surroundings, eating
and eliminating on a schedule, walking on a leash and staying in a
All of the changes listed above can be overwhelming
for a puppy (or a dog of any age!). When your puppy is feeling
lonely, unsure or afraid, he will cry. This is normal
and to be expected. However, if you reward this behavior it
can become an annoying habit that the dog uses to control YOUR
actions. That's right, the dog will train you to react
to his whining so that he receives a reward!
To prevent this,
you should try to avoid interacting with the puppy when he is
whining. In other words, try not to get the puppy out of his crate
when he is whining, do not give him extra attention or treats when
he is whining and do not baby him or try to reassure him if he is
acting scared or whining. If the dog receives positive
reinforcement when he is exhibiting this unwanted behavior, it may
encourage separation anxiety. Separation anxiety may result in
continued whining along with chewing, digging, scratching, and
barking whenever the dog is crated or left alone. If you do
not reward this behavior in the beginning, it is likely that you
will be able to avoid this behavioral issue.
While you don't want to ignore a puppy that is whining because it
needs to go outside to eliminate, you do not want to reward a
whining puppy that is just wanting attention. If you know your
puppy has been fed, watered, exercised and that he does not need a
trip outside, then you should ignore the puppy's whining and let him
cry himself to sleep. In most cases, this will only take a few
moments. If the puppy doesn't settle down relatively quickly
and you really are sure he does not need to eliminate, you may need
to reprimand the puppy. This will generally involve a sharp
verbal reprimand of "No!" or "Quiet!". Sometimes this may need
to be accompanied by a noise to get the dog's attention - clapping
the hands, shaking a coffee can with a couple of coins inside or
smacking the top of a counter.
Remember that the goal of making noise is to get the puppy's
attention, NOT to scare the dog! Do not yell, hit the dog's
kennel or take other action that would result in the dog becoming
fearful. An over-zealous reprimand while the dog is in the
kennel could result in a dog that is a crate and/or fear-biter.
(A crate-biter is a dog that backs up in the kennel and snaps if
someone reaches into the kennel. A fear-biter is a dog that
snaps any time it feels cornered and/or afraid.) Most dogs
feel somewhat intimidated in a crate at the best of times.
This is due to the fact that they are trapped and can not get away
from something or someone they perceive as a threat. Therefore
scaring, intimidating or punishing a dog while it is in its crate
can result in the dog being afraid of the crate, being afraid of
someone approaching the crate and/or of someone trying to remove the
dog from the crate.
A puppy may whine if he is left alone or if he
is locked in a crate. Sometimes keeping the crate where the
puppy can see you will help make him feel that he is not alone and
may minimize whining. On the other hand, being able to see you
may intensify the whining in some puppies and they may not be able
to settle down if they are constantly surrounded by a number of
distractions. In this instance, keeping the crate in a
bedroom, the utility room or another out-the-way location may be
helpful. Determining the best location for a puppy's nap-times
is often a matter of trial and error. If one location doesn't
work, just try another.
Keeping a radio playing may also help a puppy to not feel alone
and may prevent whining. Providing appropriate crate toys may
be helpful as well. For non-aggressive chewers, a stuffed toy
may be a good snuggle companion while the dog is crated. (They
make a "beating heart" toy for dogs that is similar to those used
for human infants.) Other puppies may settle down with a treat
when they are put in the kennel (a regular doggy biscuit or maybe a
stuffed Kong or bone).
Many dogs "learn" to make a fuss when they are crated or left
alone. This is because unwitting owners teach their dog to
behave this way by making a big production of leaving the house or
crating the dog. Because an owner feels guilty about putting
the dog in the crate and/or leaving the dog alone, they drag out
their leave-taking; they may baby-talk, pet and otherwise
reassure the dog if it whimpers; and/or they may come back and
reward the dog with treats and more attention if they walk away and
the dog throws a tantrum (starts to bark, dig or howl.)
When you come back or give the dog this extra attention, he just
gets more excited and it makes him miss you more the next time you
walk away. Thus, he will only try harder to get you to come
Crating the dog and leaving the house should always be done
calmly and without fuss. Be sure the dog has had ample
exercise before, but not immediately preceding, your departure.
(Don't get the dog wound up by playing a vigorous game of fetch and
then expect him to immediately settle into a nap!) Be sure the
dog has been fed and watered and allowed to eliminate outside.
Put the dog in the crate, quietly say good-bye and leave.
That's it. Period. If the dog fusses, ignore him.
Don't reward a whining, manipulative pet by returning.
This holds true even if you are not leaving the house. All
dogs should be taught that they must stay crated if you choose to
put them there and they should stay there quietly until you decide
to release them. Situations may arise where you would need to
keep the dog crated while there are visitors in the house (your
mother-in-law hates dogs!) or you might have workmen going in and
out the doors and be afraid the dog could escape. Teaching the
dog to stay crated when you are home will help him accept being
kenneled at such times. It will also help him stay calm when
he has to be kenneled at the groomer's or vet's.
your puppy outside routinely. If there is any
chance your puppy is whining to go out, take him
out. Do not give him special attention, petting or
interaction, just give him the opportunity to
relieve himself. If he does not potty, just tell him good boy
and put him back in his crate and insist he stay
your dog to accept being isolated and alone.
Even when you are home.
Reprimand the puppy for excessive whining.
Always discipline in an appropriate fashion.
sure your puppy has been appropriately fed, watered
and exercised before crating.
to be sure the puppy is not getting too hot or cold,
that he is not sick or uncomfortable (maybe the cage
partition got moved or the bedding is caught on a
not let the puppy eliminate in the crate.
not reward your puppy for whining.
not prolong good-byes.
not encourage separation anxiety by trying to
reassure the dog or repeatedly returning after you have walked
not leave the dog in a crate for inappropriate
lengths of time. (Age in months + 1 is the
number of hours a puppy can be left crated - 2
months old + 1 = 3 hours max.)
If you have any
questions or would like more information about
our Cocker Spaniels,
Sandcastle Kennels 2004404
January 08, 2006