How to Train a Puppy to Stay in a Crate at Night

Medium
1-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Lucky lights up your life and you aren’t ashamed to say it. I mean, who can hold back a grin when puppies are so cute? Your puppy follows you into every room, even though they sort of shuffle and slide along the floors. In fact, they want to spend every second with you. Now this was good to start with, but now you’re starting to worry. Lucky doesn’t want to leave your side and that means putting her to bed in her crate at night is proving challenging. She howls, moans and tries her best to escape. 

Training your puppy to stay in their crate at night is extremely important, both for you and for them. If they don’t get comfortable staying in their crate then they may develop separation anxiety. This will make leaving them alone to go to work extremely difficult. It also means they may be extremely unhappy a lot of the time. So it’s important you train the pup to spend time alone.

Defining Tasks

Training your puppy to stay in a crate at night can be challenging and will require restraint on your part. The trick is to gradually build up the length of time they spend in there. It’s also important you do what you can to make the crate as comfortable a place to spend time as possible. That means ensuring you can meet all Lucky’s needs.

Because your puppy is young, they should be easy to mold and train. This means you could see results in just a few days. But if Lucky is stubborn and particularly clingy then you may have your work cut out. It could be six weeks before they sleep comfortably in their crate. Get training right and you’ll develop a healthy bond between you both, ensuring you can both cope and be happy without each other. Not to mention it means you won’t have to worry about them doing any damage around the house at night.

Getting Started

Before you start training, you need to check you have a few things. A crate is obviously one of the most important components. Be sure the crate is sized appropriately for your puppy--big enough to stand up, lie down and turn around in, but not so big there is enough space to use as a potty spot. You will also need blankets, toys and anything else you would like to use to make the space comfy.

You will then need tasty treats or some of the puppy's favorite food broken into small chunks. Set aside 15 minutes or so each day for training. In particular, you will need some time early in the morning and just before bed.

Apart from that, you just need willpower and earplugs, then work can begin!

The Routine Method

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Step
1
Good night
Spend a couple of minutes before bed each night stroking your puppy in their crate. Get them calm, sleepy and content. It’s important you get them into a routine of saying good night each evening.
Step
2
Good morning
It’s also important you collect the pup from their crate at around the same time each morning. Again, spend a couple of minutes saying hello and giving them attention. It’s vital they know you will come for them each morning and evening. This will put them at ease.
Step
3
Water bowl
Make sure they have access to a water bowl at night. If they are thirsty they won’t be able to sleep and will howl. So ensure their bowl is topped up each evening and within reach.
Step
4
Toilet time
Make sure you take your puppy out to go to the toilet before bed each evening. Also make sure you take them out first thing in the morning. If they know they will get to go, they will find it far easier to hold it and relax.
Step
5
Cold shoulder
Training your puppy to stay in their crate all night will also require strength on your part. Don’t give in and let them out just because they cry. You need to be cruel to kind in this situation.
Recommend training method?

The Environment Method

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Step
1
The right crate
Make sure you get the right sized crate for your puppy. It should be big enough for them to turn around and move a little, but not much bigger than that. If it is any larger, they may use it as a toilet too.
Step
2
Make it comfy
Your pup is going to spend all night in there, so make sure they have all the blankets they need to be comfy. If they can relax and get a good night’s sleep, they won’t howl and try to wake you up.
Step
3
Home turf
Place some toys in your puppy’s crate overnight. This will help put them at ease and relax them. It will also help their crate feel like their territory and a place they want to stay in to protect.
Step
4
Treats
It can help to place the occasional treat in the crate. This will get them associating their crate with positive consequences. Placing one in there each evening before bed is often an effective way to get them in there to begin with each night.
Step
5
Don’t use it as punishment
It can be tempting to use the crate as a place you send the dog when they have behaved badly. However, this will get the pup associating the crate with negative consequences. As a result, they won’t want to go there, let alone sleep there all night.
Recommend training method?

The Gradual Increase Method

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Step
1
Playtime
Spend a few minutes playing with a couple of your puppy’s favorite toys around the opening of the crate. Leave the door open and play tug of war and just generally play around. You’re going to gradually get the dog used to the crate.
Step
2
Close the door
After a couple of days of playtime practice, place the pup in the crate and close the door. Then sit just beside it and talk to them and play with them. Once two minutes is up, let them out and continue to play around.
Step
3
Increase the time
After a couple of days, gradually start increasing the length of time you leave the pup in the crate. The trick is to build it up slowly. Practice this in the day and your pup will be more relaxed when they have to stay there at night.
Step
4
Leave the room
Now try leaving your puppy in the crate for a while without staying in the room and next to the crate. That means ignoring them when they moan and cry. It may be tough, but they won’t learn if you can’t resist letting them out.
Step
5
Place a towel over
Start placing a towel over the crate. This will help get them used to it feeling like nighttime when you leave them there in the day. Continue to leave them in there for short periods in the day. Then when they seem comfortable, start leaving them in there all night. Just be sure to greet your pup with a smile each morning.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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