How to Transition Your Dog Out of the Crate

How to Transition Your Dog Out of the Crate

Now that you have used the crate for your dog at night or during the day when you are at work, it’s time to provide him with more freedom during these hours.

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. Once your dog has reached a certain age and is fully potty trained, he should be able to roam around the house freely.

But a dog that has been confined for several months or years will get overwhelmed with sudden freedom. Transitioning your dog out of the crate will take a bit of time and adjustment.

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

Generally, you will want your dog to be at least one year old when leaving him unconfined. 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 is getting into trouble while you are at home, don’t let him out of the crate yet.

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

Giving your dog a bed at night instead of the crate should only happen once he is fully housebroken for several weeks or months. Also, pay attention to your dog’s destructive inclinations and see how he generally behaves around the house.

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.

He should also understand the difference between bedtime and playtime. So don’t engage with your dog in any play right before bed or in the bedroom.

Leaving Your Dog Out of the Crate During the Day

You don’t want your dog to get to all the rooms o 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 room by either closing doors and setting up baby gates.

Completely puppy proof this room which means removing chewable objects, wires, cleaners, and medications. Close up any trash cans or cabinets you don’t want your dog to reach. You can hinder your dog from chewing on the furniture by spraying the legs with taste deterrent.

Provide your dog with lots of chewing toys like a stuffed Kong to prevent boredom. Any time you leave your dog at home, make sure that he is physically and mentally exercised beforehand so he will be sleeping most of the time and give him a chance to eliminate himself.

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.

Transition Your Dog from a Crate to a Bed at Night

After a few weeks of transitioning during the day, you may want to start switching his crate with a dog bed at night. 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 usually like to snuggle up in a donut dog bed like the Vegan Fur Donut Cuddler. My Rottweiler loves to sleep with her head resting on a large pillow so I decided on the Furhaven Pet Dog Bed for the best lounging experience.

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 be getting up and maybe walking to the couch or another sleeping spot for a couple of nights.

Troubleshooting

Because your dog is used to being outside of his crate, this transition shouldn’t be much of a problem but a few issues may occur:

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 the 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 want to consider putting him in another room at night.

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 thin 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. He will actually start to fear you arriving home. 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.

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