How to Train a Labrador Puppy to Sleep Outside

Medium
1-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your little Lab may just be a puppy, but they already have enough energy to keep you up all night. The kids absolutely love playing with your new furry family member. In fact, so much so that getting them to sleep in time is proving even more difficult than usual. Even your partner seems to have a rather large soft spot for the pooch. But your house is already crowded and you always intended for them to sleep outside. So you’re going to have to cut down on cuddles on the sofa in the evenings and get them used to their outdoor bedroom.

Training your puppy to sleep outside will bring several benefits. Firstly, you will have a canine watchdog outside who will probably alert you to the sound of any intruders. You will also enforce some strict boundaries, preventing them from developing separation anxiety. Unfortunately, some puppies become so dependant on their owners that they are seriously unhappy without them around.

Defining Tasks

Fortunately, training your Labrador puppy to sleep outside isn’t as challenging as you may think. Often, the difficult part comes in having the self-restraint yourself to leave them outside. But if you can overcome that hurdle, then training will consist of several parts. Firstly, you’ll need to make sure your dog has everything they need to sleep outside. You will also need to gradually get them used to their new sleeping environment. Finally, you will need to use a variety of incentives to keep them content outside at night.

Because your Labrador Puppy is young, they should be receptive and still learning the rules. This means it could take just several days for them to get into the habit of sleeping outside. However, if they are particularly clingy and don’t want to leave your side, then you may need several weeks. Get training right and you’ll have taken a big step towards having a well-trained outdoor dog.

Getting Started

Before you can begin work, you need to make sure you have everything you need. Firstly, you will need a spot for them to sleep outside, be it a kennel, shelter or bed. You will then need to stock up on tasty treats or their favorite food. Some toys will also be required.

The other thing your pup will need from you is time. Set aside a few minutes each evening to say goodnight and a few minutes in the morning too.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and a can-do attitude, then work can begin!

The Setting the Scene Method

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Step
1
Make it comfy
You need to make your Lab puppy’s sleeping spot outside as comfortable as you can. A bed in the kennel and blankets could all help put them at ease and keep them content when the sun goes down.
Step
2
Water
If the pup is going to be outside all night, they must have access to water. Without a water bowl, you will hear them howling and they won’t be able to sleep.
Step
3
Leave treats
To tempt them into their sleeping area in the first place, leave a treat there. Do this each evening and they will soon associate their outdoor sleeping area with a place they get tasty rewards. You can also leave the odd treat there in the day.
Step
4
Positive only
Make sure all interaction your Lab puppy has with you in their outdoor sleeping area is positive. That means you can’t send them there as a punishment. If they think of it as a place with negative consequences, they won’t want to go there willingly.
Step
5
Toys
Also try leaving a toy or two in their sleeping area. Not only will it make the space feel like theirs, but it will also give them something to play around with, should they wake up. This step will seriously help make the outdoor area feel like their territory.
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The Take it Slow Method

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Step
1
Day time play
Spend a few minutes playing around with your Lab in the place outside you would like them to sleep. Play tug of war, be animated and get them worked up. You want them to be comfortable there.
Step
2
Leave them
Now leave them there for a few minutes. You can stay relatively close by and comfort them but make sure they are outside alone. Then after a few minutes have gone by you can release them again.
Step
3
Increase the time
When you go out and let the pup go, give them a treat and some praise. Then next time leave them in there for a little while longer. The trick is to gradually build their confidence and leave them there for a little longer each time.
Step
4
Say good night
The other thing you can do to ease your puppy into sleeping outside is say good night. Spend a couple of minutes stroking them and whispering them to quietly. Then say good night and leave them.
Step
5
Say good morning
Go out in the morning and say good morning with a treat and some attention. The aim is to get them in a consistent routine where they know you will be with them before bed and there in the morning.
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The Big Move Method

