This is a common problem with new puppy owners. It can be really hard for puppies being taken away from their litter mates and their moms, and suddenly they have to sleep in a crate by themselves. Some breeders start this process for you, however, if they didn’t it can be a long tedious process to crate train a young dog. The biggest thing I can say is that for little puppies, the best thing to do is establish a routine. It is hard at first, but dogs are creatures of habit. What I suggest for little puppies, is do some training or playing right before bed. Take water away about an hour before bed time. Set an alarm for an appropriate time throughout the night to take the puppy out to potty. The general rule is the puppy’s age in months +1 so if the puppy is 2 months old, they should be able to go three hours in their crate. Take the puppy potty right before bed time. Give them a treat for going in their crate and say “kennel” or “bedtime” or whatever word you choose – as long as it’s consistent. Your crate should be just big enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Any more room, and they will relieve themselves in one end and sleep in the other. This will slow down your potty training progress. Giving your puppy something cozy to snuggle in is great for helping them love their crate – but it’s not necessary. Some dogs do prefer a cold kennel floor to a blanket. If I give my dog Jasper a blanket, he balls it up in the corner and leans on it, but he prefers his body to be on the cold kennel floor. He loves snow and cold tile too. My pittie wants all the blankets and coziness. Every dog is different.
Know your puppy – some puppies chew and shred blankets. If that’s the case, they can sleep on a bare floor. I typically like to use fleece for dog bedding. It’s harder to shred and it’s not stuffed. If they rip a hole in it, it doesn’t make a huge mess like some other materials. Take any tags off of the blanket. Choose a blanket with no stitching. Stitching is fun for dogs to pull apart, as well as towels. The tiny strings can be a choking hazard.
If you use blankets, do regular sniff checks and hand checks to make sure that they aren’t soiling their bedding. If that becomes an issue, you may need to remove bedding from the picture until they can earn it back.
Dogs love being with their people so often times they are more comfortable in your bedroom in their crate where they are still with you. Regardless of where you choose to put your puppy, I would pick a place and be consistent. Ideally, a low traffic area is best. Establish a routine and be consistent. As your puppy gets older, you can lengthen the amount of time between overnight alarms. By 4-5 months, your puppy should be able to sleep through the night if you have been consistent with your routine.
If you have a long ways to go to your back door, if the puppy is really young, carry them to the yard. If you let them walk, they could have an accident on the way to the back door. Let them go potty, and take them back to their kennel for more sleep. It can be tedious getting a puppy to sleep through the night, but stick with it. Wear ear plugs if you have to. If you can be consistent in your routine, your puppy will get it before long. Dogs are creatures of habit. They love routine. We offer free potty training consultations, as well as training sessions to help you get things off on the right paw with your puppy! Call, email, or message us any time for more information.