Should I Lock My Puppy in His Crate At Night? 8 Reasons

Last Updated on February, 2024

So, Should You Lock Your Puppy in the Crate at Night?

The answer: YES!

Let me tell you why.

You can’t watch over your dog at night, but are you comfortable letting it roam free in the house unsupervised?

Then again, will the pup be comfortable in a crate at night? Isn’t it cruel to keep it locked overnight?

Time to find out!

Quick Summary

Locking a puppy in their crate at night can be beneficial for potty training, preventing accidents, ensuring better sleep, managing anxiety and emergencies.

Make sure the puppy is comfortable in the crate with their favorite items and don’t leave them anxious.

Establish a routine and cover the crate at night to create a den-like environment.

Should I Lock My Puppy in His Crate At Night?

3 puppies inside 3 dog crates

Yes, you should because puppies are just like human babies. They lack control over basic behavior and take time to get used to a new environment.

Dogs naturally want to roam free. However, your dog should be properly house-trained if this is to happen. For puppies and even some adult dogs, locking the crate at night is the right thing to do because:

It Helps With Potty Training

Puppies learn to hold their bladder when the crate is locked, as they usually dislike relieving themselves where they sleep. So, you can speed up the crate training process by eliminating potty accidents, which is a significant part of crate training.

No Mess, No Trouble

Having your puppy is great, but not a messy home. Most puppies are curious and find nighttime great for exploring. If you know or are unsure whether your puppy has destructive behaviors, lock that crate.

A Good Night’s Sleep

A good sleep schedule applies not just to your dog but also to you. As the owner and guardian, you deserve a restful night’s sleep without worrying you might witness a nightmare when you wake up.

Dog Anxiety 

Just like humans, dogs also have different anxieties. As research shows, these might lead to various behavioral problems. So because you don’t know what to expect if they get anxious, you lock the crate.

Help With Vet Visits

Getting them used to sleeping inside a locked crate helps when you have to take them out, especially on vet visits. If there is an occasion where they need to stay apart from you (overnight), having them trained this way is a blessing.

Calm in an Emergency

Emergencies come unannounced, whether it’s a natural cause or not. A restless dog will double your worry. If the crate calms them, locking them can significantly relieve you.

Helps Routine and Structure

Every dog should have a good bedtime routine. It helps with disciplining your puppy and contributes to a healthy pet-master relationship. 

How Long Should I Keep the Crate Locked At Night?

This largely depends on your puppy’s behavior. 

The possibility of a potty accident is one of the main reasons you must keep the crate locked.

Young puppies cannot be locked for long, as they need to relieve themselves more frequently than adult dogs. Nevertheless, a closed crate helps potty train puppies as they try to hold it in. 

Take a look at our complete guide on this topic here.

When Should I Lock My Puppy in the Crate At Night?

A french bulldog puppy is locked inside a wire crate

Locking should ideally happen from the very first day you start crate training. A new puppy is most vulnerable to getting into trouble and causing accidents, so you should start from day one until necessary.

You must ensure your puppy is settled and understand that it’s bedtime before locking up for the night. Ensure they’re comforted in the dog bed, ready to call it a night.

Factors to Consider When Crate Training a Puppy Overnight

Your puppy needs to have a sleeping schedule, and you should know their timings.

First, prepare your puppy for bedtime. Give your dog some exercise or playtime before sending it to bed. A toilet run before going to the crate is compulsory.

Make sure you don’t leave your puppy anxious. Switch the mood from play to rest. Don’t leave the room at once. Give some signals that you will be going eventually.

Remember, your puppy should be calm and settled when you leave, or else it will be a horror for you and your neighbors throughout the night.

Many dogs cry or bark in their crate for two reasons. You will have to listen closely and understand WHICH is WHAT:

  • Distress barking/crying 
  • Need a toilet break

If it is Distress Crying, try and wait it out. Do not rush to the crate the moment you hear it crying. Only if the crying continues should you go and settle him down.

This would only go on for a while. A few days of crate train should do the trick.

Should My Puppy Complete Potty Training to Start Sleeping in a Locked Crate?

A puppy is waiting to poop outside the crate

Your dog doesn’t need to be potty trained, but you should know how often it might need to relieve itself. 

Usually, puppies younger than four months can’t go for many hours without a potty break and dislike making a mess in the crate. This might result in crying and whining.

