A puppy crate training schedule can help you raise a happy, healthy, well-mannered dog full of good habits! Practical crate training can rule out destructive behavior, chewing, indiscriminate barking, and house soiling.
This guide explains how to create a puppy crate training schedule to suit your family’s daily routine. We’ve put together a handy downloadable PDF version of a puppy crate training schedule as a bonus.
What You’ll Need For Crate Training Your Puppy
Before starting the crate training process, you’ll need to acquire a suitable crate of the correct size for your puppy.
The crate should be large enough that your puppy can sit, stand, turn around, and stretch right out comfortably. However, you don’t want the crate to be so big that the puppy is tempted to use one end as a potty area and the other for sleeping.
Ideally, you want a plastic or wire crate. Those crates are easy to assemble, portable, collapsible, and resistant to chewing. Once the crate training process has been completed, you can graduate to a furniture crate or soft-sided fabric one.
Set Up The Crate
Set up the crate with a comfy mat or bed and a crate liner to stop the bed from slipping.
Some dogs like to have a covered crate to create a den-like environment. However, we recommend using a properly fitted crate cover rather than a loose blanket that could present a choking hazard to your puppy. You also want to include a few treats, a chew toy, and a crate water bottle.
A store of treats is essential! Keep them on hand so that you can reward your puppy with a yummy treat and lots of praise immediately after he relieves himself in the desired place. You might also want to stuff a hollow KONG toy with peanut butter or treats and freeze it to create a “pupsicle” for your puppy to work on when he’s confined to his crate.
How to Create A Puppy Crate Training Schedule
When creating your puppy crate training schedule, the first thing to understand is that it needs to work for your family’s routine. It’s pointless devising a crate schedule that doesn’t fit your family’s day, as you’ll find it impossible to stick to, a surefire recipe for failure.
To create an effective training schedule, you must first understand the basic crate training rhythms, which are:
- Exercise, fun, and learning
- And repeat!
You must also remember to include an opportunity for your furbaby to have a potty break right after he’s eaten, and whenever you move from a confinement or supervision situation to playtime or to running loose in your kitchen. Keeping the crate routine consistent helps potty training, too.
How Long Can Your Puppy Wait?
When crate training a puppy, the most important factor is his need to relieve himself or eliminate himself.
As a general rule, puppies can hold their bladder for their age in months plus one, and you must adhere strictly to the month-plus-one rule when devising your training schedule.
Puppy’s Age Waiting Time in Hours
8 weeks old (2 months)
12 weeks old (3 months)
16 weeks old (4 months)
20 weeks old (5 months)
24 weeks old (6 months)
28 weeks old (7 months)
Those timings include overnight, so you must be prepared for quite a few disturbed nights before your baby dog sleeps right through the night!
Encouraging your puppy to keep his crate clean means that you can reward him when he relieves himself in the desired place. That’s an essential principle that can’t change if your potty training is to succeed. So, bear in mind your puppy’s bladder control limits and ensure that he gets a potty break whenever his schedule demands it.
Changing Your Puppy’s Feeding Schedule
As your puppy grows, he will go from eating three or four meals a day to eating only twice each day. You can continue to use your dog’s meals as training rewards throughout the day but be guided by your vet regarding your dog’s ideal feeding schedule.
Example Puppy Crate Training Schedule
Here’s an example of a puppy crate training schedule that uses the principles outlined above:
Age Related Crate Training Schedule
Devising A Crate Training Schedule For An Older Dog
In your puppy crate training schedule, the puppy is only released from his crate for a few hours every day. Puppies typically spend a lot of time sleeping, so they don’t need too much exercise in their early weeks.
However, as your pup matures, he will need more socialization, exercise, and playtime, so the periods he spends out of his crate will get longer. Also, your pet will be able to wait longer between walks, so his in-crate periods can be extended, too.
Although the basic structure of confinement, elimination, learning, exercise, fun, and supervision will remain the same, the schedule will run on a more extended repeat. Your dog will enjoy more supervised time in the house, and he will be able to go longer between walks.
Patience Is A Virtue
Adult dogs from shelters and rescue centers have often never been crate trained. So, you need to employ lots of patience and proceed slowly when crate training an adult dog.
You want your dog to regard his crate as a cozy den where he can chill out for short periods. Your dog should never think of his crate as a prison where he’s sent as a punishment.
