How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Crate Scratching Habit At Night?

Dog Scratching Crate at Night

My dog isn’t the most well-trained when it comes to being in his crate. There are days when the crate is his safe haven and on others, it’s like being in hot lava.

Crate training is very important for both dog owner and dog. It can even be a lifesaver at times. However, there might be times when your dog’s action in its crate is a message that you shouldn’t ignore.

Why is your dog scratching in its crate a night?

A dog that has been scratching in its crate at night could be due to a number of reasons such as feeling anxious, nervous, too cold or warm, the need to potty, etc. Sometimes the best way to overcome this behavior is to ignore your dog but that should not be the case for every scenario.

Let us take a closer look at the possible reasons that’s causing your dog to make a ruckus at night and what you can do about it.

Why Is Crate Training Important For Dogs?

Many dog owners seem to have the belief that crate training is only meant for puppies. It is important to start crate training your dog as a puppy but it applies to dogs of all ages.

There are some pet owners who are of the mindset that crate training is cruel to dogs. Seeing their dogs ‘trapped’ in such a small and enclosed area doesn’t sit well with them.

That’s not entirely true.

Our dogs have evolved from wolves which makes them den animals. Den animals like their own private hideaway that’s of the right size to go inside and feel secure.

It is just their natural behavior.

As much as your dog loves your home, home is where the crate is. A place for your dog to go when they are feeling stressed or anxious. The crate can also be a safe place for your pooch if you don’t want your dog to go near the paint cans when painting the house.

There are other sound reasons that make crate training important for dogs.

  • Roads trips
  • In-patient at the vet
  • Evacuation during emergencies
  • House training a new dog

It is never too late to start training your dog to be comfortable in its crate, even if it is a senior dog.

Why Is My Dog Scratching In Its Crate At Night?

If you are a light sleeper like me, hearing loud noises coming from your dog’s crate at night can definitely keep you awake.

I know of dog owners who have not been able to have a good night’s sleep for months due to their dogs scratching in its crate all night long.

Here are some reasons that could be causing such behavior.

Separation Anxiety

As dog owners, we know how clingy our dogs can be. But if you have a dog with separation anxiety, we are talking velcro dog or a dog that just won’t leave you alone.

This extra level of clinginess might seem adorable to a new dog owner but it can get tiresome very quickly. Especially when it starts leading to destructive behavior.

A dog with separation anxiety will start to get anxious and restless if the owner isn’t around. You don’t even have to be out of the house for this to happen.

Your dog can be in the crate at night and you in your bedroom sleeping.

It might start off with some whimpering and whining but when your dog realizes that it ain’t going anywhere with the crate door closed, it will start scratching at the crate floor.

This scratching can go on the whole night long or until the commotion wakes you up and makes you tend to your dog.

How to Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety?

Anxious dogs and a closed crate don’t work well together. The more enclosed the dog feels the more anxious it will be about being ‘left behind’ by the owner.

If your dog is getting frantic then ignoring it won’t help but make your dog more anxious.

Here are some common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs:

  • Non-stop barking or vocalization
  • Pacing around
  • Not eating well
  • Behaving withdrawn
  • Urinating and pooping indoors
  • Destructive behavior

There are many training methods that you can employ if your dog has separation anxiety.

You also need to be honest with the amount of time and attention that you have been giving your dog. it is easy to get overwhelmed by our busy schedules and assume that we are giving our dogs the attention they deserve.

If all else fails, you might have to take your dog to a behavioral therapist for proper training. Some dogs with extreme separation anxiety might even be prescribed anti-anxiety medication to help with the symptoms.

You Have A Night Visitor

I live in the suburbs and there is an abundance of wildlife activity that goes on at night. You might be sound asleep but there are many nocturnal creatures that are happily walking around in your backyard or digging in your garbage bin.

Your dog’s senses are many many times more sensitive and acute than a human’s.

What can sound like a little disturbance outside might sound like a full-blown orchestra in your dog’s ears.

Wild animals also tend to mark their surroundings with pee or their anal glands when they move about. Your dog’s sensitive nose will definitely be able to pick up on the scent.

If your dog is unfamiliar with the scent, it might start to get nervous or very curious when your dog gets wind of the odor.

This can cause your dog to start scratching and digging in the crate out of natural instinct.

How Can You Do About Night Visitors?

If you have a dog that gets very affected when it detects the presence of another animal in the vicinity, you can install better fencing or barriers to prevent wildlife intruders from stepping onto your turf.

There are some animals that are capable of bypassing your fences. By using auditory and visual scare devices you can do a better job of keeping them away.

Your Dog Has Too Much Energy

dog playing

Crating your dog at night pretty much means that it is time for bed. Here’s one downside when it comes to dog ownership.

If you don’t have a tired dog before bedtime, you might have a dog that refuses to sleep.

Our canine companions are full of energy and require some daily exercise to burn it off. Even ‘lazy’ dog breeds need at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day.

If you aren’t tiring your dog out before asking your dog to enter the crate, your dog might try and get rid of its excess energy by scratching when it’s in the crate.

How Do You Tire Your Dog Out?

Besides taking your dog out for its usual walk or playtime, another great way to tire your dog out is to plant mental games.

The great thing about mental stimulation is that you can do it indoors which doesn’t require much space.

So no excuse for not having the time to take your dog outside.

Here are some great ways to mentally stimulate your dog with mental games at home.

The Crate Is Too Small Or Big

Giving your dog its own personal space is something that your dog will appreciate. When getting a crate for your dog, do not make the mistake of buying one that is too big.

As weird as it might be, putting your dog in a crate that is too big for it can have an adverse effect.

Wild dogs will choose a den that is just big enough for them to lie down and with some wiggle room. More empty space means more room for an intruder to enter and more territory to guard.

You don’t want to put your dog in a crate that is too small for it either. It will make your dog feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

How Do You Choose The Right Crate Size?

When choosing the right crate size for your dog, there are a couple of things that matter.

  • Lying down
  • Sitting up
  • Standing up
  • Turning around

Your dog should be able to do all the above actions in a small space with a couple of inches to spare.

Too narrow or low and your dog will feel too cramped.

Too broad and high will make your dog feel like it’s in a cave instead of its own personal den.

Your Dog Is Feeling Too Warm Or Cold

dog cold

A dog confined to a crate is completely dependent on its owner to make sure of a suitable temperature.

One thing to note about dogs is that their body temperature runs higher than a human’s. it ranges between 101-102.5 F (38.3-39.2 C). For humans, a temperature in that range indicates a fever button for our dogs.

Your dog might be feeling too hot or too cold after being groomed when it is in its crate.

Dogs may dig holes in warm weather to provide themselves with a cool place to rest and relax. They may also do this for protection from the elements, such as cold, wind or rain.

Additionally, your dog may be digging for hydration, whether they’re looking for water at the surface or subterranean sources.

How Can You Keep Your Dog Comfortable?

Before settling your dog in the crate for the night, take note of the room temperature to ensure that it’s comfortable for your dog.

Take into consideration the current season that you are in as well.

Most dogs are ok with the temperate being between 75-78 F (23-25 C) in the summer months and 68-72 F (20-22 C) during winter.

Throw in some blankets in the crate for your dog to help it keep warm and remove them when the weather gets hot.

One thing that I’m not a fan of is locking my dog in his crate unless necessary. I prefer to keep the crate door open in the event that my dog doesn’t find the crate a comfortable place during the night.

He can then proceed to sleep elsewhere in the house.

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