How to Create a Puppy Crate Training Schedule

how to create a puppy crate training schedule

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If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already decided that you’d like to crate train your puppy, but you’re wondering how to ensure that you set your puppy up for success with their crate training. Puppy crate training schedules are a great way to help keep you and your puppy on track with the crate training process.

How do you set up a good puppy crate training schedule?

Puppy crate training schedules should be tailored to the puppy’s specific age, size, and health condition. As the puppy ages, you can adjust the schedule to fit their current needs. Puppy crate training schedules help ensure success when crate training your puppy, and lead to an overall happier and healthier puppy.

Below we will discuss why a puppy crate training schedule is so important and how it benefits both you and your puppy. We will go over how to create a puppy crate training schedule, when and why the schedule should be adjusted, and how to help your puppy stick to his crate training schedule. We’ve also included sample puppy crate training schedules to give you an idea of how to set up your own puppy’s crate training schedule.

Why a Puppy Crate Training Schedule Is So Important

Crate training your puppy is not only a good way to help with potty training, but it’s also a great way to provide a safe space for your puppy to relax and keep him out of trouble when he cannot be supervised. Creating a puppy crate training schedule is one of the best ways to help you find success when crate training your puppy and will help make the entire process much easier for both you and your puppy.

A Puppy Crate Training Schedule Can Help with…

Potty Training

Getting your puppy on a good schedule for potty breaks is made much easier if you are crate training them at the same time, and the crate itself can help with housebreaking issues- especially when it comes to nighttime accidents. Using a crate training schedule to keep track of when you should let your puppy out of the crate for potty breaks will help the house-training process go much faster and helps teach your puppy that the crate is not a bathroom.

Rest Breaks

By using a crate training schedule for your puppy, it will help you figure out what time (or times) of the day your puppy could use a rest break. Just like how we humans could benefit from a short nap during the day, so too can puppies!

Bedtime

Crate training schedules are especially beneficial for bedtime or whenever you must put your puppy up if you are unable to supervise her. Once your puppy is on a consistent schedule for bedtime (or when it’s time for you to go to work!), they will be much more willing to go into the crate and will understand that it’s time for sleep.

Consider These 4 Factors When Creating Puppy Crate Training Schedule

When creating your puppy crate training schedule, keep in mind that you will get the best results when you are consistent and patient with the crate training process.

Sticking to the schedule you create, using positive reinforcement to make the crate a fun and happy place for the puppy to be, and being patient with the learning process for both you and your puppy.

You’ll also need to look at the following four things when creating your puppy crate training schedule:

1. Age of the Puppy

To create your puppy crate training schedule, first look at how old your puppy is. The younger the puppy, the more frequently he will need to be taken out to potty.

A good rule of thumb is to let a puppy outside for every hour per month of their age, plus one additional hour. So, an 8-week-old puppy should be let out every 3 hours (two months of age + the extra hour) and a 16-week-old puppy should be let out every 5 hours (four months of age + the extra hour). Some puppies will be able to hold their pee longer, but this still works as a good guideline.

Puppies also need to be taken out about 10-15 minutes after eating or drinking anything, just after they’ve woken up from a nap, or after intensive playtime or physical activity. They should also be let out one more time just before being put into their crate for the night, and immediately upon waking up in the morning. However, puppies will rarely need to be taken out in the middle night unless you have an inconsistent schedule.

Younger puppies also need more rest breaks compared to older puppies who have a little bit more energy.

2. Breed & Size of the Puppy

The second thing to look at when creating your puppy crate training schedule is the size and breed of the puppy. Smaller puppies, such as Yorkshire Terriers or Maltipoos, need to be let out more frequently than larger puppies, like a Lab or Rottweiler. This is due to their smaller bladder size which fills faster than a larger puppy.

In terms of energy, smaller puppies and larger puppies are probably around the same (depending on their age) but certain breeds may be more energetic and require more time outside of the crate for playtime or exercise.

For larger breed puppies, you also want to make sure the crate is large enough for them to comfortably move around and lay down in.

3. The Puppy’s Overall Health Condition

The third thing to look at when creating your puppy crate training schedule will be the puppy’s overall health. You should also be considering any additional information your veterinarian has provided you with how often the puppy should be let out.

If your puppy has any kind of illness or injury, this could affect how often they need to stay in the crate or be let out of the crate. For example, if your puppy has a kidney infection, they may need to be let out more frequently to go to the bathroom.

If your puppy has an injured leg and has been ordered on bed rest by your veterinarian, then he probably needs to stay in the crate for extended periods of time. Always set up your puppy crate training schedule with your puppy’s well-being in mind!

4. Your Own Schedule

The final thing to consider when creating your puppy crate training schedule is your own schedule. If you work outside of the home, you might need to adapt your puppy’s crate training schedule so that it fits your work schedule.

