Skip to Content

How to Transition Your Dog Out of the Crate

This post may contain affiliate links. Read more here.

The crate has served you well at night or during your working hours but now you’re looking to transition your dog out of the crate and into his comfy dog bed.

But why?

The crate is a perfect way to keep your dog confined and safe when unsupervised.

Most puppies get into all kinds of stuff like chewing on the furniture or swallowing little objects.

Well, that’s easy. Once your dog has reached a certain age and is fully potty trained, you probably want him or her to be able to roam around the house freely.

But a dog that has been confined for several months or even years will get overwhelmed with sudden freedom.

Transitioning your dog out of the crate will take a bit of time and adjustment.

Is it actually the right time to get rid of the crate and what exactly are the best steps for a smooth transition from crate to dog bed?

I actually have a couple of stories to tell about the process and benefits (or disadvantages) from firsthand experience.

Let’s dive in!

Brown coated dog in crate with open door.

When Can I Start Leaving My Dog Out of the Crate?

Generally, you will want to use the crate until your dog’s at least one year old.

But it largely depends on your dog’s behavior and characteristics.

I started leaving my dog home alone without a crate pretty early and she never had a problem with it.

She actually preferred being able to roam around the apartment to have a better overview.

Your dog’s behavior should be stable and he needs to clearly understand what his toys are and what he is not allowed to do.

If he’s getting into trouble while you’re at home, don’t let him out of the crate yet.

Let’s go into more detail about crating during the day vs. night.

When Is My Puppy Ready to Sleep Out of the Crate?

Letting your pup sleep in a dog bed at night instead of the crate should only happen once he’s fully housebroken for several weeks or months.

Some owners are letting their dog sleep in the crate until he or she reaches one year of age, just to be sure you don’t have any setbacks.

Personally, I transitioned my Rottweiler to her bed when she was around 4 to 5 months old and it worked wonderfully (even though she wasn’t the quickest to be potty trained).

For a successful transition, you should pay attention to your dog’s destructive inclinations and see how he generally behaves around the house.

He should also understand the difference between bedtime and playtime.

So don’t engage your dog in any play right before bed or in the bedroom.

Introduce the appropriate behavior patterns first.

If his dog bed will be placed beside your bed and you don’t want your dog to jump up your own bed during the night then you will have to establish that rule first to avoid annoying disturbances.

Leaving Your Dog Out of the Crate During the Day

You don’t want your dog to get to all the rooms of your house at once.

Start with a single room your dog is already very familiar with like the living room.

Restrict access to all the other rooms by either closing doors or setting up baby gates.

  1. Completely puppy proof this room which means removing chewable objects, wires, cleaners, and medications.
  2. Close trash cans or cabinets you don’t want your dog to reach.
  3. You can hinder your dog from chewing on the furniture by spraying the legs with a deterrent.
  4. Provide your dog with lots of chewing toys like a stuffed Kong to prevent boredom.

Important: Any time you leave your dog at home, make sure that he is physically and mentally exercised beforehand.

This way, he’ll sleep most of the time without being interrupted by the need to pee.

Small dog in crate.

When leaving your dog outside of his crate for the first time, start in your room of choice and only leave for a couple of minutes.

If he seems to be fine after a few tries, you can gradually increase the duration.

Take a step back if your dog fails and try to determine what caused him to fail.

After he graduated one room, you may want to give him access to more rooms in the house.

If you are uncomfortable with your dog being in certain rooms then you can still restrict access to those.

Some dog owners keep their adult dog crated during the day until 2 years of age.

Personally, I got rid of the crate when my puppy was 6 months and never looked back.

Not a single thing was destroyed in the house because she already knew the rules.

Transition Your Dog from a Crate to a Bed at Night

Whether you’ve started with transitioning your dog out of the crate during the day or you’ve started at night, the right place to rest is key.

You don’t have to use a conventional dog bed and your dog may just prefer the couch anyway (if he’s allowed – make sure he doesn’t get on anything he’s not supposed to otherwise) but having a high-quality dog bed makes things so much easier.

When choosing a dog bed you should take your dog’s size, health, and age into consideration.

