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.
The crate is a perfect way to keep your dog confined and safe when unsupervised.
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!
When Can I Start Leaving My Dog Out of the Crate?
Generally, you will want 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 of 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’ve 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
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
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.
- 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 a deterrent.
- 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 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.
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 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,
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.
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.
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 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 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
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 built
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.
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
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
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.