How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy at Night

Medium
1-3 Months
General

Introduction

Crate training your German Shepherd at night will give you peace of mind while you sleep. Your Shepherd puppy will eventually realize his crate is a safe, comfortable, and secure place for him to sleep. He will start to see his crate as his personal bedroom space, and when he's ready to turn in for the night, he will likely go into his crate all on his own. For you, crate training your German Shepherd puppy for night time sleep will mean you can rest peacefully knowing he's not going potty inside the house, chewing on your couch, or digging up your carpet. Puppies can cause all kinds of mischief when left to their own devices. Crate training your German Shepherd puppy gives him a detailed plan of when it's time to go to bed and where he needs to be to do so.

Defining Tasks

To crate train your German Shepherd puppy for night time sleep, you're going to need to set up an appropriate size crate in an area where you are comfortable with him sleeping. When he's a very young puppy, he may want to be close to you in your bedroom or at least nearby. If you have trouble sleeping with a whining puppy, you may consider putting him in a spot away from your bedroom. 

This training will be repetitive and rewarding. The most difficult part of crate training your German Shepherd puppy is remembering that he's going to need to go potty overnight because he's still little. By the time he's ready to sleep through the night, your training should be just about complete, and he will be heading to the crate all on his own when he's ready to go to bed.

Getting Started

Ensure the crate you choose for your German Shepherd puppy is just the right size for the dog to stand up and turn around once he's an adult. You can start with a smaller crate as a puppy and increase in size if you have additional crates available. Be sure to set up the crate with lots of soft, comfortable bedding and some chew toys to keep him entertained when he's awake inside the crate. Your German Shepherd puppy will also need lots of tasty treats as he gets to know his new crate and to reward him for making good choices in the crate.

The Safe Place Method

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Step
1
Pick a crate
Choose a crate the right size for your German Shepherd. You can choose a crate now for his adult size and install a partition to size it appropriately for your puppy or get a small crate now and a new crate as he grows older and larger. The crate should not be too large but just right for your German Shepherd to stand up and turn around inside. Do not give your puppy German Shepherd too much room, as he may use some of the extra space to go potty.
Step
2
Bedding
Add comfortable, soft bedding to the crate to make it a comfortable place for your German Shepherd to be at night.
Step
3
Toys
You may want to add one or two chew toys for your puppy to chew on while he’s waiting to fall asleep or when he wakes up to entertain himself until you let him out of the crate to go potty.
Step
4
Placement
Place the crate in a room where you are both happy with your German Shepherd sleeping at night. He might like to be near you or he may want a cool, quiet place to sleep at night. Remember while he is house training, he will need to go outside every few hours to go potty.
Step
5
Sleepy time
When your pup is sleepy, even during the day, place him in the crate. Before sleep, be sure to take him outside to go potty.
Step
6
Treat
Once your German Shepherd puppy is inside his crate, give him a treat and let him settle down. Sit outside the crate for a moment, blocking the door so he cannot get out. Do not close the door just yet.
Step
7
Settle and sleep
Once your German Shepherd begins to settle down and sleep, close the door and step away. For these first few times in the crate, try to stay close by so you are around when your puppy wakes.
Step
8
Waking
Once your German Shepherd wakes, he will probably cry. Take him out of the crate and outside to go potty as quickly as you can.
Step
9
Repeat and practice
You will need to put your German Shepherd puppy in his crate each time he is sleepy so he can get used to sleeping in the crate. Start putting him in the crate for night time sleep as well the same night you introduce the crate.
Step
10
Rewards
Give your puppy rewards for staying in the crate and for getting in the crate. Once he wakes, you might want to hold off on treating him until he goes potty to avoid becoming distracted and risking an indoor accident.
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The Nighttime Method

