In theory crate training puppies sounds simple. A quick note: I often use the term crate and kennel interchangeably throughout this article.
Crate Training Theory: Your puppy does not want to poop or pee in the place he sleeps…put him in his crate (make sure it’s not too big or he’ll pee/poop on one side and sleep on the other) and he won’t poop or pee (unless he really has to). I wrote this article on How To Crate Train Your Puppy In 5 Easy Steps. Of course it’s not always easy to crate train your puppy.
Not long ago I received an email asking me for hints on how to get a new puppy from crying, howling, barking in his kennel during the night. I’ve actually received many emails asking me for similar advice.
Today, I compiled a list of all the tricks and hints I’ve tried with my puppies or heard have worked with other puppies. If you’re a regular reader on my blog then you’ll know that two out of my last three puppies did not enjoy the kennel and barked, howled, and cried throughout the night during their early days. If this is your first night at home with your puppy you also might want to take a look at this article: how to handle your puppies first night at home.
Crate Training Puppies – 14 Useful Tips
Every puppy is different. Some have no problems with their kennel while others (as you know) have a difficult time adjusting to the kennel. To answer your questions: yes, you do need to just leave him in the kennel and yes, expect to be woken up 3-4 times a night during the first week or two. Try to do your best to stick with your puppy and be consistent with his training. Every time you take him out of the kennel and reward him for whining by letting him sleep on the bed he’s learning that whining will get him what he wants.
Puppies are difficult to raise. It definitely takes a commitment. It can take a couple days for him to get used to the crate all the way up to a couple months.
Here are some suggestions you can try that might help you:
- If he’s crying you should try taking him out to see if he has to go potty. After you take him out bring him straight back to the crate.
- Cut off his water and food at least an hour and half before bed time. That way he won’t wake up as many times in the middle of the night.
- Try playing with him a lot before bedtime to tire him out.
- If it’s a wire crate try enclosing it by putting a sheet over it.
- If the crate’s not near your bed try putting it near your bed where he can see you.
- Try sleeping on the floor next to the crate.
- Feed him all his meals in his crate.
- Put some snuggly toys in the crate to keep him company.
- During the day when he takes a nap move him to the crate. You can try this with the door open or closed.
- Try leaving the door open but lying down across the doorway of the crate as if to nap with him, to make him feel more comfortable in the crate, and at the same time make my body block the doorway.
- If he’s in the crate and he’s not crying give him lots of praise.
- Try the heart beat toy. I’ve heard of a toy that simulates the mom’s heartbeat that helps the puppy sleep. Try this toy: Petstages Heartbeat Pillow
- Try the heated toy. I’ve also heard of a toy that has a thing on the inside that you can warm on the inside and insert in the toy. Makes the puppy feel like he’s with one of his litter mates. Try this toy: Pet Stages Warming Soother
- The one that worked for me and Stetson – I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate. The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent tell he stopped). To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.
By the way, if you leave anything in the crate with your puppy make sure he doesn’t start eating or chewing on anything that may be harmful to him.
Try to be consistent with your puppy. Try not to take him out of the crate unless he stops whining even if just for an instant.
One last tip: If you’re lucky enough to pick your puppy out of a litter be sure and bring a plush toy with you and rub it all over his litter mates. Then when you get home and it’s time for bed put the toy in the crate with your puppy. The scent of the litter will make him feel more at home and give him the feeling that he’s sleeping with one of his litter mates.
Best of luck with your puppy. Let me know if any of the above suggestions work for you.
What do you do when crate training puppies?
Your puppy’s first night at home. It’s definitely exciting…It’s definitely fun…Here are some things to think about before your puppy arrives at your home.
It’s been just about a year since I brought Stetson home from Guide Dogs of America. It made me think of our wonderful first meeting in Sylmar, CA and also the countless nights without sleep for the following four weeks. Guide Dogs of America does not leave you empty handed. They give you a guide on what to expect and what you should do during those first few days and nights. These steps aren’t only for guide dogs and can be followed by anyone bringing home a puppy for the first time.
Everything’s New…Everything’s a First
Much of this is taken from my GDA handbook some of it paraphrased with some of my comments mashed in between.
