How can we get a puppy to sleep through the night?

dll969October 5, 2006

Hi. We adopted a puppy from the humane society this summer. We've had him for about three months, and he's about five months old. Both my husband and I work, so he is in a rather large cage for a good part of the day, and for the last few weeks, he has been able to hold his bowels until we get home, which has been terrific. For some reason, though, he can't do it at night. He sleeps in our bedroom at night, because I don't want to cage him since he's in a cage all day. He is good at letting us know when he has to go out, but he has to go out usually three times a night, between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am. When we take him out, he often doesn't seem like he really needs to go; he would rather get a drink or play with a toy. We try to keep him busy when we are home by playing with him, and we take walks when we can, and encourage him to play with the neighbor dog to tire him out. We leave toys in his cage when we're at work, but he doesn't seem to play with them much. We think he doesn't play during the day because he has some separation anxiety issues, which we've discussed with our vet, but she said that is normal at his age. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get him to sleep through the night, I'd appreciate it. I'd really like to get a full nights sleep. :)

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If you were a puppy and everytime you barked or whined at night someone would take you outside for some recreational sniffing and playing, wouldn't you keep doing it?
Time to put your foot down! Next time you go out, do it with a THREE foot leash take the puppy directly to the potty area and instruct the pup to "potty" or whatever term you give it. Allow no sniffing and no playing. Strictly business. Then immediately go back in the crate. I'd give it a few nights of this routine then I would do a couple of things. Start ignoring some of the calls to go out. If the puppy soils the crate, then maybe a trip to vet might be in order to see if anything is wrong in that department.

I don't give my puppy anything to drink say an hour before bed time and that makes all the difference in the world. One time I left a full bowl out and he gulped it down and sure enough we had a relapse.

And also had a relapse when I started giving the puppy these "green-um" treats. The minute I started giving him those he would have to go in the middle of the night and when I stopped he didn't so make sure you're not treating with anything wierd like that.

1 Like    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 10:06AM
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Ditto the above... No food/water an hour or two before bedtime, and when puppy whines to go out (AKA, wake you up so you'll pay attention to him), DO NOT pay him any attention. He will learn soon enough.

Also, what about having an intensive round of play shortly before bed? A little something to tire him out a bit, make him sleep a little better... can't hurt! (Just watch that he does not eat too much before or after an intense play session... you don't want to cause bloat!)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 3:01PM
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I stopped giving our puppy any water or food after 9 at night. Also she is in her crate in the living room and we are in the bedroom, so she whined a few times for a couple of nights, but no one came. So she didn't do it anymore.
Think of it like a baby, if they drop a spoon on the floor twenty times and cry for you to pick it up and you do twenty times, then they keep doing it. Like a game.

Get him back in the crate at night and not loose in the room with you if you want him to learn to control the night time potty issues. Also, a good idea for the crate is, at night put a sheet over the crate so he can't "see" you and that may make him sleep through the night a little faster.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 5:15PM
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I don't know that you necessarily need to crate him at night, if he is able to hold it at night... you said he doesn't seem to want to potty, only wants to drink and get a toy. I felt the same as you when we got our pup (she was 3 1/2 months at the time)-- she's in her crate all day when we're at work, I didn't want her in it all night, too.

Our nighttime solution was to attach a leash to the leg of the bed and tether her there at night, so she couldn't wander around the house. (I suppose we could have just closed the bedroom door, but a leash kept her "world" a little smaller, so she wouldn't be able to go into a corner to pee.) We never had any accidents doing this, and we did it from day one. (Of course, we went to bed REALLY late and got up REALLY early for a while, but it worked out OK.)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 5:56PM
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I agree with what everyone has said.

Mainly you are rewarding him by taking him out at night.

Dogs are very social animals and will tend to sleep when left alone. So you are right that your dog is not playing during the day. He is sleeping during the day - which means he wants to play all night...

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 8:25PM
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Yeah, since your puppy is basically inactive all day, and puppies were meant to be active, take your puppy for a good long 45 minute walk before retiring...that will make your puppys restless body settle down

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 8:29PM
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He is in a crate all day. At night when you want to sleep he is looking to play, sniff and cuddle or get his ears/tummy scratched.

