Putting your puppy in a crate at night could be one option for you if you want to keep your puppy safe at night, prevent him from having accidents and of course, avoid him from chewing your sofa.
This is when you will need to know how to go about crate training your puppy to make him remain calm and sleep throughout the night in his crate peacefully.
The goal is to make your puppy “see” the crate as a safe and cozy place for him to be in when it’s bedtime, and he does not have any reservations when it’s time to go into the crate.
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How To Crate Train A Puppy At Night?
You will find success in crate training your puppy at night if you make him associate positive experience with staying in the crate. You can do this by making the crate a cozy place for him with his favorite chewing toys to keep him company. Feeding him in the crate will further reinforce his positive experience.
Get The Right Crate For Your Puppy
You need to get an appropriate crate for your puppy so that he feels comfortable to spend his night in it.
This is important as he will typically spend more than 12 hours (including bedtime and nap time) in it.
There are various types of crates in the market that come with different sizes and designs.
I would suggest going for a wire crate as it is much easier to clean (with a tray that can easily pull out from bottom) and most important of all, it is an open view design and your puppy will get to see you when you have the crate placed in your bedroom during the night.
As for the size of the crate, make sure that it is spacious enough for your puppy to stand up, sit down, turn around and rest comfortably.
Associate Positive Experience With The Crate
You can create a positive experience by letting your puppy feel that it’s great to be in the crate through the following ways.
Lead our puppy near to the crate but do not force him to go in. Let him sniff around and wait for him to get into the crate at his own will. Upon seeing that he entered the crate, reward him with a high quality treat and praise him.
Keep practicing this process for an hour till your puppy gets really comfortable going into the crate without you having to “force” him to do so.
This will make his stay in the crate during the night to be a pleasant one.
Let your puppy have his meal in his crate during the day to make him associate the positive experience of staying in his crate with getting a reward (his meal).
You can also offer him some toys that are stuffed with tasty treats when he is in the crate.
This helps to further reinforce his thought that when he is in the crate, “GOOD” things will happen. He will get to play with the toys and also enjoy his treats.
Make The Crate Part Of His Routine
You should make your puppy go into his crate periodically during the day and not only for bedtime. This will help to make the bedtime transition a much smooth process for him as he will learn that crate time can happen anytime!
Also keep the crate cozy by having a warm blanket in it so that he feels really comfortable when he is resting inside.
You can cover the crate during the night to reduce the external stimuli that will catch his attention.
Puppies can easily suffer from what is known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and get stress when they see things that they can’t get to. So you ought to eliminate or minimize these stimuli during the night.
This is what you can do.
Get a big cardboard and place it on top of the crate. Then laid a blanket over it, ensuring that there is a gap between the blanket and sides of the crate as you would not want your puppy to chew or pull the blanket into his crate. This will make his crate a dim and quiet place for him to sleep.
You should also position the crate in a location where there would be less human movement as puppies are extremely sensitive to sounds (even if you are tiptoeing).
Keep The Crate Close To You
You might want to keep the crate in your bedroom during the first few nights of crate training as your puppy will get extremely nervous since he is away from his litter mates and found himself alone in his crate.
Make sure that he can see you from his crate in the night as this will certainly help to ease his separation anxiety.
Get Him Out For Potty During The Night
Since your puppy is still very young, he will not be able to control his bladder very well and will need to go for his potty several times during the night.
To avoid accidents, you would have to set the alarms and wake up every 2 hours to get him out of his crate for his potty. If you find this arrangement too troublesome, consider getting a puppy apartment (special type of crate).
This crate comes with 2 apartments, one for his bedroom and another for his bathroom. You would just need to train your puppy to learn how to go pass the divider in the crate from his bedroom to the bathroom when he needs to go for his potty.
This will certainly save you much trouble from waiting up in the middle of the night to settle his elimination.
Of course, you should also make sure that your puppy does his potty under your supervision right before you have him in the crate for the night.
Do Not React Immediately To His Crying
This is a common mistake made by many dog owners. Do not react immediately and go to your puppy when he cries in the crate during the night.
When you do this, you are in fact reinforcing your puppy with his wrong behavior. He will know that by crying, he will be getting your attention and will keep doing this whenever he wants your attention.
You should instead wait for him to stop crying and calm down before reaching out to him to check on his needs.
Never Scold Your Puppy
I know that it could be quite frustrating when your puppy keeps whining or barking in his crate during the night when you are trying to get some good sleep after a day of hard work.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that you should never yell or scold your puppy for his misbehavior as that would not help in the situation or make him know that he is not supposed to behave in this manner. This will only make him get more nervous and turn the situation out of control.
You should instead wait till he has calmed down and use positive reinforcement to reward his calmness with a treat.
Play Session Before Bedtime
An hour before your puppy bedtime, play some games with him. The goal is to drain out any residual energy left in his body so that he gets tired and be ready for his night sleep.
You may give him just a small cup of water if you see that he gets really thirsty after the game. But keep it controlled as you would want to manage his potty during the night.
Another round of potty after the games before his bedtime would ensure that he fully cleared his bladder before sleep.
Avoid Short Nap Before Bedtime
Your puppy might be playing too vigorous during his playtime and get exhausted and need a short nap right before his bedtime.
This is where the problem comes in. If your puppy takes a nap just a few hours before his bedtime, he is not going to get any sleep in his crate when the night comes.
He will feel very energetic (after he “recharges” himself from the earlier nap) and gets bored in his crate and will attempt to bark to get your attention to have him out of the crate.
So it’s important that you plan his playtime to be in the early afternoon and not in the evening. Also ensure that the activities that he is engaging is suitable for his age, not something that is too vigorous for him.
Toy With A HeartBeat
If you do not like the idea of having the crate in your bedroom, you can get a toy that mimics the heartbeat of a mother dog or litter mates (electronic heart) and leave it somewhere near to the crate where your puppy cannot get access to (to prevent him from chewing it).
The heartburn sound emitted from this toy will help to calm your puppy as he would feel that his sibling is just beside him.
Use Of Playpen
If you have done what you could but your puppy simply just doesn’t want to settle down in his crate during the night, you could try using a playpen to extend the enclosed area around the crate.
Leave the crate door open so that your puppy will not find himself being confined in the crate, and he can move in and out of the crate as he please but still enclosed within the Playpen.
This way, he will get more freedom and not be too restrictive.
Put to use what you have learned from this post to assist you with your puppy crate training journey. Let me know which tips work best for your training in the comment below.