So if you want to give your puppy a restful night’s sleep, consider letting him out on potty breaks depending on his request.

Related article: How to get a puppy to stop peeing in crate?

What Can I Do to Make it Comfortable for My Dog in the Crate At Night?

Dogs naturally don’t like to be locked up. However, the crate is the most popular choice for dog owners as it helps a puppy sleep well once they get used to it.

If the puppy is very young, the first night might be tough. (We have a specific guide to crate train your dog at his first night. Read it here.)

Let it explore the crate first. Allow it to move in and out of the crate, and encourage it with treats. 

Most puppies have their favorite items: chew bones, toys, or blankets. You can lure them into the crate with treats and leave them with their favorite stuff to cling to until they doze off.

Other dogs may have their favorite spots in your home where they feel comfortable. You can place the crate in these places so you know they are happy to be there.

Do’s and Don’ts of Crate Training Young Puppies

Dog owners feel confident about locking their puppy’s crate at night until they hear their puppy crying. However, you can’t discipline puppies by giving in to all their demands.

Do’s: It’s all about prepping them up for the night:

  • Start every process with short periods 
  • Stop giving water 2 hours from bedtime
  • Tire your puppy with a lot of play time before bed
  • Make sure they’re comfortable in the crate

Dont’s: This might be the reason they refuse to stay in the crate:

  • Use the crate as punishment
  • Take your puppy out every time it whines
  • Talk or pet him when he’s inside the puppy crate, getting ready for bedtime

Can a Dog Sleep in an Open Crate?

A puppy is locked inside a dog crate

Study shows that most dogs sleep longer during the daytime than at nighttime. Older dogs prefer a dog bed or be comfortable in an open crate. 

Puppies, however, are unpredictable, so it’s better to keep them in their puppy crate at night until they’re properly house-trained. It is noted that dogs develop anxiety over noise sensitivity and fear. (1)

You can notice that your puppy sleeps better on their bed in a closed crate, preferably covered, as it gives them a sense of security.

Relevant content: Should i let my puppy sleep outside his crate?

Should I Leave the Crate Door Open During the Day?

A dog’s crate is their sanctuary and their safe space. Some dogs prefer the crate during the day, and some at night. Whatever their preference, it is essential to discipline them and keep them from causing trouble.

If you decide to proceed, do it in a puppy-proof room. DO NOT give it complete freedom right away. Give it access to just one room at a time. And it’s always better to have some compulsory crate time during the day to maintain routine and order.

When to Stop Locking the Crate Door At Night?

A husky puppy is sleeping inside a dog cage

This is entirely up to you. 

If you cannot remember the last time your puppy had a potty accident or misbehaved, you can decide to keep the door open. You can stop locking their crate if you are confident of your dog’s behavior and know there won’t be any trouble or destructive behaviors.

You have to make sure it’s a puppy-proof room, and your puppy will not have access to any other area of your house should he wish to take a stroll in the middle of the night.

If your puppy finds the crate setup more comfortable, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let him continue sleeping in until he gets a little older. Let’s not rush things.

FAQs

No, it is not recommended to leave very young puppies in a closed crate overnight due to their need for frequent bathroom breaks, socialization, and limited bladder control.

It is not cruel to lock your puppy in a crate overnight as this is a safe and responsible way to ensure your puppy does not get into trouble while you sleep. Additionally, an open crate does not provide the same benefits as a closed crate in terms of crate training.

Yes, it is okay to lock the crate door during the crate train process for short periods of time.

To control crate crying at night, you can exercise your dog to tire them out, provide a cozy crate with comforting scents, play soothing music, and reward quiet moments.

Yes, it is beneficial to cover your dog’s crate at night as it can create a cozy environment, helping them to feel secure and enhancing their sleep.

Conclusion

Many dog owners are torn over this decision. However, opting to lock your puppy in its crate overnight can be a beneficial choice. It aids in potty training, prevents accidents, ensures better sleep for both you and your pup, and helps manage anxiety and emergencies. 

Gradually introducing the crate, providing comfort items, and establishing a routine contribute to a successful transition. You can decide when to leave the crate door open as your puppy adapts. 

Prioritizing your puppy’s safety and well-being through proper crate training techniques is key.

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Author
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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