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Step
1
Day time nap
You can help train your Lab puppy to sleep outside at night by first helping them sleep there in the day. So take out a chair to a spot they look comfortable in and wait for them to fall asleep. Having you close by will put them at ease.
Step
2
Put them out
Continue sitting out for a few days while they sleep outside in the day. Then start putting them out for a few hours at night, so they get used to being out there. However, then let them back in to sleep inside at night.
Step
3
The move
After several days of just putting them out for a few hours, collect all of your pup's belongings, such as their crate, water bowl and toys, and put them outside in the spot they’ve been napping in during the day.
Step
4
Go out and check
For the first few full nights they sleep outside, go out every now and then to reassure them and give them the odd treat. This will help them relax and stick through the whole night.
Step
5
Don’t force them
If your puppy still doesn’t look comfortable sleeping outside, let them back in the house for a few more days. You don’t want to push too hard at the beginning, this could just seriously scare them and push back the end result.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Pax
AnimalBreed object
12 Months
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Question
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Pax
AnimalBreed object
12 Months

Hello our dog Pax has always slept outside (apart from the very first months with us). In the last month she has been waking any time between 3am to 5am and scratching and yelping at door to come in. We have to let her in as we have neighbours - although for a week we did try and ignore it but neighbours were a tad put out.

When she comes in she jumps on bed and goes back to sleep. She won’t sleep on one of her beds inside.

We did baby sit another dog for what was supposed to be a month but turned into ten weeks and it has pretty much started since Evie went home.

I know we have made soooo many errors here. Letting her in, letting the other dog stay so long and of course letting her on bed. I am not sure how to address this issue.

We are going away for a month next Sunday and she is staying at the breeder’s home (back with Evie). I believe she will be sleeping in her crate, I am hoping as she won’t get the attention we give her we can use this month to break all of her and our bad habits regarding this sleeping issue.

Any advice you can give me? or due to my bad decisions and being soft I’m on my own here??

Apart from this issue she is a fabulous dog.

Any thing would be appreciated

Nell

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nell, The best solution might be for her to sleep in her crate inside your home. If she was not disturbing your neighbors, then you would need to let her cry it out outside until she gets used to sleeping out there again. By using a crate, you can teach her to sleep by herself but she will be inside so she should not bother your neighbors. When she goes to the breeder's house, if they work on crate training with her, then she might come back used to sleeping in the crate. If that happens then it will be extremely important for you be firm and let her cry if she pitches a fit when she comes back home. If the breeder has already gotten her used to the crate, then it should only take a couple of nights before she gives up and starts sleeping in the crate at your house. If you give in and go to her or let her out, then it will take several days before she stops crying and you will need to be even firmer. If the breeder does not train her for you, then you will need to place her into the crate with a safe chew toy and night and let her cry. Sleeping in the crate is not only safer but it can also help her learn independence, self-soothing, self-entertaining, and prevent future separation anxiety. It also makes it far easier to crate her later in life when she needs to be boarded, is sick, injured, traveling, or needs to be left alone inside. Essentially, crating a puppy during the first couple years of life prevents bad habits from forming, keeps them safe when you cannot supervise them, helps prevent separation anxiety by teaching independence, and leads to a lot more freedom later in life. Try to remember the benefits when you are trying to be firm. She is old enough to go all night. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bracken
AnimalBreed object
10 Weeks
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Bracken
AnimalBreed object
10 Weeks

We recently purchased our beautiful lab bracken, his move from the farm where he was kept outside in a pig sty with a heat lamp and 8 siblings to a cosy terraced house with a crate. He settled in no problem at all and we almost have his toilet trained after just 12 days with us (over the festive period too where we had lots of visits and visitors!) Unfortunatly my partner turns out to be allergic to the dog! It's nothing we arnt managing by cleaning and keeping them separate as much as we can do but we are looking to put bracken in a kennel outside. I'm worried that this is a cruel option but I know dogs are often
kept outside and lead very happy lives
Do you think it's unfair to now put bracken outside (in a proper insulated and heated kennel) once he's just settled in his new home. I can't bear the thought of selling him but when my partner can't breath on a night time something needs to give. When he's in the kennel he will be walked morning and evening but be alone from 9 to 4 until he's old enough to be taken to work with my partner where he will be outdoors all day running around! Am I being selfish keeping the dog but putting him in a kennel(he will still be allowed in the house for short periods of time) or am i being soft and he will be fine in a kennel as he's a sturdy dog who spent his first 8 weeks in a stone outhouse! Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amanda, There are outdoors dogs who are happy. The key is how much time will you be spending with him in any location realistically. At this age he will need a lot of mental stimulation, a moderate amount of exercise, and a LOT of socialization. If you are able to take him lots of places, spend time walking and training him multiple times of day and generally giving him what he needs in the kennel and day to day, then he could be happy, but that will require a lot of time, intentionality, and commitment from you. Right now is the most crucial age for familiarizing him with people, puppies, new places, and other things he will experience in life. If you do decide to re-home him, many reputable breeders will take puppies back or there are pure bred rescues who foster dogs in there homes before adopting them to a carefully selected family. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Nola
AnimalBreed object
2 Months
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Question
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Nola
AnimalBreed object
2 Months

