Here are a few puppy training tips to help you navigate the first night you bring home your new puppy home including how to introduce them to their crate.
Crate Training Plan
We recommend using a crate with a new puppy. Crate training is a temporary training tool that quickly and easily helps your puppy master house training, teaches them to settle down on command, can reduce destructive behaviors and prevent future separation anxiety.
Once your puppy has learned these skills they can enjoy a lifetime of freedom without needing a crate!
For the first 2-3 weeks, plan on having your puppy sleep in the crate in your bedroom with a couple of towels or a blanket to cover and darken it. During the transition to your home, it is helpful for them to be near you at night. Once they are used to sleeping comfortably in your bedroom you can move them elsewhere.
Make sure you have the right size crate for your puppy. The crate should be just big enough that they have enough room to stand up and turn around. Do not make the crate too big, as they may learn to sleep on one side and pee on the other.
Ensure the crate is comfortable by putting a bed, blanket, and favorite toy in there too.
Using a blanket from the breeder with your puppy’s mom’s scent and heartbeat toys like the Original Snuggle Puppy or the iHeart Dogs Heartbeat Puppy Toy that mimic a heartbeat can be great ways to make your puppy feel more comfortable in the crate.
During the day, get your puppy used to being in the crate with daily exercises.
Daily crate training can improve independence by teaching your puppy to settle and relax when left alone and ensuring your puppy does not follow you from room-to-room.
Feeding your dog their meals in the crate (with the door closed) is a great way to get them to accept going in there. Overnight, there should be no need to put water in the crate.
Puppy’s First Night
Bring your puppy home and introduce them to all the spaces you want them to explore and be accustomed to (inside and outside your house). Supervise them carefully to not allow them to pee/poop inside or eat things off the ground outside. Your efforts to monitor them and train them during these first outings will set your puppy up for success later.
Before putting your puppy in the crate:
- Tire them out by playing and interacting with them.
- Incorporate treat-based bonding exercises and training games to encourage them to listen to you.
- Socialize them to your home and family using lots of treats for exposure to people, new places, and things.
You can greatly speed up the time it takes your puppy to become comfortable and relaxed in your home with rewards-based training and using treats for confidence with children, new experiences, and house/yard/city sights and sounds.
Make sure your puppy is well-exercised, tired, and sleepy when you put them in the crate at night, and they will be more likely to sleep 3-4 hours, or even as long as 7-8 hours.
2 hours before bedtime:
Keep your puppy awake and start monitoring their water intake. Try not to let your puppy drink too much water a couple of hours before you go to bed. Do not take away the water, instead just put very little in the bowl to ensure they stay hydrated and you are aware of how thirsty your puppy is feeling.
Note: Try not to take away the water bowl too often. Taking the water bowl away can create situations where thirsty dogs learn to drink too much water worried that water might become scarce in the future.
Remember to keep your puppy awake during these two hours as much as possible! Play with them, train them, handle them, practice grooming them or brushing their teeth while you give them rewards and treats to accept being handled and touched.
Puppies sleep a lot! If you time things right you should only have to get up 1-2 twice a night for a young puppy and even get 7-8 hours of sleep from a puppy older than 11 weeks.
You can expect tired puppies older than 11 weeks to sleep for about 6-7 hours without needing a break. Younger puppies can go about 3-4 hours at a time (less if they are a smaller breed).
Immediately take your puppy outside when you let them out of the crate. Carrying a groggy puppy directly to the place where you want them to go to the bathroom will help avoid the chance of accidents.
During a late night bathroom break, reward them for going with praise and a few treats but try not to get them too excited if you want them to go back to sleep.
Do not respond to whining, crying, or barking in the crate. Soothing your puppy or even scolding them will teach them that vocalizing and barking gets your attention. If you think your puppy needs to get out of the crate, wait for a lull of 5-10 seconds before letting them out.
Consistency is key in crate training. Regular training sessions during the day, where your puppy learns to tolerate being in the crate for short periods of time, is the best way to help your dog learn to relax and settle when left alone and realize they are not always going to be the center of attention. (See: Crate Training Guide)
Firm rules are needed. If your dog learns they can bark and whine their way out of the crate and into your bed, they might be more likely to develop separation anxiety in the future and will have trouble understanding situations where you have to leave them alone.
Independence training and preventing separation anxiety depends on your dog learning that it is OK to be alone for short periods of time. Try not to smother your puppy with attention all the time or allow them to shadow you from room to room.
Crate training your puppy will take time and patience, but the reward of your hard work is a dog that is relaxed and comfortable being left alone. If you need help, contact Zen Dog Training.