Help! My dog barks from her crate at 5am!

Dear WOOF:

My pup is crated at night (and during the day while we're gone) and she starts barking at 5am. So, I get up, let her outside, feed her, and put her back into her crate and try to get more sleep, but she  won't stop barking! She'll bark pretty much when she knows we're in the house. Except when SHE'S sleeping. Any advice?

Thanks.

Hello:

Boy, this pup really has your number!!! Keep in mind that whatever works is what she'll continue to do. She has figured out that barking at 5am works really well and gets you to come, let her out, and feed her !

Are you sometimes going to get her after you've done this 5am routine because she keeps barking? If so (and I suspect this is the case) then indeed, she has figured out that if she continues to bark (after you've let her out and fed her) that you will - eventually - let her out to be with you!!!

I know that you need your sleep, but understand that you are creating the continuation of the behavior because you keep teaching her that it works.

My advice is to stop responding to her entirely when she "calls" for you at 5am. This will be aggravating for you, and will undoubtedly cost you a couple hours of sleep, but as long as you DO NOT respond to her, she will learn to stop wasting her time barking because the behavior isn't working anymore! Wear earplugs to help get you through the couple rough nights that you are going to have!

It really is that simple. You must not yell, speak to, or in any other way let her know that she's gotten your attention with this behavior because doing that tells her that you're probably just about to give in and let her out!

You do not mention this pups age. If she is very young (8-12 weeks) and she consistently goes potty when you let her out at 5 am, I would suggest that you make sure of 2 things:

  1. Cut her water off earlier. Perhaps as early as 8pm. Do not
    exercise her late in the evening, let her have a bowl of water, and
    expect that she will be empty by bed time. Cut it off early, this
    will help.
     

  2. Make sure that she is completely "empty" before going to bed.

If she is waking to go outside for potty, and you feel sure that she does have to go, at least wait until she's quiet a second or two before letting her out. Then, get her outside and right back into the crate....no feeding or anything other than potty and back to her crate.

Let us know if you continue to have trouble.

Best of luck and thanks for writing!

Lisa Patrona, Dip. CBST, CPDT-KA, ACDBC, AABP-CDT