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Should I Lock My Puppy In His Crate At Night? The Benefits Of Crating Your Dog At Night - PawSafe

Should I Lock My Puppy In His Crate At Night? The Benefits Of Crating Your Dog At Night

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

should i lock my puppy in a crate

Having a new canine means  important decisions, such as if you should lock your puppy in his crate at night. For many dog owners, especially newbies, the idea of jamming a small animal into a tiny cage seems cruel.

It’s understandable to question crating dogs because you wouldn’t want to be confined, so why should they? However, many dogs love their crates once crate-trained, so much so that they become their safe space. 

This article gives tips on leaving your puppy in a crate overnight and covers potential hurdles you might encounter. With positive reinforcement, a proper calming bed, and patience, your pup will be well on its way to being a crate master.

Think of the crate as being like a crib for a baby. It is a safe place where a puppy can sleep, away from any dangers like electrical wires they may want to chew on when you aren’t watching. It also keeps them from pottying in the house. When you use a crate properly, it is not a punishment. 

Of course, this means being sure not to leave your puppy in its crate too long. Most puppies will need to go outside to pee at night at least once or twice. 

Should I Lock My Puppy’s Crate at Night?

If you’ve chosen the crate-training route, it’s advisable to close the crate at night because leaving it open defeats the purpose. However, closing the crate door can result in relentless crying, whining, and barking in puppies who are not used to the experience. For help dealing with a puppy who cries in the crate at night, you can see this video:

6 Reasons to Lock Your Puppy in a Crate at Night 

Crating your puppy at night helps potty-train them, eliminates destructiveness, and allows you to have a good night’s sleep. Crates hone a dog’s natural tendency to seek small, dark areas much like dens in the wild. 

To a crate-trained dog, the crate is their den and a home inside their home. Here are seven reasons to crate your puppy at night.  

1. Crating a puppy at night invaluable Potty-training Tool

Dogs don’t like to soil the place they sleep, so they will instinctively avoid going when in their crates. With a new pup family member, potty training is one of the very first responsibilities you have on your hands.

Crate-training your dog seriously shortens your house-breaking journey. Most puppies above four months can stay longer without peeing at night because they’re asleep. Granted, it’s important not to give them food or water two hours before bedtime and take them to potty right before bed. 

If puppies are below four months old, you will need to set the alarm for every 4 to 5 hours to take them outside to potty.

2. Keeps puppies from creating a mess at night or getting into trouble

Puppies won’t shy away from leaving your house in a mess as they explore if left to roam your house in your absence. A crate will restrict their movement, preventing them from getting into the garbage or chewing on your furniture while you sleep.

3. Improves Your Sleep

Pawrents with morning dogs who can’t help waking up too early relate to having their sleep ruthlessly interrupted. Making sure a puppy is crated means less disturbance from barking or other activities at night.

Your chances of sleeping through the night skyrocket the earlier you potty train your dog using the crate. Don’t worry about your dog getting dehydrated when you don’t offer water before sleep since they can handle staying without water overnight.

4. Helps Your Dog’s Anxiety 

Man’s best friend shares his struggles, too, one of them being anxiety. A study of anxiety showed that noise phobia was dogs’ most prevalent type of anxiety. Canines with separation anxiety benefit massively from being crate-trained since they feel safe in these spaces.

You help your dog’s anxiety even more if they sleep in their crate in your room since they feel close to you. 

5. Helps Puppies Prepare for Overnight Vet Visits

Some severe medical issues can force your dog to be hospitalized for life-saving treatment. Although sleeping at the vet’s is new with unfamiliar people and animals, crate-trained dogs will likely handle the situation more calmly.

6. Trains Your Dog to Stay Put in case of Emergency Situations

Emergencies like fire, earthquakes, and tornadoes require swift but cautious action. If unfortunately, your dog is caught up in these situations, their ability to stay put if they can’t escape can determine life or death. Crate-trained dogs will likely stay calmer no matter how scary the situation is until help arrives.

7. The crate helps establish routine and structure in your puppy’s life

Just like children, dogs thrive on routine and structure rather than chaos and unpredictability. Having a specific bedtime is part of a routine that makes life predictable and this gives young dogs security. 

How to Train Your Puppy to Spend the Night in a Crate

The benefits of crate-training your dog are beyond question, what’s left is doing it properly using positive reinforcement. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a safely crate-trained puppy.

  1. Let The Puppy Explore 

    Allow your puppy to sniff at the crate, and if they enter freely, all the better.

  2. Use Treats to Encourage Them to Enter and Stay in an Open Crate

    Treats and praises make the crate seem like a happy place for your dog. Place the treats inside the crate to encourage the puppy to enter and give a cue like “enter crate.” You can increase their time in the open crate, but don’t leave them alone at this stage.

  3. Close the door for Short periods 

    After the pup is comfortable staying in an open crate, you can close the crate when your dog is having a meal or treat.

  4. Leave Them Alone In the Crate

  5. Gradually Increase Time Alone

    Increase the time they spend alone from 30 minutes to one hour and so on.

Can Puppies Spend the Whole Night in a Crate?

Can Puppies Spend the Whole Night in a Crate?

The number of hours puppies can spend in a crate at night depends on their age. Puppies below four months can’t spend the whole night in a crate without needing a potty break. Puppies above this age can spend the night without peeing if they don’t drink water two hours prior. However, small puppies like Chihuahuas have small bladders and may still need bathroom breaks throughout the night.

My Dog is Barking/ Whining in the Crate at Night: Do I Ignore?

Your puppy barking excessively in the first few nights is understandably distressing for you. Puppies whine for two reasons in a crate: distress and the need to pee. 

Distress barking is high pitched, with sharp barks and typically subsides after some time, and is caused by unfamiliar situations. Crying because they need to use the toilet is more or less the same, so it’s up to your judgment. 

There is a lot of controversy over letting puppies cry it out. On the one hand, it lets the puppies get used to the situation causing distress faster, but on the other, it can cause long-term anxiety in canines. A good idea is to thoroughly tire your puppy out before crate time with a lot of playing, and placing soft toy (some come with a heart beat to simulate a litter mate) in the crate with them.

If the crying goes on too long, it’s a good idea to check it out in case the pup needs to pee. If you must comfort your pup, sit next to the crate, or pet them while they’re still in it. Avoid taking the puppy out of the crate to prevent accidentally teaching them that crying equals no crate.

Should I Leave the Puppy Crate Door Open During the Day?

Locking the crate during the day has the same concept as at night. The biggest difference is that puppies can’t hold it in during the day as much as they can overnight because they drink plenty of water. Leaving the crate door open allows them to roam, encouraging destructiveness and accidents.

While a puppy above four months can stay overnight without potty breaks, the crate hours change during the day. Adult dogs can stay 4 to 6 hours in a crate during the day, and puppies below 6 months can only stay 3 to 4 hours. Small breed puppies may only be okay for 1 to 2 hours in the crate.

If your puppy is potty-trained, you can open the crate door during the day or buy them a dog pen for more space.

When Can I Stop Locking My Dog’s Crate at Night?

You can stop locking your dog’s crate at night when you’re confident that they’re potty-trained. However, even dogs that won’t have accidents can still destroy stuff in your house. Most dogs are properly house-trained by six months, but some owners opt to wait until they’re one year old.

Final Thoughts

A puppy can stay in their crate overnight once they’re above 4 months old. Overnight crating prevents accidents because dogs don’t soil their sleeping areas. It also keeps destruction down because your puppy is limited from roaming.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.