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How to Stop Your Puppy Crying in a Playpen & Why It Happens

To stop a puppy from crying in a playpen you need to train it to attach a positive association to the enclosure. This can be done with rewards and by ensuring the puppy doesn’t feel lonely, bored, or desperate to get out. 

Puppies recently separated from their mother and siblings don’t like to be left alone for long. 

This is manageable in the short term, but as your puppy grows, it’s good to teach it how to be alone. This is when a playpen comes in handy. 

A playpen gives a puppy space to stretch, play and rest, all while being confined to a safe enclosed area. 

But what do you do if your puppy cries the second you put it in a playpen? 

To find out the answer to this question, read on. We look at why your pup is crying, what you can do about it, when you should worry and how to get your little one to settle into a playpen routine. 

Why Do Puppies Cry? 

Puppies cry or whine to express anxiety, pain, a plea for attention, out of boredom, to ask for something, express excitement, or to show submission. 

The first thing to look for when puppies whine are signs pain in the form of injury or illness. Your puppy won’t always cry in their playpen to communicate pain, but it is worth noting as you don’t want to miss signs that your pup needs help. 

Look for signs of limping or holding up a paw, indicating a leg or foot pad injury. 

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Puppies

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weakness. 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration.
  • Abdominal pain. 

Contact your vet immediately if your puppy is vomiting and has diarrhea. Gastroenteritis can lead to dangerous dehydration in puppies.[1]  

Symptoms of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Complex in Puppies

  • Swollen abdomen.
  • Pain and whining if it feels pressure on the abdomen.
  • Restless. 
  • Retching and salivation.
  • Increased heart rate. 
  • Weak pulse. 

GDV (also known as bloating) kills about 30 percent of affected dogs.[2] Early treatment is critical. Take your puppy to the vet immediately if your puppy whines and has a swollen belly. 

Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Puppies

  • A sudden loss of appetite.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weakness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • A hunched back.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Drooling.
  • Fever.
  • Dehydration. 
  • Collapse.

Pancreatitis causes a puppy to whine, pace, vomit, and hunch its back. It’s a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. It can be fatal if the inflammation spreads to other organs[3]. Get your puppy to a vet immediately if you suspect pancreatitis. 

What Does It Mean If My Puppy Is Crying in the Playpen? 

If your puppy cries in its playpen, it can be that it feels anxious, lonely, hungry, bored, or urgently needs to get outside to urinate or defecate. 

The following can cause a puppy to cry in a playpen:  

  1. Separation anxiety 
  2. Urgently needs to pee or defecate
  3. Hunger 
  4. Boredom
  5. Loneliness 

1. Separation Anxiety 

Puppy Separation Anxiety

Puppies cry when they are suffering from separation anxiety. When your puppy can’t see you, it feels afraid and starts to whine, tremble, pace, pant, or drool excessively.[4] 

The experience of separation anxiety is similar to a panic attack. 

How to Help a Puppy With Separation Anxiety 

  • Ease your puppy into spending time alone in stages. Start with a few minutes in the playpen and slowly build up to long stretches of time. 
  • Give your puppy a reason to look forward to playpen time. Reward your pup with treats in the playpen, make sure there is a comfortable bed, and give it fun chew toys in there. The more the pup associates time in the playpen with a reward, the better. 
  • Set a daily routine. A puppy will learn through the repetition of routine that it will never be abandoned and that there will always be time for play, walks, food, and cuddles. 
  • Take your puppy for a daily walk. Exercise has been found to ease separation anxiety.[5] 

What to Avoid When Training a Puppy With Separation Anxiety

  • Don’t leave your pup alone for long periods in a playpen for long until they are adequately trained. 
  • Avoid yelling, clapping your hands, using a whistle, or hitting your puppy in reaction to crying. Scaring your puppy is counterproductive when it is struggling with anxiety.   

2. Urgently Needs to Urinate or Defecate

Urgently Needs to Urinate or Defecate

Puppies in the process of house training will need to go outside to urinate or defecate. After some time in a playpen, puppies start crying if they need to get out. 

Plan Potty Breaks 

Take your puppy outside for a potty break before leading it into a playpen and remember to give your puppy breaks throughout the day. It’s their instinct not to eliminate where it eats and sleeps.