You trust him at night, what does he do bad that you still crate him during the day?

Crates don't solve all, crates are a new thing in a home. Many generations didn't have crates and had great dogs. To me he sounds like a great dog looking for love and play time and scratches.

He is in a crate all day, which means he sleeps all day. At his age when you want to sleep would be party time for him, he had nothing to do but sleep all day.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 10:13PM
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I agree with gammyt - why would you get a puppy and then keep him locked up all day? That's not natural for a puppy - or a dog for that matter. I don't use crates and still don't see much of a need for them - although they're certainly the "in" thing these days. Tell me again why people crate dogs? Dogs should be outside in the sunshine with a canine buddy during the day. THAT'S what being a dog is about - not locked up for your convenience!


    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 10:47PM
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Crates are the modern answer to the two-income household... if someone is home all day (or most of it), a crate wouldn't be necessary, but economic reality has squashed that concept into the dark ages. Most adults have to work outside the home for a living, meaning that dogs have to spend some time alone in the house.

Our dog was crated during the day (when hubby and I were away at work) for about 5 months, until she got the house-training down and we knew her habits well enough to trust that she wouldn't destroy anything (and pose a major health risk to herself in the process) while unsupervised. She had a nice huge crate (probably too big; it could have held four of her), with a nice bed, safe toys, and water; there was more than enough room for her to get up, turn around, sprawl out, etc. It's not like we stuck her in an iron maiden or something!! Whoever got home first immediately let puppy out of the crate, and puppy wouldn't be sent back in until the last person left for work the next morning.

Being outside during the day may be nice for a dog whose owners have lots of land, but where we live (in "civilization"), a dog is MUCH safer left inside than out... people steal dogs out of fenced yards all the time... they escape and run out into the street... and so on and so forth. Plus, my dog is infinitely cleaner than my parents' dogs, who are outside all day long on their farm-- more time between baths, healthier coat, etc.

Incidentally, once our dog "earned" her free reign of the house, the crate was disassembled, put back into its box, and stored away in the basement, not to be seen again-- until the unfortunate skunk encounter a few months ago, when poochie was banned from furniture until the funk had passed. :)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 11:19PM
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Thanks for all the responses.

Quirkyquercus, I had thought of trying to ignore his whining, but I dont really want to have to clean up a mess at 3:00 in the morning. :) How do we know if he truly has to go out, or if he just wants our attention? I took your advise and made sure that when he went out last night, we went right to the potty area, and when he seemed more interested in sniffing around than doing his business, I took him back in. IÂm hoping if IÂm vigilant about this, heÂll soon learn the routine.

Cnvh, I appreciate your responses. Our routine is much like the one you described. We have rearranged our evening schedules so that someone is always home, or if that is not possible, we take him to my mother-in-lawÂs home, so we donÂt have to cage him in the evening. We put a baby gate up in our bedroom door at night, so he canÂt get into the rest of the house, which has been working well.

Last night we went for an hour walk, and I played with him for most of the evening. I tried to keep him from drinking after 9:00. He whined to go out twice, which is an improvement over the previous night. We will continue to try to keep him active in the evening, to try to tire him out.

In response to the criticism for keeping him caged during the day; George is caged during the day because he has been destructive. When we first got him, we kept him in a large laundry room. He chewed the door trim, the brand-new wood windows that had just been installed, and a desk. He will remain in the cage during the day until we feel we can trust him. George has a large cage with ample room. Is the consensus that families with two working adults are not entitled to owning a puppy? We adopted him from a humane society, and are able to provide a loving home. Who knows what may have happened to him if we hadnÂt adopted him? Vicky, you describe the perfect setting for dogs, but in reality, how many families with dogs have that opportunity? Believe me, I donÂt like the fact that he is caged during the day, which is precisely why he is not caged at night. As a matter-of-fact, we had looked into getting a dog-sitter to stop in for a half-an-hour a day to take him for a quick walk and play, but we live in a more rural area, and it was cost prohibitive. WeÂve also looked into doggy day-care, but because of our work hours, most places arenÂt open in time. I did find one place that has extended hours a few times a week, but itÂs expensive, so we may be able to take him there once a month. I know that keeping him in a cage all day is not ideal situation, but we are doing the best we can, and George seems to be a happy dog.