For younger puppies, you will also need to consider a schedule that works if you happen to need to go to an event where the puppy’s regular schedule might be thrown off. By taking that into consideration now, you are less likely to run into roadblocks with the crate training process later.

After you’ve considered all that basic information, you can now create your puppy’s crate training schedule! To create the schedule, you can create a digital version using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, or you can just use a pen and piece of paper.

Whatever method you choose to use, make sure it is easily understandable for your entire family and that you place it in a central part of your house so everyone can see it and stick to it.

We’ve included a few examples of schedules for three different puppies, as well as an example of an initial crate training schedule for you to utilize when first crate training your puppy.

Keep in mind that these schedules are examples only and may vary for your own puppy based on your work schedule, your puppy’s feeding schedule, and you or your puppy’s own individual scheduling needs.

As always, if your puppy indicates that they need to go potty at any point in their daily schedule between regular potty breaks, take them outside and reward them nicely!

Example of an Initial Puppy Crate Training Schedule

Week/Days Crate Training Session
Week 1, Days 1-3 Leave the crate door open and allow the puppy to investigate on their own. Praise & reward heavily whenever puppy enters the crate using high value treats or toys. Repeat several times throughout the day
Week 1, Day 3 When the puppy shows no signs of hesitation in entering the crate while the door is left open, throw a few treats into the crate to encourage the puppy to enter the crate, and then close the door halfway. Wait a few seconds before opening the door, then praise & reward the puppy heavily. Repeat several times throughout the day
Week 1, Days 4-5 If the puppy looks like she’s feeling comfortable in the crate while the door is slightly closed, start closing the door completely and wait 30-45 seconds before opening the door, then praise & reward the puppy heavily. Gradually increase the amount of time the door is closed. Make sure you are staying in sight of the puppy the entire time, and repeat several times throughout the day
Week 1, Days 6-7 Place the puppy in the crate with a few treats or a food-stuffed toy, then shut the door. Exit out of sight of the puppy and wait 30 seconds to 1 minute before returning to the puppy and opening the door to let them out. Repeat several times throughout the day, gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of sight
Week 2, Days 1-3 Start adding in a verbal cue such as “Let’s go to your crate!” just before placing the puppy into the crate, praising & rewarding them heavily for entering the crate. Provide them with treats or a food-stuffed toy to occupy them while they are in the crate. Repeat several times throughout the day
Week 2, Days 3-5 Give your puppy the verbal cue for entering the crate, but do not throw treats or provide a food-stuffed Kong. Exit out of sight and leave them for a short period of time, approximately 10 to 20 minutes before returning to let them. Praise & reward them heavily, then repeat as needed throughout the day
Week 2, Days 5-7 Extend the duration the puppy must stay in their crate, praising & rewarding them heavily. You can start to gradually fade out the treats at this time, and instead reward them with playtime or a walk after they are let out of the crate. Repeat as needed throughout the day
Weeks 3-5 Continue to gradually extend the duration the puppy is in the crate (the goal at this point is to go the entire night in the crate without any stress on the puppy’s part), while being mindful of your puppy’s needs and ensuring that they are getting plenty of enrichment, potty breaks, water breaks, and socialization
Week 6 (& Beyond) Adjust the puppy’s schedule as needed based on their age and progress in housetraining, as well as your own personal schedule

Example for 8-Week-Old Puppy

Time of Day Activity
7:00am Puppy Wakes Up
7:05am to 7:15am Take puppy outside
7:15am to 7:45am Feed Puppy
8:00am to 8:15am Take puppy outside
8:15am to 8:45am Put the puppy in crate for short nap
8:45am to 9:15am Playtime with puppy
9:15am to 9:30am Take puppy outside
9:30am to 11:30am Work on training with puppy in 5–10-minute bursts, with playtime & enrichment in-between sessions
11:30am to 11:45am Take puppy outside
11:45am to 12:00pm Feed puppy
12:15pm to 12:30pm Take puppy outside
12:30pm to 1:30pm Put puppy in crate for an afternoon nap
1:30pm to 1:45pm Take puppy outside
1:45pm to 2:15pm Playtime with puppy
2:15pm to 2:30pm Take puppy outside
2:30pm to 3:30pm Work on training with puppy in 5-10-minute bursts, with playtime & enrichment in-between sessions
3:30pm to 3:45pm Take puppy outside
3:45pm to 4:00pm Feed puppy
4:00pm to 4:15pm Take puppy outside
4:15pm to 5:00pm Put puppy in crate for short nap
5:00pm to 5:15pm Take puppy outside
5:15pm to 7:00pm Provide enrichment activities to keep puppy occupied (under supervision in or outside of crate)
7:00pm to 7:15pm Take puppy outside
7:15pm to 7:30pm Feed puppy
7:30pm to 7:45pm Take puppy outside
7:45pm to 8:45pm Playtime with puppy
8:45pm to 9:00pm Take puppy outside
9:00pm Put puppy to bed

