Puppies are just like baby humans; they need a lot of sleep when growing.
Whether you’re a brand new puppy owner or this is your tenth puppy to raise, you know that the little four-legged ones will snooze frequently.
In the process of crate training, you might be wondering whether or not daytime sleep sessions should happen inside of their crate.
Ideally, your puppy should nap in the crate to have a positive association with the crate. The more the puppy sleeps in there, the more they will be calm, relaxed, and drowsy in the crate in the future. Unless they are unsupervised, there is no need to shut the crate door.
In this article, I’ll talk about how nap time intertwines with crate training.
I’ll also share the secrets to the best practices of ensuring your puppy gets enough sleep and is successful with their crate training!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Puppies need around 18 to 20 hours of sleep per day!
This certainly means that your little one will be lopping down for some sleepy time frequently. Although some owners let their puppy nap anywhere they please, if you’re crate training, you really want to encourage your dog to spend a lot of their nap time in there.
This is because you want there to be a calm, relaxed, and positive association with the crate. The more you encourage your puppy to close their eyes and rest in the crate, the more your puppy will be inclined to relate the crate with being calm.
It’s, funny enough, a similar association with our own napping. Have you ever had someone tell you that if you nap in the car, never nap in the driver’s seat? That’s because over time, our body begins associating tiredness with that particular location in our vehicle - and being drowsy in the driver’s seat isn’t safe.
Let’s take this concept and relate it to puppies. Their bodies (and minds) will eventually have a calm, drowsy response when utilizing the crate. This is our ideal!
The rule of thumb is that you want most puppy naps to be centered around the crate.
However, depending on the kind of household you want to keep, you can let your puppy fall asleep elsewhere in the home as well.
If your dog is one that will be out most of the time, they should feel comfortable in various parts of your home. Plus, waking a sleeping dog makes for a grumpy pup!
That being said, during crate training, it may be more of your benefit to keep as many of the naps in the crate as possible so that your puppy builds up that positive association with the crate.
But, puppies take a lot of naps during the daytime, so don’t inconvenience yourself and inconvenience your dog if they sleep on the floor or on the couch a few times instead of the crate.
Now that we’ve established it is more in your favor to have the puppy nap in the crate than not, it’s time to sort out how to actually encourage the little one!
If you can predict when your puppy needs to nap, you can better encourage them to get into that crate in time! Some of the signs of a puppy that desperately needs to plomp down for a snooze include:
I am sure you would be less eager to sleep if your bed was super uncomfortable, so why should your puppy be made to sleep in discomfort too?
The more comfy, cozy, warm, and fuzzy you make their crate, the more appealing it will be for nap times.
Puppies (and adult dogs as well) thrive on routines and schedules.
Not only does this allow your dog to know what to do and when (making for a less busy mind), but it can also help their body function better. Puppy bodies feel moldable (almost) and can be encouraged to perform certain behaviors at specific times, such as sleeping!
Setting up a nap schedule for your puppy can help them feel tired at the right time, making crate time much easier.
When you notice your pup getting drowsy, start luring them into the crate.
You can use treats, words of affection, and excitement about the crate to get them in there! Once inside, you should see your puppy falling asleep shortly afterward.
If your puppy falls asleep elsewhere, you can very gently carry them back into the crate.
Just like kids, very young puppies sleep deeply enough to not wake when you carry them. Scoop your little one up gently and place them inside of the crate!
If your dog is a light sleeper, it isn’t worth making them cranky by waking up the puppy from a nap. Try luring into the crate instead.
Whether the door should be shut or not, that’s an answer based on circumstance.
Do not close the door if you are first training your pup to be comfortable with the crate.
Instead, let the door be freely open so that your puppy doesn’t feel trapped in there! You need that positive association to form before locking them in with no escape.
Think of it this way, how would you feel if someone pushed you into a closet and shut the door immediately? Probably not very well. You would, however, feel more comfortable if you had time to familiarize yourself with the closet.
Once your puppy progresses well in crate training, closing them in becomes less of a traumatic experience (and you should practice having that door closed).
When your puppy is content with the crate, closing the door during nap time is no big deal - and should be done if you can’t supervise your puppy. However, if the puppy is being supervised, there isn’t any reason to close that door.