Thanks again for the responses.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 8:42AM
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Don't feel ashamed about crating your dog. It's much better than the alternative but I would suggest leaving kongs stuffed with food or treats to get the dog addicted to playing with acceptable chewtoys instead of baseboards. It takes time to do this but eventually it will pay dividends.

I really think you will just have to take a chance with the puppy crying wolf. My puppy was doing this on one of the early nights he was here and after the third inadvertant midnight playtime, I ignored it. He soiled his crate, which since it was appropriately sized, it was all over his fur. And I'm not talkin urine. We both learned a lesson that night and that's not to mess around.

You don't mention what breed the dog is or looks like but unless it's a real small dog, you need to start thinking about devoting at least an hour each day to excercise and running off leash (in a fenced yard). What happens with the dog inbetween the time you come home and the time you go to sleep? What happens on the weekends? Puppies are an unbelievably huge investment of time, thus not ideal for most busy families working outside the home and/or with kids or other responsibilities. I hate to say that but you're going to have to really work on this to develop a well rounded adolescent dog.

This means obedience training, socialization with all types of humans and other dogs and a daily routine. They aren't goldfish. You can't just leave them in a crate and expect them to do fine. My dogs need to be worn out, toungue dangling, 3 or 4 times a day or I will feel their wrath. I also do this before bed time and as a reward for going to the bathroom on command, I also have trained my older dog to "go RUN" whereby he darts around the yard at lightning speed and the puppy chases him. 15 minutes of that and they're flopped out on the floor begging for sleep.

The purpose of a crate is to disuade the puppy from going to the bathroom until you can take the puppy outside and reward or praise for going in the right place. It's also a safe place for the dog to be when you're unable to watch him. They don't see it as a prison cell or a cage. To them, it's just another room. Unless they haven't been trained to love the crate and think of it as a little play land. This also takes time.

On the contrary, leaving the pup to his own devices in the backyard, is not only dangerous on a number of levels, who's going to housetrain the puppy if he spends all day in the yard?

Can I give you a horror story?
Gooood, I knew you'd say yes.
I have some neighbors... decent folks. They rescued a Golden retriever mix. For the first 8 or 9 months of this pup's life, it was crated for 8 hours a day. They were working a lot then. They didn't really ever walk this puppy or take him anywhere for socialization. And to this day they still don't do that. They do however garden in the front yard and let the dog run around the neighborhood loose at times because he escapes. It's only happened about 250 times now so maybe someone needs to show them how to tie a knot. Recently, they had a family member come over with their dog and something went wrong and the now 1 year old dog got agressive and bit his owner requiring stitches... a lot of stitches.

I don't think you should skimp now on the escercise, training and socialization or you'll be paying for it later.
I have to go but there are many good books on raising puppies. Go to amazon and read the reviews for them then run, not walk, to a local book store and read the book this weekend. Find a local puppy class and enroll. Find a local offleash bark park and use it. Set aside time to take the puppy to places where it will come in contact with all kinds of people and noises. If you can establish what breed, find a local breed group and go to their next get together. You will learn a lot about the dogs needs from those folks and plus it's a lot of fun and you get to make new friends yourself.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 10:38AM
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I put a peanut-butter filled kong as well as at least one other chew toy in Georges crate before we leave for the day. He definitely likes the kong because its always empty by the time I get home, but it never looks like he plays with the other toys.

He is a mixed breed. The humane society said his mom was a shepherd mix, and they had no idea who the father was. Hes about 40 pounds now at five months, so hell probably be a pretty big dog. From the time we get home from work until when we go to bed, we devote most of our time to him, by taking walks and playing. We do the same on weekends. We have taken him to a puppy obedience class, and he socializes well with humans and other dogs. Hes actually too friendly, if that is possible.

