Crate training a dog is a choice made by many dog owners to establish house rules and provide a permanent personal space for their dogs to sleep and relax during the day.
Others think of the crate as a transition phase used to housebreak a new puppy till he’s ready to sleep out of it.
Knowing when is your puppy ready to sleep out of the crate is the hard part, and many inexperienced dog parents struggle with this transition phase.
So, when is the puppy ready to sleep out of the crate?
As a rule of thumb, dogs are ready to sleep out of the crate when they emotionally mature, for small breeds it’s around 12 months and 24 months for large breeds, mouthy and hyper dogs can take up to 36 months to calm down and be trusted alone.
When can I stop crating my dog?
As we mentioned earlier, there are many factors to consider before you decide to stop crating your dog, but emotional maturity is the key element.
Different dogs reach maturity at different ages, it depends on the breed, the environment, and many other factors, and we’ll list some of the most obvious ones.
Age and breed
Puppies typically develop emotional maturity needed to be trusted to sleep out of the crate between the ages of 12 and 18 months and some will still exhibit puppy behavior like chewing up to 24 months of age.
Small breeds tend to reach emotional maturity faster, but it’s just an observation based on experts’ feedback, no studies have been conducted on the matter.
In general, no matter what dog breed you’ve got, it takes between 12 and 24 months to be able to trust your dog to sleep out of the crate.
The dog temperament is a good indicator when he’s likely to reach emotional maturity, hyper-energetic dogs usually take longer.
Some stubborn and independent dog breeds like terriers can seem to be too overwhelmingly active, Airedales in particular, but they do tend to calm down at the age of 2 years old.
Early socializing and training can help a dog reach emotional maturity faster, dogs that are well trained can be trusted to sleep out of the crate.
Establishing house rules and proper training will help you make your dog’s temperament reliable and predictable.
When can I stop crating my dog at night?
At night dogs are the least active, still, dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they average multiple sleep/wake cycles during the night.
This means that your dog when sleeping out of the crate will wake up at night, so the true question is can you trust him to be free to aroma alone at night?
If your dog is showing signs of maturity and acting responsibly during the day not destroying furniture or jumping on it, you can go ahead and stop crating at night.
It is recommended though to have him in some sort of confined puppy-proof space at least for a few months just to be sure.
Playpens can be a great replacement when trying to move your dog out of the crate at night.
Is it OK to let your puppy sleep out of crate?
It is ok to let your puppy sleep out of the cart if there are no safety concerns or potential incidents risks.
So what are the risks of letting a puppy sleep out of the crate and how to prevent them?
The obvious risk factor and the one that should be your priority is potential harmful incidents that could occur when letting a puppy roam alone at night out of his crate.
The best way to deal with this is to use a playpen or puppy-proof the whole room, dogs are curious and could get into trouble just exploring around.
Some dogs can still be chewy at the age of 2 years old, and letting them sleep out of the crate, could result in some furniture damage.
Generally, there is nothing you can do about mouthy dogs, it goes away with some training and time, but until they’re ready it’s best that they sleep in their crate.
Quality of sleep
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, dogs don’t sleep through the entire night, they wake up multiple times at night.
Dogs will stay alert to sounds even when sleeping, as they are light sleepers and it’s part of their nature.
Having a dog running around jumping in and out of bed at night could have an impact on your sleep quality.
Your dog will be ready to sleep out of the crate when he can spend the night without much activity even if awake.
Crate training helps tremendously with potty training, usually, dogs that are 12 to 24 months old are old enough not to cause trouble.
However, unlike when sleeping in a crate, a dog will not go the extra mile to hold his bladder for an extra couple of hours.
Dogs are fairly clean animals, and they rather not defecate where they sleep, the crate being small they avoid doing it in there, but if they have the extra space they’ll just let themselves go.
There is another downsize to letting your dog sleep out of the crate, and it’s night activity, some dogs will be active at night while you’re asleep, and spend the day loafing.
Dogs spend half their day sleeping and another 30% of their wake time just loafing and relaxing, which leaves you with a few hours of activity.
If your dog spends a couple of hours playing at night while you’re asleep, he wouldn’t have much energy left for you during the day.
How long should I use a crate for my dog?
We recommend using the crate permanently, we believe that it provides a safe environment for your dog.
It is also convenient for you to know that your dog is safe at night not wandering around the house.
Dogs can go into their crate when feeling down, and it’s a good indicator for you that he’s not ok.
It is good for dogs to have their own private space, a comfort zone when they’re scared or just need to relax.
However, if you are convinced that you should stop using the crate for your dog, then once your dog is mature enough not to get into trouble at night he’s ready to sleep out of the crate.
Is it cruel to crate a dog at night?
Not at all, crates provide comfort and intimacy for dogs a den-like place where they can go when feeling down or need to rest.
You can crate train your dog guilt-free, dogs do tend to find calm spots around the house anyway.
Have you ever noticed that your dog keeps going behind some couch, or under a table? it’s in their nature, so it’s more convenient to provide that safe place.
Crates can be used to manage dog behavior, but should never be used for punishment, and that’s the only cruel thing about them.
Where should dogs sleep at night?
Typically, we recommend using the crate for your dog to sleep in, but in case you decide to let him sleep out of it, finding a safe alternative is important, at least while the dog is still young.
Installing a bed in a puppy-proof area or using a playpen are your best options, as it provides the safety of the crate with more space.
What we do not recommend is letting your puppy sleep in bed with you, as it can turn your dog into a reliant or velcro.
Every dog should have his own personal bed, that is installed in a specific spot in the house known to all, it builds up his independence and is good for early emotional maturity.
Dog sleeps in crate with door open
There is a middle ground solution to crate training and letting the dog sleep out of the crate, which is leaving the crate door open at night.
Although most experts tend to recommend crate training, however, if your puppy is mature enough to sleep out of the crate, why not just leave it open.
The same applies to what we’ve previously stated, you need to make sure the puppy is ready before leaving the crate open at night.
This combo provides the intimacy of the crate that you can leave open at night, but also the safety of the confinement provided by the playpen.