How to stop a dog from barking in the morning



Stop a puppy from crying in the morning

Note: Also check out my post on how to stop a dog’s barking.

Many dogs and puppies are excited to get out of their kennels in the mornings. They bark or scratch frantically at their kennel doors.

Foster dog Barkley is a good boy and doesn’t make a peep until he knows I’m awake. The problem is, once he knows I’m awake he gets really excited and starts whining. I’m sure he anticipates seeing Ace and going for our morning walk. This anticipation puts him into an anxious frenzy.

I have a strict rule where I will not let Barkley out of his kennel unless he is quiet. But the longer I wait for Barkley to calm down, the more anxious he becomes. He doesn’t know how to calm himself. He just whines more and more. His anxiety builds until he is panting heavily, shaking and getting more worked up.

Plus, his whining frustrates me. A lot. I like my mornings to be relaxing.

So what should a dog owner do to stop a dog from barking in the morning?

We all know it’s best to ignore a dog when he barks. It’s not a behavior we want to reward.

I want to ignore Barkley’s whining in the morning, but he needs to get outside, eat and go for a walk.

Here’s the trick:

Quietly get up and let the dog out of his kennel before he starts whining. That way you reward him for being quiet.

Barkley’s whining is triggered by the sound of me walking around when I wake up. I need to remove that trigger.

Some dogs start barking at a certain time every morning, regardless of hearing their owners or not. If that is the case with your dog, you can still get up a few minutes earlier and let him out before he barks. That’s better than letting him out once he’s already barking.

Once you let the dog out for a potty break, it’s up to you whether you want to put him back in his kennel or let him be loose.

I choose to put Barkley back in his kennel while I go about my morning routine. He whines, but that’s fine. I ignore him until he shuts up. There is no urgency to get him out since he has already gone to the bathroom. He used to whine for 20 minutes. Now he quiets down within five.

I recommend giving your dog a treat like a Kong filled with peanut butter when you put him back in his kennel. That is a good habit, especially if you plan on going back to bed on a Saturday morning.

Reward the puppy when he is quiet!

When Barkley whines in his kennel throughout the day, I completely ignore him. He does not have to get outside just because I got home or just because I want to walk Ace. He can wait.

The tricky part is determining how long to wait before you let the dog out. You want the dog to be quiet, but for how long?

It depends on the dog, his level of anxiety and the exact situation.

My suggestion is to pre-determine the amount of time your dog has to be quiet before you let him out. Stick with that for a day or two, and slowly increase the time.

If you are dealing with a very anxious dog, then start small. Require him to be quiet for five seconds. Yes, seconds! Literally count in your head slowly to five. If the dog whines while you are counting, start over. If the dog can’t calm down, then you may need to shorten the time to three seconds.

Barkley can be a very anxious guy, but he does calm down if I ignore him and do other things. Ideally, I wait until he is completely calm and I haven’t heard any panting or whining for at least five minutes. Sometimes the whining starts again as soon as he hears me grab a leash or put on my coat. So then I ignore him until he calms down again.

I am fortunate to have a flexible schedule where I come and go throughout the day. I plan Barkley’s schedule accordingly. I understand when you are pressed for time you can’t wait forever for a dog to stop yapping. In those cases it’s best if you can still wait for a pause in the whining, even if it’s just a few seconds.

With an anxious dog, you really do have to work in small steps. If your puppy was quiet today for five seconds, then try for 10 seconds tomorrow and 15 seconds the next day.
It’s frustrating, and it takes a lot of patience. Trust me, I know.

Unfortunately, getting upset and yelling “No!” at the dog is not going to do much good. Most dogs whine because they want your attention. If you return and tell them “No!” that’s usually enough of a reward to encourage the behavior.

So take a deep breath, stay calm and ignore!

What if the dog never stops whining?

I met with a trainer last week to get some suggestions on Barkley’s issues. I asked her what to do when the dog won’t stop crying.

