Why Does a Dog Cry in a Crate at Night?

"I just want attention, any way I can get it!"
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Everyone is in bed, including your pooch, who is safely ensconced in her crate. But she doesn't seem happy -- her incessant crying makes you feel like the worst dog mom in the world. Staying strong is your best course of action; caving to her crying makes it happen more.

Potty Time

If Fifi is still a puppy, chances are she needs to go potty. It takes a while for puppies to be able to hold it all night with their tiny little bladders. Adding one to her age in months gives you an idea of how long she can wait. For example, if she's 4 months old, she might be able to wait five hours between trips outside. Some puppies are close to a year old before they can wait all night between potty breaks. Fifi is likely to cry or whine when she knows she has to go, but is stuck in her crate.


When crying for potty time gets you to hop out of bed and rush to open her door, Fifi quickly learns that crying is an excellent way to get your attention and get extra play time. Instead of letting her out when she's whining, wait until she stops crying before opening her door. This helps her learn that crying communicates her potty need to you, but she only gets attention when she's quiet.


Most dogs are comfortable in their crates, but some don't like their crates at all. The thought of entering their crates makes some dogs anxious and worried. This is most common when your pup associates the crate with loneliness, such as if you leave her in the crate when you're at work, or if she was crated for long periods of time too soon in her crate training. To help eliminate her crying at night, get her more comfortable in the crate during the day. Let her in the crate for a few minutes at a time with treats, then start feeding her in the crate. Stay close to the crate as you start to extend the length of time she stays in. When she's calm in the crate for 30 minutes, try leaving her in the crate while you run quick errands. Move the crate into your room so she can see you during the night, then put her back in the crate to sleep. Keeping her close to you can help cut down on the crying when she's learned how to be comfortable in the crate again.


Sometimes your pooch just needs a quick time-out. Puppies in particular tend to get mouthy or too rough when they play, especially when overly excited, such as when you first come home or when you're giving her treats right before bedtime. Putting Fifi in the crate gives her a minute to catch her breath and calm down -- five to 10 minutes is likely all she needs. When you first put her in her crate at night, she might cry if she'd rather continue playing or wants more treats. Ignoring her cries is the best way to make her stop. When she doesn't earn your attention, she's likely to turn in a circle a couple of times and lie down for the night.

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