Most dog owners opt to crate train their pets. Crating is undoubtedly the way to go when it comes to potty training, safe travel, and confining a dog that’s prone to destructive behavior when you’re not around to supervise him.
But should a puppy sleep in a crate at night? Should you allow your dog to sleep in your bed with you? Is it okay for your canine companion to sleep on their bed next to yours?
Read this guide to learn whether crating your puppy overnight is the right thing to do.
Should I Crate My Puppy Overnight?
In short, yes, we recommend that you crate your puppy overnight.
We’ll discuss in more detail why overnight crating is the best option for puppies and some adult dogs later in this guide. But first, let’s find out more about why crate training is so important for dogs.
Crate Training Benefits
Although some people think that confining their dog to a crate is cruel, crate training has many benefits for both the dog and the owner.
Spending time in their crate provides dogs with a sense of safety and security, and many dogs take to crate training very quickly. Essentially, the crate is like a den, which fulfills all dogs’ basic, instinctual needs.
Crates are a useful tool for potty training puppies and for preventing destructive behavior when you’re not around to supervise your pet. A crate can also be used to help dogs that suffer from separation anxiety.
If you crate your dog at night, you know that he won’t get into mischief while you’re asleep.
When Can I Stop Crate Training My Dog?
Crate training is generally regarded as complete when your dog willingly enters his crate and settles down quietly to sleep and relax. Once your dog is crate-trained, you should be able to go out or leave your dog alone for short periods without him becoming anxious. Finally, your dog should be fully potty trained so that you can trust him to roam loose in your home without worrying that he might have an accident.
We recommend that you don’t remove your dog’s crate, even when crate training is complete. Your pet should still be able to regard his crate as his personal space where he can spend some quiet, alone time or settle down to sleep for the night.
Before you begin crate training your dog, you’ll need to make sure that the crate you choose is the correct size for your pet.
As a basic guideline, your dog should be able to:
- Stand up in the crate without his ears or head touching the roof
- Lie down flat without his nails or paws becoming trapped in the crate mesh or fabric
- Turn around without bumping into the sides of the crate
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no benefit in providing your dog with an enormous, cavernous crate! If the crate is too big, the dog might decide to use one end of the space as a toilet area, which will scupper your potty training program.
If you have a puppy, you might want to buy a large crate for your furbaby to grow into. That’s fine, as crates are expensive to buy, and you don’t want to buy another crate when your pup outgrows his baby crate.
Crates that come with dividers included in the design are the ideal solution to that problem. As the puppy grows, you simply move the divider to make the crate bigger. Generally, wire crates are commonly supplied with dividers included in the package.
Types of Crate
There are several common crate varieties that you can choose from, each with slightly different functions.
Metal crates are the most popular type of crate.
You can use a metal crate for potty training, confinement, and travel in your vehicle. These crates are relatively inexpensive, collapsible, easy to store, and quick to clean.
Metal crates are usually made from wire mesh that provides excellent ventilation for your dog. You can also buy heavy-duty metal crates that are made from thicker gauge mesh or bars. These crates often have reinforced joins and stronger door latches to keep escape artists safely and securely contained.
Plastic crates and pet carriers are generally used for travel.
A plastic crate is perfect for safely transporting small to medium-sized dogs on short journeys to your vet clinic or groomer, and many are often approved for airline travel, too.
Plastic crates are relatively robust and sturdy, portable, partially collapsible for easy storage, and easy to clean. A dog that fidgets can be safely contained in a plastic crate. That said, to prevent him from becoming stressed, your dog must be properly crate trained before you put him into the crate.
Fabric crates can be used for small, well-behaved dogs to travel in. You can use a fabric crate for day trips and for taking your canine companion on camping trips, too.
However, fabric crates are not tremendously secure, so we don’t recommend them for long-term containment without your supervision. A determined chewer could easily escape from a fabric crate simply by biting his way through the fabric and walking right out!
Fabric crates have plenty of benefits in that they are lightweight, easy to store, portable, and many are machine washable for easy cleaning.
If you have limited space in your home, you might want to consider investing in a furniture-crate combo. These fashionable dog crate furniture combos are extremely popular and can integrate well with your home decor scheme, as well as provide a comfortable space for your dog.
These crates are designed to function as end tables, media consoles, and the like while also accommodating your furry friend in a cozy den.
Most furniture crates are made from wood or raffia. That makes it almost impossible to collapse the crate for storage or portability, and many of these crates are tricky to clean. Also, a dog that chews or a teething puppy can wreak havoc on a wooden crate.
For that reason, furniture crates are generally recommended for crate-trained dogs that can be trusted not to make a meal of the crate or try to escape by biting and gnawing their way out.
Crating Your Dog Overnight
So, having chosen a crate for your dog, you now need to decide whether or not to crate him overnight. To make that decision, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of overnight crating.
Where To Put The Crate
First of all, let’s consider where the best place is for the crate at night.
In the wild, dogs are pack creatures by nature that need to spend much of their time with their canine family. That translates in much the same way to domestic dogs that live with people. Your dog will always be happiest when he’s close to you and your family, and the best place for the crate at night is near to you.
So, if you put the crate downstairs away from your family, your pet is more likely to feel lonely and isolated. That can lead to stress and exacerbate problems, such as separation anxiety. If your dog feels lonely, he might begin barking, whining, or even trying to escape from his crate. Sometimes, puppies in that situation soil their crates purely due to stress.
Keep Your Pet Close To You
One solution is to put the crate next to your bed. That way, your furry friend knows you’re there and is more likely to settle down peacefully for the night.
