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Why Is My Dog Whining in Its Crate All of a Sudden?

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There are several reasons for a dog winning in its crate all of a sudden. Pain, discomfort, illness, and fear can cause a previously crate-trained dog to whine. 

How do you stop a dog from crying in its crate? What are alternatives to putting a dog in a crate? 

In this article, we look at the reasons why dogs whine in a crate, why an older, crate-trained dog can start whining in a crate all of a sudden, and what you can do about it.  

4 Reasons Why Your Dog is Whining in Its Crate 

A dog whining in its crate can be in pain, ill, anxious, or uncomfortable. To get your dog to stop whining, you need to observe your dog’s behavior to find out what the cause is. 

A dog whining in its crate can be trying to communicate the following: 

  1. Pain 
  2. Discomfort 
  3. Illness 
  4. Anxiety 

1. Pain 

Dog in Pain in its crate

A crate-trained dog that suddenly starts whining in a crate is can be a sign that it is in pain. 

There are several causes of pain:

  • Injury.
  • Joint Diseases (arthritis and osteoarthritis).
  • Musculoskeletal conditions (hip dysplasia).

If your dog is in pain but doesn’t have a visible injury, there’s a good chance it’s suffering from age-related degenerative conditions, like arthritis or hip dysplasia. 

Dogs with degenerative joint diseases and musculoskeletal conditions struggle to get comfortable at night as laying down puts pressure on affected joints. In contrast, during the day the dog shifts its weight regularly, which reduces pain and helps maintain joint mobility.[1] 

Related: Dog Keeps Yelping In Pain Randomly

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog in Pain

Look for signs of injury and treat with first aid or contact a vet for advice. Take your dog to a vet for a check-up if you suspect a joint disease or a musculoskeletal condition. 

The vet can advise on natural and medicinal therapies, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications to slow down the disease progression and help reduce inflammation and pain. 

2. Discomfort 

Dog in Discomfort while in its crate

Dogs whine in their crates if they feel too cold, too hot, or if the crate is too small. 

Help your dog settle in its crate by adding soft blankets to make it cozy in winter and taking them away in summer if your dog gets hot and prefers to lay directly on a cool, firm surface. 

A young, growing dog outgrows its dog crate quickly. Observe your dog when it’s in the crate. Can it stand up and turn around comfortably? If it can’t move easily, it’s time for a bigger crate.

3. Illness

Dog with Illness while in its crate

Dogs whine when they are in pain caused by illness. Look for symptoms of gastroenteritis, gastric dilatation-volvulus complex, pancreatitis, or other illnesses. 

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Take your dog to the vet or call an emergency vet for advice as this illness can cause dehydration.  

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex, commonly known as bloating, kills about 30 percent of the dogs it affects.[2] 

Take your dog to the vet immediately if your dog has swollen belly, pain, and whining if it feels pressure on the abdomen.

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed and can be fatal if the inflammation spreads to other organs

Urgently take your dog to a vet if it is whining, vomiting, and hunching its back.

Related: Why Do Dogs Pant in Their Crate? 

4. Anxiety 

Separation anxiety keeps dogs up at night. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety whine or yelp when their owners are out of sight. 

Although it is most common in puppies, separation anxiety affects dogs at any age. A study on aging dogs found dogs eight years or older experience a rapid increase in fears and phobias.[3]

Sudden changes in their life can also trigger separation anxiety. 

Puppy vs. Older Dog Whining in Crate

A puppy whining in a crate can be behavioral or a need, like the need to urinate. Older dogs whine in their crate because they need to urinate, they are in pain, or for other similar reasons and needs. 

Why Puppies Whine in a Crate 

Puppies whine in crates because they are untrained and not used to spending time in a crate. Puppies get easily get bored or suffer from separation anxiety. Whining can also indicate a need to get out of the crate to urinate or defecate. 

Related: How to Stop Puppies From Whining In Their Playpen

How to Help a Whining Puppy? 

If you want to persist with crate training, do so by encouraging and rewarding the puppy for short periods of time spent in its crate during the day. This helps it to stop whining.

To help your puppy sleep in its crate at night without whining, make sure your puppy has had enough exercise during the day. Try the following:

  • Pace a hot water bottle or a heated beanbag under a blanket in your puppy’s bed to mimic the warmth of its mother. 
  • Place a ticking clock near your pup’s bed to sound like the mother dog’s heartbeat can also help. 

