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A big step in the crate training process for a puppy or dog is allowing them to sleep outside of the crate at night. The decision as to whether you let your pup sleep outside of their crate at night might be a very personal one, but how do you know when you should see if your dog can handle being out of their crate at night?
When is your dog or puppy ready to sleep outside of their crate at night?
Letting your dog or puppy sleep outside of their crate at night is a personal decision, but at the bare minimum your dog should have completed the crate training and house-training process, and your home should be clear of any potential dangers a curious pup could get into at night.
The decision to let your puppy or dog sleep outside of their crate at night might vary from person to person, but there are a few ways to determine whether your four-legged friend is ready to sleep outside of their crate at night.
We’ll outline those below, as well as discuss how to prepare your puppy for a night outside of the crate and why it may actually be beneficial to let your dog continue using their crate at night.
Dogs vs. Puppies: When to Stop Using a Crate at Night
Depending on the age of your dog or puppy, the factors that will help you decide on whether to let them sleep outside of their crate at night will vary.
In most cases, pet parents of new puppies are the ones thinking about the crate training process and at what point they should allow their puppy to sleep outside of the crate.
With puppies, knowing when to let them sleep outside of the crate relates more to their general training and how a puppy ages versus an adult dog where you must take into consideration any behavioral or health issues in addition to the crate training and house-training processes.
5 Signs Your Puppy Is Ready to Sleep Outside of The Crate
There’s no one sign that your puppy is ready to sleep outside the crate so let’s look at the 5 major signs to look for!
#1: Your Puppy Has Completed the Potty-Training Process
The first thing to consider when deciding to allow your puppy to sleep outside of his crate at night is if he has completed his potty training. Potty-training your puppy can be quite the process, and the length of time before your puppy is considered fully potty-trained can vary from puppy to puppy.
Crate training your puppy will help speed up the potty-training process, and once your puppy is fully potty-trained you could consider leaving her outside of her crate at night. Making sure she is fully potty-trained before leaving her out of her crate will ensure that she has no accidents in the house during the night.
If your puppy is not fully potty-trained, then leaving him outside of the crate at night may complicate the potty-training process as he will get into the habit of peeing in the house at night.
#2: Your Puppy Is No Longer Crying, Barking, or Attempting to Escape the Crate
The second factor to help you determine whether to let your puppy sleep outside of his crate at night is to know if he’s fully crate trained in the first place.
Crate training your puppy has a lot of benefits, but part of the process is understanding that your puppy will make a lot of noise when first going through the crate training process. Once your puppy is fully crate trained and is no longer barking, whining, or attempting to escape the crate then it’s probably time for him to start being left outside of his crate at night.
If your puppy is not fully crate trained and still barks or whines when placed in his crate, then letting him stay outside of it at night will have a negative effect on the crate training process and you may find that his crate training is never ending.
Following a good crate training schedule and using positive reinforcement to make the crate a happy place will help your puppy get through the crate training process, and then he can be left outside of his crate to sleep at night.
#3: Your Puppy Sleeps Throughout the Night
If your puppy is easily sleeping through the entire night while confined in his crate, then he may be ready to sleep outside of the crate at night.
Ensuring that your puppy is tired (mentally and physically) prior to bedtime will also help her sleep through the entire night, but also seeing if they can hold their bladders throughout the night and don’t wake you up to go potty can help you decide whether your puppy is ready to sleep outside of the crate yet.
If your puppy is still waking up throughout the night to either go to the bathroom or because he is bored and wants attention, it’s probably best to keep him confined in his crate at this time.
#4: Your Puppy Is Past the Teething Phase
Most puppies enter the teething age around 10 to 16 weeks and complete the teething process by the time they are 6 months old. Prior to the end of the teething process, puppies should be kept in their crates at night to prevent them from chewing on things throughout the night to try and relieve their painful gums.
Even once a puppy or dog is past the teething stage, they may still engage in chewing behaviors if they are bored, so it is important to puppy proof the house and limit a dog’s access to chewable items as much as possible.
You can also help limit chewing behaviors during the night by making sure that your dog receives plenty of enrichment and physical activity before bedtime so that they are tired and ready to sleep.
#5: Your House is Puppy Proofed
One of the last things to think about before deciding to let your puppy sleep outside of his crate at night is how “puppy proofed” your house is, or at the least the area where your puppy will be sleeping at night.
Prior to letting your puppy sleep outside of her crate at night, anything chewable, toxic, or potentially dangerous to a curious puppy should be picked up or placed where the puppy cannot reach it. This includes houseplants, shoes, remote controls, cords, books, and even outlets. Like a human child, precautions should be taken so that your puppy does not accidentally injure himself during the night.
The best way to ensure your puppy is safe while sleeping outside of his crate at night is to limit his access to the house at first by confining him to a bathroom or small bedroom, and then gradually expanding his access as he ages and becomes trustworthy in the house at night.
At What Age is an Adult Dog Ready to Sleep Outside the Crate?
For adult dogs, the decision on whether to let them sleep outside of the crate at night depends on if they’ve completed the crate training process, if they are house-trained, or if they have any known behavioral or health issues that may pose a risk to them (or your house) if they are left to their own devices throughout the night.