I liked her suggestion:

If you have to get the dog out of the kennel and he’s been whining nonstop for several minutes, go to him and have him “watch” or “sit” on command. Even if he’s been whining for 10 minutes, he will associate the reward for what he just did (eye contact or sit).

Barkley and I have also been attending a training class with Abby Cline of Pawsitive Vybe. She said if the dog doesn’t know the command for “watch” or “sit” quite yet, wait for him to do the behavior on his own. Mark the behavior with “yes!’ and reward.

Following these suggestions, Barkley has learned that nothing happens when he scratches at his kennel door. Nothing happens when he whines, either. Instead, he sits in the back of his kennel politely and waits for me to open the door.

Barkley has made lots of progress. Although he still believes he is the center of the universe, he is learning the rest of us think otherwise.

What tips do you have for teaching a dog not to cry or whine in his kennel?

Check out this post if you think your dog has separation anxiety.

Barkley is up for adoption with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo. Edit: Barkley has been adopted!

How to stop a dog from barking in the morning

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  1. Brooke Schlager on January 29, 2012

    Excellent post! I know a lot of dog owners struggle with this situation and these tips are super. I think positive reinforcement is key when working with a kennel/crate. I have been tempted to use a squirt bottle to curb the barking and whining in the kennel but have been afraid that the dog will make an association between being crated and squirted with water. I guess patience is a virtue!

  2. Sharon Wollenberg on January 29, 2012

    Lindsay,

    Excellent advise. So often we give in and let them win. It then becomes a vicious circle. Consistency is also a must. My Golden Dakota would bark at the neighbors to get them to come over to pet him over the fence. They would do exactly that and then he did it all the time. He knew if he barked they would come over and pet him and give him attention. Huge mistake. In the summer I still have to work with him. If he can get a way with it he will. Now I have a new fence that he can’t see the neighbors. It should be interesting this summer. Patience is a virtue!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 29, 2012

      Oh gosh. I can think of at least one dog who also barks at the fence. People always come over and pet her. And if they ignore her, she barks even more and then they come over to get her to stop barking. This only teaches her to bark louder and louder. Oh, the joys …

  3. Dogs on January 29, 2012

    I used to own a dog that would bark in his crate in the morning when it began getting light out. A well placed blanket over his crate took care of that little prob lol

  4. Ty Brown on January 31, 2012

    I’ve had some success in cases like this in using a ‘pattern interrupt’. I’ll throw a bean bag at the crate from across the room before the dog is able to see me. With some dogs the sound is enough to startle the dog into being quiet for a moment. Once he’s been quiet for a bit I’m now free to enter the room and let the dog out as it isn’t rewarding his whining.

    I’ve even worked with several dogs where the bean bag is enough of a disruption that it stops the whining all-together.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 31, 2012

      Thanks Ty! Do you recommend anti-bark collars for your clients in situations like these?

  5. Michelle Barrett on January 31, 2012

    I just stumbled across your page while looking for infomation on dog backpacks for my high energy 7mth old GSP puppy super post aswell the 10reasons makes me want to go out shopping right now!
    Then the next thing I find is this super post on morning barking, just what I needed to read and didnt even know! My pup Sunny would whine to go out in the middle of the night since we got her and as I was worried about peeing in the crate I would go to her and let her out (for the last 4mths, establishing a SUPER routine ack!
    Now she can hold her bladder but still is up about 5am but I really would love an extra hour of sleep so she has started to bang and scratch on the door resulting in me still going to her since I dont want my 2 toddlers to wake up. She thinks that 5am is the perfect time for her 1st breakfast so that kong with peanut butter may be just what she needs once I can get that barking and whining to decrease.
    Cant wait to read more helpful information, so glad I stumbled across this!

  6. Ty Brown on February 1, 2012

    Typically I’m not a huge fan of bark collars. They tend to be spotty in their coverage of barking, they don’t leave any room for discretionary barking, and a lot of them are just set too high and many dogs aren’t clear on what the correction is for. In certain cases where a client has no choice but to leave a dog alone for hours out of the day, the dog HAS TO not bark (due to noise pollution complaints, etc.) then I may use a bark collar.

