When to Stop Crate Training? Time to Let Your Dog Out

Last Updated on July, 2024

When to stop crate training is a common question that many dog owners are keen to know and explore. However, on the web, most available resources don’t answer this question by giving coverage to the depth and breadth of the subject.

They merely answer the question by looking at the fundamental level.

However, this article covers all the details beyond the basic concepts you need to know for how long the crate training should continue.

Continue reading and find out the ideal time to stop crating your dog.

Quick Summary

The ideal time to stop crate training a dog is typically at two years of age, but it may vary depending on the individual dog’s progress and behavior.

Proper crate training has both benefits and drawbacks, and it is essential to address any potential issues before gradually phasing out the use of the crate.

There are different factors to consider when deciding when to stop crate training, such as the dog’s age, separation anxiety, potty accidents, destructive behavior, and willingness to use the crate. It is also important to provide boundaries and gradually reduce the use of the crate.

When to Stop Crating Your Dog?

Goldendoodle dog breed inside a wire crate

The ideal time to stop crate training your dog properly is once they reach two years. However, it doesn’t mean you stop the creating process completely.

Ask yourself, has my dog gained what I expected them to achieve throughout the whole crate train process? 

So, even if they reach 2 years, you need to ask the following questions before deciding whether to stop the crate training completely:

  • When your puppy is scared or stressed, do they have a habit of moving into the crate?
  • Does your puppy or dog enjoy having snacks or chewing things in the crate?
  • Do they behave aggressively inside the crate whenever they feel irritated or angry?
  • Can you leave them for extended periods in the crate without your supervision with a chew toy?

Well, if the answer is no to most of the above questions, you still have to do a fair amount of crate training left with your puppy or dog, along with positive reinforcement..

Otherwise, well done, and give yourself a pat on the back. Now, it’s time for you and the dog to have some quality training time off the dog crate. 

Be prepared to do it gradually and not abruptly halt the crate training process. Stopping the crate overnight affects the dog mentally as they regard it as the safest place to live all these years. More on this later.

Before you know when to stop training, let’s look into some of the benefits and drawbacks of crate training, as after all crate training is a very useful tool for dog honors with heaps of benefits.

What Are the Pros of Proper Crate Training?

a dog inside a crate looking at the camera

A crate is the safest place for dogs of any age to make them feel safer and provide security. For dog owners, it also gives peace of mind and is a training tool. So, let’s dive into some of the benefits of crate training.

  • Works as an excellent training tool: You can use crate training as a perfect training tool to control dogs with excessive barking, jumping, and other irritating behaviors that certain dogs naturally exhibit.
  • Keep destructive dogs safe: If you have a destructive dog, they may chew your furniture and even other harmful toxic materials. So, like little children, dogs need continuous supervision. Thus, a crate is the ideal place to keep them safe from any danger. 
  • Aids in Potty Training: A crate helps a dog or puppy hold a bladder for long periods. So it’s convenient when potty training a puppy.
  • Helps when hospitalized: When your dog gets hospitalized, they’ll be able to bear the stress of being confined to one place than a canine companion who is not fully crate trained properly.
  • Helps when traveling: Whether you’re taking your dog on a trip or a regular visit to the vet, crate training is a bonus to have because the crate keeps the dog safely contained by preventing distractions for the driver. Thus, your furry friend can enjoy a safe ride as part of the human family.

Now you know the benefits of crate training. Let’s have a look at the cons.

What Are the Cons of Crate Training?

Crate training your dog has cons attached to it, which could adversely affect your dog physically and emotionally. So you must address the following concerns about properly crate training your dog.

  • Physical Frustration: Before you start crate training, ensure the crate size fits your dog correctly. A crate with too small space can lead the larger dogs to not stand up properly and develop stress on their limbs.
  • Emotional distress: When you leave your dog contained for a lengthy period in the crate, it may make your dog not want to socialize with anyone. This is called maladaptive behavior. It’s the same feeling humans get when they’re left alone for a prolonged period.

