Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Scratching The Crate At Night

Dog Scratching Crate at Night

Is your dog scratching the crate at night and keeping you awake? This can be a frustrating problem for both you and your furry friend.

This could be due to several 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.

We’ll explore the reasons behind this behavior and provide practical solutions to help your dog feel more comfortable and calm at night.

1. 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 about 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 while you are in your bedroom.

It might start off with some whimpering and whining but when your dog realizes that isn’t working to get your attention, it will start scratching at the crate floor.

Separation anxiety can make your dog seem very restless and bothered.

This scratching can go on the whole nigh 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, ignoring will make your dog even more anxious.

Here are some common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs:

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  • Behaving withdrawn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

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

You 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.

2. Roaming Nocturnal Animals

While you’re sound asleep, many nocturnal creatures are wandering around your backyard or digging in your garbage bin.

Your dog’s senses are much more sensitive than yours. What seems like a minor noise to you might sound like a full-blown orchestra to your dog.

Wild animals often mark their territory with pee or fluids from their anal glands. Your dog’s keen nose can easily pick up these scents.

If your dog is unfamiliar with these smells, it might become nervous or overly curious, leading to scratching and digging in the crate out of instinct.

How To Handle Nocturnal Animals

If your dog gets upset by the presence of other animals, consider installing better fencing or barriers to keep wildlife out of your yard.

Some animals can bypass fences, so using auditory and visual scare devices can help deter them more effectively.

This can reduce your dog’s anxiety and prevent nighttime crate scratching.

3. Your Dog Has Too Much Energy

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.

4. 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 counterintuitive 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.

5. Your Dog Is Feeling Too Warm Or 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 temperature 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.

6. Your Dog Needs To Use The Toilet

It is only natural for dogs to avoid elimination in their living space (unless it’s a young untrained puppy or if the dog has an upset stomach/or urinary incontinence).

When your dog feels the need to pee or poop it will become uncomfortable and nervous. This can cause your dog to start scratching in its crate.

Make it a point to walk your dog so that it can relieve itself before putting it back in its crate.

This way your dog won’t get uncomfortable and it’s one way to prevent crate scratching.

7. Nesting Behavior

Pregnant dogs that are close to giving birth have the instinct to prepare a safe place for their puppies. This is a natural behavior that is called nesting (or denning).

The dog can start dragging blankets or pillows to a corner of the room to make a comfortable place to deliver its puppies.

However, if it is put inside its crate it can cause her to start scratching it (to instinctively dig a hole/den).

A condition in dogs known as false pregnancy can cause them to behave in this way (to nest) even if they are not pregnant.

It might be better to give your pregnant dog more space such as its own room if it’s going to go into labour soon.

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