    What I do use sometimes, however, is a citronella collar as the correction is much easier for a dog to take and can be effective.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 1, 2012

      Good to hear your thoughts. I don’t like bark collars because I can’t control the correction, but I can see how sometimes there’s no other option if you are facing eviction.

  7. Beth on August 13, 2012

    I’ve got a 9 month old Pomeranian puppy and I’ve crated her since she was little. She has a black breathable bed sheet over the top of her crate and settles well at night after a little shouting, but no more than 5 minutes. For some unknown reason she wakes up super early in the morning, before anyone has got out of bed or is making any noise and shouts incessantly for up to 30 mins (that’s the longest I’ve held on for) or until someone comes down to get her out. She’s completely silent all night and then at some random early time goes mental. I walk her round the block every night before she goes in her crate. She’s great at the “sit” command as she’s very well trained and will quite happily sit in her crate and wait before I let her out, but telling her to sit before I let her out is not changing her initial waking up early and barking… once she’s out she runs around like a mad bean and then zonks out again. Any help would be so appreciated!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 11, 2012

      I would let her out before she starts crying. Then if you want to go to bed, put her back in her crate and ignore her. Ear plugs work well! She is probably barking because she wants to get up and start her day! I would try to only let her out of her crate when she’s quiet (easier said than done, I know).

      You could always try a citronella spray collar, if you are comfortable with that idea. It sprays an unpleasant citronella whenever the dog barks. That might actually do the trick in your case.

  8. Lene on November 10, 2012

    I have two 17 month old Dobermanns. During the week I’m downstairs by 7am to let them out and give them breakfast, however at the weekends I’d like a bit of a lie-in. The problem is that one of my boys barks incessantly from 7am onwards until I come downstairs, the other one is perfectly quiet. Thank you for the advice, I’ll guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and get up before 7 on the weekends and then try to go back to bed after toilet and breakfast (for the dogs!). Do you have any advice on dealing with two dogs, one doesn’t bark the other does but if I reward the good one the noisey one gets worse!?

  9. Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 11, 2012

    Yeah that does make it tough with two! I usually just take the dogs out when both are being quiet.

  10. Lindsey on December 3, 2012

    I have a 7 month old french bulldog. When we first got him he was good and slept the through the night on his crate u til 6:30 when we usually wake up. Then we discovered he had a sensitive tummy an was throwing iPhone the morning due to an empty stomach so we were advised by the vet to start giving him a snack (I started doing this At 5 because I didn’t want to wait I til he got sick). At some point along the way I started lettin him up in the bed at 530 just for an hour because I wanted to sleep (a huge mistake I now know). Well he is now walkin up earlier and earlier wanting to go iti the bed its now at 3:30. We stopped letting him up but he will whine from 3:30 on. I have put a blanket over his crate, put his toys in there and he does not stop. I am desperate and exhausted please help! How can I get him to stop, at this point it’s a wanting to come up with us thing because in the mornin when I Finially get up at 6 he runs to the bed.

  11. Lindsey on December 3, 2012

    Sorry for all the autocorrect errors!!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on December 3, 2012

      Ignore him. Sleep with earplugs and move his kennel to another room or another level of the house. If he doesn’t get your attention he should eventually stop. You could get a citronella spray collar if the behavior continues but I think he will stop if you ignore him.

  12. Emma on December 11, 2012

    This has been a good read and I have a similar problem. My GSD barks every morning from 5am at the door wanting to do the morning routine of a walk and breakfast. I find myself getting so frustrated with him because I have has noise complaints from neighbors. I have found once he knows I’m awake he tends to stop. But I can’t even have a little extra sleep when I need it. Tried to alternate walk times thinking thinking it might help but he still expects a walk first thing. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on December 13, 2012

      If he is kennel trained, I would go back to kenneling him at night. Or, confine him to another room.