So do these cons make you feel you don’t want to crate anymore as, after all, your creature’s physical and emotional well-being is more important?

Yes, they’re essential, and since you can fix these cons, it’s vital to create proper crate training goals before gradually phasing them out.

Let’s dive into the freedom you can provide your furry friend.

Are You and Your Dog Ready for More Freedom?

Two pictures of a dog in a cage

When to stop crate training also depends on whether you’re ready to provide total freedom to your dog or puppy without a confined space. In turn, complete freedom hinges on several factors. 

Even if you’ve fully trained them correctly in the crate, they may still exhibit some destructive behavior.

But don’t be disheartened, as dogs, unlike humans, need plenty of training to overcome their instincts because their brain consumes time to mature. It’s vital to realize that as pet parents.

Age

As mentioned previously, the age should be two years to leave them unsupervised. Any age below this they’re likely to cause accidents and injuries. However, there is no complex and fuzzy rule about age. 

Most dogs are hyperactive between the age of 1.5-2 years. So if you stop crate training, you’ll have to regret it as they’ll run around the house chewing things and even digging in the garden.

So it’s essential to let them mature with time by putting your canine back in the crate.

When you train older dogs, you must train them for eight consecutive months before stopping crate training.

Separation Anxiety

When you leave your dog with nothing to do, and suppose the dog has plenty of energy at that stage, the dog will likely go through separation anxiety.

In addition, this condition can occur when you leave them for more extended periods without anyone in your house or even the dog crate. 

However, if you crate-train them thoroughly, they would be least likely to experience separation anxiety.

That way, they know how to spend quality time alone in the crate with their toys, or you can give them enough exercises to get tired easily.

So, when they get tired, they rest easily.

A black dog laying in a white crate

Another option to avoid severe separation anxiety is having another puppy or canine companion play with your dog or puppy.

So before you stop crate training, ensure they’re not in separate anxiety. You can identify this when they’re highly vocal and display destructive behavior, such as destroying furniture. 

Note: You know what? You ordinary crate won’t help with your dog who has separation anxiety. You need to get a crate especially made for high anxiety dogs. Checkout them here! Also here’re our guide to crate train a dog with separation anxiety.

Potty Accidents

Have you completed the potty training session with your puppy or dog? If so, you need to monitor your dog to see if potty accidents are frequent when they’re out of their crate.

You need to put them back in their crate if they’re regularly occurring so you don’t have to clean the messes often. You may need to consider implementing proper crate training again in addition to having them potty trained.

Otherwise, you can leave them outside the crate during the day as well as at night.

Dog Whining

Do you hear your dog whining when you lock them inside the crate, and you move away from it? If they do, then monitor if they stop or calm down after a few seconds.

If so, it’s a sign that they’re mature, and you can leave them inside the crate. Otherwise, you would have to work with them for further crate training.

The same applies to even the slightest cry from their end.

Using the Crate Willingly

You need to note if they are willing to move to their crate when they feel stressed, uneasy, sleep, relax, and need their own time. Also, check if they move willingly if you give the correct command to go there without any hesitation or reluctance. 

If positive, it’s a good sign, and they love their crate.

Destructive Behavior

Monitor your dog’s behavior when you open the crate and let them roam freely.

See if they bite furniture, chew other items, and be in places where they’re not supposed to be. 

If they behave destructively, stop them immediately by putting them in the dog’s crate and use techniques such as positive reinforcement.

Alternatively, an exercise pen is a better alternative to the crate to make your dog move and roam freely with little confinement.

However, if none of these methods work, you may seek the assistance of a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to overcome the destructive behavior by recognizing the dog’s triggers.

A dog inside a Plastic Crate

In contrast, if they behave well right from the very first day, often called indestructible dog crates, you can stop crate training.

How Much Freedom Should You Provide for Your Dog?

As you minimize the time your dog spends in a crate, next, you need to define the dog’s freedom in terms of boundaries. Ensure you stick to more than simple threshold boundary training, as giving them ample space can land you in trouble. 

