Puppy Crate Training at Night


Want to keep your puppy safe at night, need to make sure they don’t have an accident or chew something dangerous while you’re sleeping? In this article, I’m going to share my top crate training tips to help your puppy remain calm and sleeping through the night!

  • Ok, so you have a new puppy! Congrats! Your puppy is going to go through so much growth and development during its 1st year of life. One super important life skill all puppies need to master is crate training. After all, crates keep our puppy safe when we can’t watch them, help them settle down when they are overstimulated, and keep them from injuring themselves after surgery, and can keep our home damage-free if your pup is inquisitive, chews, or destroy things.


I just recently watched a tragedy unfold as a 9-month-old dog accidentally set their home on fire because they got curious and knocked something over that resulted in the house catching on fire.  


Now let’s get your puppy to love their crate. so when you go to bed at night or leave they have someplace safe to stay. Ultimately we have to make the crate the best place to be so they love it and want to run to it when you call out “crate!” I want to share with you some best practices for puppy training at night with the crate. These tips will help to establish the crate as a safe and cozy place to be so that when it’s time for bedtime, your pup doesn’t have any reservations about going in.


I often get the question. So, here are some super useful tips on puppy training at night with crate.


Puppy Crate Training Tips

Think of the crate like a crib. We put babies in cribs to keep them safe while they sleep, your pup will go in their “crib” each night to keep them safe while you sleep! We can establish a positive association with the crate by feeding them their meals in the crate during the day. We can offer them busy toys such as a Kong filled with tasty treats, each time they go in their crate.


  • Puppies should periodically go in their crate throughout the day, not just at bedtime as this teaches them that crate time happens anytime, not just at bedtime. This makes the bedtime transition much easier. If you only put your pup in their crate at night, they may start to resist it as they didn’t get much exposure to it throughout the day.


  • We also need to make sure their crate is cozy so covering their crate will help cut down on stimuli keeping them awake and alert while they are in there. Here’s the deal… When you cover the crate you don’t want to just put a sheet or blanket over the top. You’ll want to put something bigger than the crate on top like a piece of cardboard or plywood that’s bigger than the top of the crate on all sides. This way when you lay the sheet or blanket over the top, it won’t touch the sides, and your pup won’t pull it in and chew on it.


  • Uncovered crates keep pups on high alert as they try to watch and see everything going on all around them. Pups have FOMO, fear of missing out, and we don’t want them to stress about things they can see but can’t get to. Like kids playing, other dogs or cats walking past, people passing by outside. I once had a student call me for help because her dog started getting aggressive in the crate as people passed by outside. When I went to their house for the lesson, I immediately saw the problem. The owners told me they didn’t want their puppy to get bored in the crate so they set the crate in front of the window so their dog could watch the “world go by”


  • What actually happened is what I like to refer to as the “mailman theory…” So the mailman comes to the house every day, they have a route to follow, right? Well, dogs that bark at the mailman think they made the mailman go away. After all, the mailman leaves when the dog barks, right?… at least that’s what the dog thinks. They think their barking made the mailman go away. We call this accidental reinforcement for unwanted behavior.


  • You don’t want your pup to get stressed by things they see but can’t get to. You don’t want them getting accidentally reinforced for this kind of behavior. Instead, your crate should be in a semi-quiet area of your home with the sheet or blanket covering the front and both sides of the crate. You can push your pup’s crate up against the wall so the back doesn’t have to be covered. This helps with airflow.


  • Keep in mind we don't put any bedding in the pup's crate until they are well passed the teething stage, otherwise, your pup may destroy and accidentally eat their bed. They may even pee on it as puppies who are working on potty training skills like to go on soft squishy surfaces like betting, blankets, and rugs.


  • Since your pup might still be too young to go all night without an accident, you’ll want to set an alarm for yourself or grab a camera to monitor your pup’s activity.


  • Also if your puppy is crying, you want to make sure you don’t go running to let your pup out every time they cry as this reinforces the wrong behavior. They quickly learn that the crying or barking behavior works as an attention seeker.


  • Now you can also play a fun game of in/out with your puppy and their crate. The game goes like… Grab a super high-value treat that works really well. Put your puppy on a leash so they don’t take off. Show your pup the treat and lure them into the crate. Do not give them the treat until they are all the way in. If you can lure them into a sitting position while they are in there. Once sitting release the treat, But keep your hand on the door, we aren’t going to let them out until they hear the magic ‘release word’


  • I do this for several reasons. One, I want to teach them to have some control before they come bolting out of the crate. We don't want to teach them excitable behavior gains you access out of the crate. Two, I don’t want them scurrying to get out right away and running away from me. Building a little duration while in the crate is how we can get them to stay in there longer and longer, and still love to go in. If your pup is still sitting you can slowly open the door, say your magic release word and act a little excited to get them to come out.


  • If your pup goes to get up quickly, close the door. You want to teach them that calm behavior and sitting get you to open the door. No treats are given outside of the crate when you release them.


  • If you practice this enough, what you’ll end up with is a puppy that begs to get back in its crate because the good stuff happens inside their crate while nothing too exciting happens outside the crate.


  • Say “break” when it’s time to let your pup out of the crate. This is our release word, and I use it for all situations that my pup needs to show control and then can be released. I discourage you from using words like ok, too common of a word in everyday conversations, don’t use “come,” that’s reserved for the times we want our dog to come running to us from a distance, Pick something you’ll remember and that can be used when you practice things like stay, other words I recommend are free, release or done. Ok as far as bedtime specific crate training tips


  • About 30-60 minutes before bed, I recommend you have a play session with your pup, get them good and tired, so they are ready for bed Drain out all that pent-up energy so they can rest all night long. Make sure you don’t keep water down all the way up until bedtime, this will keep their system processing and they will need to go more frequently during the night. I pick up my puppy’s water by 7 pm and let them have a little sip after their play session and right before our last outing of the night if they were playing hard and seem thirsty.


  • Some brand new puppies have a harder time being away from their mother and littermates so you can use DAP, dog appeasing pheromone such as Adaptil to keep your pup calm. This is similar to the scent the mother dog gives off to all her pups to help settle them down and remain calm and relaxed.


  • Now keep in mind the first few nights might be a little rough, your pup might cry and bark. Remember what I said, don’t go running every single time. You will create a bad habit that is super hard to break. So many new puppy owners make the crucial mistake of thinking that bringing their puppy into bed with them will make all their problems go away, and for some, it works But for most, it not only doesn’t teach your puppy how to self-soothe, settle on their own, it teaches them to be anxious when they are away from you. Creates an opportunity for pee and poop accidents in your bed and leads to chewed-up pillows, bedding, and other things once your pup jumps off the bed.


  • Last tip… Play calming music to help keep your pup relaxed through the night. You can use a heartbeat dog that mimics the heartbeat of a littermate or a mother dog, this helps many nervous puppies sleep better through the night. If your puppy has started chewing, I recommend that you put the heartbeat dog on top of the crate so your pup can still hear and feel the vibration, but can’t chew the stuffed animal and the electronic heart. In the comments below tell me which tips for puppy training you’re going to try first to get your pup to sleep peacefully in their crate at night?

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