Transition Dog from Crate to Bed at Night: A Complete Guide

After weeks of dedicated effort, you've successfully navigated the trials of crate training. Well done! The next exciting phase in dog parenthood is about to begin. It's now time to consider letting your dog sleep outside of their crate at night and transitioning them to a comfy bed. In this piece, we will explore the optimal strategies and suggestions for facilitating a seamless transition from crate to dog bed.

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How to transition from crate to dog bed

1. Puppy-proof the room

Begin with a room that is familiar to your dog. The objective is to transform this room into a safe space for your puppy, so ensure it is puppy-proofed in advance.

There are several things to consider when puppy-proofing a room. All electrical outlets should be covered. This will prevent your dog from licking the outlet and reduce the risk of electrocution.

You should pick a room that does not have any tall or heavy furniture such as a bookshelf, lamp, floor mirror, or TV. Heavy furniture should either be moved to another room, or secured with anti-tipping brackets. Doing this will make sure your dog won't be able to knock them over. Decorations that are made out of glass or ceramic should taken out as well. When moving is not a viable option, coat the furniture legs with a deterrent spray to prevent your pup from going near.

A dog-proof room should not have a trash can or any plants that are toxic for dogs. Try to avoid all plants together so your dog can't dig out the dirt and make a mess.

Secure all access to the outside or other parts of the house. Make sure the windows are shut, and baby gates are installed. Any low-hanging curtains should also be pulled to the side, out of your dog's reach.

If puppy-proofing takes too much time, you can always resort to the bathroom or laundry room, which are some of the best rooms for puppy training.

How to puppy proof a room

2. Let your dog spend time in their new room

Give your dog some alone time in their new space, up to a few minutes at a time. Keep the crate door open so they can go in and out as they please. Just like any other kind of puppy training, it's best to start slow and gradually work your way up to increase your dog's tolerance.

This step, though feels very basic, is crucial, as it helps to slowly expose your dog to their new environment. They will have the chance to sniff around the room and explore objects around them, thus reducing any anxiety they may have. In our opinion, it's best to do this exercise during the daytime. This strategy not only leverages natural light but also aligns with training your dog to remain outside the crate while you are away at work during the day.

It may take a few tries and your dog may not react well in the beginning. For young puppies, we recommend keeping a pee pad handy to avoid unwanted accidents, since they may not be fully potty-trained. Refrain from yelling or punishing them, the goal is to help them build a positive association with the process.

As they start adjusting to the new space and show optimistic signs, gradually increase the duration of time they spend outside of the crate. Don't forget to reward them with a treat and praise when you return.

3. Establish a bedtime routine

Transitioning from crate to dog bed

A lot of the heavy lifting has been done at this point. Now, simply bring a dog bed into the room and let your dog familiarize themselves with it. Choose a comfy bed that is big enough for your dog to lay down. Add a blanket if that's what your dog prefers.

Place some toys on top of the bed to encourage them to come closer. Use verbal commands such as "go to bed" or "go to sleep" with the help of a treat to train them to come to the bed. Give them another treat when they lay on the bed.

Once they settle, you can leave the room. Don't forget to give them a few toys to play with so they don't get bored. When your dog grows tired, they will naturally fall asleep on their own bed. You can switch the light off when leaving the room if it's time for a nap.

Practice this step for a few days. Keep the crate door open so your pup can get back in if they want. Your pup should be comfortable with their new bed at this stage!

Ease into nighttime tips

  • Avoid heavy physical exercise or rough playtime right before bed, these could overly excite your dog and make them too energized to fall asleep. However, it's okay to take a long walk during the day, since it can aid sleep quality.

  • Keep the bed away from high-traffic areas or places where your dog plays. You want your pup to associate his bed with sleeping and resting only.

  • Meals should not be served too close to bedtime. Plus, make sure to take your pup out right before bed.

Reasons to transition out of the crate

Transitioning out of the crate is a step towards a happier and healthier pet. It allows your dog more freedom, thus reducing potential anxiety stemming from confinement. It also fosters trust between you and your pet as they learn to navigate the home environment responsibly. Moving out of the crate can be a more comfortable option for your dog, letting them find their favorite spot to relax in.

Frequently asked questions

Dog in bed

Which room should I keep the dog bed in?

It's advisable to keep the dog bed in your bedroom, which is also a suitable location for the crate. That way you'll be able to hear your dog if they whine and take them out in time. Another great choice is the bathroom or laundry room. These rooms are equipped with a tiled floor which is great for clean-up.

When to stop crate training?

You may stop crate training when your puppy is 6 months old after they've completed potty training. If your dog exhibits destructive behavior, it's better to wait until they are at least 1 year old.

Of course, this depends on each dog's behavior and temperament. A dog may need to stay in crate training until they have fully grown into an adult dog, which typically happens around the age of 1.5 to 2 years.

How long can a dog stay in the crate overnight?

It depends on how old your pup is. Generally, you can crate an adult dog at night for up to 8 hours. Older dogs may be crated for a longer time, given that they're used to it.

Should I get rid of the dog crate?

Your dog should not need the crate anymore after this. However, I still recommend keeping the crate around the house. Dogs often see the crate as their safe haven, a place they can retreat to when they want to avoid stressful situations.

Speaking from personal experience, although Linkin loves his bed, I still put him in his crate at night once a week, so he does not "forget" the crate. This makes it easier when we have to crate him for whatever reasons, and he will not protest as much. We use a collapsible crate and store it away when not needed.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, transitioning your dog from a crate to a bed at night is a significant milestone, symbolizing trust and growth. Remember to make this switch a gradual process with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. You and your dog are now ready for restful nights with more comfort and freedom!