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You probably spent weeks convincing your pup the crate was the best place to be, right? Are you now wondering if you should remove it and if so, when?

Removing your puppy crate is a big step in puppy development. Aww, puppy’s all grown up! Crates are so useful in teaching your puppy toilet training, teaching them nap times, and giving them a safe place, they can go to and not be disturbed. Older dogs love them too, they provide a safe space to retreat, somewhere to go and dry off after a muddy walk or a safe space to recover from illness or surgery.

There are loads of advantages to having them, but not everyone loves having them around, although there are a tonne of aesthetically pleasing crates you can now get for puppies and dogs you might not want one forever. So, when is the right time to ditch the crate, and how do you do it?

We’re here to help, in this article we’ll cover

  • Is your puppy ready for total freedom?
  • How to train your puppy to sleep outside the crate
  • A few essentials to make the transition easier
  • Puppy proofing your home and how to do it
  • Troubleshooting – what to do when it doesn’t go to plan

We go through when is your puppy ready to sleep outside of the crate in our ‘ditch the crate?’ lesson in the Zigzag puppy training app. If you have any questions on crate training, or when is the right time to have your puppy sleeping in a bed, then feel free to get in touch with our Zigzag puppy coaches.

When is the puppy ready to sleep out of the crate?

When to stop using a crate for your puppy, and knowing when your puppy is ready to sleep outside of the crate is going to firstly depend on a few things such as:

  • Is your puppy bomb-proof toilet trained?
  • Why do you want to get rid of the crate? – They are really useful for older dogs too so have a think about this.
  • If your home is safe for your puppy to roam around freely in
  • Is your puppy chewing or destructive when left unattended?
  • What other animals do you have in your home?
  • Does your puppy sleep through the night?
  • Do you have children in the house that could trip over the dog at night?
  • Do you set an alarm that the dog might set off?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule about age as such, as every dog is different! Most puppies are OK out of the crate at around 7-8 months of age in our experience, while some due to their chewing needs require confinement for longer.

How to teach your puppy to sleep outside the crate?

Teaching your puppy to sleep outside of the crate in the daytime or at night can be a little bit ‘suck it and see’ as some puppies will have no problem still sleeping when the crate door is open and others are going to have a field day being on their own at night.

Over 100,000 puppies trained through Zigzag

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Here are our top tips for having your puppy sleep outside of the crate overnight

Make sure your puppy has been to the toilet before bedtime

Many puppies still need the toilet overnight so if this sounds like your puppy, you’ll need to set an alarm so that they don’t have an accident overnight. You don’t want to come down and step in a puddle… Or worse!

Puppy proof a room

If they’re not confined to a crate you need to make sure that the room they are left in doesn’t have things that could hurt them if chewed or pulled over.

Make the room very dark and cosy

Your puppy will be quite sensitive to outside noises such as birdsong, or the world waking up, better to try and get them to sleep in as long as possible we say!

Set up a camera

It’s worth setting a doggy camera up so that you can see what they get up to overnight. It might well be nothing, but it’s reassuring knowing that we can keep an eye on things from afar.

Leave the crate door open

The moment of truth? What will your puppy do?

To be honest, if your puppy usually quite likes their crate then they might hardly notice that the door is open. Don’t remove the crate immediately and replace it with a bed. Let them get used to their freedom first by just leaving the crate door open.

Be prepared to wake up early

Your puppy will be up with the birds, and if you’re not there they may have a toilet accident. Puppies like to pee almost straight away after waking up, so make sure you get there in time!

What about stopping using the crate for my puppy in the daytime?

If your puppy has been used to sleeping happily while you go out in the daytime then you can follow the steps above the same as for night time.

Make sure they have had a good walk before you leave them and that the area the crate is in is safe – you can also use a puppy pen if you’d prefer.

You can put a dog bed in another area of the same room and see if your puppy prefers to sleep in that, rather than the crate.

Some puppies need structured nap times. For puppies who aren’t good at taking naps in the daytime without being crated, there is no harm in keeping the crate a while longer if it helps your puppy get enough sleep for their needs.

white fluffy puppy sat on the floor


Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Puppy supplies you might need for dogs transitioning out of the crate

While you’re figuring out when your puppy is ready to sleep out of their crate, there are some essential supplies we suggest you look at to make the transition easier.

Baby gates and Playpens: Creating a safe confinement zone is going to be essential to overnight puppy safety. We recommend you either confine them to one or several rooms by using baby gates or create a confinement zone with a puppy playpen.

A new place to sleep: A comfortable bed for your puppy will help them to sleep through the night which is what we want right? We did a review for you of our favourite puppy beds, but overall we suggest a nice raised bed for comfort and a memory foam topper.

Cleaning Supplies: Your puppy may still have an accident, especially in the first few weeks of sleeping outside of their crate. Use an enzyme cleaner like Urine-Off or Wee Away to make sure the smells go away.

The importance of puppy-proofing your home

Now that the puppy is out of the crate and free to roam the house, it’s important to make sure that potential dangers are kept at bay. Here are our top tips for puppy-proofing your house.

If you’re going to give your puppy their freedom then it’s so important to puppy-proof your home. You cannot imagine the trail of destruction a puppy can leave when left to their own devices. They are going to be chewing like crazy for the first year, so if you choose to let them sleep outside of the crate, you’re going to need to make sure they can’t get into anything. Because if they can they will!

Puppies can easily get up to mischief when sleeping outside of a crate by:

  • Chewing wires, is dangerous for them with live electricals and very annoying for you when you go to use your laptop to find the charger is in pieces
  • Pulling plants down and scattering soil all over your carpets
  • Taking a liking for the taste of your skirting boards, wood feels pretty nice for a puppy to chew, but splinters and home destruction isn’t good for them or you!
  • Chewing other items like favourite shoes, sunglasses, sofa cushions or even the actual sofa and other soft furnishings

puppy asleep in owners arms


Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

What to do if your puppy refuses to sleep out of the crate?

If your puppy refuses to sleep outside of the crate, we say let them enjoy the crate! Don’t feel rushed to get them outside of the crate, if they’re happy to sleep through the night in there then there is no harm in letting them have the crate a while longer.

For some puppies being in a confined place makes them feel safe and secure. If you’re not keen on the wire cage aesthetic of a crate, then consider switching to a fabric travel crate, or a fancier furniture style crate.

If you are desperate to have them sleeping outside of the crate then you can try these tips

Leave the crate door open

If you leave the crate door open, you may find that your puppy chooses to sleep elsewhere after a couple of nights of freedom.

Try a new bed

Get them a new comfy bed like we’ve suggested above and put it in the same room as their crate. This makes their ‘new’ place to sleep more attractive.

Teach them to get in and out of the new bed with training.

You can teach a ‘place’ or ‘go to bed’ behaviour, probably the same as you taught your puppy to ‘go in your crate’.

We hope you have found this article useful remember you don’t have to ‘ditch the crate’ if you don’t want to but hopefully if you don’t want a crate anymore this guide will help you and your pup navigate the transition.

Want more tips on puppy raising? Why not have a read of our 50 Tips for new puppy owners. There are tons more information in our Zigzag puppy training app and if you have specific questions about ditching the crate or keeping it then drop a message to our team of Zigzag puppy coaches.