If your puppy cries when confined in a pen or crate, it's not because you're jailing her. Sure, she's behind bars and she's in a small space, but dogs are den animals and crave to have a safe haven to call their own. The pen or crate promotes the housebreaking process and keeps your furry friend from getting in trouble while learning house rules. Properly dealing with a confined, crying puppy is essential, because if you do the wrong thing, you might reinforce the behavior without knowing it, resulting in an even bigger problem.
Simply enclosing your puppy in a pen is asking for trouble. Your pet companion might bark and cry to get out. Instead, gradually introduce her to the confinement area. Lure her closer to the pen with dog treats -- toss some treats near the entrance to the pen and inside of the pen, and praise her when she goes after them. Start feeding her inside the pen, and over time, close the door while she's eating. Gradually extend the duration that the door remains closed, and eventually, your puppy will experience the pen as a place where pleasant things happen, and won't mind being confined.
Music & Toys
Making your pet companion's confinement period as pleasant as possible can keep her from crying. Designate special toys that she only gets to play with in her pen. Food-stuffed dog toys and bones can keep her busy for a while so she forgets all about crying. If you're leaving the house, turn on the radio or turn on a nearby fan for soothing music or white noise. The sound can help relax your puppy and make her feel as if you're still around. It also masks other noises that might trigger her to start barking or whining.
Puppy? What Puppy?
The worst thing you can do is pay attention to your puppy when she's crying in her pen. Even yelling at her to stop reinforces her behavior, because she's getting your attention. Her crying is effective so there's no reason for her to stop. Ignoring your puppy is the way to go -- don't look at her, don't pet her and don't talk to her. At night, put her out of the bedroom if you must. When she's quiet praise and reward her. Eventually she'll understand that being quiet gets your attention and being noisy gets ignored.
The "Quiet" Command
Teaching your furry friend to be quiet on command can stop her crying. Confine her and wait for the crying to start. Shake a can of coins and say "quiet." The noise will startle her so she stops crying. Ensure you're out of her sight when you make the noise -- you want her to think it's her crying that's triggering the noise. When she's quiet, praise and reward her to reinforce her good behavior. With consistency, she'll learn the meaning of "quiet" and eventually you'll be able to get her to stop crying by just using the command.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.