Thanks for your recommendations. My mom has been pushing me to get the dog whisperer book, and Ill research other book options. Well look into the next obedience class, as well as the day-care, because hell definitely be able to socialize with other dogs there.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 11:19AM
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Ok Good. It sounds like you're well on your way.
I didn't know how much you were doing but that's great.

Just one thing to keep in mind that many dogs are bred to work and need a job to do to keep their minds busy just as much as they need excercise. Keep those kongs coming and google around for puppy games to play. Practicing the obedience is good too.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 1:11PM
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Crating a dog during the day is good for the dog and good for you... People who say they don't understand why a dog needs to be crated probably lives in a rural area or lives in a home where someone is home most of the time.

My dogs were crated when they were young. The crates are still around and the dogs still use them, though we don't close the doors anymore. Its their place and they love it.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 1:20PM
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Yes, it's true. My dogs live in a very good situation. Lots of room to run but I still take them out to run loose in the desert. They LOVE that!! Even my chubby pug.

So maybe that's why I don't crate - because, like someone said, I live in a rural area and I don't work so I'm home a lot. But I do go into the city a lot too - relatively little to do out here (unless it involves dirt -lol).


    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 8:24PM
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I don't think I could add much more to what has already been said, except that I put up baby gates to keep pooch in and they worked fine until he figured them out! Now he can get over them with no problem. The only add'l advice I can offer is routine. I take him for a long walk 1/2 hour before bedtime and then he knows that when he comes back, it's lights out until next morning.
Not sure who trains who !!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 6:25PM
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The dog whisperer book is back to the old fashioned "discipline" method of scaring dogs into doing what you want them to do. Except for the advice about lots of exercise, I'd skip it. George will grow up and be just fine, but right now he's the doggie equivalent of a 7-8 year old child and he has to be kept safe. You can't expect him to behave like a grown-up.

I used to feel guilty about my dogs spending so much time alone during the day until one week when I had a visitor. She said that they watched out the window for 10 minutes or so after I left in the morning, then hopped up on the sofa and slept until 20 minutes or so before I was due home. Then back to the window. They are dogs, they sleep a lot anyway, and George will be fine by himself for much of the day. Of course, if you are really concerned, you can always head back to the pound and pick out Georgia.

Now, I'm off to take my friends out for their evening entertainment....

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 11:08PM
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Honestly I was against crates when I first got our puppy. I thought, geez, this is for lazy people who don't want to take the time to train their dog! But I was worng, and now that we use one I dont understand how we got a long with out it before. And yes, I am home ALL DAY almost everyday and we still use the crate for certain things (when I am busy doing something or if a certain neighbour is over with her son since he is scared of dogs) and at night also. She also loves to go into her crate to nap and eat her treats with the door of it open. That's her "space" and believe me she treats it as such. Our pup is big - 70 pounds at 6 months - and gets 2 walks a day and 30 minutes free run time outside at night and it suits her fine.
Don't listen to the negative people hun, you seem to be doing all you can about the situation and giving your puppy lots of love to boot!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 12:34AM
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OP please do not feel guilty about crating your dog because you work. With my first lab my husband and I worked away from the home all day. Should we have not had a pet because we worked?? The crate is great tool and is also a place for your pup or dog to go i.e., his safe place. I have a 3 year old male lab who still goes to his crate during different times of day. The big debate in our house is what is he going to do when we add a puppy??? We will probably add a crate rather than take away the safe place. Some dogs use their crates all their life. No they are not locked in there, they choose to go in for a rest, get away from the other dogs or the possiblity of a nail clipping. As for the during the night thing - I have an unconventional idea. It worked for me with all 4 labs I have had over the past 20 years. At about 10-12 weeks we put the pup on the bed with us when it was lights out time (after taking him out for one last we mean do your business trip). Our dogs just slept, never soiled the bed, they woke us up when they had to potty. I am not saying we were never woken up by a playful puppy, but they learned that it was sleep time for everyone. I know, I know, just our experience. And what is it with these people who think it is cruel to work during the day and keep a pup/crated. BTW I have a flexible work schedule, some days at the office, some days from home and when my dogs were pups they still spent time (mandatory) in their crates. It allowed me to do things I needed to do. IMHO if you can't give 100 % attention to a puppy, crate him until you have a free time to spend with him, it will keep owner and pup much safer and happier (and your floor much cleaner). Lastly, when my last two guys were pups I had my petsitter come in the middle of the day for a walk and water. It gave the puppy a break from the crate for an hour and it was a Godsend. You could get a college student or someone recommended by your vet, retired, etc. who would do this at an inexpensive rate. I think you need to just wait it out. This too will pass.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 8:36AM
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So what's happening with this, dlll? It's been a few nights now did you try ignoring the puppy and if so what happened?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 9:54AM
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Thanks so much for all the responses and positive feedback about using the cage during the day. We've been trying to keep George busy when we get home from work, and we're taking longer walks. Quirkyquercus, last night he started whining around 12:30, and he had just been out about an hour or two earlier, so we knew he didn't need to go out. We ignored him. He was restless for a while, but eventually calmed down. He whined to go out again around 3:00, and he truly did have to go that time. It was definitely an improvement, because we had been taking him out at least twice a night. I guess we'll just keep working on it, and hopefully we can eventually eliminate the nightly visits outside.

