I am not a personal fan of puppy being in the bedroom the first few nights as I think it gives off mixed messages and long term the puppy becomes too dependent, somewhere along the line you may then have to change this if you are not having your dog in the bedroom for life. This is just my personal view and I have never used the bedroom for puppies myself. I am very conscious of separation anxiety problems later on, so it’s a fine line between allowing your puppy time to be able to settle on their own without you having to be there, to your puppy then displaying attention seeking behaviour to the beginnings of a phobia that could be with them and in-turn you for life.
No, we don’t have dogs in our homes to be kennelled but this is a training methodology being applied to the natural way of dogs. They need all their physical and mental needs meant but then they want to relax in a quiet place and feel safe. Think of the pen bars as a nestle of trees or bushes. We are under the misconception that they need lots of space around them where as in fact space can be very over powering for a young puppy in those first few nights away from Mum and siblings and they find it harder to settle down for sleep
This is the regime I have used successfully myself in the past.
Firstly a crate is good but I prefer to add an X pen to the crate, either joined onto the open end of the crate so a bit like a puppy run or dependent on how much room you have the crate inside the pen. X pens can be purchased of EBay and Amazon and you can make the gates up then as you wish. I have attached an example picture above.
- Ensure plenty of mental stimulation and company through the day as well as the advised amount of physical exercise for your puppy’s age.
- Keep to a good routine every night – TV off, last wee, turn the lights down and a bed time biscuit or filled Kong
- Keep your puppy calm before bedtime, an excited puppy will not be a tired puppy
- A crate with a bed in, attached to an x pen, the door open of the crate, x pen door closed.
- Within the bed, you can use a heated pad to give comfort, purchase of the internet (I have used a rabbit winter warmer pad)
- A ticking clock ( I know it sounds crazy but replicates their mothers heartbeat, this can be comforting too
- Rolled up blankets or jumpers into sausage shape so they are like siblings
- A night light
- Newspaper as a toilet area one end or pads but sometimes these can get chewed or feel too much like carpet underfoot
- Water bowl not near the newspaper toilet area
- I would then give all meals in the pen for the first month and have a command to go into the pen, and close the pen door but if using a crate also, leave that door open
- In the day time, to prevent the onset of separation anxiety I would use the pen for quiet nap times with a Kong and be around and about in the home so the puppy can hear you are in but not disturbing it. If you have children or any visitors come round do not make a fuss of the puppy when in it’s calm confinement area.
- At night times, I would advise giving a Kong with some treats in it to begin as you leave. This can then progress onto just a night time biscuit and leave quietly. You may hear some cries, whines or barks but as all the puppies needs are meet, I would leave for up to 30-40 minutes, if not quiet by then, go down and open and shut the room door and say ‘hush’ but do not actually go into the room and quietly leave again. You may have to repeat this through the first night but I have found this the most effective way. This should then only take 1-3 nights.
- In the morning, do not give a big fuss to puppy straight away for re-entering the room, calmley let out and take to the toilet area then bring the puppy back in, clear up any over night mess and feed the breakfast back within the pen and let out again for another toilet and play time afterwards.
- In the day time do not leave your young puppy for more than 2-3 hours in the pen at any one time. Ensure your puppy has plenty of interaction with you inside and outside the home when not resting. The pen is for sleeping, chilling out and learning some independence. If over used for long periods the pen will become an area of dislike and this in when anxiety starts to set in as your puppy is lonely.
- There will become a point when your puppy will become more toilet aware so it will not want to soil in the area. Be mindful of this change as your puppy develops, the whining and barking then can mean they do need the toilet but by this time you will have broken the back of the attention seeking and neediness which develops on to the more serious issue of separation anxiety.
A pen is invaluable as it is a safe place, you puppy can come to no harm and it becomes the relaxing area, so even when you are in you are not encouraging being with the puppy 24/7. So if you need to go upstairs or starting to go out for short spells, puppy goes in there where it is safe and is known to your puppy, and your furniture remains intact.
Eventually you will break down the pen and widen the area to the room the pen was in, whether be a kitchen, lounge or utility area and then puppy will use just the crate as a bed and you can condition the shutting of the door in small increments. The X-pen can be sold on or kept, as the gate panels can be still used to gate off areas in the home or holiday places in the future.
With puppies it is not just the night time picture to be aware of, you can work on this along with prevention of long term separation anxiety which is far harder to deal with later on. I have experienced just the use of a enclosed crate and this can escalate anxiety in some young puppies if they are left over night. It can be too long a period at the very start so anxiety sets in straight away. They like to get up, sniff about, have some water or toilet.
As for the use of crates in general definitely, they can be a plus long term dependent on the breed type, that is why I advise to use of the two items, a pen and a crate and then the crate can continue to be a positive place later on in your dog’s life. If you are not using a crate, then a nice comfortable bed at one end of the pen is fine. The x-pen conditioned as a boundary area day or night as a place for puppy to relax and not to be encouraged to shadow is the most important aspect in preventing separation anxiety.
Here some great pictures of how one of my clients has followed all the tips for her new arrival, a miniature dachshund. The breed are prone to suffering from separation anxiety and this lady had experienced this with a previous dog which was heart breaking for all involved. She was keen to get it right from the very start this time. Little Hugo pictured here (13 weeks old) has the luxury of not just one but two areas set up for him where he can go when his human parents are busy within the home or need to go out. Although they both work from home they are very keen not to have Hugo so attached to them that he pines when they leave.
Hugo has settled well into his new home with his set up ‘apartments’ for him to relax in. As he grows older the need for the X –Pen will vanish and he will be left with crate bed to feel safe in. By this time he will know the house hold regimes and will know how to self-chill on his own and not suffer from the terrible affliction of being left alone.
This is a crucial part of early training that often gets over-looked. Toileting is high on the agenda and thankfully now socialisation and reward based training but prevention of the on-set of separation anxiety can be sorted with the first few days of getting your puppy if it is placed as one of your priorities and the correct areas are set up readu for night one.