      I would also definitely teach him to lie down and stay quietly before a walk for a good five minutes so he learns that calm, quiet behavior will get him the walk. Depending on his level of training, you may need to start with a few seconds.

      Actually, obedience teaming itself should help you. If he is trained to lie down and stay for up to a half hour with distractions, then he should have no trouble lying down and staying in the morning before starting his day. I am not sure where he sleeps at night, but if it’s in your bedroom, then the second he barks, you would be able to say “no!” and then “Down. Stay.”

  13. Lin on December 16, 2012

    i just adopted a 9 week old Terrier mix. The lady i adopted him from said he’s a terrier, german shep, lab mix. the mom had a litter of 6 puppies. one of them died. so she only had the 5 left for adoption. since they were born she’s explained to me that they have all been well mannered and that she’s been potty training them in the home to use the potty pads and that they’ve all done really well so far with hardly any accidents.
    when i adopted my puppy just last week i did what everybody told me to do. to put him in a small confined space just big enough where he can turn around and lay back down but not big enough where he would have the option of using the space to also relieve himself.
    i didn’t exactly buy a crate. i bought more like a metal play pen that could surround him but it has many options to configure it how you need it. so the first morning he had to spend by himself i configured it into a 2 feet by 3 feet square. i put his toys in there to occupy himself while i was gone to work. i also placed a pee pad in there just incase. well when i got home later that afternoon i could tell he was not a happy camper. he chewed up the pee pad, pooped in the same space he was in and just made a mess. i can understand though because i know he was having separation anxiety from his mom and his siblings and probably myself. i know he will have to learn and get used to my schedule as time goes on. unfortunately i live by myself and when i leave for work i have no choice but to leave him all by himself in the house for at least 9-10 hours a day while i go to work. i know he needs time to get used to his new home, myself, as well as being away from his siblings and mom.
    well the 2nd morning i decided to configure the gate differently where it would give him more space for him to lay and play and hopefully if he had to go potty then he wouldn’t be stepping all over it. i left him with a little bit of food and water since he’s just a puppy and since i have to leave him alone for 9-10 hours while i’m at work i didn’t want him to be starving or dehydrated. especially knowing that he was crying and whining as soon as i left the house.
    shockingly when i arrived home that afternoon i walked into the house and he was sitting right there in the middle of my living room! little sneaky guy figured out how to move the gate somehow and he got out and had the whole house to himself! i’m not sure how long exactly he was free cause i wasn’t there, but i was very surprised to see that my house was not destroyed at all! i had placed pee pads throughout the house previously and all my bedroom doors were closed just incase he did get out. well he used those pee pads! i was sooooo happy and surprised that my wood floors were perfectly fine!
    the previous owner had told me that out of all of them in the litter he happened to be the one that did really well on the potty pads with hardly any accidents. so i was really happy. my furniture and table legs and cabinets were all fine. my DVD’s were all fine! i can tell that he was playing with his toys and only chewing on things that he’s allowed to chew on!
    well the 3rd morning i had to leave him i thought i’d take a risk and let him have the house again because he had no potty accidents and honestly my house was fine. he seemed much happier anyway that he wasn’t locked up behind a gate. ( who would want to be locked up behind a gate for 9-10 hours anyways) i know i wouldn’t.
    aside from the separation anxiety that he feels when i leave him i thought maybe not being locked up for that long would maybe help him a little bit too by giving him freedom to the house.
    that 3rd day when i came home the house was fine again! and anywhere he peed or pooped it was on the pads! he’s been doing really great so far and is showing me that he relieves himself properly where he should.
    when i’m home i try to use those techniques of ignoring him and not picking him up all the time and closing doors behind me so he can’t follow me everywhere i go. i can’t take him outside yet because he has not had his first shot. i will actually be taking him for that tomorrow. the vet’s office explained to me to not take him for walks or let him on the grass until he’s had all the series of shots. so with that said, it will be about 3 months from now before i can let him outside so until then he’s gonna have to really be using those potty pads! i know he will be a work in progress and i know things will take time but i really hope i can break him from this separation anxiety with the things that i’m doing now. cause i really do feel bad for leaving him all alone for that long while i’m at work but i have to. i haven’t really taught him any tricks yet … i’m still observing him and letting him get used to his new home and me! after all it’s only been a week! : )

    if he shows me good consistency with the pee pads and not destroying my home and making a mess then i am thinking of just continuing to let him have the freedom of the house. we’ll see what happens … so to be continued.