First things first…We are informed that up to this point your puppy has been with his mother and his littermates in a sterile environment. It’s advised that your puppy’s first week at home should be a quiet one. The puppy should be allowed to explore and meet his new family. You should now start teaching the puppy his name (amazing because, now Stetson knows his name like the back of his paw). When you first arrive home give your puppy a chance to relieve itself in an area you have designated for that purpose (Stetson’s designated spot was in the dirt area on my patio).
Take your puppy out on leash (without his bib on) — GDA puppy’s in training are never allowed to “Get Busy” with their bib/jacket on — and repeat “Get Busy” (Remember this may be the first time your puppy has heard these words). Allow your puppy 10-15 minutes, if he hasn’t relieved, take him inside. Try again in 10 minutes. If the puppy does relieve itself in the proper area, give him lots of praise. Then let him explore the house (remember to supervise – don’t let him out of your sight). Afterwards your may take it inside, but remember to supervise the puppy; do not let it out of your sight. Talk to the puppy when it explores to make it feel more at home.
Puppy’s First Night At Home
If you’ve raised a puppy before then you probably know this is where the real fun begins.
From the GDA handbook:
The first few nights at home may be difficult for both you and your pup. At night the puppy will feel lonely and will probably demonstrate this by whining (Oh, you betcha!). These are a few things that you can do that might make the puppy feel at home.
- Your puppy’s sleeping quarters should be in a small crate. – I had a large crate with a partion and put a blanket over it to make it seem more cozy.
- Keep the crate in a draft free area next to your bed. For approximately the first three weeks, if your puppy cries, take him out, on leash to relieving area. After relieving put him back into his crate. Do not give him any treats or any play time. Put him right back into his crate and he should go back to sleep.
- Give the puppy a stuffed dog toy to snuggle with. – I was told to bring a toy with me to GDA when we met the litter and get each of Stetson’s littermates scent on the toy. Then when it was time to crate Stetson for the first night he could snuggle with the toy and smell his littermate’s scent.
- Under no circumstances take the puppy to bed with you. This will form a very undesirable habit. - trust me…it’s difficult to avoid doing when your puppy is whining all night, but it’s very important to leave him in his crate.
Puppy’s First Feeding
This will be your puppy’s first meal by himself. Once your puppy’s food is prepared, you will start having your puppy sit and wait for his food. Hold your puppy by his collar by slipping your thumb in his collar and set his food about two feet away. As soon as he stops wiggling, say the words “O.K.” and release your puppy. This should be done at every meal throughout training.
My Experiences With My Puppy
At Stetson’s puppy kindergarten I was always reminded that every puppy is different. Even within a breed. There are several people in our group who have raised 10 or more Labrador Retrievers in the Guide Dogs of America program and each one is different.
My experience with Stetson was very difficult in the early days and weeks. I had no problem with Stetson when I first got him home. I already knew about the trials and tribulations with house training and crate training. Puppy’s tend to piddle about every 10 to 20 minutes. You have to watch them like a hawk or they will end up using your house as their personal restroom. Stetson had some accidents here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The agony came in the evening. Stetson did NOT take to the crate! He whined, and howled, and cried, and barked…probably made every noise he could possibly produce, but would not relax and go to sleep. He did sleep once in a while. During those first 4 weeks the most sleep I got was approximately 6 hours, broken up 3 or 4 times a night by whining, howling, barking…you get the picture. I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate. The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent tell he stopped). To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.
I have two words for you – consistent and patient. After about 4 weeks of consistently sticking to my guns, not letting him out of his crate, and praising him when he was quiet Stetson suddenly stopped making noise in his crate. He’d let me sleep through the night and I thought I’d reached bliss.
I’m constantly reminded that I need to be consistent with Stetson’s training and patient. In the long run it pays off. Stetson has not barked, howled, or whined in months. In a matter a fact I can only recall him barking one time in the past 1/2 year (he barked because he was trying to get my attention to go outside). I actually think it’s kind of unusual that he doesn’t bark at all anymore, but it gives me more peace and quiet.
What experiences do you have with your puppy’s first night at home? Was it miserable? Did you get any sleep?