Q: We got a new puppy about a week ago and are finding it hard to get him to quit whining and barking while we have him in a cage. We live in an apartment building so we can’t have him outside all the time. We will be moving soon, but what can we do in the meantime?
A: Most puppies between 8 and 10 weeks old settle down and stop whining in approximately 20 minutes time. If you ignore the whining and barking, the puppy should soon adapt, get used to her new surroundings, and stop this behavior. You can make the kennel more appealing to your puppy by feeding her in the kennel and leaving treats when she isn’t looking so she learns it’s a great place to be.
Puppies that are under five months old shouldn’t be left in kennels for more than three or four hours during the day as they have to eliminate up to eight times a day. Most puppies can “hold it” up to eight hours through the night at this age if they have been properly conditioned. If your puppy is three months of age or older, and is being introduced to a kennel for the first time, I would integrate the same suggestions above until she looks at the kennel as a great place to be, but do not confine the puppy in the kennel until that happens. You can use baby gates or put an exercise pen around the kennel instead and leave the kennel door open.
You can give your puppy lots of exercise before you leave the house or before bedtime to tire her out and she will have less energy to complain. There are several products on the market that can help relax a puppy including Dog Appeasing Pheremones (DAP) which works on many, but not all, dogs. There is a machine that imitates a beating heart which sometimes will help a dog relax, also a ticking clock occasionally works. Playing soft music while you’re away also can be effective.
The Dog Whisperer DVD, Beginning and Intermediate Dog Training for Puppies and Dogs will show you how to teach her to “go to her bed” (or kennel), which will also be a positive experience. It’s important that you never use the kennel as punishment and never use negative training such as pounding on the cage to scare her if she’s whining.
I’d suggest hiring a professional trainer who only uses positive methods to help you. You might also tell your neighbors that you’re working on the problem and that it will soon be better.