Effective Puppy Crate Training Schedule: Our Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on April, 2024

Crate training is one of THE BEST ways to potty train your young puppy.

Dogs are naturally den animals, and they dislike sleeping in their own waste, which makes a crate the perfect way to train them in good habits.

BUT, the effectiveness of crate training depends on how you implement your crate training schedule.

It may seem challenging to create an effective crate training schedule that works perfectly for your dog and your family, especially given how hectic things can be.

However, tough doesn’t mean impossible!

You’re in luck because, in this article, I will be covering how to implement a puppy crate training schedule to have your new puppy potty trained in no time!

Quick Summary

Creating a consistent bedtime routine for your puppy is essential for successful crate training. This can include turning down the lights, playing music, using oils, and giving them a toy to provide emotional comfort.

Take your puppy out to their designated potty spot at least once every two hours during the day and more frequently during the night. Doing this will help reduce the chances of house soiling.

An easy way to figure out how long puppies can hold it in is to take their age in months and add one. You can then adjust the crate training schedule as necessary and be prepared for any unexpected bathroom visits.

Setting Up for Crate Training

two puppies resting inside a wooden crate

Before you start implementing a crate training schedule, it’s vital that your puppy loves his crate. The setup of the crate is crucial in this regard.

Instances of barking, crying, and continuous whining will be minimized when your puppy grows to love his crate.

Firstly, you must pick the right spot for your puppy’s crate. 

If you have a very young puppy, place the crate somewhere where he can see you most of the time. You can also change the crate’s location later, so don’t sweat it!

Keeping the puppy crate in a high-traffic area ensures that your puppy stays engaged and involved in household activity, even during rest periods.

Set the crate up with a cozy mat or bed and a crate liner to keep the bed from slipping. Add a crate water bottle and your dog’s favorite chew toy to make the crate as inviting as possible.

Some puppies like having a covered crate that mimics a den-like environment. If this is the case with your dog, ensure you use a properly fitted crate cover instead of a loose blanket, which could be a choking hazard.

Plan out the marker word, release words and cues you will use during the crate training process. You can use words like “in” and “out” with a hand gesture or use “yes” to show your approval.

Let other household members know these words or phrases so that your dog will receive consistent commands no matter who is training him on a particular day.

Additionally, have a store of training treats ready to make your training sessions fun for your pup! 

Then, you can shower him with praise and give him his favorite training treats as training rewards when he relieves himself in the desired manner.

A fun idea is to fill a hollow KONG toy with peanut butter or other such treats, freeze it, and give it to your puppy. This will keep him plenty occupied during crate time. 

Introduce Your Pup to the Crate

Two golden retriever puppies behind a chain fence

Think about meeting a new person.

Unless you’re in a rom-com, you wouldn’t immediately trust them with your life and deepest, darkest secrets. It takes time for friendship and trust to blossom between two people.

And that’s how your puppy will trust and find comfort in his new crate.

With time.

Introducing your puppy to his crate is not something to be rushed. Puppy owners should allow their puppies to explore their crates until they think of it as their safe space.

This may take a lightning few minutes, a few hours, OR it could take days. So, patience is vital. 

With chew toys and comfortable bedding, you’ve already made the dog crate as inviting and comfortable as possible.

But what should you do if your puppy is unsure about entering the dog crate?

If your puppy is still on the fence about the crate, try slowly familiarizing them with food.

Place your dog’s meal and water bowl near the puppy crate during mealtimes. Doing so will help create a positive association about the crate in your puppy’s mind. 

Start at a point a bit away from the crate and gradually move the bowls closer to each subsequent meal until your puppy has his food inside the crate.

When your puppy is comfortable inside the crate, close the crate door. 

At first, it can be for just a few seconds. But gradually, start keeping your puppy in his crate longer with the door closed until they learn that their crate is a space for them to relax.

In this way, you should soon reach a state where you and your puppy are completely fine with him being left inside the crate when you’re not around.

Depending on the puppy, you may observe separation anxiety in the beginning. But this is quite normal and a good training routine should reduce the chances of it happening considerably.

Puppy Crate Training Schedule: Daytime Training

And now for the actual puppy crate training schedule!

This is the hard part because young puppies are like newborn babies.

They need a lot of constant attention because potty accidents are plenty when puppies are at a young age.

