Having a dog that keeps barking late in the night is certainly going to cause much disturbance to your neighbors as well as inconvenience to your family.
It’s going to be very annoying and getting any peaceful sleep is almost impossible till you “fix” this behavior. You are also at risk of getting nuisance complaints from your neighbors.
If you are still struggling to keep your dog quiet at night, this post will be for YOU to make your dog love his crate.
To stop your dog from barking in the crate at night, it’s important to know what triggers his barking behavior and work on eliminating or minimizing these stimuli. Too energetic, boredom, sleeping discomfort, potty needs, separation anxiety as well as health issues are some common causes.
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Dogs need an outlet for them to release their energy during the day to make them tired and get good sleep during the night.
This is especially important for hyperactive dogs as their energy level is going to be much higher than the norm.
So it’s important that you plan for routine physical and mental exercise for your dog to let off his excessive energy and keep his energy level low.
Typically, I will plan for at least 30 minutes of workout time for my dog (2 sessions) per day, along with a long walk after dinner before his bedtime.
This is how I plan for my dog:
1. A 30 minutes of physical exercise for him in the late morning. I will play games with him such as tug of war, Frisbee, chasing bubbles as well as flirt pole.
My dog simply loves chasing bubbles and bubble games are certainly his favorite. He gets really tired out after these games and will take a nap before his lunch.
2. In the late afternoon, I will give him some mental simulation games such as puzzler feeder or food dispensing toy for him to “exercise” his brain. These mental games will make him utilize his brain power and get him to further release his energy. I will keep the playtime to about 30 minutes.
At times, I will also include some obedience training as part of my mental simulation “exercise” for him. This training will make him use his brain power to learn and execute the commands.
I would like to stress the importance of mental simulation. I have initially tried just getting my dog to engage in physical exercise (without mental simulation) and it seems that the outcome (to make my dog tired) is not that favorable. He still looks very energetic during the night and barks nonstop.
It’s only when I include mental simulation games for him, I start to see positive results. So do not overlook on this “exercise”.
3. Finally, a long walk after dinner right before his sleep will make him fully exhausted and get into sleep mode the moment he gets into his crate. During the walk, make sure that he goes for his potty to clear his bladder before bedtime.
Giving your dog something to keep him busy while he is in the crate during the night will prevent him from barking and trying to break out from his crate.
Your dog might not be ready for his sleep yet and if he is kept in the crate with nothing to play with, he will certainly start barking.
Barking is often seen as a self rewarding behavior for dogs.
To avoid that, keep some chewing toys in the crate so that he can keep himself busy playing with it.
Personally, I would like to use food dispensing toys as it can easily make my dog tired as he tries (make him use his brain power) to get the peanut butter out of the toys.
Your dog barks because of sleeping discomfort? It’s important that you ensure that your dog’s sleeping premise is of comfort to him.
If you are using a crate, make sure that it is spacious enough for your dog, and he is able to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. Place a blanket in the crate to keep him warm during the night.
Making your dog associate the crate as his den will make him feel at ease. This can be done by making him feel that GOOD things will happen when he is in the crate.
This is how I do to make my dog “like” his crate:
(The crate has to meet his 3 basic needs – Food, Shelter and Safety)
Food – I leave his food in the crate to make him go into the crate to have his meal. This will make him associate crate with rewarding experience.
Shelter and Safety – I would lead him to the crate whenever he gets tired after the games to get a good nap. He will also be in the crate when there are fireworks or thunderstorms coming.
Make him get used to the crate during the day such as him being in the crate playing with his toy while you are beside him watching TV.
The goal is to make him associate the crate as a personal place that can keep him from any harm, and he could do what he wants in the crate. It’s not going to be the place to “trap” him during the night. This will ease his fear of going to the crate in the night.
It should not only be the time when he needs to go to sleep that you put him into the crate.
Your dog needs to learn and understand that a crate is a safe, comfortable and enjoyable place to be in, no matter what time of the day.
Make sure that your dog has done his potty needs right before the sleep so that he does not need to (bark) inform you that he needs to be out for potty.
Usually a dog will need to go for his potty:
1. When he waits up in the morning.
2. After taking a nap.
3. After about 10 minutes upon finishing his meal.
4. After some exercises.
So to ensure that your dog has cleared his bladder before his night sleep, bring him out for his pee and poo after his dinner. If you are bringing him out for a walk, that would be a good opportunity for his potty.
Also avoid giving him any more water before the sleep to avoid the need for potty during the night.
When your dog is new to your family, he needs time to adapt himself to his new home.
It’s unavoidable that your dog will feel a sense of loss and anxiety as he is away from his pack member and this separation anxiety tends to intensify during the night when he finds himself lonely in the crate.
To address on this problem, I would recommend that:
1. Use only a wire type of crate if you intend to put your dog in the crate during the night. Wire crate offers an “open” view design and this makes it easy for your dog to see you right from the crate.
2. Place the crate in your bedroom so that your dog is able to see you from his crate and you are within his line of sight. This is especially important if he is experiencing separation anxiety.
3. This also allows you to keep a close eye on him. The idea is to communicate with him when he barks and help him to stop that barking habit.
4. When you hear his barking, say “Ah ah” or “hey” to catch his attention and interrupt his barking behavior. The moment he stops barking, praise him for being such a “Good Boy! Good quiet!”
You can also use treats to reward him for being quiet and make him associate quiet with rewarding experience.
Never ever give your dog a treat when he is barking in an attempt to hope that he will stop his barking. By doing so, he will be thinking that you are rewarding him for his barking behavior.
5. If your dog is not reacting well to verbal clues, you can gently tap on the top or side of the crate to grab his attention.
Your dog will be caught off guard and turn silent while he is trying to figure out where the knocking sound comes from.
You can then praise him for being quiet. Keep praising him when he remains quiet as you would want to associate that moment of quiet with a positive experience (getting praise from you).
If the crate is too far from your bed, you can make use of a leash and clip it to the door of the crate.
This will allow you to jungle on the crate from a distance whenever your dog barks. And when he stops to investigate where the knocking comes from, you can praise him.
The goal is to teach your dog that the barking behavior is not what you want.
Observe What Trigger His Barking
Keep a close supervision to find out the barking trigger. Get to know what causing your dog to bark is going to help in correcting this annoying behavior.
As you would not be able to monitor him throughout the night, make use of a video camera to help you on this.
Do A Health Check Up
If you find that your dog starts barking suddenly, it could be the case that he is telling you that he is not feeling well.
This is especially so if your dog is getting older and could be suffering from what is known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (also known as ”Old Dog Syndrome”).
It would be advisable to bring your dog for a health check to rule out this possibility.