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How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy at Night

How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy at Night
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Months
General training category iconGeneral

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Safe Place Method

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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.

2

Bedding

Add comfortable, soft bedding to the crate to make it a comfortable place for your German Shepherd to be at night.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Nighttime Method

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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.

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.

3

Crate

Get your German Shepherd’s crate ready with soft bedding and a toy rope or other quiet chew toy.

4

Place in crate

Place your German Shepherd puppy inside the crate and give him a treat. Close the door.

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.

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.

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.

The Good Night Command Method

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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.

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.

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.

4

Treat

Once your pup is inside his crate, give him a treat for obeying, listening and going to bed.

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.

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.

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.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Rue

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German Shepherd

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9 Weeks

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Question

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She flips out in kennel. I walked her around I threw treats in n did that a few times over and over about 15 minutes session I also just put her in and tried to ignore her when she’s quiet a few min I tell her good quite. It’s just not working she jumps and cry’s and knocks her water or food when I tried feeding her in it idk what to do her

March 13, 2022

Rue's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Sandy, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. This method will ease pup into the crate more gradually. Also, be aware that its normal for it to take pup about two weeks to improve with crate training. The more consistent you can be about letting pup out while pup is quiet, the sooner most puppies will adjust. Surprise: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 14, 2022

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Max

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German Shepherd

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3 Months

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Hello! He's been great overall but it's been so difficult getting him to adjust to his crate at night. I was also wondering if male german shepherds are okay with kids? So far he's fine and we're socializing and training him to be gentle. thanks :)

Feb. 14, 2022

Max's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Saf, As far as the crate goes: 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first month. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 3-4 hours since pup last peed at night. Take pup out every 1-2 hours during the day though), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. In your case I especially recommend, practicing the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone overall. Don't give treats at nighttime though. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate As far as kids, really well socialized German Shepherds can be really great with the kids in their own family. Because they are a naturally protective breed, you do have to generally be extra careful around your kids' friends, neighbors, and other kids outside those in your immediate family though. Things like your kids wrestling or running with other kids can sometimes be viewed as something your kids need protection from, leading to a bite to a visitor if you aren't intentionally teaching pup how to handle those situations. The more you socialize pup so pup understands what's normal versus not normal, and pup is desensitized and happy about the noises, movements, greetings, and activities with kids, the better the outcome is likely to be for pup and kids to get along well. It's always a good idea to supervise any dog with kids though, especially kids they don't know. Teaching the kids how to respect a dog's space, like not approaching when eating, sleeping, or touching pup in places that are more vulnerable is a good idea with any dog too. I like to teach kids how to give my own dogs commands for treats, how to play fetch with pup (training pup fetch first), and how to pet pup places dogs are most comfortable personally, so that kids and dogs have calmer ways to interact for the sake of both, opposed to wrestling, tug of war, or hugging/tail tugging/laying on pup/ect... Each dog also has their own individual temperament, so some individuals will naturally be more tolerant and submissive than others will be. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 14, 2022


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