Wire crates are notoriously noisy, and a rattling metal crate is alarmingly loud during the night hours when the house and neighborhood outside are silent. Sometimes, you can get over that problem by setting the crate on carpet to deaden the noise or using a plushy bed or a couple of blankets to line the bottom of the crate. However, it’s still not ideal to have a noisy crate in your bedroom if you’re a light sleeper.
Of course, you want your dog to have access to his comfortable space 24/7/365, and keeping it in your bedroom will mean that your pet is isolated from you for quite a lot of the time during the day. The solution is to have two crates. You can keep one crate in your living room or kitchen, while the other nighttime crate stays in your bedroom beside the bed.
What Are The Benefits Of Overnight Crating
Even though many people maintain that keeping your dog in a crate for long periods is cruel, there are lots of benefits to keeping your dog or puppy in his crate overnight.
That said, we do stress that your dog must be properly crate trained so that he associates spending time in his crate with a pleasurable experience. A successful crate training strategy demands an investment of time on your part and can’t be achieved overnight. However, once your puppy gets used to his crate schedule and associates the crate with pleasure, you should be able to successfully crate him overnight.
Benefits of Overnight Crating For Your Puppy or Dog
There are several benefits of overnight crating for your dog.
Safety And Security
Remember that your dog associates his crate with safety and comfort. So, in the darkness and silence of the night, your puppy or dog will feel much more secure when confined to their cozy crate.
Dogs don’t appreciate the cold any more than you do. So, if you equip your pet’s crate with a warm, comfy bed and position the crate somewhere out of drafts, your canine companion will stay warm all night.
Wire crates are very well-ventilated, so you can safely put a soft blanket in the crate for your dog to snuggle up with, knowing that your pet won’t overheat.
Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. That condition causes the dog to become highly agitated and upset when their owner leaves them alone, in extreme cases, even for a few minutes.
Crate training can be extremely helpful for a dog that has separation anxiety issues, especially at night when the pup needs to be close to his owner to remain relaxed.
Benefits of Overnight Crating For Dog Owners
There are lots of benefits to crating dogs overnight for owners, too.
Keeping your dog or puppy in his crate at night teaches the little guy to hold his bladder for longer and helps with potty training.
Very young puppies need to relieve themselves more frequently than older dogs. If you keep the crate next to your bed at night, you’ll hear your furry friend moving around or whimpering to tell you that he needs to go. You can then let your puppy outside for a potty break, effectively preventing accidents and helping the potty training process.
Also, dogs do not like soiling their sleeping area or den. So, it’s unlikely that an adult dog will voluntarily relieve himself in his crate unless he is sick. Again, if an emergency situation arises, your dog is more likely to wake you to let him out, preventing a mess.
Puppies and young dogs can be very destructive, especially when they’re teething. By keeping your dog in his crate through adolescence at night, you can effectively prevent those destructive behaviors from wreaking havoc in your home.
If your dog is a confirmed chewer or if you have a puppy that’s teething, provide your dog with a chew toy to keep him amused while he’s crated. That can prevent other undesirable behaviors, such as escape attempts or damage to the crate.
Many puppies and dogs wake up midway through the night and go walkabout. If you’re a light sleeper, the sound of your dog moving around your house will disturb your sleep. However, if your pooch is safely tucked up in his crate, you should both be able to enjoy a refreshing, undisturbed night’s rest.
Safety In An Emergency
In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or some kind of natural disaster, you need to know where your dog or puppy is. Many dogs bolt or hide when frightened, and that’s going to cause you all kinds of problems if you need to evacuate your home in a hurry, especially when it’s pitch dark.
If your dog is crated overnight, you know exactly where he is, making it much easier to catch your pet and take him with you if you need to. Also, your dog regards his crate as his safe place. So, if something bad happens, your furry friend is much less likely to panic if he’s securely contained in his “den.”
What Happens If You Don’t Crate Your Dog Overnight?
There are several disadvantages to not crating your dog overnight.
Even dogs that are potty trained are not immune to having occasional accidents. That’s especially likely to happen if you allow your dog to run loose around the house overnight or shut him in one room. If you have a large property, you might not hear your dog whining or barking because he wants to go outside, leaving you to find a nasty surprise the following morning.
Puppies that are not fully potty trained should always be confined to their crates overnight. Permitting your pup to roam around your house is asking for accidents to happen. That’s annoying for you and distressing for your puppy. Also, every time your puppy relieves himself somewhere he shouldn’t, you’re effectively undoing all your toilet training work.
Your Dog Could Be Injured
Dogs are masters at getting into places and situations they shouldn’t. If your dog is allowed to have the run of your house and yard during the night when you’re not around to watch him, he could easily hurt himself or eat something poisonous. An escape attempt could end very badly, or your pup could simply get sick during the night.
In the event of an emergency, your dog could bolt or hide, making it impossible for you or emergency responders to rescue him.
So, for your dog’s safety, the best place for him to be overnight is securely confined in his comfy, cozy crate.
Finally, your dog might decide that the comfiest place for him to spend the night is on your bed with you. That might sound cute, but you’re almost certain to be woken when your dog jumps on and off the bed or wriggles around to get comfortable. And, many dogs snore!
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Now you can see why your puppy really should sleep in a crate! There are many advantages to crating your four-legged friend at night, for both your dog and for you. Aside from potty accidents around your home that you’ll need to clean up in the morning and a disturbed night’s sleep for you, it’s far safer for your puppy to spend the night confined in his crate. In fact, most dogs will retire to their crate on cue at bedtime, finding comfort and security in their man-made den.
Do you crate your puppy or adult dog every night? Tell us in the comments box below.