Crating or not crating your dog is a personal choice. Neither is wrong, so long as your dog isn’t crated day and night.
The main reasons to crate your dog at night:
- For their own safety while you cannot watch them
- To give them their own “den” where they feel secure
- So that potty accidents are contained for easy clean-up
- To prevent housetraining accidents
- Keeping them out of your bed at night
- To prevent destructive chewing
Some people close the door on the crate every night. Others close the door while the dog is young or new to the home and open it later in their life, when they can be trusted to wander the house at night.
You might also choose to never shut the door on the crate, and simply let your dog go in and out as they like.
In this article, I’ll also discuss the benefits of crating your dog at night and why it might be best for you and your dog.
1. For their Safety
If your dog tends to eat things they shouldn’t or get themselves into trouble, a closed crate can stop them from hurting themselves while you sleep.
This is especially crucial if your house isn’t dog-proofed.
When it comes to small dogs, you may crate them so that you don’t accidentally step on them in the dark.
Lastly, puppies, elderly dogs, and disabled dogs may need extra supervision. This can be achieved by keeping them in a crate in your bedroom at night. You’ll be able to easily check up on them.
2. So Your Dog Feels Secure
The reason crates work is due to dogs’ natural instincts to den. Denning is a dog’s instinct to shelter themselves.
When a dog is properly crate trained, they see the crate as their safe space. They may go to their crate if they’re nervous or tired. Crates can help anxious dogs feel more secure.
Your dog should be left alone in their crate so that they learn that it’s a place to go if they don’t want to be bothered. This can be useful especially if you have children and your dog needs an occasional break from the action.
Crates can also help dogs with anxiety feel more secure, as they have a place they can retreat to when they’re feeling anxious.
3. In Case of Potty Accidents
Crates can make clean-up much easier if your dog isn’t yet potty trained. They’re also a useful potty training tool.
The right size for a crate is large enough for your dog to stand up straight and turn around inside. It shouldn’t be too much bigger than this.
If your crate is the right size, your dog will be less likely to pee or poop inside. This is because dogs naturally don’t like to sleep and potty in the same place!
In a bigger crate, dogs might designate a “potty area” and simply sleep on the other side.
4. To Keep them Out of Your Bed
Some people don’t like their dogs on the bed. Maybe you dislike your dog on your furniture altogether, are a light sleeper, or don’t want your dog bothering you while you sleep.
After all, even small dogs sometimes have a way of taking up the entire bed, and some dogs are restless sleepers—potentially kicking you in the middle of the night.
A crate is a good alternative so your dog has a safe place to sleep where they feel secure. It can be placed in your bedroom if you’d like to keep your dog close, or somewhere else if you’d rather not have your dog in your room at night.
5. To Prevent Destructive Chewing
Some dogs will chew just about anything! My dog went through a phase when I first adopted him where he chewed through leashes, shoes, entire phone books—anything he could reach!
Puppies and young dogs tend to be the worst for this, especially if the puppy is still teething.
If your dog is a destructive chewer, a crate will keep them contained at night. They won’t be able to sneak away and eat your favorite pair of shoes!
While it’s annoying for your dog to destroy your things, it’s also dangerous. A crate will stop them from eating things they shouldn’t, which can potentially cause bowel obstructions.
It will also ensure they don’t choke or electrocute themselves by chewing wires.
You Don’t Have to Crate Your Dog
This is a subject that people are very passionate about—both in favor and against crating.
At the end of the day, though, it’s just a personal choice. Some people like crating their dogs, while others don’t.
The same is true for dogs—crating at night will be best for some, and not for others.
All of that said, you absolutely don’t have to crate your dog at night if you don’t want to. Maybe you’d rather them sleep in your bed, or on a dog bed on the floor.
Don’t Overuse the Crate
The last factor I advise you to consider is that you aren’t crating your dog too much. Never crate a dog day and night, such as at bedtime and while you work a full shift.
If you did this, your dog would be crated for 16 hours a day—or two thirds of their life! It just isn’t fair to them to be confined for that long.
It’s also bad for their physical and mental health.
Choosing the Best Crate
Have you decided to crate your dog at night, but don’t yet have a crate? In this section, I’ll discuss some aspects to consider before buying.
- Size of the crate
- Hard-sided vs soft sided crates
The size of the crate depends on the size of your dog and your space. The crate should be at least large enough for your dog to stand up straight and turn around inside it.
If your dog isn’t yet potty trained, the crate shouldn’t be any larger than this—or they’ll likely pee on one side.
Puppies who are still growing should have a crate that will accommodate them at full size. You can then section off the crate as they grow to prevent them from peeing and pooping inside.
Another option is to buy a small crate for now and replace it as your dog grows. However, this is more expensive.
When it comes to aesthetics, some people care more than others! You can buy a plain wire crate or something a little fancier that matches your home.
Of course, it also matters how much you’re willing to spend on your dog’s crate. Simpler designs are cheapest.
Most people use hard-sided crates in their homes. These are your standard wire crates. They’re sturdy and easy to clean.
However, some dogs may hurt themselves trying to escape hard-sided crates.
Soft-sided crates may be less likely to injure your dog’s teeth or nails, but they’re less sturdy. Dogs who are determined to escape a soft-sided crate likely will chew or claw through them eventually.
Lastly, consider features such as extra doors for versatility, collapsibility for easier storage, and a tray at the bottom so that the wire grid doesn’t dig into your dog’s feet or body.
What to Put in Your Dog’s Crate
Here are some things to consider putting in your dog’s crate at night:
- Dog bed
- Chew toys
- Water bowl
- Crate cover
All of these are optional, and I’ll go into more detail below so that you can decide what’s best for your dog’s crate.
Dog beds and blankets provide comfort by making your dog’s crate softer to lay in and also soaking up scents so that your dog’s crate smells like them.
Some crates need some sort of liner as well, such as those with grids at the bottom. If these crates are left bare, the grids can dig into your dog’s feet and body when they lay down.
However, some dogs prefer lying on harder surfaces all or some of the time. For instance, my dog Charlie lies on hard floors during the summer to keep cool.
If your dog is the same, you might consider removing any bedding to see if they like the crate better bare (so long as it has a flat bottom).
Next up is chew toys. Some dogs will find comfort in having their toys nearby, and might chew on them throughout the night.
Other dogs might take the toys as permission to play in their crate when they should be sleeping! In this case, you’ll likely want to remove the toys and save them for playtime.
Another reason to remove the toys is if your dog is a strong chewer, and you think they’ll rip, eat, or choke on them while unsupervised.
A water bowl will give your dog access to water through the night. There are bowls that can be hooked to the side of your dog’s crate so that they don’t knock it over.
Lastly, a crate cover can allow your dog to feel more closed off and might help them sleep better at night. Don’t cover the entire crate, as your dog needs ventilation to breathe.
Crate covers can increase the heat in the crate as well, which isn’t ideal for hot climates or brachycephalic breeds.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus