Puppy cries for hours when put in the crate.
(St. Louis Missouri)
We recently added to our already busy household by getting a lab puppy. We have been attempting crate training since we got her (almost 2 weeks ago). We have mainly used it at night as I am home 99% of the time and our 5 kids spend so much time with her.
Also, when put in her crate, she will cry for hours...literally. Not just minor whimpering....high pitched shrill/barks. She is still quite young, will be 8 weeks old this Saturday. My husband and I are literally at our wits end during the night hours.
Our first night bringing her home, my husband slept on the floor with her as we felt sorry for her being away from her parents. The next night, we got up with her every 90 minutes or so for pottying. One night she went for 7 1/2 hours and we thought she was finally used to the crate. The next night it started all over again and she was yelping/barking for hours...every time we would put her back in the crate.
We moved from a travel crate to a wire crate recently thinking maybe if she can see out better that may help....nope. We had the crate in our room....no help. We used a sound machine with heartbeat....nothing.
We so love our puppy yet she is soo spoiled with being with us all the time, I fear this is what is causing the night time issues. I told my husband that maybe we should put the crate in the basement so that her loud yelps don't keep awake or wake up our entire family.
Could you please help us or give us any advice?
Mom to 5 kiddos and new mom to one adorable, sweet, loving puppy who has left me and my family sleepless.
Your puppy is absolutely adorable, what a face!
I know this probably won't be much solace right now, but what you're experiencing is pretty normal, and your puppy is a very tiny baby right now. Puppies shouldn't leave their momma and litter mates until at least 8 weeks of age and as it sounds as though she came to you at about 6 weeks old, this probably accounts for some of her extreme distress. Considering her age she is actually doing well.
All her natural instincts are telling her (very LOUDLY) that she needs to be with her 'pack' and in the wild this is what would keep her safe. She's only a baby and these instincts are what is ruling her behavior right now, you and your family are her pack and she's afraid when she's parted from you.
However, puppies do need to learn to stay in their crates, and to tolerate short separations from their other family members, but it takes time, patience and consistency to achieve this.
I'm mom to 6 kids myself, and have always had a small 'zoo' of pets too, so I can totally appreciate how busy you all are and how tiring it is to have a pup who keeps everyone up nights. But, this is just like the stage that human babies go through at first, and just as that passes as the baby matures, as your adorable puppy girl matures so will this.
I'd recommend that you begin to use the crate for short periods during the day, in a place where she can see and hear family life going on around her. She will most likely still complain and fuss about being crated, but you just have to ignore that. Never let her out of her crate while she's crying... wait for a lull in the complaints (even if it's only 30 seconds!) so that she doesn't associate being let out with her whining and barking.
At night, set up a routine for her bedtime and stick to it. Make sure that she's had a potty break last thing at night, then put her in her crate (and put it wherever you feel is best, although I'd tend not to put it too far away from you all as that may increase her distress. Perhaps the kitchen or laundry room, with the door closed!) and say goodnight. I use a light blanket to cover the crate at night, as it signals that this is bedtime and different from daytime crated periods. It won't make a difference at first, but your pup will learn to associate it with sleeping eventually.
Don't go back to her, or talk to her etc. when she cries, except for potty breaks. At only 8 weeks she is likely to still need 2 breaks at night for a bit longer, she will reduce that to 1 in a couple of weeks, and eventually she'll be able to 'hold it' all night.
Although she's barking and yelping and upset, she will eventually learn that you come back and that she has to stay there. And you just have to grit your teeth and put up with the noise for a bit longer I'm afraid, there really isn't any other way. An old T-shirt or something similar with your scent on it may help her, and a sturdy safe chew toy for her to take out her anxiety on also helps. Other than that it's a matter of time and patience.
Check out my Crate Training A Puppy page if you haven't already done so as it has tons of tips and advice on dealing with this.
It's possible that because your pup is so young that she's been experiencing a bit of separation anxiety, and I'd also suggest that you look at my Separation Anxiety In Your Dog page.
From what you've said I don't think this is a real issue right now, but there are a few tips and techniques on the related pages and articles that you may find helpful.
I wish you the best of luck with that gorgeous little girl, and I'm sure that in another couple of weeks this will all be a distant memory :o)