Example for a 12-Week-Old Puppy

Time of Day Activity
7:00am Puppy Wakes Up
7:05am to 7:15am Take puppy outside
7:15am to 7:45am Feed Puppy
8:00am to 8:15am Take puppy outside
8:15am to 8:45am Put puppy in crate for short nap
8:45am to 9:00am Take puppy outside
9:00am to 10:15am Playtime with puppy
10:15am to 10:30am Take puppy outside
10:30am to 12:30pm Work on training with puppy in 5–10-minute bursts, with playtime, enrichment & periods of rest outside of their crate in-between training sessions
12:30pm to 12:45pm Take puppy outside
12:45pm to 1:00pm Feed puppy
1:15pm to 1:30pm Take puppy outside
1:30pm to 2:00pm Put puppy in crate for an afternoon nap
2:00pm to 2:15pm Take puppy outside
2:15pm to 3:15pm Playtime with puppy
3:15pm to 3:30pm Take puppy outside
3:30pm to 5:30pm Work on training with puppy in 5-10-minute bursts, with playtime, enrichment & rest breaks outside of their crate in-between training sessions
5:30pm to 5:45pm Take puppy outside
5:45pm to 7:00pm Provide enrichment activities to keep puppy occupied (under supervision in or outside of crate)
7:00pm to 7:15pm Take puppy outside
7:15pm to 7:30pm Feed puppy
7:30pm to 7:45pm Take puppy outside
7:45pm to 8:45pm Provide playtime & enrichment activities to keep puppy occupied (under supervision in or outside of crate)
8:45pm to 9:00pm Take puppy outside
9:00pm Put puppy to bed

Example for 16-Week-Old Puppy

Time of Day Activity
7:00am Puppy Wakes Up
7:05am to 7:15am Take puppy outside
7:15am to 7:45am Feed Puppy
8:00am to 8:15am Take puppy outside
8:15am to 9:30am Playtime with puppy
9:30am to 9:45am Take puppy outside
9:45am to 1:30pm Work on training with puppy in 5–10-minute bursts, with playtime, enrichment & periods of rest outside of their crate in-between training sessions
1:30pm to 1:45pm Take puppy outside
1:45pm to 3:15pm Playtime with puppy or provide enrichment activities
3:15pm to 3:30pm Take puppy outside
3:30pm to 5:30pm Work on training with puppy in 5-10-minute bursts, with playtime, enrichment & rest breaks outside of their crate in-between training sessions
5:30pm to 5:45pm Take puppy outside
5:45pm to 7:00pm Provide enrichment activities to keep puppy occupied (under supervision in or outside of crate)
7:00pm to 7:15pm Take puppy outside
7:15pm to 7:30pm Feed puppy
7:30pm to 7:45pm Take puppy outside
7:45pm to 8:45pm Provide playtime & enrichment activities to keep puppy occupied (under supervision in or outside of crate)
8:45pm to 9:00pm Take puppy outside
9:00pm Put puppy to bed

Puppy crate training schedules should be customized to your specific puppy and your needs.

Depending on your schedule, you may decide to “fast track” the puppy’s crate training and just place them in their crate at bedtime and place them in a room where their crying and whining will be drowned out while you sleep, however that method has risks associated with it and may increase the length of time before the puppy is crate trained.

Following that schedule for crate training may also cause your puppy to think of the crate as a “bad” place. If you can stick to a longer, more gradual schedule with lots of positive reinforcement and letting the puppy go at their own pace, then the likelihood of your puppy willingly going into and staying in the crate increases.

This slower method also has a higher success rate for ensuring the puppy thinks of the crate as a wonderful place to be!

When & Why You Should Adjust the Schedule

As your puppy ages, or if they develop a health or behavioral condition, you will need to adjust their crate training schedule accordingly. This also holds true in the very beginning stages of the crate training process, or even when you thought your puppy was fully crate trained.

How to Adjust Your Puppy’s Crate Training Schedule

If possible, any adjustments to the puppy’s crate training schedule should be done very gradually. Since dogs are such habitual creatures, they will adapt easier if changes are introduced slowly rather than all at once.

Obviously, we might not be able to do this all the time, so if you must make an adjustment quickly just be prepared for some bumps in the road with the puppy’s crate training including the possibility of crate training regression.

You can make it easier on your pup by offering them additional opportunities to go potty or provide them with extended enrichment like a food-stuffed toy in their crate. Just make sure anything you put in their crate does not pose a choking hazard if they will be without supervision for any length of time!

Closing Thoughts

Utilizing a puppy crate training schedule is one of the easiest ways to help crate train your puppy, as well as speed up the house-training process. You can easily customize and adjust your puppy’s crate training schedule based on their (and your!) needs. By being consistent and patient with your puppy throughout the learning process, you are on your way to having a fully crate trained puppy!