Congratulations on getting your new puppy to sleep and feel comfortable in their crate!
You might feel like crate training is taking forever, but fear not, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
There does come the point where your crate training days are over, and you have a pup that can handle life without micromanaging the kennel time.
Puppies are ready to sleep outside the crate when they’ve reached mental and emotional maturity and have met your crate training goals. This is between 6 to 24 months of age for most dogs. It’s best to transition a puppy from crate to bed slowly to not undo all of your crate training.
In this article, I will be sharing the secrets to success in getting your puppy to sleep in their own bed instead of the crate!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Whether or not your puppy is ready to sleep without the kennel is heavily dependent upon a few different factors. Before we get into those points, the general consensus is that you can start getting your pup used to sleeping in their own bed between the ages of six months old and two years old depending upon the individual dog.
Determining the perfect time to wean the baby off of their crate depends on the following:
Whether human or animal, all babies go through various phases in their brain’s development.
Phases such as fear periods, impulsiveness, and testing boundaries are all a part of healthy babyhood. Each of these periods comes to an end one by one and will eventually lead to a more mature offspring.
In dogs, emotional and mental maturity is when your dog becomes a lot more sound. Their temperament and personality really shine through; they’ve developed reasonable impulse control, excellent emotional control, and are (quite literally) maturing into a fine young adult dog.
At this point, your dog can be better trusted to make sound decisions and to take everything you’ve taught them into account.
You really can compare this to a person in how much they change between the age of, say, 15 and 25. At 15, decisions are more impulsive, with minimal regard for future consequences. On the other hand, at 25, the decision-making is much more mature and sound.
Dogs all mature differently, so it’s important to know your own dog rather than base it on others.
Breed can also impact maturity, as more primitive dogs like the rare Korean Jindo mature much faster than breeds like the boxer.
Temperament also impacts mental maturity, as dogs with better breeding (and therefore better temperament) mature faster than those with not. Size may also play a role, with smaller dogs quicker to mature than larger ones.
Crate training is done for a large array of reasons. But, with each reason comes a goal to achieve. These goals may include:
If your puppy has successfully met your crate training goals and stayed consistent on that, it is time to begin trusting your dog.
You can transition the four-legged baby out of a closed kennel and into their own bed (which also comes along with some more household freedom as a whole).
Before you hastily turn your puppy’s world upside down and undo all of the crate training efforts you put in, slow down! Transitioning a puppy from their crate into their bed requires patience and time.
Your goal is to maintain their crate training and continue using a crate but to also grant the dog the freedom to enjoy their own dog bed and have confident access to your home. To not send confusing signals, you have to do this slowly.
The first step is pretty easy - leave your pup out of their crate for longer periods! This lets you pretty quickly gauge whether your puppy is ready for this big transition or not.
Keep doing your day-to-day activities, pretend everything is normal and the same as always, and see how your dog responds.
Ideally, your dog will be totally fine and act as if absolutely nothing is different or new. If your dog makes baby dog mistakes (as I call them) like chewing or pottying, go back to crate training and try again in a few months.
A dog that is used to being crated may be overwhelmed with too much freedom. Especially since in the process of crate training, you never truly gave your dog full reign of the house on their own!
As you begin leaving your dog out of their crate for longer and longer, start with just a room or two at a time (keep the other doors closed or put up a baby gate). Progressively open more and more doors, which usually happens in conjunction with leaving your dog out for longer amounts of time.
This can make exploring a bit more fun and easy, rather than daunting and overwhelming.
Dogs don’t speak our language - we seem to understand their language better than they understand our English words! With the language barrier, your dog may not know what you want from them.
When you get them a shiny, brand new dog bed, you have to introduce them to it. Let your dog sniff, explore, and check out the new bed and offer a reward (whether a treat, petting, or excited praise) when they lay down on it. Rinse and repeat.
Let your dog sleep on the new dog bed during the daytime and become very comfortable with it. Eventually, they may start choosing to sleep there for the evenings too.
Transitioning your pup out of the crate and into a dog bed isn’t something to be done cold turkey. Keep your dog’s crate door open so that they can come in and out as they please.
As a matter of fact, once you do get your pup to sleep in a dog bed at night, you should keep the crate! Just leave it open at all times.
The entire point of crate training is to get your dog comfortable staying in a confined space when needed, as well as giving your pup a space that is all their own.
If you’ve done crate training well, your pup will love their crate and go in there of their own accord.
So why would you undo all of that hard work by taking the crate away? It’s best to give your dog options rather than make the decision for them.