Think about the position your dog likes to sleep in.

Small and toy breeds obviously prefer smaller beds to snuggle up.

My Rottweiler loves to sleep with her head resting on a large pillow, for example.

Here’s an article that covers the best chew-proof dog beds to avoid you having to run to the store after a couple of months because the bed is torn apart.

If you want the quick answer, pillow-style beds like the K9 Ballistics Tough Orthopedic Dog Bed are a great choice. If you’re looking for something sturdy with a headrest, I’d recommend this bed.

Whatever bed you choose, make sure that it is big enough for your dog to lay completely stretched out without hanging off of the bed.

It should be able to keep him warm and comfortable with washable covers.

Right after the bed had arrived, I introduced it to my dog in the living room (she usually sleeps in the bedroom) so she could get accustomed to it.

You should let your dog sleep in the bed during the day at least for a week before transitioning it at night so he has enough time to claim it as his favorite napping spot.

Amalia loved her bed right away and would sleep in it for every nap.

One evening I carried it to the exact same spot where her crate used to be and waited for her to settle down.

She was very happy with it and was able to sleep through the night as usual.

It may happen that your dog will get up and walk to the couch or another sleeping spot for a couple of nights.

Where to place the bed?

In my opinion, it’s always best if the dog sleeps right next to you in the bedroom because bonding is the foundation for a good relationship and training routine.


No matter how you’re going about this and what you start with, there will nearly always be some troubleshooting you’ll need to do.

Fortunately, my dog transitioned very smoothly even though she didn’t like the crate at all during the day and reluctantly slept in it at night – maybe that’s just the reason why she was so happy when we finally ditched it.

Jumping on the Bed

Now that your dog has the freedom to do whatever he wants at night, he may be tempted to wake you up by jumping up and down on the bed.

If this happens, it would be a good choice to establish a command for settling down in bed rather than walking around all over the place.

To teach this command, simply lure your dog into the bed with a treat and give him the verbal cue of your choice like “go settle”.

It doesn’t matter if he is standing or lying down yet.

Repeat this a couple of times and then ask your dog to lie down o the bed.

After a couple of successful tries, you can wait a few seconds before giving your dog the treat.

Slowly increase the duration to establish a builtin stay so your dog won’t be tempted to get off the bed right away.

Increase the distance between you and the dog and try to leave the room without your dog getting up.

Now that your dog knows the command to settle, you can use it at night to redirect your dog back to his place.

If your dog is way too annoying at night and keeps waking you up, you may consider putting him in another room at night, but I wouldn’t recommend it long-term unless heavy allergies or something are involved.

Destructive Chewing

If you rush the transition period with your dog, you may come home to a few surprises like chewed-up cushions on the couch.

A change in a dog’s routine can be overwhelming and if you give him too much space too early chances are that boredom and anxiety kick in.

The most important thing to remember here is to never punish your dog for something he did while you were out of the house.

You can only correct behavior if you catch your dog in the act.

There is a three-second rule in which you should reward or punish, outside this period your dog won’t be able to connect it.

He will only connect that every time you get home, he will be scolded for no reason and actually start to fear your arrival.

Destructive chewing can be caused by boredom, lack of mental and physical exercise, stress and separation anxiety.

What are your experiences with transitioning a dog out of his crate? Let me know in the comments.

Pin This:

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.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Monday 6th of March 2023

I live in South Africa. Locking your dog in a crate is a totally alien concept to us. A dog is part of the family and is either allowed to roam freely in the house and garden, or big dogs just the garden during the day. A dog is not your prisoner.


Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Renee, I agree that living without a crate is the best option but for puppies, it's extremely useful for house training or avoiding them getting into trouble for short periods of time. However, dogs should always be fed, exercised, and never stay in the crate for too long just because it's convenient.

