When a 4-month-old puppy keeps barking in the crate, you may wonder whether there is something going on that keeps your puppy awake, or whether the behavior is just attention-seeking behavior.
Should you get up to check on your puppy, or should you ignore hoping it will eventually stop? What if your puppy though needs to desperately potty? You surely don't want him to pee or poop in his crate!
Deciding what to do can feel like a big dilemma, however, you have some options that are less risky than others.
4-Month-Old Puppies Barking in the Crate to Potty
At 4-months, most puppies should be able to hold their pee and poop through the night. However, not all puppies are created equally, so if you must still take your 4-month-old puppy for a middle-of-the-night trip, it doesn't mean your puppy is abnormal.
Like children, puppies vary a lot in their development and some puppies may take longer to mature and therefore potty train compared to others.
When a four-month-old puppy is barking the crate therefore consider whether it can be a sign that your puppy needs to potty. If your puppy can't hold it through the night, it can be he's signaling to you a need to potty.
Puppies who are crate trained at some point, may learn to bark to alert you of their need to be taken out as they don't want to soil their crates.
This is a good sign. It means your puppy have developed enough bladder or bowel control to alert you rather than just reflexively peeing or pooping in the crate.
You want to reinforce this kind of barking because it prevents your puppy from soiling in the crate and helps the puppy acknowledge the urge and learn to communicate to you. It will pave the path towards going towards the door to tell you when he needs to be taken out.
4-Month-Old Puppies Barking in the Crate Out of Frustration
If your puppy has shown the ability of holding it through the night, consider that sometimes puppies may bark in the crate because they don't like to be closed.
At 4 months, many puppies are curious beings, and have a strong desire to explore. They may be upset being crated when they still have energy and have a strong desire to interact.
Being closed when in this state of mind, can cause the puppy to bark out of frustration. The puppy is frustrated because he would like to still be out to explore and interact.
At 4 months, puppies are also entering the stage of the flight instinct period, a time when they strongly need to investigate things, but also a certain level of stubbornness.
This time coincides with when, young canines in the wild are old enough to leave the den and start learning how to hunt and start exploring their surroundings. Puppies may get frustrated and upset at times when things don't go as they would like.
4-Month Old Puppies Barking in the Crate Due to Teething
At 4 months, puppies start losing their baby teeth, and the new permanent teeth start to emerge this can cause sore gums and painful jaws. Puppies at this time will try to chew everything they can and can have little temper tantrums.
They may bark more, act hyperactive and may struggle falling to sleep when they are teething. Teething can therefore cause more bouts of barking in the crate if the puppy is restless and hyper because of teething.
4-Month-Old Puppies Barking in the Crate Because of Fear/ Solitude
If you just got your 4-month-old puppy and placed him in the crate, and the breeder or previous owner failed to crate train the puppy, rest assured it will lead to barking.
Contrary to what you may have heard, puppies are not den animals. Being locked up in a new and unfamiliar place, and possibly alone in a separated area, can feel frightening to puppies.
4-Month-old Puppies Barking in the Crate Due to Craving Attention
And then you have puppies who will bark in the crate because they have learned that, every time they bark, they get attention, even if it's attention of the negative type (like getting out of bed to scold the puppy).
Other Causes of 4-Month-Old Puppies Barking
The list of possible causes why 4-month-old puppies bark doesn't stop here. Puppies of this age may obviously bark for other reasons such as being hungry, thirsty, too hot, too cold, lonely, bored, or hearing outdoor noises. Some puppies also bark when cranky due to being tired.
It's therefore important that all the needs of a puppy are met before closing him in his crate. This will help you at least block off the list the chances that your puppy may be barking due to unmet needs.
This means, ensuring your puppy was exercised, fed, provided water and has successfully peed and pooped before being crated. Make sure the crate is not in an area that is too hot or too cold or too noisy.
Now That You Know...
As seen, 4-month-old puppies have their own good reasons for barking. With this in mind, here are several general tips to reduce the barking.
How to Stop a 4-Month Old Puppy From Barking in the Crate
Following are several methods to to reduce and eventually eliminate the barking in the crate.
Make Sure Your Puppy's Needs are Met
It's important to ensure that all the needs of a puppy are met before closing him in his crate. This will help you at least block off the list the chances that your puppy may be barking due to unmet needs.
This means, ensuring your puppy was exercised, fed (make sure the feed the meal no later than two hours before you close him in his crate), provided water and has successfully peed and pooped before being crated. Make sure the crate is not in an area that is too hot or too cold or too noisy.
Ignore If All Needs Are Met
If you are absolutely sure that all your pup's needs are met and that your puppy doesn't have a bout of urinary tract infection or diarrhea, it would be OK to ignore the barking.
Sometimes pups may bark to test our limits. If we are strong enough to survive a potential extinction burst, the barking test should reduce over time.
Make Potty Breaks Boring
When your puppy barks at night, if you fear it's because he needs to go potty, make sure it's very boring. Don't interact with your puppy, just put the leash on, take him to the usual potty spot, give him a few minutes, then back in the crate.
Just act matter of fact. You don't want your puppy to learn to bark at night just to interact with you or have fun in the yard.
Break the Association With Being Lonely
If every time you crate your puppy, you are leaving the home, your smart puppy will soon learn to associate the crate with you leaving.
To break this association, make sure to spend some time on the weekends having him enter the crate to receive some high value treats with you around. You may also want to work on some exercises to prevent separation anxiety in puppies.
Cover the Crate to Block Light
Many dogs want to start the day as soon as light hits their retinas. In these cases, if your pup is an early riser you may find it helpful to cover the crate with a blanket to prevent light from seeping through.