Thanks again for all the suggestions and support.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 8:07PM
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Thankyou all for your suggestions! I have a new 5 wk old puppy, and needed the help to get her to sleep all night. I took her out in the backyard and let her run for about a half an hour since she's too small to take for a walk, and its too dark to take her out. I'm also gonna try a crate tonight to see if she'll sleep all night. We tried placing her in the shower the first night, and tried to ignore her but it was hard. I tried to put her on our bed, but she somehow gets off the bed; and I'm afraid she's gonna hurt herself because the bed sits high off the ground. Thankyou again for all your suggestions! Tomorrow I plan on letting her stay outside longer when I take her potty; and prayerfully she'll stay awake longer during the day that way!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 12:41AM
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We have had our 12 mnth cocker spaniel for 6 months now. He has always been shy,timid and easily frightened, due to numerous things happening when he was a little pup, including been left alone for hours each day.
I only decided to get a dog when I stopped working ,as I feel is not fair to leave any dog alone for more than a couple of hours , this is because dogs are pack animals with a need for company.
Our dog never leaves our side whenever possible and dogs can become anxious, unsociable, distructive or depressed over time if crated for extended periods.
I understand people who work still want dogs but sadly modern society does not permit dog owners to work and provide a dog with all it needs. I know you adopted your dog and saved it from an uncertain future but your dog deserves the chance of a life where he is not left in a cage all day. Dogs are like kids they need constant supervision and company, would you cage a child cause you had to go to work ?
Leaving him all day will never work out, except for you, cause your dog will suffer. He may seem happy but that's.more likely cause he is so relieved to see you. Anyone who says crates are good for dogs is mad and selfish, you should not expect a dog to be exposed to anything you would not expose a child to.
Modern living is no excuse its not the dogs fault you work. Plenty of people wait to retire or work at home before getting a dog ,so should you If your lifestyle leaves you out all day.
Crates if used at all should be only to sleep in with the door open at all times, or to keep very tiny puppies safe whilst you are cleaning or shopping. But dogs should not be in them, closed, for more than 2 hours. Most of you won't like what I have said but I know I am right in putting dogs welfare first and not people who just want a dog and don't care about the consequences.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Bonnie Jean: A 5 week old puppy is way too young to be away from his mommy or his litter mates, so I can understand him not wanting to be alone. A dog should be at least 8 weeks old when he is adopted and an extra three weeks would be better. Give him some extra slack like maybe letting him sleep in his crate beside your bed with your arm hanging inside until he goes to sleep. This little guy is still a baby.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 5:30PM
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Llama: You obviously have no real idea of canine behavior when they are alone, as you admittedly say you never let your dog from your side. I sense some "that's not the way we did it back when I was young, see...?"

