Last Updated on October 15, 2020
If you have a new puppy or dog, you may be considering crate training. Is crate training a good option for your puppy, or is it mean? It’s a common worry that they will hate it. However, a crate can become your dog’s safe space. Another question you might have is “should I crate my dog at night?”. Read on for some tips and ideas for crating your dog.
When deciding whether or not to crate your dog at night, it might help to understand some of the risks of free-roaming and the benefits of crate training. Getting a new dog is overwhelming at times and there are lots of decisions to be made.
Helping You Decide – Should I Crate My Dog At Night?
Concerns of Not Crate Training
The truth is leaving a newly adopted dog or puppy unsupervised can dangerous and can also lead to behavior problems. Because of boredom or frustration, older dogs can be chewers, and teething puppies have a powerful urge to chew on things.
Particularly at night, when everyone else is sleeping, it’s important to keep them safe.
Also, especially in the case of a new puppy, they don’t know your house as you do. There are cords that can be chewed or pulled on knocking things over. It can be a scary big place for a new dog.
Free-range of your house may not advisable for your recent addition. Not only might he chew on furniture, shoes, controllers, etc., he may also swallow pieces of what he destroyed. This can be a serious situation if the item ingested obstructs his airway or gets lodge in his stomach.
Many pets that are destructive and have accidents in their home. Unfortunately, they were not properly housebroken, and have no sense of security when their owners are not home. Crate training will keep him safe, secure, and it will also help to housebreak him.
Crate Training Tips
Contrary to many online resources, dogs are not den dwelling animals. In the wild, dogs construct a den to give birth and to protect their puppies from predators and the weather elements. A den is a place to keep their litter safe and comfortable.
The Humane Society of the U.S. recommends crate training to provide a place a dog can feel secure and at ease. Having a safe place of his own can also help him adjust to his new home.
Dogs do not like to soil in their “den”, therefore the crate will help him learn to control his bladder and bowels. Please be aware that puppies less than 6 months cannot control their bladders and bowels for a long period. They need to go outside every 3 to 4 hours to relieve themselves.
Hiring a pet sitter to visit him while you are at work will help him stay on a potty schedule. Once your puppy gets older, the maximum time he should be in a kennel is 8 hours.
Dogs need time to bond, socialize, play, and exercise. Without cuddle times and activities, dogs get anxious and depressed. You should use the crate only when your dog is unsupervised.
Never leave a pet inside a crate for the entire day. Dogs need human interaction and without it, they will develop serious behavioral issues.
Proper crate training for a puppy or dog will take time, patience, and consistency. The training may take a few days or even weeks for your dog to adjust to his kennel.
It is crucial that his crate is the right size for him. He should be able to lie down, stand up and turn around easily. If the kennel is too big, he will eliminate on one side and hang out on the other side. For larger breeds, there are kennels that have dividers. This is convenient for growing puppies.
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Suggestions for Successful Crate Training:
1. Start crate training on a day that you are off, so you can take the time to introduce him to his “den”. The idea is to have your dog associate his kennel as a good thing, not a punishment. So, it is best to take the training process little by little.
2. The crate should be placed where the family spends the most time, such as the family room. That way he feels part of the family.
3. When you first show him the crate, the door should be open so he can explore his new crate. Add a comfy but washable bed or a crate mat to make it cozy. Some dogs will also be more comfortable if you cover the top with a blanket.
4. Putting a few treats and toys inside may entice him to go inside.
5. Feeding him in his crate may also aid him to understand this is a safe place.
6. Each time you call him to his crate, and he comes, reward him with a treat.
7. A command word such as “home” or “crate” will help him learn when it is time to go in his crate. Also, when crating your dog at night, it may help to use a repetitive command like “let’s go to bed”. They will learn to associate that quickly.
8. Switching toys in his kennel will keep him happy. Be sure to use toys he can’t choke on or swallow pieces.
9. Before placing your dog in his kennel, give him the opportunity to exercise and to go potty outside.
10. Keeping your puppy on a schedule will help him not to have accidents. If he has an accident use an odor neutralizer to clean his crate. Please do not yell or reprimand him; it will only confuse him. Only reprimand the behavior if you catch him in the act.
One question that comes up when deciding if you should crate your dog at night is should I crate them or let them sleep in the bed with their humans?
Once you fall asleep, he can get himself into mischief and he may even soil your bed. Your bed will be a nice open space to create puppy havoc. So yes, he probably should be in his crate at bedtime.
Also, consider how important a good night’s sleep is – if you’re fighting a dog for space all night, it won’t be very restful. We let our 85 pound dog sleep with us for a while and it was torture!
And I know there are plenty of people that sleep with their dogs and do just fine, but it’s probably much easier to avoid it.
What if My Dog Hates Being Crated at Night?
Most dogs adjust to crate training during the day however, night crating may be another story. He may cry, bark and whine, but you cannot cave in and let him out.
He will associate whining and barking with, “mom will let me out”, Placing the kennel in your bedroom at bedtime may help him feel less anxious and lonely. A favorite toy and a blanket with your scent on it will help him feel more secure.
You will need to take the puppy outside a few times during the night so he can relieve himself. As soon as you take him out of the kennel, take him outside for his potty break. Then back in the kennel he goes. This will teach him to sleep through the night.
A set routine such as bedtime at 9:00 p.m. and potty breaks every 4 hours will help him to be housebroken. Older dogs usually do not need middle of the night potty breaks.
Crate Training Graduate
Once your dog can be in the home without accidents or without chewing on household items, he can graduate from the crate to a room in the house. When you are not home, my suggestion would be to leave him in the kitchen and block off access to the rest of the house with a kiddy gate.
This will limit full freedom of the house until you see that he can behave alone out of the crate. You can leave his kennel open in the kitchen, most likely he will go in it during nap time.
But you can help him to be a successful crate graduate by taking him potty before you go and leaving him chew toys.
Lastly, enjoy every second of being a pet owner. Remember, “A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself” – Josh Billings.
Tips from a Professional Regarding Crate Training
And if you’re not convinced, here are a few tips from a professional pet sitter of 15 years:
- As a professional pet sitter for over 15 years, let me start off by saying that proper crate training is not a punishment, nor is it cruel.
- I pet sit a French Bulldog that was crated for long periods of time when he was a puppy. His owners did not understand why he became aggressive, and they eventually re-homed him. His new owners showered the Frenchie with love and attention. They have helped him with behavior modification to become a well-adjusted dog.
- Another client let her sweet little Pomeranian puppy sleep with her. She woke up to a chewed-up iPhone. Wyatt, the Pomeranian, had to take a visit to the vet, to see if he had swallowed any plastic pieces from the phone.
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