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Tips on Bedtime in Crate


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Hi everyone!  Our family's newest member is a 4-1/2 month old border collie named Monty.  He is our third BC, second puppy.

I am hoping for some tips about teaching him to settle at bedtime in his crate.  If we put him in his crate at bedtime and close the door, he will not settle in the crate.  He will just get himself worked up.  On the other hand, if we let him settle outside of the crate, once he's settled we can move him to his crate and he'll go right inside, lay down and sleep through the night without a peep.

This has been working fine for the last few weeks because I've had a bugger of a cold and have been sleeping semi-upright on my sofa.  Our downstairs is puppy-proofed and he can settle down in his own time (usually takes around 10-15 minutes after lights out) and then I put him in the crate for the night.  I'd like to go back to my bedroom now, though, which is not puppy proofed.  It also shares an adjoining wall with our neighbors, so we are unwilling to have any barking or carrying on disturbing them.

So, one short-term option is to puppy-proof the bedroom and try our same current routine up there - let him settle outside of the crate and then move him into it.

But in the long term, I'd like to get him to the point where we can put him in his crate and he'll settle himself in there.

He's fine with his crate during the day.  He will sometimes go in and nap in there on his own.  When he needs to be put in there for a time out, we are working on the Quiet command and he's learning to lay down and be quiet.  A couple of times he has even fallen asleep in there after being asked to be Quiet.  So perhaps we just need to keep working on the Quiet command, doing more crate training asking him to go into his crate on command when he's not being put in a time out, and sometimes closing the door briefly behind him, and gradually increasing the time we ask him to stay in the crate in Quiet.  Then once he can go in and settle himself quietly in the crate, moving those commands to the bedroom.

Anyway, those are my current ideas.  I wanted to see what people thought, and if anyone had any additional suggestions.  Thank you!

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Two things come to my mind that you may want to consider (but I'm no expert). The first is that maybe he's over-tired at bedtime. The only time I have trouble with my boy (18weeks old) at bedtime is if he's been up too long beforehand.  He's like a toddler human and can't regulate himself as well if he's over-tired. 

The second thing that worked well for me is to actually lay down on the floor beside the crate and relax with the dog for 10 or 15 minutes. For me, it seems to indicate to the dog that it's bedtime for the pack. I don't do this often, but did in the beginning and still do it if he's having trouble getting to sleep.

Anyway, hope some others can chime in and give you a few more thoughts.

Good luck!

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When Rylie was about the age yours is I would lie down on my bed while he was in his crate. He settled within 5 to 10 minutes that way. Not sure that will be an option for you due to your neighbors as Rylie did bark and cry during that time. He now settles on his own but like already mentioned he would have a hard time settling if overly tired. I also spend some quiet time before going in his crate especially if we've played tug or fetch before hand.

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I think that continuing to work on the  Quiet cue is important, and to work on that daily. If this were my puppy that is what I would do. I would also let the puppy settle down on his own before putting him into the crate at bedtime, if it is only taking 10 or 15 minutes for that to happen. Letting him quiet himself down is a better approach than crating him and letting him cause a ruckus. 

The other thing I would do is watch him as he is in that 10 or 15 minute period of time, and when he starts getting close to the point of settling himself down, I would give the Quiet cue, and reward him if he obeys, then ask him to go into the crate and reward again.  In time, I suspect the time it takes for him to settle himself down will shorten, and in the meantime 10 or 15 minutes wait each night seems a reasonable price to pay in order to teach him that he can settle himself down at night and get rewarded for it.

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