However, you’ll still need to have your dog spend time in his crate to prevent potty accidents and destructive behavior when you’re not around to supervise him. As a general rule of thumb, teaching your dog to associate his crate with his meals, toys, treats, and praise is the best way to proceed.
Spending time in his crate is the best way to prevent an adult dog from developing separation anxiety and other stress-related conditions when he’s left home alone.
Tips On Introducing Your Puppy To His Crate
Your puppy might find his new crate quite intimidating when he first arrives in his new home.
Here’s a quick overview of how to introduce your puppy to his crate:
- Prepare a KONG toy stuffed with peanut butter or some treats, and allow your puppy to enjoy slurping away on it for a few minutes.
- Take the toy and place it inside the crate. Shut the door with your puppy outside the crate.
- Wait while the puppy assesses the situation. Now open the door and let the puppy go into the crate to get the treat inside.
- Close the door.
- Repeat the exercise a couple of times until your puppy will happily stay inside the crate for short periods, chowing down on his treat without whining and barking.
- Extend the crate periods in line with your schedule. Keeping your puppy in his crate at night helps with that.
Helpful Advice On Crate Training Your Puppy – Your Questions Answered!
Here are some tips on making your pup’s crate time fun.
How Long Can You Leave Your Puppy In His Crate?
The rule of thumb for deciding how long your puppy’s crate sessions should last is your pup’s age in months plus one.
Therefore, a two-month-old puppy can be crated for three hours before he needs a bathroom break. However, very tiny puppies have tiny bladders, and they can’t hold their bladder for as long as larger pups. So, you’ll need to bear that in mind when devising an effective crate training schedule.
What If My Puppy Cries In His Crate?
Your puppy will inevitably object to being confined to his crate, especially when leaving the room.
When your puppy starts crying or whining, don’t weaken! If you’re sure that the little guy doesn’t need a bathroom break, turn your back on the crate and ignore your pet’s protests.
After a few minutes, the puppy should settle down and become calm again. At that point, you can reward his good behavior with a few treats.
Related: When should you stop crate training?
Where Should My Puppy Sleep At Night?
We recommend that your puppy sleeps in his crate at night.
Of course, a very young puppy will be unsettled when he first arrives in his new home. The pup has just left his mother, siblings, and familiar surroundings, so he’s bound to be somewhat stressed. Keep the crate next to your bed so that you can dangle your hand down at night and push your fingers through the bar to soothe your puppy if he starts fretting.
Should I Close My Puppy’s Crate At Night?
It’s a good idea to close your pup’s crate at night. If you leave the door open, the puppy can roam around your home, potentially relieving himself whenever and wherever he pleases, and chewing up your stuff.
Also, puppies can get into all kinds of mischief when left unsupervised, which can put your puppy in harm’s way. No matter how hard you try to make your home puppy-proof, that, curious little bundle of fluff will almost certainly find electrical cables, household cleaning products, your medication, and nameless other harmful things. Puppies can squeeze into tight spaces and even fall out of open windows, sometimes with awful consequences.
So, keep your puppy confined to his crate at night for safety’s sake.
What About Nighttime Bathroom Breaks?
Until your puppy reaches four to six months old, you need to get up during the night to take your furbaby out for a pee break.
Although that will be tiring for you, and it’s undoubtedly one of the cons of puppy potty training, potty training accidents can be avoided if you get up to take your puppy outside for a pee break. Set your alarm, and wake your puppy up even if he’s asleep. Take your puppy outside to relieve himself, and reward him with a couple of treats when he obliges.
A one-month-old puppy needs to go out for a bathroom break every hour, whereas a three-month-old pup will be fine with a couple of trips outside each night. Once the puppy reaches six months of age, he should be able to go right through the night, provided you give him a bathroom break before bedtime.
Remember that the size of your dog will influence how long he can wait between breaks. Generally, a larger breed will be able to wait longer than a smaller one. Avoid leaving a water bowl in your pup’s crate and limit how much water he has for an hour before bedtime.
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Ideally, you should draft a schedule that fits your family’s daily routine to make it easier to stick to. The schedule will revolve around your puppy’s need to relieve himself every couple of hours, and a consistent feeding schedule will help you predict when your puppy needs to go.
Although crate training a puppy is challenging, the benefits make an effort well worth the hassle and disturbed nights!
How did you devise your puppy’s crate training schedule? Tell us in the comment box below.
Here is a downloadable training schedule! You can create your version of the timelines to suit your routine.