Some adult dogs have previous crate training; thus, you don’t really have to take into consideration how letting them sleep outside of the crate at night might impact the overall crate training process as you would with puppies.
Many adult dogs are already house-trained so that, too, is a factor that may hold no relevance to your decision to letting them sleep outside of the crate at night. However, some dogs and puppies can experience crate training regression that may set them back a bit too.
The biggest factor to consider when thinking about letting your adult dog sleep outside of the crate at night is whether she has any behavioral or health issues. If you have an adult dog who experiences separation anxiety, compulsive behaviors, or who struggles to sleep at night and instead paces, gets into things, or chews out of boredom, then it’s probably not the right time to let them sleep outside of the crate at night.
Similarly, if you have an adult dog who is dealing with any short-term or long-term health issue, such as diabetes, epilepsy, or an infection or injury of some kind, then it is probably best to keep them inside of their crate at night just to be on the safe side.
How to Prepare Your Puppy to Stay Outside of the Crate at Night
Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about how to prepare your pup!
Adjust Your Puppy’s Schedule Gradually
As your puppy ages and goes through the house-training process, it’s best to start transitioning them to sleeping outside the crate at night gradually.
You can do this by scheduling their feeding times, playtime, and potty breaks at times where it will be most beneficial to their experience sleeping outside of the crate at night.
For feeding times, this might mean gradually moving up their dinner time to an earlier point in the day with plenty of time in-between dinner and bedtime where they can go to the bathroom.
For playtime, this may mean scheduling an extra vigorous play session a couple of hours before bedtime to help them get out an excess energy and tire them out before bed.
For potty breaks, you may need to add in an extra potty break right before you go to bed, and then perhaps get up a little earlier than you normally do to let them outside to potty until they have adjusted to your normal sleep and wake schedule.
Depending on your puppy and your living situation, you may also consider letting the puppy sleep in a more confined area at first, such as a bathroom or in the kitchen confined behind a baby gate. This allows your puppy a little more freedom at night, but also limits the access they have to the rest of the house until you can trust that they won’t get into anything or potty in the house at night.
Limit Access to Food & Water Just Before Bedtime
For most puppies and dogs, they do not need to have access to water or food throughout the night.
Sticking to a regular feeding schedule will help, but if you free feed your puppy removing his access to his food a few hours before his scheduled bedtime will reduce the chances of him pooping in the house at night. With water, you can also pick up or empty any water dishes about 30-40 minutes before your puppy’s last potty break before bedtime which will allow him to empty his bladder completely.
The exception to limiting access to food or water just prior to bedtime is if your pup is experiencing a health issue, or if your veterinarian advises that your dog has access to food or water throughout the night for health reasons.
Tire Your Pup Out!
One of the best ways to prepare your puppy for sleeping outside of the crate at night is to make sure he is tired!
A bored puppy is a dangerous puppy, so taking the steps to make sure your pup is tired (both mentally and physically) before bedtime will help him sleep through the night and not cause trouble. You can do this by increasing his play sessions, doing some extra training before bedtime, or by providing some mentally stimulating activities like a fun puzzle toy or other enrichment.
Is it Better to Keep My Puppy in the Crate at Night?
In some cases, it might be better to crate your pup at night even if he’s otherwise OK to sleep outside of the crate at night.
Keeping your puppy in their crate at night ensures that they are always in a safe area, and you know exactly where they are throughout the night. This is especially helpful if you live in a home where there are young children or elderly people who may accidentally leave doors open or leave food or other items out at night that may pose a threat to your puppy.
For most dogs, the crate is also a safe space for them, and many will seek out the den-like atmosphere of the crate if they are feeling overwhelmed, tired, or if they just want a break from your household for a while.
At the minimum, leaving your dog’s crate in an area where he can easily access it at any point gives him the option of using it of his own free will whenever he’d like to.
Why Did My Puppy Start Peeing In The House Again After Being Left Out Of His Crate For A While?
If you’ve recently let your puppy start sleeping outside of his crate but have noticed that he is peeing in the house at night (even if he previously went a few days without having an accident), then it’s likely that your puppy was never fully house-trained in the first place.
Depending on the age of the puppy and how consistent you have been with the potty-training process, it can take up to several weeks before your puppy would be considered fully potty-trained.
If your puppy has gone more than a week or two without having any accidents in the house, and he has learned how to alert you to the fact that he needs to go out, then he could probably be considered fully house-trained and can be left outside of his crate at night.
But if it’s only been a few days since his last accident, or if he is not very clear on indicating when he needs to be let outside, then it’s best to keep in his crate at night until you can complete the potty-training process.
If you pup does potty in the house at night, don’t punish him but instead just go back to using the crate at night for a few days before trying to let him sleep outside of the crate at night again. Just make sure you are cleaning up any accidents with an enzyme-based cleaner so he does not smell his previous accident and assume he can go there again!
There’s a lot to think about when considering whether your pup is ready to sleep outside of their crate at night! But if you are paying attention to your dog’s needs and ensuring that your puppy is safe at night, having a successful night outside of their crate with no incidents is possible.