It’s not easy to crate train a puppy, and it requires a lot of patience and commitment. This becomes even more difficult when you try to keep them in the crate for the whole night. However, if you persist, you will likely be glad for it. A puppy that stays in its crate doesn’t need to be continuously monitored for undesired behavior.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding crate training. However, if it’s done properly, the puppy will start considering the crate as a safe and happy place. The key to success is to take it slow, and do not force the puppy into the crate.
How to Crate Train a Puppy?
When you’ve just gotten your puppy, you must introduce the crate slowly. It should be kept in a room in which you spend a lot of time. This will help in getting the puppy accustomed to the activity in the house and, keep him/her from feeling abandoned.
You’ll need to give lots of treats and praise to make him/her comfortable with entering and staying in the crate. You should try to get the pup in and out of the crate on command. Once you achieve this milestone, only then can you leave your pet in the crate for extended periods. This is often a slow and long process and could take several days to complete.
Location of Crate at Night
Where the crate should be kept at night depends on your puppy’s temperament. The main concerns are:
- Your Pup gets stressed out if he/she is away from you.
- The slightest disturbance makes him/her restless.
The puppy may feel more secure if the crate is in your bedroom. If left alone, he/she start feeling abandoned and may whine. Remember, it was probably accustomed to sleeping with its littermates. Knowing you are near may help your puppy to overcome the loneliness.
However, if there’s lots of movement and noise in the room, it could disturb your puppy’s sleep. If yours is an over-vigilant puppy, you should keep his/her crate in a room with less activity. Alternatively, you could keep it in the bedroom with a fan or sound machine near it. This will muffle the startling noises.
Either way, make sure that your puppy is comfortable staying in the crate for extended periods before trying to crate him/her overnight.
Puppies are little bundles of energy. Unless that energy is released during the day, they can’t sleep through the night. It is essential to not let them sit idle in the evenings especially, as this gives them time to recharge.
For this reason, you must give your puppy a bit of play and exercise just before bedtime. If he/she has got the appropriate vaccinations, you can take your canine out on a walk. Mental stimulation is equally important as physical activity. Therefore, you should try giving some puzzles to your pooch or work on basic training.
NOTE: Avoid high energy activities (like playing fetch) before bedtime because they can overstimulate the puppy.
You want to consistently provide your puppy with positive experiences that can be associated with being in the crate. For instance, you can try to get him/her in the crate during the day when you’re in the house. This way you can keep your little canine from associating the crate with isolation.
Alternatively, give him/her regular meals and toys in the crate. Also, praise your pet when he/she stays quiet inside the crate. All in all, you want the puppy to consider the crate as a safe and happy place.
Crate Training a Puppy that Barks at Night
Puppies may bark or whine in the crate for various reasons. It could be distress barking caused by having to adjust suddenly from sleeping with littermates to sleeping alone. Likewise, they may bark for seeking attention and demanding to be let out. Lastly, it is also possible that the puppy is making noise because he/she needs to eliminate waste.
Distress barking usually takes the form of continuous high-pitched vocalizations. These may be accompanied with walking around in the crate, trying to escape, panting, or licking themselves excessively. If your puppy exhibits these behaviors, you should definitely comfort him/her (but no coddling).
Talk to him/her soothingly, and if it shows any calmer behavior, give praise. Similarly, you can provide your pup with a sense of security by sitting next to the crate. In some cases, it could be necessary to open the crate door so you can pet the puppy.
Demand barking is characterized by repeated barking and looking intently at whoever seems to be listening. It is often the consequence of a puppy learning that barking is his/her way out of the crate. That may happen if you aren’t mindful when you are letting him/her out to eliminate waste.
When you are opening the door for any reason, take care to wait until the puppy has gone silent for a couple of seconds. It’s an excellent time to practice your puppy’s quiet cue. If the puppy is barking at night for getting out of the crate, you can ignore him/her for no longer than one minute. If he/she doesn’t quiet down, you’ll need to attend to him/her.
You should go and give your pup the “quiet” cue. Once he/she has stayed quiet for a few seconds, say “yes”, and give your pet a toy to chew on. Consider the steps (such as intensive pre-bedtime exercise) that can improve the situation.
Whining Due to Fullness of Bladder or Bowels
This is often observed in puppies that are 4-5 months old. Pacing in the crate before starting to whine is common and it is extremely important to respond to this vocalization. Accidents in the crate can majorly set back a puppy’s overall housetraining.
You should be proactive in attending to this need of the puppy. Take note of when your pup typically needs to go, and set alarms accordingly. Take him/her directly to where he/she can do the business, and then straight back to the crate when it’s done. NEVER play with your dog during this time as it can ruin all your efforts.
You should try to feed the puppy its last meal of the day 3-4 hours before bedtime. This will give him/her a chance to eliminate waste before going to sleep.
Recommended Dog Training Courses for Crate Training a Puppy at Night
There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.
These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.
The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.
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