    i really would like for him to be a good house dog and companion, well trained and mannered. do you think what i’m doing with him right now is ok or is this maybe a bad thing for the future ?????

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on December 22, 2012

      In all honesty you are doing all the things I would never do. I wouldn’t leave a puppy loose like that. I wouldn’t use pee pads, and I would use a crate.

      But you know what! Who am I to tell you what to do? It sounds like you are doing ok thanks to the breeder who taught him to go on the pads. It seems to be working for you and your guy.

      Keep rewarding him when you see him go on he pads. A common problem is dogs will get lazy and pee next to the pads. It can quickly become a habit.

      Congrats on your new puppy.

    • John on December 28, 2012

      You are going to be in for a rude awakening. And what vet says you can’t take your dog outside for 3 months. 9-10 alone? Why did you even get a dog?

      • Lindsey on December 28, 2012

        The vet told me because of diseases he can get if I let him walk around in the grass and get into bushes and stuff when he hasn’t had all his shots yet.

    • Vikki on February 16, 2013

      I think you’re really lucky that he is not destroying your home and litter training well. I don’t really understand why you got a dog if you are away from home and leaving him alone for 9-10 hours a day, nor why you think that that is acceptable. The poor dog, I think he will become a menace when he hits puberty with all those hours alone with no exercise. Also, are you going to use puppy pads forever? Or fit a dog door? how else is he going to pee etc when you are away? How do you exercise him in the winter if you leave him all day and its dark when you are home. I don’t think you thought dog ownership through properly. Good luck with him, you’ll need it!

      • Lin on February 16, 2013

        Actually he’s doing really good. He adjusted to my schedule in 2 weeks. I did all the things I’ve read about with how to handle separation anxiety and its worked. I can leave him for hours and he is fine now. He does not tear up my house because I basically puppy proofed it. He always goes on the pads when he has to go. I’ve got him trained quite well so far. As soon as I do get home from work I take him for a walk or we go play in my backyard and he runs all over to get his exercise. He’s a very energetic puppy and he’s also a smart one! I’ve had no major issues with him whatsoever. He has plenty of toys to play with which he loves! He doesn’t chew on things he’s not supposed to. He knows what he can chew on. Also now that he’s got all his shots and I’ve been able to let him outside he’s doing well with the transition from pads to going pee outside instead. I do not ignore my dog or not take care of him the way I’m supposed to. i give him plenty of attention and care and work on his training when i am home. i realize that I am gone to work for a long time and that’s reality for most of us. So I would appreciate if those that have commented to my post would stop being so negative and tell me that I shouldn’t be a dog owner.

        • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 16, 2013

          Congrats, Lin! You have done a great job with him. You sound like a wonderful dog owner. Don’t most of us work full time? That doesn’t seem like a reason not to have a dog. Tons of people make it work, as you are doing.

          We all train and raise dogs a little differently, but that doesn’t make one owner better than another. Plus, every dog is different. Keep up the good work!

