How to stop a dog from barking in the morning.
Many dogs and puppies are excited to get out of their kennels in the mornings. They bark or scratch frantically at their kennel doors.
My former foster dog Barkley was a good example of a dog who didn’t make a peep until he knew I was awake.
The problem was, once he knew I was awake he got really excited and started whining. I’m sure he anticipated seeing my dog Ace and going for our morning walk. This anticipation put him into an anxious frenzy.
I had a strict rule where I did not let Barkley out of his kennel unless he was quiet. But the longer I waited for Barkley to calm down, the more anxious he became. He didn’t know how to calm himself. He just whined more and more. His anxiety increased until he was panting heavily, shaking and getting more worked up.
Plus, his whining frustrated 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 wanted to ignore Barkley’s whining in the morning, but he needed 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 was triggered by the sound of me walking around when I woke up. I needed 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 chose to put Barkley back in his kennel while I went about my morning routine. He whined, but that was fine. I ignored him until he shut up. There was no urgency to get him out since he had already gone to the bathroom. He used to whine for 20 minutes but that decreased over time.
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 whined in his kennel throughout the day, I completely ignored him. He did not have to get outside just because I got home or just because I wanted to walk my own dog Ace. Barkley could 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 could be a very anxious guy, but he did calm down if I ignored him and did other things. Ideally, I waited until he was completely calm and I hadn’t heard any panting or whining for at least five minutes. Sometimes the whining started again as soon as he heard me grab a leash or put on my coat. So then I ignored him until he calmed down again.
I am fortunate to have a flexible schedule where I come and go throughout the day. I could 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 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 also attended 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 learned that nothing happens when he scratches at his kennel door. Nothing happens when he whines, either. Instead, he learned to sit in the back of his kennel politely and wait for me to open the door.
Barkley made lots of progress. Although he's one of those dogs who believes he is the center of the universe, he learned the rest of us think otherwise.
I wrote an ebook on how to stop your dog from crying and barking when left alone. Check it out here. The price is $4.
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What tips do the rest of you have for teaching a dog not to cry or whine in his kennel?
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