This is because their bladders are still growing and developing, meaning puppies can’t hold it in for long.

Scheduling your puppy’s life helps to put their bodily functions such as sleeping, eating, and eliminating on a routine, which makes everything so much easier for you.

A puppy drinking water from a bowl

An effective training schedule should follow these beats;

  • Confinement
  • Elimination
  • Exercise, fun times, and learning
  • Supervision throughout
  • Repeat

When potty training your puppy (or even your older dog), scheduling potty breaks throughout the day should be prioritized.

But how does one do that?When are the most effective times to schedule potty breaks? How often should you take your puppy out on a potty break?

All valid questions, and here are your answers!

Potty Break Schedule

Take your puppy out to their designated potty area every day during these specific times;

  • Bright and early in the morning: As soon as you wake up, make it a point to take your puppy out to potty. Your puppy should go directly from his crate to his potty target for successful potty training. You can’t stop for your keys, phone, and coffee after you let your dog out of the crate. So, ensure you have everything you need to get going before letting your puppy out of his crate.
  • After every meal: Wait 15-30 minutes after your puppy has eaten, and then take them out on a potty or pee break. Doing so every day without fail will reduce the chances of house soiling. Most importantly, DON’T leave food and water out for your pup all day. Have a set feeding schedule and remove the food after 10-15 minutes. If your puppy is allowed to eat all day long, you won’t ever be able to rid him of his unwanted behaviors. 
  • Following playtime or naptime: Be ready to take your puppy out to potty immediately after they’ve been super active or just woken up from a nap.

How Long Can Your Puppy Hold it in?

A crucial factor you need to consider when devising a puppy crate training schedule is how long your puppy can hold in their urge to eliminate.

A one month old puppy will not have the same bladder-holding capacity as a two month old puppy.

An easy way to figure out how many hours puppies can hold it in is to take their age in months and add one.

Here’s a quick table laying it all out!

Puppy AgeHow Long They Can Hold It In For
2 months old (8 weeks)3 hours
3 months old (12 weeks)4 hours
4 months old (16 weeks)5 hours
5 months old (20 weeks)6 hours
6 months old (24 weeks)7 hours
7 months old (28 weeks)8 hours

And yes, this also, unfortunately, includes nighttime. The puppy crate training process is a 24/7 job! We will cover how to deal with nocturnal bathroom visits in just a bit, so sit tight.

It is essential to consider how long puppies can naturally hold it in because you have to devise a crate schedule that gives your puppy a chance to relieve himself BEFORE he has no choice but to soil himself.

Make a note of when your pup eliminates so that you can roughly figure out when they tend to go. You can then adjust their training schedule as necessary.

Signs Your Pup Needs to Go

Potty training and crate training become infinitely more manageable if you learn to pay attention to your puppy.

Watching out for signs that your dog wants to go will help you prevent potty training accidents from happening in the first place.

You may see your dog circling, whining, squatting, and restlessly pacing the room or even leaving the room when they need to potty.

Barking and scratching at the door are also obvious tell-tale signs.

A good house training tip is to react to these behavioral signs INSTANTLY. Hence, your dog knows these particular behaviors will tip you off.

a puppy using a puppy pad for potty training purposes

They will then show these signs whenever they want to go, and you’ll never have to deal with accidents around the house again!

Puppy Crate Training Schedule: Nighttime Training

Two pictures of puppies in a cage

Puppy training at night is a whole different playing field. Especially crate training first night is so hard.

You are constantly engaged and around your pup during the daytime and can observe him easily. 

This all changes at night.

You should start training during the day to ensure that puppy training goes smoothly at night. Then, you can ensure that a connection is built between your puppy and the crate before nightfall.

Keep your dog’s crate near you at night. This proximity will help you because, for one thing, you will need to make frequent bathroom runs during the night. 

Secondly, it will also help you and your pup bond with each other. Your puppy will feel less lonely (as will you!) having you close by. 

Line your dog’s crate with puppy training pads as well. Being prepared for an accident is always the best move! 

Here are a couple more things you can do to ensure your puppy crate training schedule translates well overnight.

Exercise Your Dog Before Bedtime

Go on a walk or a run and play with your dog for at least half an hour before their bedtime. 

If your puppies can’t go on walks yet because they aren’t vaccinated, you can try puzzle toys to get their gears turning.