Joe Matherly

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Hello! I have a male golfen retriever almost 9 months old. We are trying to transition him out if the crate (just at night when we sleep) for his benefit. He sleeps in iur bedroom and has dine well in the crate. We would like for him to Be able to sleep in a dog bed with no crate in our enclosed bedroom at night. We are just starting and he usually will sleep on the dog bed for a few hours but will always get bored and start roaming around. Our room is mostly puppy proof but I do not like that he roams around so much when he historically has slept virtually the whole night while in his crate. Is he ready to be out if the crate yet? We are trying to train hik because we are having a baby in about 6 months and the dog crate is big and bulky and it wouod be ideal to just have him sleep in a dog bed without a crate. Sorry for the long comment!


Monday 23rd of January 2023

Hi Joe, no worries about the long comment, that's what this is here for :). Regarding your pup: Assuming you had him since he's 8-12 weeks and he has done well in the crate, I wouldn't say that he's not ready.

Of course, some pups just need longer than others and that's totally okay. If the bedroom is enclosed and your pup is only roaming around and not getting into trouble (i.e. chewing stuff, hyping himself up for play, etc.) then I'd personally just wait and see where it goes. If it should fail, you can still go back but if there's no big issue, I'd stick with letting him sleep on the bed.

Make sure your pup went potty before going to bed and that he's mentally and physically exercised, this will ensure he won't get out too often due to boredom.

Cheers, Danielle


Sunday 25th of September 2022

My 6 month old Shihtzu-lhasa Apso has been pretty good at sleeping in the crate until recently. Last week he decided he no longer wanted to sleep in the crate spends the whole night barking and never settling down. His crate is in my room so I hear the whole thing and I think the neighbours are starting to lose their patience.

He used to sleep in the crate until 5 when he had a pee, and then he would sleep on my bed with me until the morning, but now he will only sleep if he’s out of the crate entirely. I don’t want him to think my bed is his, but if I leave him out of the crate to wander all night on the floor I wake up with a corner of pee and poo. If he’s on my bed he contains himself.

I’m not sure what else to do. Ive started giving in more and more letting him sleep on my bed earlier through the night, but I would rather him be crated.

Is it possible that he is just not going to be a crate sleeping dog? Should I just give in and try letting him sleep on the floor in my room but with me waking up to take him out more?

I can’t take the barking through the night much longer.


Monday 26th of September 2022

Hi Katrina,

from what you're describing it does sound like your dog might have learned to sleep on the bed with you and just prefers that. Either you take a step back and stay consistent with the crate or you let your pup sleep on the floor/bed. The bed is often not the best choice unless you're ready to stick to that even if he's an adult.

Sleeping in their own bed is a good option for most dog owners transitioning out of the crate, but it sounds like your pup is not ready. At 6 months, your pup is theoretically able to hold it through the night but maybe you want to take him out once or twice until the transition is over.

Choose one option and stick with it. No exceptions, unless you're willing to do that long-term.


Sunday 15th of May 2022

When my dog Rosie was a year old she was still sleeping in the crate, but she would wake up crazy early every morning with mad zoomies. It was so annoying to have to get up at 6 am every morning and play fetch for an hour. When she turned 1, I was just like “screw it, let’s see what happens if she doesn’t sleep in the crate.” The first night out of the crate, she slept on my bed at the foot, made not one noise, and didn’t wake up until 10 am, calm and peaceful. It was magical. We never looked back.


Thursday 19th of May 2022

Hi Johanna, sounds similar to my experience. It's not like my Rottie got up at 6 am and wanted to play fetch for an hour but she's definitely calmer outside the crate.

For others, a crate is a great tool, especially during the day but for me, ditching the crate worked perfectly too.

Cheers, Danielle


Monday 9th of May 2022

Hi there. Yeah trying to transition my lab female 3yr old. At first very good. Except coming in and she'd be on settee. Instead of being on her dog bed. Then I tried to leave her on her own while I went to work. Came back to a couple of things being ripped up. My fault, I left the things out. But I couldn't understand why she didn't chew her toys instead. I would like her to be able to stop out of crate but..... Behaviour and commands are being ignored. I suppose slowly slowly.


Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Hey Lee, it's best to set your dog up for success (i.e. not leaving things out as you said) and go slowly. However, if your dog feels anxious when left alone, you may need to read up about separation anxiety.

Hope the transition will go smoothly soon, Danielle