Crate Training a Dog at Night

It's no jail, if you acclimate him right.
It's no jail, if you acclimate him right. (Image: WilleeCole/iStock/Getty Images)

Unless you want to share your bed with your furry friend or possibly waken to a puddle of urine on your kitchen floor, you need to establish the crate as your dog's sleeping place. Dogs naturally like crates because they're snug and secure -- not unlike the dens that canines in the wild occupy. Proper training makes a crate a domestic dog's place of refuge. He may sleep there, and he may retreat there when he wants solitude or security. Crate training is simple if you know the ins and outs.

Set Up the Crate Near You

Dogs, besides being den animals, are pack animals who want to be with their families. Locate the crate in your bedroom at night so your dog has the reassurance of having family members nearby. After your dog is used to the crate and sleeps comfortably in there, you can move the crate to another area if you prefer that your dog not share your bedroom with you.

If you intend for your dog to sleep in the crate at night, you should not crate him during the day as well, unless you're introducing housebreaking. Daytime crating is a temporary measure, suitable only for housebreaking; it's not a long-term solution. Dogs who spend too much time in a crate don't get enough exercise and can become depressed. They might not want to sleep in a crate at night after being stuck in it most of the day.

Associate the Crate With Positivity

When you introduce a crate to your dog, get her to go in by giving a treat as she nears the crate, then give another when she enters the crate. This lets her associate the crate with something positive. Placing a favorite toy in the crate is also a good idea. You could try clothing with your scent, a towel, or a doggie bed. Never pick up your dog and put her in the crate or push her into it -- she'll then associate the crate with negativity.

Minimize Overnight Accidents

It's no fun for you or your dog when an accident happens in the crate. Minimize overnight crate accidents by withholding water for three hours before the final nighttime potty trip outdoors, which should be right before you crate the dog for bed. The first thing in the morning, bring your dog outside. Puppies under 6 months cannot make it through the night without relieving themselves. They can last only about three or four hours, according to The Humane Society of the United States. When you hear a distressed cry from a puppy who needs to go outside, get up to let him out.

Provide Exercise

If your dog doesn't get enough exercise during the day, he might not want to go into the crate. But a tired dog, and one who isn't hungry, is more likely to go into the crate and sleep. Once you have a routine set up with your dog that includes regular mealtimes and daily exercise, he should adjust to the crate and be ready for sleep when it's bedtime. Make sure your dog gets adequate breed-specific exercise throughout the day. A run or vigorous game of fetch before dark can only help tucker the dog out for a long night's sleep.

Don't Respond to Every Whine

Some dogs whine or make noises after you put them in the crate. Unless your dog sounds as if she's in distress, let her whine. When you react every time the dog sounds, you'll reinforce the behavior -- you'll tell your dog that you'll respond if she beckons. Even worse is to come to the crate when you hear whining and yell at your dog or hit the crate to quiet her. That only scares your dog and causes her to dislike the crate. When you steadfastly ignore the whining, your dog should settle down.

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