Do you feel that you are ready to leave the crate door open and offer your puppy more independence now that they have matured a little? Probably, yes. But that is not the right question to ask; you need to determine whether your puppy is the one ready to sleep out of the crate.
Pet owners can leave the crate door open as soon as their puppies sleep through the night without a bathroom break – usually between 5 and 6 months. However, puppies younger than 18 months should be left inside the crate during the daytime when there is no one home to keep an eye on them.
Crate training might not be necessary for all dog owners, but to some, it only falls in second place compared to the day they welcomed their new furry member into their homes. The transition from keeping your puppy inside the crate while they sleep to leaving the door open does come with a new set of elements you need to consider.
When Can You Leave The Crate Door Open For Your Puppy?
The benefits associated with crate training and the long-term results speak for themselves. Many pet owners who use this method while raising their puppies will tell you that their dogs feel safe and comfortable in their crates.
Your puppy might even have become attached to the crate and see it as a safe space. If you notice your puppy climbing into the cage for a nap or hurrying inside when something may have scared the poor thing, it is a clear indication that your puppy still wants it around – even if you never lock the door anymore.
Of course, it is up to you if you want to remove the crate and put their bed on the floor, but you should wait until they have reached full maturity at around eighteen months. It is also worth remembering that some dogs can retain puppy-like behavior until they turn three years old.
You’ll have to run a test trial to see if your dog is ready for the responsibility of freedom when you are not around. If you come back and your puppy has been up to no good, it might be too soon yet.
If any of the following incidents happened while you were sleeping or away from home, give your puppy another month or two inside the crate before trying again.
During the night:
- Crying or howling at the foot of your bed
- Pee and poop in every corner of the house
- Destructive behavior
When you are away:
- If they injured themselves trying to search for you
- Chewed up items like slippers or remote controls
- Neighbors complained that your puppy kept crying while you were away
Because not all dogs are equal, some may not need as much supervision. In that case, you can follow the general guidelines below and adjust the perimeters until you find the perfect time to leave the door unlocked or remove the crate altogether.
When Can You Leave The Crate Door Open During The Night?
As soon as your puppy sleeps through the night without a bathroom break, you can leave the crate door open while you sleep; this will be around the age of five or six months. According to the Humane Society, you can take your puppy’s age to determine how many pee breaks they need during the night – or day.
- When they are one month old, they are not able to keep it for longer than one and a half hours.
- At three months old, you can expect your puppy to hold their bladders for about four hours.
- At six months old, your puppy can sleep through the night and only need to pee when they get up in the morning.
When puppies wake up to pee or poop during the night and are not confined, they might not go back to sleep by themselves. A wandering puppy can be a concern if you are a heavy sleeper because you might not hear if they decide to chew through your electrical cables or break into the pantry to steal your chocolate stash.
When Can You Leave The Crate Door Open When You Are Away?
Now that your puppy sleeps until morning, it is no longer necessary to keep them safe during the night. However, it will be best for puppies and dogs younger than eighteen months to stay in their crates if you are not home.
Keeping your puppy carted while you are away for a few hours will be especially helpful when your pet suffers from separation anxiety and tends to destroy your home while you’re out buying dog treats.
With puppies and maturing dogs, the problem is rooted in anxiety caused by being left alone; dogs can get into a world of trouble if left to their own devices. If you are heading to the shops for an hour or two and are not confident that your puppy will behave, it is OK to keep them safe inside the crate.
However, don’t replace a pet sitter with a crate. If you have to be away from home for the entire day, you should never leave your puppy inside the cage for that long. The Humane Society states that puppies under six months should not be confined for more than four hours at a time.
Apart from the need to relieve themselves more frequently than adult dogs, it is not fair for puppies to be cooped up all day among their waste without any social interaction. If work takes you away from home every day, consider putting your puppy in daycare until they can be trusted alone until you return from work.
At the end of the day, your puppy’s maturity level will decide when is the best time to let them sleep out of the crate. To some dogs, the space has become more than just a place to sleep or be when you are not home; if you think your puppy is attached to the crate, you might want to reconsider before taking it away.