Does Crate Training Help With Barking?March 31, 2021 2021-10-04 13:36
Is your dog an incessant barker that drives you (and your neighbors) a bit crazy? Are you considering using a crate to reduce the barking? You may wonder if crate training can even be an effective measure for loud dogs.
The quick answer is that yes, crate training can help with certain kinds of barking. Let’s look at when it is effective, and when you need a different approach to helping your dog keep quiet.
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When does crate training help with barking?
Before we can determine if crating will help your dog to stop barking, we will examine why dogs bark in the first place.
Generally, barking is a way of communication. It is unreasonable to expect a dog to never bark. While some breeds such as the Basenji are known for rarely barking, most dogs and mixes bark frequently. Some breeds are known for their tendency to be very vocal, such as Shelties or Pyrenean Shepherds.
- When something startles them
- When they want to alert their family
- When they are stressed or scared
- When they are excited
- When they want something (such as their dinner or to go for a walk)
- When they play
- When they have to go outside to potty
- When they are bored and do not get their exercise needs met
- When they are frustrated
- When they hear a sound that they associated barking with (such as the doorbell for many dogs)
As you can see – the reasons for baring can be manyfold! And the solution will be as well. Crating a dog who wants to go outside to potty will not make him bark any less – he needs to go out and take care of his business.
Crate training will help with barking in most situations in which a dog barks due to excitement, stress or reactivity.
If your dog for example barks every afternoon when he sees the UPS truck arrive, crating him beforehand in a room from which he cannot see or hear the truck will keep him quiet.
If your dog barks when he is in the yard, calling him inside and crating him can interrupt his barking.
Lack of exercise causing barking
Most dogs’ barking gets a lot better if their owners increase their exercise. Nearly all pet dogs are bored – they do not get their needs for activity and enrichment met. Dogs require physical and mental exercise every day in order to be well-behaved and well-mannered.
If your dog currently does not get daily walks and playing and training time, the last thing he needs is to spend more time in a crate. Crates are not a way to “store away” unruly dogs. It is only fair to the dog to crate him once his exercise and training needs have been met and he is ready for a nap.
Case study: Crating as an effective way to stop barking
Here is a case study of a client I was working with. The client had a 4 year old herding breed mix named Holly. Holly was – like many herding breeds – a highly excitable dog. She had the tendency to be nervous and was reactive towards certain sounds and traffic. Holly lived across the street from a construction business. Every morning at 8:30am the construction vehicles would leave for their job sites. And every morning, like clockwork, Holly would be barking incessantly at the vehicles and their sounds.
As a solution, I suggested the owners crate Holly at the opposite end of the home where she would not hear or see the commotion. It was crucial to do so long before 8:30. Once Holly was in her frantic state, it was impossible to snap her out of it again. Instead, we wanted to crate her while she was still calm and in a good state of mind.
The owners started to put her into her crate at 8am every morning. Holly got a delicious chew so that she would be busy and happy. She could not hear or see the vehicles leaving across the street. At 9am, the owners could take Holly out of the crate again – without any barking in the meantime.
Within a week, Holly had caught on to the new routine and would go into her crate by herself at 8am – anticipating her delicious chew toy and morning snack. In this case, crating was exactly the right solution to stop the barking!
Crating before the dog barks
One important point in the case study above was that the owners crated Holly before she had worked herself up into a state of distress. Once a dog is in that frantic mode, simply putting him into an indestructible crate is not going to immediately stop his barking. If you can foresee in which situations your dog is likely to bark, you should be proactively crating him before he gets all wound up.
A big problem with barking dogs is that they get to rehearse the barking over and over, until it becomes a strongly ingrained behavior. You should predict when your dog is likely to “lose it”, and put him into his crate away from the action beforehand.
The Bottom Line
Whether crate training will help with barking depends on why your dog barks. Crate training is a very effective management tool for dogs that bark in certain situations, because the crate lets us remove the dog from that situation. (In order for this to work the crate must not be too big or too small, and needs to be placed in a quiet location)
On the other hand, many dogs bark out of frustration, boredom, lack of exercise or because they need to go potty. If your dog barks due to those reasons, then putting him in a crate is of course not going to change anything about the barking.
As with any behavioral problem, you should always consider the root of the issue. Why is my dog showing the unwanted behavior? What is causing it? Then address the issue right there. In some cases crating can help – in others you will need to find different solutions.