Having a dog that is properly crate trained and sleeps well in his crate is great, as the crate helps with potty training and establishing house rules.
Some dog parents do consider leaving the crate open at night for their puppies for multiple reasons but mainly for potty breaks, still they have some safety concerns.
It is not recommended that dogs sleep in the crate with the door open unless they’re emotionally mature, properly house trained, and can be trusted not to get into trouble at night.
So, when you just bring home a new puppy, it’s not a good idea to leave the crate open at night.
Potential risks to a dog sleeping in an open crate
Dogs no matter how well trained they are can still be unpredictable at times, their curious nature especially at the puppy phase and early adulthood can get them into all sorts of trouble.
A dog roaming free at night could get into trouble or accidentally get hurt with something dangerous that you’ve forgotten in an accessible spot.
Having a puppy-proof area for your dog at night when the crate door is open is necessary.
According to The National Fire Protection Association pets are responsible for over 1,000 house fires every year in the United States alone.
Mothy dogs will cause some serious damage to your furniture if left unsupervised, and those bad boys need to stay in the crate at least till they calm down.
There is nothing more frustrating than to wake up to yet another damaged couch that your dog has been nibbling on all night.
Quality of sleep
Dogs do wake up multiple times at night, if the crate door is open they can start walking around and making noises.
The effect of the noisy night you’ve had can make you wake up tired even after a whole night’s sleep, not to mention that some dogs will jump in bed with you which we strongly don’t recommend.
A dog that would spend his night walking around because the crate door is open even if he doesn’t get into anything dangerous could lack the energy during the day.
Dogs spend a lot of time sleeping and a good chunk of their wake time just loafing, so if your dog’s been busy all night he’ll have little to no energy for your activities during the day.
Should I leave my dog’s crate door open?
During the day the crate door must remain open to grant the dog freedom to play and walk back into his crate to nap or just relax.
At night a new puppy or a rescue dog, should not sleep with the crate open, dogs are polyphasic sleepers and wake up multiple times at night.
A dog that is not properly house trained yet can get in all sorts of trouble when left alone at night.
Adult and mature dogs that have been using the crate and can spend time alone without getting into trouble or damaging furniture can sleep with the crate door open, but even then most experts recommend that the crate should stay closed at night.
When should a dog stop sleeping in a crate?
A dog that is crate trained and has been sleeping in the crate since he’s been brought home, should continue to sleep in the crate.
Crate training is basically conditioning a dog to think of the crate as his safe and personal space and there is no good reason to change that.
Theoretically, a dog is ready to sleep out of the crate when 12 months to 24 months old, but it could be better to keep the crate.
12 to 24 months is the age when dogs emotionally mature and can be trusted depending of course on the breed and temperament.
We wouldn’t recommend suddenly changing the dog’s sleeping setup from a crate to something else, or at least make it gradual.
How do I get my dog to sleep in his crate with the door open?
Opening the crate door at night could of course result in crate training regression, and your dog refuses to go into the crate at all.
It will be hard to get the dog to stay in the crate if it’s open and he doesn’t want to stay in it.
Using toys can be a good way to lure the dog into the crate, but toys and treats should not be given to dogs at night.
The dog needs to understand that nighttime is for sleeping, and no activity should take place at night.
So the one valid option we have left to get a dog to sleep in the crate with the door open is to start over the crate training and close the doors till your dog is used to sleep in it.
However, one would ask why bother? why go through the trouble of crate training to just open the crate again when the dog is used to sleep in it.
Besides, there is no guarantee that your dog will stay in the crate and the same thing wouldn’t happen all over again.
When should I leave the crate door open?
Like we’ve explained earlier, during the day unless you’re not home the crate door should remain open.
At night also the crate is best left closed especially if the dog has no objections and is used to sleeping in it.
The best time to leave the crate open is when it’s in a safe dog-proof environment so you can monitor how your dog is doing.
If your dog is sleeping comfortably in his crate for days even if it’s open at night and is not trying anything funny at night then you can go ahead and leave it open permanently.
Again, a dog can be unpredictable so make sure the room in which he sleeps has nothing dangerous hanging too close.
Can I open the crate into a playpen?
A great middle-ground solution for this predicament is to use a crate and playpen combo, to profit from both.
All you need is a playpen that connects into a crate and you’ve got the perfect setup.
Having the crate attached to the playpen allows you to leave the crate open at night while at the same time have a safe dog-proof area around it.
The playpen offers the space your dog would want to walk around and feel more comfortable, and at the same time keep the intimacy of his crate.
This is also a great solution for a dog that won’t stay in the crate when the door is open, you just have to install his comfortable bed inside the crate and leave it open.