Have you ever noticed how dogs like to sleep under a chair or under a table. In the wild they would normally have a den for safety and protection so the chair or table gives them that feeling of security. This is what a crate does too – it provides your dog with a sleeping area that makes them feel safe and secure. That’s why we recommend you consider a crate as your dog’s sleeping area.
If you have a puppy the crate not only provides them with a safe and secure sleeping area it also limits destructive tendencies and helps with toilet training. When you leave the house for short periods of time you can put your puppy in the crate and know when you get home your shoes, TV remote, phone charger, furniture etc. have not been destroyed by a crazy, chewing puppy.
With toilet training, you will only have to focus on teaching your puppy to eliminate outside during the day. Dogs do not like to toilet where they sleep so a crate that is big enough to fit their bed will see most puppies toilet trained over night within a couple of sleeps. You will no longer have to wake up first thing in the morning and spend time cleaning the laundry or bathroom of toileting mishaps.
The key to making a successful introduction of the crate to your puppy is all about a positive experience or association. The crate needs to be inviting and an awesome place to spend time. Make sure you have a warm cosy mat or soft bed and their favourite toys. Entice your puppy in by placing a treat at the back of the crate so they have to wander all the way in. Never force your puppy in. Make sure it is a treat that is going to take a few minutes to devour. Once eating the treat praise your puppy and close the door behind them. Stay close so the puppy does not associate the crate with you leaving. After a few minutes open the door and let them out. Repeat this process regularly throughout the day before placing puppy in for the night time sleep. Continue this process regularly over the first few weeks. Put your puppy in the crate for structured day-time naps and quiet time as well. Always with a yummy treat to reinforce the crate as the best place to be. Make sure you leave the door open at ALL other times. The more they choose to enter and sleep or rest on their own means they feel happy, safe & relaxed in their crate.
It is normal for your puppy to be restless and vocal in the crate for the first few nights. They have been in a litter and with their Mum thus will need time to adjust. How you respond to your puppy’s vocalisations depends on what the puppy is trying to communicate to you. There are two main types of vocalisations that puppies exhibit; attention seeking and distress. Attention seeking is normally a series of whines and whimpers which occur quite quickly after being put to bed or left alone. If your puppy is attention seeking after being put to bed, do not attend to them as this only reinforces the unwanted behaviour. If your puppy starts crying a few hours after being put to sleep they may need to toilet. Take them straight out to toilet. No playing or fuss and then return to crate immediately.
The distress vocalisation will generally be louder, more continuous and a much more urgent cry. If your puppy makes this type of vocalisation investigate immediately.
You can reduce night time restlessness with the following tips:
- Toilet your puppy prior to bedtime
- Do not have water available during the night time sleep
- Have their favourite cuddly toy in their bed or crate
- Leave a radio or light on
- Try to keep them awake until it is time for bed – place them in the crate when it is time to settle for the whole night
- Do not overstimulate or exercise your puppy one hour before bed
- Drape a blanket over the crate (covering top, sides and rear)
- Most puppies will settle into their crate bedtime routine within a few nights. Good luck and sleep well.