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Step
1
Dinner and play
Be sure to give your German Shepherd dinner and playtime before bed. You might want to feed your puppy at least three hours before he is to go to bed in the crate for the night. Play with your German Shepherd to exert any excess energy he has. He’s a puppy, so he has quite a bit of energy.
Step
2
Potty first
Take your German Shepherd puppy outside to go potty. Give him a treat once he’s done going potty. If he still has a bit of energy to get out, play with him a bit. He should be tired once you put him in the crate.
Step
3
Crate
Get your German Shepherd’s crate ready with soft bedding and a toy rope or other quiet chew toy.
Step
4
Place in crate
Place your German Shepherd puppy inside the crate and give him a treat. Close the door.
Step
5
Whining
Ignore your puppy as he whines. And he will whine. But know he is okay. He is safe. And he will settle down.
Step
6
Potty
The only time you don’t want to ignore your Shepherd puppy’s whining is if he needs to go potty. If you took him out before bedtime, he shouldn’t have to go again right away. If it’s been a few hours, he probably needs to go. This will change as your puppy gets a bit older, but until he’s about eight or nine months old, expect at least one visit to the potty during your sleeping hours.
Step
7
Sleep
Your German Shepherd puppy will eventually go to sleep. He will sleep soundly, and over time, he will see his crate as his personal sleeping space. Giving him this space to sleep at night will increase his sense of security and build trust with you.
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The Good Night Command Method

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Step
1
Introduce crate
Set up your German Shepherd’s crate and introduce it to your puppy. It should have soft, warm bedding and a toy or two for your pup to chew on while falling asleep.
Step
2
Command
Tell your puppy it is time to go to bed. You can give him a command such as 'go night-night' or 'it's time to go good night.' Be sure you say the same words each night as you put your German Shepherd inside his crate.
Step
3
Place in crate
Put your puppy inside his crate. You may need to pat on his bedding and encourage him to walk in, sniff, circle around, and lie down.
Step
4
Treat
Once your pup is inside his crate, give him a treat for obeying, listening and going to bed.
Step
5
Repeat command
Use the command again to tell your German Shepherd puppy good night. This will just condition him to recognize the words and the action of going to bed.
Step
6
Ignore
Your puppy is likely to whine, especially for the first few nights he's in his crate alone. Ignore him. If he has gone potty and he is sleepy, he will go to sleep. He may need to go potty in the middle of the night, however, so be sure to take him out if he wakes after a few hours in the crate.
Step
7
Upon waking
When your German Shepherd wakes up, he's going to need to go potty right away. Be sure to take him out of his crate and take him outside to go potty. Use this opportunity of going potty to give him a treat to reward for sleeping in the crate as well as for going potty outside.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Trey
German Shepherd
11 Weeks
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Question
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Trey
German Shepherd
11 Weeks

We have had this puppy since 7 weeks old and he is still crying all night in his crate. Also he poops in his crate every time we leave the house. Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jackie, Work on teaching Trey how to calm himself down and self-entertain. Place him into the crate while you are at home during the day, or early evening if you are gone to work normally, to practice calmness while you can give him feedback. The night before you do this place your puppy's dog food into a bowl and cover it with water. Let it sit out until the food turns into mush, then add a little bit of peanut butter or treat paste to it, and very loosely stuff a hollow Kong chew toy with it. When it is stuffed, then place the Kong into a bag and put it into the freezer. You can also stuff several Kongs ahead of time to save on time later on, and then just grab one from the freezer as needed. When you place your puppy into the crate while you are at home or gone off, then place a Kong inside with him for him to chew on. Whenever he becomes quiet for at least two seconds, then walk over to him, drop several soft, small treats inside the crate, and then walk away. Start by crating him for ten minutes, and then when he is being quiet for at least a couple of seconds, go over to him, slowly open the crate door, and if he rushes out close it again. Repeat opening and closing the door when he tries to exit, until you can leave the door open and stand a couple of feet away and he will stay inside. When he will do that, then tel him "Okay" in an upbeat tone of voice and encourage him to come out. Make sure that the crate that you are using is just big enough for him to turn around, stand up comfortably, and lay down, but not so big that he can poop or pee in one end and then stand in the opposite end in order to avoid it. If the crate is too large, then he will loose his desire to hold it in there. Also make sure that you have been using a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean up any previous accidents in the crate, and if you have not, then go get one and clean the crate with it to eliminate the smell enough for him not to be able to smell it still. Only the enzymes will break down the smell enough for your puppy not to be able to smell it still and be encouraged to go there again. Also puppies can only hold their bladders for the number of hours that they are in months plus one. So at 11 weeks of age, the maximum amount of time that your puppy can hold his bladder for its three and a half hours during the day. Any longer than that and he will be forced to eliminate in the crate and overtime will loose his natural tendency to hold it in the crate. Make sure that he is pooping outside before you leave him too, especially if he is being fed during the hour prior to being crated because even if he just eliminated outside he will need to poop again within thirty minutes of eating. Many puppies get distracted outside after they pee and do not finish using the bathroom if you do not insist that they go and remind them what to do. Make sure that you do not let him out of the crate while he is still barking. Wait until he stops, even if he only stops for a couple of seconds. When he stops, then calmly praise him and let him out, practicing the door manners that I mentioned above. He is still young, so barking at his age is not unusual for some puppies with certain personalities. Doing the above and giving him more time should help, but if it gets any worse then hire a professional trainer or behaviorist in your area who has experience and success dealing with separation anxiety. He generally needs his confidence build, to be taught self-control, how to self- entertain, and how to calm himself, and it is easier to start working on those things during the day when you are not half awake and frustrated, and then to transfer that training to the night time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zeus
Shepherd
3 Months
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Question
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Zeus
Shepherd
3 Months