Crate=Den (So long as it's done properly and ALWAYS with a positive reinforcer). Where do wolves, coyotes, etc sleep and spend 80% of their day? THEIR DEN! It's a natural thing for them. For most breeds, the outdoors would be a great place to live if we all had no jobs and 20 acres of protected land. That's just not the case, and for that matter, most breeds are so domesticated that outside is NOT the optimal place for them 24 hrs a day. That said, the crate for 8-10 hours everyday isn't optimal either. Furthermore--and to the point of your post--I'd be willing to bet that all those people who can leave their pups out in the yard or a rural setting give the dog a den of some sort: a dog house, a pad under the porch, a nook in the barn, a nice shady spot under a lawn chair...well, I think you get my drift. However, a crate used as a CAGE to house an animal 100% of the time IS cruelty. Crating is MOST CERTAINLY NOT! Let's be sure and make these lines of demarcation perfectly clear: CAGED isn't the same as CRATED (even if the same housing structure is used) as we all know the unsettled nature of a caged animal vs the demeanor of a crated one.

The crating method gives ANYONE who cannot watch their dog 100% of the time the ability to set the pup up to WIN at the tough things in their lives, i.e. potty training, not being destructive, feeling safe and secure and thus well-adjusted, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Go to any dog sporting event: Show, Agility, Frisbee, Obedience, Flyball, etc and look at how the best of the best dog owners and handlers house their dogs...wait for it...IN CRATES!!!!!!! Dogs sleep 15-18 hours a day depending on breed, age, etc; thus, one could argue that you forcing your dog by your side every minute of every day isn't allowing the dog the true rest it needs. I'd bet he wishes he had a crate to get away for a moment's peace sometimes...Let's not even mention the safety issues (for both pet and owner) of not crating the dog while traveling.

All this isn't so much to attack you (but it was fun considering your lack of knowledge/misinformation on the subject) as to say that with tens of thousands of dogs euthanized in shelters every day, working families have no right to adopt a pet and save its life while enriching their own? Are YOU mad? Where is the good in that dog's life once he hits the autoclave? I submit to you that Fido would pick the crate 100% of the time rather than death, even if it was 8-10 hours a day...but if your master's not retired, then too bad puppy dog. Llama says to hell with you.

After 20+ years as a cop, I'm one year from a well deserved retirement myself and I've been lucky enough to have 4 wonderfully unique, well adjusted and socially adept canine companions over these last few decades and each was crated with excellent results and loved their den until the end. All while I worked full time.

My current little buddy, Marco, a 3 month old Chocolate Lab is responding well to crate/potty training, too. He gets 40 minutes of walking/offleash play before i go to work, a 10 minute walk by a friend and another 30 minute walk on my lunch break, then at least an hour on the trails or dog park in the evening, not to mention all his potty breaks. As he is a pup and demands my FULL attention, when I can't give it or need a break, in he goes with his Kong and he relaxes. The crate is simply another tool in the arsenal for developing an awesome and well behaved friend for life.

All that being said, if you can watch your puppy 100% of the time all day everyday, then there's no need for a crate...otherwise, have fun and I look forward to hearing what all the uncrated pup has destroyed/eaten/soiled...


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 2:22AM
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I have a seven week old labradoodle. I'm crate training her until she is old enough to be outside during the day. Should I be waking up in the middle of the night to let her out? Or should I wait until I wale up? I can't imagine a seven week old puppy being able to hold it for 8 hours. I kinda getting confused.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 11:48PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Yes, Lace, a pup that young will need to go out at least once, maybe twice a night for awhile. Does the puppy sleep in the room with you? If you make sure you pup potties right before bedtime then listen for crying about 3 hours later, get up, get her out and then right back to bed.

They are babies. It doesn't last all that long, but if you get her out when she needs to go, she will become housebroken quickly and will "get it". Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 9:00AM
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ORE International Lamps 26 in. Solid Crystal Black & Clear Table Lamp 31133
Home Depot
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