How to Get a Puppy to Sleep in a Crate

Nothing beats the joy of having a new puppy in the house. These bundles of joy are lovely and cute. However, having a new puppy is quite similar to having a child in your home

This means that you have to take care of them and teach them a lot of things that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

One of the most important aspects that you need to train them is sleeping in a convenient spot, such as a crate. Having a safe, comfortable place for them to sleep in makes many regular events (such as night-time sleeping, travel, and leaving for work) easier on both you and your pet. If you want to know how to get a puppy to sleep in a crate, you’re in for a treat!

Today, we’ll provide you with a brief guide that walks you through all the necessary steps to get the job done. Let’s jump right in!

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Step 1: Choose a Suitable Crate

The first step in crate training your puppy is to choose a suitable one for sleeping. Most crates on the market are made of plastic, metal, or fabric.

Dog crate from PetMate
PetMate Vari Dog Kennel (Plastic)

What kind you choose is largely dependent on you and your lifestyle, provided that it’s still a well-made crate that your dog will be comfortable in.

Think ahead to your future with your new puppy.

  • If you intend to use the crate to help them travel, you’ll want something sturdy and maybe even with a handle.
  • If you aren’t particularly handy, then a plastic crate can be a good choice (no assembly required).
  • If you are short on space or move frequently, you might want to choose a collapsible crate that lets you save room when the crate isn’t in use. 
Collapsible fabric pet crate
JESPET Foldable Fabric Travel Crate

What size is the right size? You want a crate with enough room that they can comfortably stand up, turn around, and lay down in the crate. You don’t want a crate that’s too big, though, as dogs (especially puppies) might make a mess on one side of the crate and sleep at the other end. 

Obviously, this ideal size will grow as they grow. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a crate that’s puppy-sized, and another, adult-size crate.

Many crates will come with a divider that allows you to section off the extra space when they’re smaller. Then you move it, and eventually fully remove it as they grow to full size

Golden Retriever standing inside of a crate
Midwest Homes for Pets Crate (comes with divider)

You’ll want this to be a comfortable space, so get a crate mat or bed, and blankets to make the crate nice and cozy.

Step 2: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate

Start by placing the crate in the living room or any other spot where most of the family hangs out.

Make sure that you put a comfortable blanket on the bedding and keep the door open to allow your puppy to explore it freely.

In most cases, your little puppy will be curious enough to check it out and might even save you all the trouble and sleep there on their own. 

You can also encourage them to do that by calling them over while sitting beside the crate while maintaining a lovely and happy tone.

You can also put some treats inside the crate to encourage them to go inside without pushing or forcing them inside. They’ll eventually get inside as soon as they feel comfortable.

It’s also recommended that you use the command “crate” in a happy tone when you point to the crate and encourage them to go inside.

Step 3: Associate The Crate with Care and Comfort

Now that your dog is not spooked by the crate and can enter the crate on its own, you should try to associate the crate with pleasant thoughts. Luckily, you can do that by making the crate more rewarding for your pup.

For example, start by providing them with their daily meals near the crate or next to the door. Once your puppy is comfortable eating at the door, place the next meal inside the crate, and push it a little further every time.

If your dog is reluctant to go inside at first, you need to get it closer to the door again and retry to go further in at a slower pace.

Moreover, you can place their favorite toy further back inside the crate to provide them with more pleasant thoughts while inside the crate. Remember to use the word “crate” to associate it with both the crate and pleasant thoughts. 

Step 4: Increase the Crate Time Gradually

When your puppy is fully comfortable while eating inside the crate, you should close the door while they’re eating. 

Since they’re distracted by the food, it won’t impact them much. However, as soon as they’re done eating and head for the exit, make sure that you open the door right away.

After a few successful trials, you might want to leave the door closed for 10 to 20 seconds and increase the time gradually by increments of a few seconds every time. Try to keep your dog inside for up to 10 to 15 minutes after they’re done eating.

Additionally, you should make sure that you give them a lovely treat after each successful increase in time.

This should take some time, so you have to be patient. If your dog starts whining loudly when you close the door, you might need to keep them a little shorter and slow down your progression pace.

Pug resting inside of a crate

Step 5: Leave Your Dog in the Crate at Random Times

Start crating your dog at random times a day by calling them to the crate or training them to go to the crate on command using treats. 

Once again, you should keep the door closed after they enter and leave them for a short period of time that you gradually increase. 

Use treats when your dog gets inside and after you open the door to encourage them to maintain good behavior. 

Once your dog is capable of staying for a long time inside the crate or they take a nap inside, you’re ready to move to the next step.

Step 6: Crate Your Dog at Night

Start shifting the crating time towards later in the day, and make sure that the crate is comfortable enough for your puppy to encourage it to sleep inside.

After a long day of playing and exercising, call your puppy to the crate when they’re obviously tired, and close the door after they get in. Make sure you’ve already let them outside to do their business first. 

Give them a treat but avoid getting them too excited that they wake up. Instead, sit quietly next to the crate for 10 to 20 minutes while making sure that your dog falls asleep.

Once your dog starts to sleep easily in the crate, you should decrease the time that you spend by the crate until you’re able to get them inside, close the door, and leave the room. 

But don’t stop here, make sure that your dog doesn’t develop anxiety by checking them again and making sure that they’re asleep. If your dog is too attached, make sure that you come by and stay for a minute to calm them down.

Wrap Up

There you have it! A brief guide that shows you how to get a puppy to sleep in a crate in simple and easy steps.

Remember to start the training as soon as possible to help your little pup get attached to their crate and become comfortable sleeping there. 

It’s important to remember that this is a long-term strategy. Having an adult dog that is still happily crate-trained means taking time when they’re a puppy and building positive associations, and working at their comfort level. 

PuppyLists is written by Kat, who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 15 year old Lab mix.