He’s new and we just got our shepherd and we constantly give attention and take outside regularly but he comes inside and poops now we have resorted to kennel and letting out thru day yes we reward and treat him never abuse or strike kennel is the worst for him and us. I could understand but he’s never potties in kennel and stays for hours let him outside then bring him in and don’t kennel bam poops in the foyer

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dennis, Check out the article that I have linked below. Follow the exact steps for the "Crate Training" method in that article. That method should address whatever his specific issue is. Do not skip any steps or it will be less likely to be effective. Expect him to cry in his crate for the first couple of weeks. Unfortunately it is common. Follow the method, including the steps to get him used to being in a crate and he should adjust. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Apallo
German Shepard husky
11 Months
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Question
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Apallo
German Shepard husky
11 Months

We just got him from my son who could not spend time or train right. Well he spent most of his time in his creat . He would destroy his crate. I knew he was board. Any way we have him now and he hates his crate. I don’t blame him. We are trying to train him that it’s ok . We have other dogs that luv their eat there food and sleep in them. How can I help Apollo not hate his lol we are baby steps with him at this point on training very smart dog but stubborn as u know they can be lol

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello Audrey, Check out the article that I have linked below to help him like his crate. I suggest using all three methods, but focus on the "Surprise" method the most. Be sure to include the food stuffed Kongs suggested as well. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If he continues to be destructive in the crate, and especially if he is injuring himself during the process he may have separation anxiety. If so you can do a more intensive separation anxiety protocol involving the crate. That protocol is much more intensive so I typically recommend following the methods from the article that I have linked below first, to see if that will work alone. If he is still destroying the crate, then start by simply working on building his independence, generally build his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open too. Change the routine before you leave so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is harder for him to deescalate from. Be sure to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a food stuffed Kong to chew on), and ignoring his crying at night until he eventually learns to go back to sleep. This is the general, more gradual protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time. Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction; who is extremely knowledgeable in e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating crate anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety in a firmer way. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of Apallo's life too. Second, purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator is also a vibration collar) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh). Because of your dog's strong reaction, it is unlikely that the vibration or spray collars will work though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar at first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with Lucky's end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours. Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave the room. Spy on him from the other room or outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or one level on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar will probably within the first fifty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for him. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does it in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Continue to put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more. If he does have separation anxiety, then he will probably need his anxious state of mind interrupted first by doing the e-collar training above so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once his anxiety is interrupted, he will be more likely to enjoy the food stuffed Kong in the crate to relieve his boredom, instead of being destructive. Practice all of this during the day at first. Once he has learned that e-collar corrections are for barking and escape attempts and is able to calm himself back down during the day, then you can transition the training to night time when he tries to bark then - if you are certain that he does not need to pee at that time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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