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Canine Behavior/barking in crate


I have a shitzu she is about 15 yrs old and I have had her for about 12 years. She has always been crated with no issues.
Recently 2 things have happened - I brok emy arm which made sleeping in my bed uncomfortable so I had been sleeping on the couch - hinse (poor VERY poor decision) I did not crate my dogs at night - and 2 at the same time I went on vacation and my daughter dog sat at her house and .... there are no rules ther at all and also no crating. Once back to normal me sleeping in my bed and vacation over- Lucy simply refuses to sleep in her crate at night and she barks - for hours.
I knew there would be a slight problem since she was out of her "normal" routine for a few weeks - but this barking in her crate at night has been going on now for several weeks after everything has returned to normal. I got a bark corrective collar - which I retunred after not seeing any results in a solid week (this one just viberated) and did not deter her from barking at night at all.
I bought another one that actually gives a small shock - i tested it on myself and the "correction" is what I would think sufficent to deter her from barking ... however that is not working either. The reason I have to crate her at night is she pee's in the house (same spot) she has ample time outside to go to the bathroom - put still she pees in the house so crating her was always the best thing - and she will go into her crate during th day and just sleep - but at night when I close the door and go to bed ..... its non stop barking. Any ideas? Aside from scolding me for taking her out of her "normal" routine which I accept full blame for ... I just relly need to be able to sleep through the night......

First: your dog is elderly; she is not able to adapt to changing situations as would a young dog; she is now very anxious.  DO NOT USE THAT SHOCK COLLAR UNLESS YOU PUT IT ON YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF A SHOCK EVERY TIME YOUR DOG BARKS.  And, I am NOT joking.  It is INHUMANE.

The shock only makes the dog's cognition fail further and fear the crate at night.  Your dog might very well go into her crate "by herself" but she CANNOT BE CONFINED TO IT ANY LONGER.

Second:  Take your dog to a pet supply store; have her fitted to "panties" and buy pads that accompany them.  You can buy thin pads or thick; the thin will absorb a good amount of urine, the thick will absorb all of it but makes the "panties" a tighter fit and not comfortable.  Think of this as the sort of thing we women use (in my case, used LOL) during our menstrual cycle.  Only in the case of a dog, the urine is held close to the body; its scent is with the dog, the sensation is with the dog, and it quickly becomes a deterrent to urinating indoors.  Will your dog ENJOY wearing this?  No.  But she will tolerate it; it attaches with velcro which makes for a more relaxed fit and it's almost impossible for a dog to get out of it (although they do, at times).

Third:  You say she chooses the EXACT spot to urinate every night.  No matter where that spot "is" (and this can be important), FEED HER ON THAT SPOT twice daily.  If you're feeding her only once, split her food into halves: 1/2 in the AM, 1/2 mid-day.  This will change her need to defecate but not alarmingly so.  Being fed ON THAT SPOT should totally eliminate the problem UNLESS she is urinating IN FRONT OF YOUR BEDROOM DOOR.  Even then, feed her on that spot.

Fourth: PUT THE CRATE IN YOUR BEDROOM, and close your bedroom door at night, restraining the dog to your room.  If you have not allowed her in bed with you and she has been OK with that, continue to do so.  If she has been in bed with you but, for some reason, can no longer get onto the bed, you want to be certain that her night time urination is NOT biological.  This means:

Fifth: Veterinary visit.  Urinalysis (urine can easily be extracted by the Vet); blood chemistry (for elevated white blood cells, rule out UTI); analysis of cognitive faculties.  Just as a sudden change in living environment can effect the cognition of an elderly Human (causing latent dementia/loss of cognition) it can do so in a dog.  It is quite possible your dog is suffering from some loss in cognition; it is also possible that a mild tranquilizer, given at night before bedtime, can help her adjust to her renewed life with you.

Do not scold her; do not be angry (pop a tic tac into your mouth, masks your adrenaline, and smile: yes, dogs know that "smiling" means we are not angry); do not "clean up" urine in her presence; feed her on the spot she has chosen to eliminate; see the veterinarian ASAP.  And above all, have patience.  Her life span is close to its maximum; she has been a good and constant companion and deserves a safe, secure and loving late-in-life experience.  Trust me: you will miss her when she's gone, this I know.  Please USE FOLLOWUP FEATURE (keep the email containing this answer so you can go BACK to the answer and scroll down to FOLLOWUP) to tell me what vet said, if meds are involved now, and any other progress (or lack of same).  I OFTEN ASK people to do FOLLOWUP and fully 75% of them never do!  So please use it.

We want to give both of you a good night's sleep.  God bless!

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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