Bring your puppy’s crate into your bedroom to help it calm down if it suffers from separation anxiety.[6] 

Related: How to Get a Puppy to Stop Whining

Dog with Anxiety while in its crate

Why Do Older Dogs Whine in a Crate 

When an older dog suddenly whines in a crate it indicates pain or age-related bladder weakness. Conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and hip dysplasia become more pronounced with age. These conditions cause pain when a dog lays down and puts weight on certain joints for a long time. 

How to Help a Whining Older Dog? 

Help older dogs sleep better and stop their whining by letting them out to urinate more often. You can let it sleep with its crate open, let the crate go and give your housetrained dog a floor bed, or provide easy access to the outdoors by putting in a dog door.

Take your dog to the vet if you suspect it is in pain. A vet will be able to diagnose arthritis, osteoarthritis, and hip dysplasia. They can also prescribe dietary changes, supplements, and medications to delay the progression of the condition. 

It helps to add soft blankets and bedding to make a crate more comfortable for a dog with painful joints. 

Should I Stop Putting My Dog in a Crate? 

Using a crate is a personal choice. Stop crate training if it is causing you and your dog distress. An outdoor kennel, an indoor playpen, and puppy-proofing your home are great alternatives to dog crates. 

Dog crates serve an important purpose when you need to confine your dog for transportation or medical reasons. It doesn’t have to be used daily. 

If your dog constantly whines and bites or scratches desperately at the crate to escape, consider crate alternatives.[7] 

Alternatives To Dog Crates

If you’re not a fan of dog crates, you can use an alternative:

  • Your garden or a kennel.
  • A playpen.
  • Puppy-proofing your home.

A Garden and Kennel

A Garden and Kennel for dog

When the weather allows, put your dogs outside in an enclosed garden. Make sure your dog has access to water and a kennel where it can lie down. 

A Playpen

When you need to shower or go out, a playpen provides a safe space for a puppy or small dog indoors. 

Add water, chew toys, and a bed so that your dog can walk around, stretch, play, and relax while you are busy.  

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Have you ever had to toddler-proof a home? Puppy-proofing is similar. 

Look for and remove potential dangers and anything you don’t want a puppy to chew out of reach. It means not leaving shoes lying on the ground, moving the TV remote from a low coffee table to a higher shelf top, and removing poisonous houseplants.        

How to Stop a Dog From Whining in Its Crate

To stop a dog from whining in t’s crate, only put your dog in a crate for short periods, make sure it has enough outdoor potty breaks, a daily walk, toys in the crate, and leave the crate open at night so that your dog doesn’t feel trapped. 

Here are seven steps to stop a dog from whining in a crate: 

  1. Let your dog out for a potty break.  
  2. Look for signs of injury, illness, or degenerative conditions that cause your dog to whine when laying down and discuss symptoms with a vet. 
  3. Take your dog for a walk before putting them in a crate.
  4. Only put your dog in a crate for short periods. 
  5. Put a chewy toy in the crate to keep your dog busy. 
  6. Leave the crate open at night and give your dog access to a dog door so it can get out to urinate and defecate when it needs to.
  7. Consider crate alternatives like an outdoor kennel in an enclosed garden or an indoor playpen. 

How to Stop a Dog With Separation Anxiety From Whining in Its Crate

Here’s how to help stop a dog with separation anxiety from whining in its crate: 

1. Keep Crate Time Short and Sweet

How to Stop a Dog With Separation Anxiety From Whining in Its Cr

Crates offer your dog a den-like place to relax, help during transport, and contain them when injured, but a dog should not be locked in a crate for hours. 

According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), keeping a dog in a crate for extended periods prevents dogs from fulfilling their basic needs to walk, relieve themselves, and stretch.[4] 

When dogs are locked in a crate for long periods, they begin associating crate time with social isolation, boredom, and the inability to get out to urinate or defecate. This leads to anxiety.  

2. Daily Exercise Counts  

Help your dog stay calm by ensuring it gets enough daily exercise, particularly before going in a crate. 

A study found that dogs with separation anxiety get less daily exercise than dogs who do not suffer from the condition.[6] 

3. Make It Rewarding 

Make spending time in a crate rewarding by adding chew toys your dog loves. Train your dog to look forward to periods of your absence by giving it a treat before going out. 

Speak to your vet if you need advice on training techniques or a referral to an animal behavioral therapist to advise you on crate training.   

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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