To many dog owners, the concept of a crate seems cruel.
It’s hard to grasp that confining a person, let alone an animal with wild instincts, is beneficial.
And I can totally understand where they’re coming from.
Since you’re reading this, you might also be on the fence about the whole crate thing.
There’s so much to do with a new furry friend in your home.
Do they sleep in your bedroom? On the bed? On a dog bed? In a crate?
And if they sleep in a crate, should they have free access to everything (i.e. open door) or should it be locked?
What about water, toys, and a blanket?
Not to mention all the potty breaks!
It can and will be exhausting to do all this while still managing to housetrain your pup and establish a general routine (think: puppy blues).
The crate question is just the tip of the iceberg but it’s an important detail.
Whether to lock or not to lock the crate, that’s the dilemma.
Let’s dive into the right answer for you and the reasoning behind it.
Should I Lock My Puppy in his Crate At Night?
Yes, you should lock your puppy in a crate at night because an unlocked crate defeats the purpose of crate training due to your pup being able to pee and roam.
That’s assuming you want to go with crate training at all.
Of course, you can let your pup sleep in a playpen, dog bed, or even your bed but it’ll become a habit quickly and has a couple of downsides.
Why should you crate train your pup at all?
Crates are safer, speed up potty training, and make establishing a routine easier.
Now that the question of whether you wanna crate-train is out of the way, let’s dive into 6 reasons why locking the crate is essential.
If you don’t lock your puppy’s crate at night, they will be able to roam freely, pee on the floor, get into trouble, and disturb your and their own sleeping schedule.
Not to mention the fact that they’d lack a clear routine to help with overall training and obedience.
Personally, it wouldn’t have been imaginable to not close my dog’s crate door at night.
My Rottie pup would’ve slipped right out of the crate once I turned my back to her.
Naturally, not every puppy is a huge fan of the crate.
That’s why crate training is so important.
Unfortunately, the window for crate training is pretty small since you’ll need it the first night.
Don’t stuff your pup into the crate and smash the door once the lights are out.
Instead, introduce the crate positively right after coming home.
Let them explore around the open crate, reward them.
Rinse and repeat until you’re able to gently close the door for a second, open it back up, and reward.
This way, your dog will associate the crate with something positive.
You see, a locked crate should be a safe space for your dog and will help them to properly calm down at night.
When Should I Stop Locking My Dog’s Crate At Night?
You can stop locking your dog’s crate at night once the pup is potty-trained and calms down appropriately.
When is it time to take a step back?
If your puppy immediately runs outside, wants to play, excessively cries, or gets into some kind of trouble, you might want to go back to locking the crate for now.
There will be a transition period.
Not all dogs do well with an open crate but at 4-6 months, it’s usually not necessary to lock the crate anymore.
If you want to be sure, you can keep the crate until they’re one year old.
I transitioned my Rottweiler pup far earlier and it was surprisingly the best decision.
Don’t switch between locking the crate and keeping the door open, stay consistent.
Once your dog has learned to sleep once the lights are out and behaves appropriately, that’s when you know you can leave the door open.
You can even ditch the crate in favor of a dog bed if that’s what you’ve planned on.
However, some dogs will seek out their crate lifelong, which usually means it was properly introduced.
A dog who’s used to having a safe place around can sleep in an open crate, there’s no issue with that.
Dog Sleeps In Crate With Door Open
If your dog likes to sleep in the crate with the door open, that’s great and you can keep the crate or transition them to a dog bed.
Some dogs like the crate during the day, but not at night.
For other dogs, it’s the contrary.
During the day, a crate is safer when they’re left alone.
However, that benefit is diminished if you leave the crate door open.
If your dog behaves appropriately, that’s no issue though.
You should just view the crate as a sleeping spot from now on if you have an adult dog.
At night, you can keep the crate or ditch it in favor of a dog bed.
I’ve found that a dog bed is more relaxing for both me and my dog.
Metal crates are quite noisy and restrict space for active sleepers (especially large dogs).
If your dog refuses to sleep outside the open crate, keep it or try to transition them slowly, it’s up to you.
Should I Let My Puppy Sleep In Crate With Door Open During the Day?
If you’re able to supervise your pup, it’s okay to let the puppy sleep in the crate with the door open during the day.
While it’s essential to close the crate door at night, you don’t need to close it during the day.
Closing it during the day makes sense for two cases.
You’re either trying to crate train your pup to get them used to it.
Or you’re not able to supervise your dog and place them in a crate to make sure they’re safe and won’t knock anything over or chew on furniture.
That being said, you should never crate an adult dog for more than 4 hours, puppies even far less.
Your pup most likely needs potty breaks and also exercise in between naps so you should only need to close the crate door for quick trips.
When introducing the crate, make sure to keep the door locked extremely short and increase gradually, it’ll work wonders.
Can a Crate Trained Dog Sleep in Bed?
Yes, a crate-trained dog can sleep in their own bed or your bed but if you plan on transitioning, you need to keep it consistent.
Don’t switch between allowing your dog on the bed, especially if it’s yours.
Chances are your dog will love it and demand the sleeping spot on your pillow.
It’s confusing for dogs to switch.
However, if you’re fine with both, your dog might end up using both places.
Once they’re too warm on the bed or whatever, they might take a trip to their crate and sleep there for a couple of hours.
If your dog has the choice and uses that freedom, that’s fine.
There’s no rule that you have to stick to the crate forever, but you should stick to whatever choices you make.Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.