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Crate training puppies is an essential part of their growing up process. Puppies begin to treat their crates as a sanctuary within their adopted homes where they can be calm, relaxed and happy. Crate training is important for the well being of both the puppy and your household belongings when you are not around to look after them.
Crate training also prepares them for times spent inside during trips to vets.
Once you have trained your puppy well, you would find that they would slip inside their crates on their own, and sit their without any signs of stress or anxiety. However, it is also true that puppies do not love being inside the crate right from the beginning. It takes a lot of commitment and training before they start feeling comfortable inside their crates. Without careful training, your puppy would feel lonely and isolated inside the crate and eventually come to associate bad vibes with it.
This is especially true when you are crate training a puppy at night. Puppies are overcome with a feeling of abandonment when you put them in a crate and exit the room. This is manifested in yelps and cries throughout the night, leading to many a sleepless nights. However, with persistence, you can succeed in crate training puppies at night.
Before we get to crate training puppy at night, there are certain basics that every dog owner should have covered. Firstly, the crate size. If it is too small, it would be claustrophobic, painful and downright cruel for the puppy. However, most often, dog owners tend to err on the side of caution and acquire a crate that is too large. This too is a bad idea, as an oversized crate loses its purpose.
Secondly, make sure that the crate is both comfortable and safe for your puppy. It should ideally be kept at a peaceful place, away from constant sources of noise. Also, the crate should not be placed at a place where it gets wet, exposed to sunglight, or any other sources of heat. The crate should have a comfortable bedding to make it appealing to your puppy.
Thirdly, gently initiate your puppy to the crate. This could be done with the aid of treats and toys. Take care to keep the door open at all times during its first few contact with the crate. You do not want the puppy to get inside the crate and the door slamming shut, as it might cause him to panic. The goal of getting used to the crate is to create happy association and not an unpleasant memory.
With the above taken care of, we can now proceed to certain tips and tricks to ensure both the puppies and their owners get sound sleep at night.
1) Keep your dog active and engaged before bed time:
One of the biggest causes of a whining puppy at night is that they are simply full of energy. If you do not take care to play with your dog during the hours leading up to its bed time, then it is going to stay awake and crave company and attention during the night. Unsurprisingly, with the attention and company not forthcoming, the puppy starts crying and whining before long.
Therefore, it would be a good idea to make sure your puppy gets its fair share of exercise and play time during the day. In particular, make sure they are not napping during a couple of hours before their crate time. Your goal is to have the puppy tired and exhausted like yourself, so that both of you go to bed with nothing but sleep in mind.
2) Do not reward bad behavior:
Puppies quickly learn through association of reward and expected behavior. In other words, when you reward a certain behavior, you can expect more of it in the future. In the case of crying and whining at night, you would be rewarding bad behavior by giving it attention or bringing it to your bed.
It is entirely understandable that you want to reassure your crying puppy or simply want some peace and quiet for your own sleep. However, you should consider the long term of implications of rewarding such bad behavior and stay away from spending time with it, make reassuring noises, or, the worst, bring him over to bed. Remember, crate training a puppy at night takes discipline and will power, and it is only going to come from you, and not the puppy.
3) Administer their bathroom breaks:
Puppies cannot hold their bladder throughout the night until they are 3-4 months old. This means you will have to get up at night and help them relieve themselves. Without your help, they will not learn proper potty training. However, there are certain precautions you must take during their potty breaks at night.
Firstly, you should stay silent and simply lead the puppy to its potty place. It is important you do not make any endearing or fussy sounds. Similarly, once they have done their job, lead them back to the crate and leave. You must not take a few moments to pet it or play with it. Otherwise your puppy would associate night time with play time.
Secondly, do not feed your puppy or have them drink plenty of water during 2-3 hours before their bed time. Make sure to take them for their potty routine right before the crate time. Sticking to this routine means that your puppies will not feel uncomfortable during the night and sleep soundly. Remember, crate training your puppy at night also trains them about their feeding and potty routine. In other words, stick diligently to their feeding and potty routine before bed time.
4) Keep the crate in your bedroom:
As mentioned earlier, a lot of puppies have a hard time crate training because they feel isolated and abandoned inside it. However, this initial reaction can be overcome if you put the crate in your bedroom so that your puppy can see and smell you, and feel reassured. In fact, this is the first trick puppy owners learn when they are researching online puppy training sites.
After a few days in your bedroom, you can slowly move the crate away in a step by step manner. Remember, acting in a gradual manner is key to successfully crate training a puppy at night.
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