Both mental and physical exercise are very beneficial for your puppy before bedtime. It keeps your dog healthy AND will tire them out, preparing them for rest time.

Establish a Firm Bedtime Routine

Puppies work well with routines, and teaching them a nighttime routine makes it remarkably easy to potty train many dogs.

It prepares them for what comes next, and they’ll know what is expected.

You and your pup’s bedtime routine can be as simple as turning down the lights or playing calming music. 

You can use soothing oils or give your pup a toy that makes the sound of a heart beating to calm him down.

Repeat these steps every night so that the routine is instilled in your puppy’s mind and he knows that it means that it’s time to sleep.

a puppy sleeping in a soft safe comfortable dog bedding inside a crate

When your pup wakes up to potty in the middle of the night, make sure you’re not playful. Talk in soft tones and keep things tame and boring. This way, they won’t try to stay up and play.

Remember to provide positive reinforcement after a bathroom break, even at night. Praise your pup for pottying outside, and then return him to his crate. 

Example Crate Training Schedule for Puppy Parents At Home All Day

a puppy standing next to two bowls of food

The following is a training schedule you can follow when you crate train your 2 to 6 month old pup if you are at home for most or all of the day. 

Remember that this is just an example and that you can tweak this schedule.

Some pups may potty within 20 minutes of eating, while other puppies may take 40 minutes.

Your schedule should depend on your pup’s individual traits.

  • 7:00 am: Wake up and take your pup outside to potty.
  • 7:10- 7:30 am: Keep your puppy confined in an enclosed area like a puppy pen for some free time.
  • 7:30 am: Give your pup food and water. If they don’t eat, remove the food within 10-15 minutes and try again at lunchtime.
  • 8:00 am: Take them to the potty outside. If they don’t go within 10 minutes, put them back in the crate and try again every 10 minutes until they successfully eliminate.
  • 8:15 am: Free time in an enclosed space.
  • 8:45 am: Crate time with a chew toy.
  • 10:00 am: Take them to potty outside and burn off some of their energy with supervised play outdoors or free play inside a puppy pen.
  • 10:45 am: Crate time.
  • 12:00 pm: Lunchtime! If they don’t have food and water, remove it within 10-15 minutes and try again at dinner.
  • 12:30 pm: Potty outside and allow them to play outside or in the enclosed area.
  • 1:15 pm: Back in for crate time.
  • 3:15 pm: Potty outside and let them play again outside or in the enclosed space.
  • 3:45 pm: Crate time again.
  • 5:00 pm: Dinnertime! And you know the drill by now- if they don’t eat, remove the leftovers within 10-15 minutes.
  • 5:30 pm: Take your pup outside to potty. If they don’t go, put them back in the crate and try again in 10 minutes.
  • 6:15 pm: Crate time again.
  • 8:00 pm: Time for their last water of the day. Leave it down for 15 minutes.
  • 8:15 pm: Take your pup outside to potty. If they don’t go, put them back in their crate and try again in 10 minutes.
  • 8:30 pm: Wear your pup out in preparation for bedtime with playtime and training games.
  • 9:00 pm: Crate time until 11:00 pm or your bedtime.
  • 11:00 pm: Take your pup outside to potty one last time. If they don’t go, try again in 10 minutes as usual.
  • 11:15 pm: Put your pup into his crate for the night.
  • And repeat!

You will still have to take your pup out to potty at intervals during the night until your puppy learns to adjust to his new routine. 

When your puppy reaches six months, he should be able to make it through the night without a bathroom break.

Example Crate Training Schedule for Puppy Parents Who Work Full-Time

A puppy is waiting to poop outside the crate

It is nearly impossible for dogs under 4 months to remain without a potty break for 8 hours.

If you work full-time, hiring a dog walker or having a friend/neighbor take care of your pup is best. 

Here’s an example of what your dog’s routine could look like if you work full-time.

