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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Take it Slow Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Big Move Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By James Barra
Published: 03/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021