Can I let my puppy sleep in the roof? I’m going to sleep next to her and keep her warm

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Omar, I would need a bit more details about the situation to answer that question. Is the room flat or slanted? Can pup wander off the edge? What is the temperature outside at night? Is this a long term situation for nightly sleeping. Please describe the location and situation more, and I would love to help you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Holly
AnimalBreed object
11 Weeks
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Holly
AnimalBreed object
11 Weeks

We are trying to transition our pup to being outside fulltime. We have a few chickens and such and need her outside for protection. During the day she is content to be outside all day long with our smaller breed dog. But at night even if I sit with her for a bit she gets a lot of anxiety and literally throws herself at the door and howls until we let her in. Our small breed dog cannot stay outside overnight. Do we just let her 'cry it out?' None of us can get any sleep so we end up letting her in. Probably a mistake, but with 4 kids we need our sleep! :(

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashley, First, at this age pup is vulnerable to other animals in the yard - even raccoons, so I would begin the sleep outside in an area where other animals can't get to her, like a kennel run with a dog house, or a porch that's screened in, or even chicken coop type area with a top and side wire fencing for protection. Make sure she can't be prey for another animal while a puppy unable to defend herself, and make sure she has a secure location to go to to sleep in, like a dog house. The secure location will also help her feel a bit more secure - although I would still expect some crying at first. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below. Practice that method with her for 1-2 hours at a time during the day without the small dog present - to get her used to being outside by herself. That method was written for crate training, so you will modify it. When she barks, ignore the barking. Whenever she gets quiet, toss several treats out a window or door - toss the treats in an area where she can easily locate them - but not right in front of the door - since you want her to learn to hang out further from the door, not right at it. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Also, know that pup is bored. Make sure you are giving her interesting bones and toys that she can't tear apart and won't chip to occupy her. You will have to endure some crying. Typically it takes puppies two weeks to adjust to being alone, and every time you give into the crying it will continue for that much longer. Start the process earlier in the evening so that the crying isn't happening while everyone is trying to go to bed - and especially practice for shorter periods during the daytime without your other dog present. Allow the dogs to spend time together stuff but give her opportunities to adjust to being outside on her own as well when everyone isn't so tired. A lot of this process is also dependent on how close your neighbors are and whether pup will keep them up. Also, be sure to practice a lot of mentally and physically tiring activities during the day. Have training sessions where pup practices new or slightly more difficult commands that what they already know, incorporate a lot of obedience and focus work into heeling walks, and give pup interesting mental toys to play with during the day. Mental stimulation can actually make physical exercise twice as tiring for a dog and encourage a calmer mindset. You want pup to be tired and calm come nighttime. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bruno
AnimalBreed object
5 Weeks
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Question
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Bruno
AnimalBreed object
5 Weeks

Is it okay to let him sleep in the balcony at night

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, letting Bruno sleep on the balcony at night depends on several things. Is it a safe environment? Will he disturb others? Will you be able to hear him out there if he needs you? Will Bruno be in a crate? Personally, I would keep him inside for safety and as well for him to feel secure and not afraid. I would set up an exercise pen area where he still has room to move around but feels safe - he'll sleep better that way and won't feel uncomfortable at every noise. He's pretty young to be left on his own at night. Here is a great article on setting up the pen: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area. You can also crate him inside at night - many dogs prefer this "den" area. Here is a guide on helping a dog like a crate: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crateAll the best!

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