  • 7:00 am: Wake up and take your pup outside to potty.
  • 7:10 am- 7:30 am: Free time in an enclosed space.
  • 7:30 am: Breakfast time!
  • 8:00 am: Take your dog outside to potty and put him back in the crate.
  • 12:00- 1:00 pm: Have a dog walker/ friend/ neighbor come to let your puppy out for a break.
  • 6:00 pm: Come home from work and take your dog outside.
  • 6:15- 6:30 pm: Burn off your pup’s energy with a training session or playtime.
  • 6:30 pm: Dinnertime! Leave food and water down for up to 15 minutes.
  • 7:00 pm: Time for a potty break outside. If they do not go within 10 minutes, take them back to the crate and try again every 10 minutes.
  • 7:30 pm: Back to the crate.
  • 9:00 pm: Give your dog food and water.
  • 9:30 pm: Take your dog outside to potty.
  • 9:40 pm: Free time in an enclosed space.
  • 11:00 pm: Go potty out once more. If they don’t go immediately, put them back in the crate and try again every 10 minutes until they eliminate. (If your bedtime is closer to 10 pm than 11 pm, take your pup outside to potty at 10 pm).
  • 11:10 pm: Let your puppy sleep in their crate for the night.
  • And repeat!

Read our complete guide on “Crating your dog when leaving the house for work.”

What Do Crate Training Schedules for Older Dogs Look Like?

a close up of an old dog looking at the camera

As you’ve probably realized from the example training schedules detailed above, your puppy is outside his crate for only short periods. 

This is because your puppy will need to rest inside a lot more than an adult dog.

However, as your pup starts to grow, his feeding schedule will have to change, and he will be able to spend more time out of his crate exercising and socializing.

Your dog can also hold it in for longer, so his potty breaks can be less frequent as he grows older.

If you have just adopted an adult dog who has never been crate trained, you’ll have to proceed patiently. 

It will be slow going, but it’s not at all impossible to crate train an older dog!

You’ll need to follow the same training structure as with a puppy. But you’ll have to remember that your adult dog’s feeding schedule and capacity to hold it in are different from that of a puppy. 

How to Choose the Right Crate for Your Dog?

Choosing the right crate for your dog is also crucial in getting your dog successfully crate trained. 

Here are two factors you should look into when picking a dog crate. 

Crate Size is Important

When selecting the size of dog crates, you must consider how large your dog will eventually grow.

The crate should be big enough that your puppy has space to move around and stretch easily.

However, it shouldn’t be big enough that your puppy is tempted to potty on one end and sleep on the other.

A solution for this issue is dog crates with dividers. You can then control the crate size, allowing your puppy more space as they grow. 

a dog seated infront of a fable crate

Choosing the Crate Material

Crates are usually made from metal or plastic, but there are also crates made from wood and fabric. 

Wire crates are easy to assemble, flexible, and only take up a little space. They’re also very durable.

However, wire crates can be a bit…ugly. 

If you care about aesthetics, plastic dog crates may be more your style. They are portable and durable against destructive behavior such as chewing.

Fabric and wood crates are not great for puppy training. Fabric crates are hard to clean up; wood crates can make your dog sick if they chew on them.

You can also go for decorative crates. These are pricey, BUT they can be easily fashioned to match your home aesthetics and be great for your puppy!

Related articles:

Bottomline

Crating is a fantastic training technique that can rid your dog of bad habits such as house soiling, indiscriminate barking, and other destructive behaviors.

However, crate training does require a lot of patience, hard work, and dedication. But the efforts will be well worth it when you become the owner of a well-trained pet that’ll be the talk of the town.

And now that you know the secrets to creating an effective crate training schedule, nothing can stop you! 

Good luck to you and your doggo on your crate training journey together.

FAQs

Yes, puppies under six months old should be woken up at night to pee, as they cannot hold their bladders for long. Once a puppy is six months or older, they should be able to control their bladder and stay dry throughout the night.

Do not keep your dog in the crate for extended periods, make sure the crate is comfortable and inviting, avoid using it as punishment or forcing your dog into it during crate training.

Yes, it is advisable to keep the puppy’s crate closed at night for the safety and security of both the puppy and the home.

Puppies can be kept in a crate for under 3- 4 hours at a time if they are under 6 months (age).

It is advisable to ignore the puppy if he starts whining and barking in the crate, as this reinforces the desired behavior of being calm and quiet.

It is recommended that a new puppy should sleep in their crate on the first night, and the crate should be kept near the bed to provide comfort.

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Stefano Giachetti
Stefano Giachetti is always excited to share his knowledge and love of animals with you through our blog, IPetGuides. And he has always loved animals and has been blessed to have many pets throughout his life. Currently has a Pomeranian Dog Breed.

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