  14. erin on December 25, 2012

    my 2yo has in the past month begun the habit of whining and groaning about two hours before the alarm goes off in the morning. the first week i wondered if it were bathroom issues but now it’s obvious that he just wants me to get up. he used to sleep as long as i wanted to. he gets lots of exercise during the day. he used to sleep in a kennel, but for the past year has been sleeping in the bed with me or next to it. if i put him out of the room he scratches at the door and it’s just as disturbing. the solution (to preserve sleep) has been to get up and let him outside and go back to bed for an hour or whatever. but i feel like it’s getting earlier and worse. he used to shut up if i yelled at him, but now he just WONT QUIT until i sit up. do i just bite the bullet? i feel like he’s winning, and it’s making me grumpy, or maybe that’s the lack of sleep.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 10, 2013

      I think you should go back to crating him or leaving him in another room. Then absolutely ignore him until you are ready to get up. Get some earplugs if needed! :)

  15. Cheryl on February 5, 2013

    I have a 13 week old Japanese Chin. I’ve never had a puppy before, so I am learning as I go. She is VERY energetic in spurts and bites like crazy. I know she is teething and hopefully this behavior will stop when the teething stops. My biggest wish right now is that I can get her to stop whining/barking (in her crate) in the morning. On a typical day I get up at 5:45 am and I let her out immediately. Then we walk our other dog and then feed them both. Most days she wakes up anywhere from 4:00 on. She will cry and bark until I get up. Sometimes she stops after a few minutes if I ignore her. I’ve been laying there worrying that she needs to go to the bathroom, so I will get up at 4:00, let her out and then put her back in the crate. The first few times I did this she didn’t go to the bathroom, so I stopped. It seemed to be all about eating. She’s grown in the past month, and I’ve increased her food amount, so that seems to be better. In the past week when I take her out at 4:00 she does go to the bathroom. Then I feel that I can leave her in there until I get up without the guilt.

    Today I did just that, but she cried for the entire 2 hours. When I finally gave up and got up, she had pooped all over her crate. This is the first time she has pooped in her crate, so I’m hoping it was just an uncontrollable accident. She has peed in her crate quite a few times though and that concerns me. She will do it at night once in a while and also when I leave her for an hour or two during the day. There seems to be no reason for it, since I always let her out before I leave her.

    She is sleeping in a crate in my room, which was recommended at first, since she cried all night at first. Once I moved her into my room she sleeps like a champ…until 4. What do you recommend? I read the kong idea. I like that for weekends, but I really want her to be quiet until 5:45 on normal days without developing that king habit…

    Thanks!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 5, 2013

      While she is little, try getting up one time in the middle of the night to take her out for a potty break when she is not barking. So, maybe 3 a.m. or so. Then, go back to bed and do not get her out until you get up when you want to, so 5:45. If she whines, ignore her. You definitely don’t want to reward that habit of barking to get up in the morning. But if you take her out for a potty break in the middle of the night, then she shouldn’t have accidents.

      She should be able to hold it through the night soon, though. So you should only have to do this for a week or two. You could ask her breeder or vet about how long he or she thinks she should be able to hold it at this age.

  16. Cheryl on February 16, 2013

    Thanks so much. So, when I eliminate that 2:00am potty break, do I just eliminate it altogether, or do I start making it later and later until I get closer to the time I want her to wake up?

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 18, 2013

      I would eliminate it all together. But probably wait a few more weeks until she’s a little older and can hold it that long.

      • cocca on May 18, 2013

        i have the same problem in the morning with my 6 month old bernese barking. since i have had her she has got up at 5 in the morning ( give or take 5 mins ) i can set a clock by her. I was getting up letting her out as she was going to the toilet.She sleeps in a utility room at night gated with her own corner. I wasnt to worried at first thinking I had to be up at 6 anyway!!! but what a difference and hour makes !! I felt guilty because i knew she wanted to go out so started letting her out and when she came back in letting her into the next room (with her fav couch) and going back top bed which wasn’t to bad . But in the last couple of weeks she has been barking and doesn’t want to go out all waggy tail pleased to see me and wants up !! once i’m up and a couple of mins going mental (which i’m ignoring and not even stroking her) she lays back down and goes to sleep. Think her trigger is the dawn chorus ? I have tried blacking out the room just in case its the light. Wouldn’t mind if she she slept in to six I have tried ignoring her but worried this will become even more of a habit! I leave her for a few hours every day and we have no problem at all with barking apart from the mornings. is a case of ignoring or should i do something different

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