If you’re keeping your puppy in a playpen while you work from home, set an alarm for every hour to stretch your legs and take your pup out. It’s good for your and your pup’s health. 

3. Hunger 

It’s common for puppies to cry when they’re hungry, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of giving your pup a treat every time it cries. This will teach it to whine for a reward and you can end up over-feeding your pup. 

What You Can Do 

Make sure that your pup follows a balanced diet as approved by a vet. Don’t offer food to keep your pup quiet.   

4. Boredom

Puppy Boredom

A puppy with excess energy, no one or nothing to play with is prone to crying in a playpen. 

How to Engage Your Puppy

Here are boredom-busting ideas to keep your pup quiet and entertained in a playpen: 

  • Take your pup for a short walk before playpen time to release energy. 
  • Place a toy or two in your pup’s playpen to keep it entertained. Your pup can enjoy soothing teething toys, a stuffed animal toy, squeaky or flavored chew toys.[6] 
  • Schedule bathroom breaks. Take your pup out regularly and let it sniff around the garden. 
  • Squeeze in playtime. if you have the time play catch after your pup’s potty break. It’s a great mental and physical break for you and your pup. 

5. Loneliness 

Social isolation feels like punishment for a puppy. Dogs are social and active creatures by nature. They crave companionship, play, and exercise.[7] 

A puppy kept in a playpen far from people and without regular breaks for interaction and play is likely to be distressed. 

What You Can Do

Set up the playpen in a frequently busy area of your home, like the kitchen. Make sure your puppy’s schedule includes a walk, potty breaks, and time for play and cuddles with family. 

Related: How to Get a Puppy to Stop Whining

Is It Normal for Puppies to Cry in a Playpen? 

Yes, a puppy is likely to cry in a playpen when it is not trained to stay in a playpen and associates the enclosure with punishment, boredom, discomfort, and long periods of social isolation. A pup can also cry hungry, thirsty, or needs a potty break.

A puppy’s normal response to feeling lonely, bored, and uncomfortable is to cry. It’s their way of telling you that something is not right. The good news is there are solutions. 

Related: Puppy Crying In Its Crate

Is It Normal for Puppies to Cry in a Playpen

How to Stop Your Puppy from Crying in the Playpen  

To stop your puppy from crying in the playpen, make sure it gets enough exercise, is introduced to the playpen gradually as part of puppy training, has enough outdoor breaks, social playtime, attention, and affection.  


Take your puppy for a short walk before putting it in a playpen. Remember, tired dogs are good dogs[8]. Exercise helps your puppy burn off excess energy and improves the chance of it playing quietly with a chew toy or sleeping in the playpen. 

Walking together is a bonding experience as it emulates what a pack of dogs would do. 

The release of feel-good exercise-induced endorphins also helps calm an anxious pup. Research shows that dogs with separation anxiety get less daily exercise than dogs who do not suffer from the condition.[5]

After a walk, give your puppy a treat in the playpen, show it a chew toy and bed and leave the puppy to rest in the playpen until a scheduled outdoor break time. 

Kit out the Playpen 

Make your puppy’s playpen a fun, cozy, and safe place to be by adding a bed, water bowl, and your puppy’s favorite chew toys. The more interesting and long-lasting the chew toys are, the better.

Kit out the Playpen

Training Tips to Make Puppies Used to a Playpen

Follow these three training to help your dog get used to a playpen:

  1. Create positive associations.
  2. Start out with shorter intervals.
  3. Build and maintain trust between the pup and playpen.

1. Create Positive Associations 

Make the playpen a rewarding place for your puppy by adding a soft bed and chew toys. Give your pup treats and even offer meals in the playpen to help create a positive association. [9] [10] [11] 

2. Make Use of Short Intervals

Train your puppy to stay in a playpen without crying by enclosing it for short stints of time after taking your puppy for a walk. It helps make a puppy look forward to playpen time by giving it a treat before closing the pen. 

As your puppy gets more comfortable, you can extend these periods. 

3. Build and Maintain Trust 

As you train your puppy, you are building trust. Your puppy is trusting you to take it out for potty breaks and give it enough time to play, exercise and have your love and attention during the day.

If you leave your puppy in an enclosed space for longer than it can tolerate, it can feel abandoned and the trust you had built will be damaged. 

To avoid this, set an alarm to go off for scheduled potty, play, and cuddle breaks with you or other members of your household. 

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

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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