You must set these boundaries more rigidly with young puppies than adult dogs. Because from a younger age, it’s important not to let them rip your rug in your living room, chew your shoes, or run off chasing the squirrels.

So, if you don’t let them be exposed to such behaviors, you can be sure they’ll not misbehave from a younger age regardless of whether you stop the crate training process or not.

The ultimate goal of setting boundaries would be to let them roam freely within parts of your house without supervision and detrimental behavior.

What You Need to Do to Phase Out Crate Training Gradually?

A french bulldog puppy is locked inside a wire crate

If you have properly crate-trained your dog in a crate now, it’s time to think about how to gradually phase out the crate training procedure. Then it’ll be easier to decide when to stop crate training your canine friends.

Out of Crate Excursions

You can begin by letting your puppy or dog out of the crate for longer periods between crating. Always provide your dog a potty break before these out-of-crate trips, and try not to time them shortly after a meal or an enormous sip of water.

This extra time outside the crate for a potty break will necessitate careful watch around the house first. Thus, schedule it when you can also pay extra close attention.

Leave Your Dog Inside a Closed Room Daytime

By now, your little furry friend should be familiar with the crate door closed most of the time. When you leave the house for a few hours, try to pick a room or a safe space allowing your dog to roam freely rather than providing the entire house.

This room could be your laundry room, kitchen, bathroom, or any other room that’s easier to clean. Keep in mind to lock the room.

Furthermore, you need to ensure that the room your puppy is in is puppy-proof, implying that there isn’t anything for them to chew, pull over, and get hurt.

Then, as your dog gets more comfortable, you can confidently allow them to access more rooms.

Leave the Dog Outside for More Training

In this scenario, leave your dog in a room by going outside without locking the door for 10 minutes. Then you need to ignore the dog when you return.

This is to make sure that they don’t get excited. Continue this process for increments of 10 minutes until your dog reacts to your exits and entries.

You can slowly increase your counts for short periods say 10 minutes by staying away for up to one hour until your dog feels comfortable in your absence.

A few things to note here are:

  • If your dog gets excited, calm him down until he relaxes, and then you start the above process again.
  • If your dog had an accident, leave them in the dog’s crate when you go outside. 
  • Each time you leave, make sure to provide him with some toys. Otherwise, if their energy levels escalate and there is nothing to do, they will destroy things at home.
A wolf hubrid is sitting on a leash in the grass

Does My Furry Friend Need a Crate At Night?

Many dogs don’t require the crate at night when you’re confident you’ve trained them well for potty training, and they know how to prevent accidents, avoid destructive behavior, and sleep peacefully for long periods.

Below is how you need to gradually stop crating at night for many dogs: 

Leave the Crate Door Open During Night Times

A black and white dog is sitting in a crate at night

Now, after leaving your dog outside the crate for several hours, they will likely get used to it without the crate during the day.

So, you need to leave the door open and keep it in a safe space or an area in your house that is dog-proof at night before putting it into a dog bed.

This dog-proof area ensures that your dog is safe with nothing dangerous to cause accidents. This way, you can monitor if they sleep well during the night. 

You must ensure that your dog does sufficient activities in the daytime, including socializing with other dogs. So they’ll be tired by the time they come to bed, leading to sound sleep even when the crate door is open.

However, monitoring your dog regularly at night might not be viable for you. So then, there is the alternative solution below that you can attempt. 

Alternative Approach

Alternatively, if you have sufficient space, you can keep your dog at night with the crate door open in a dark but comfortable room. Then, you can set up a camera and monitor your dog’s moments.

Also, with either of the approaches, make sure to take your dog to the bathroom before bed. This will make things convenient for both you and the dog, as they will not pee regularly at night.

What if Your Puppy Chooses to Sleep Out of Crate?

When you leave the door open, you may realize your dog may sleep elsewhere. If you encounter such a scenario, you must provide the theme with a new cozy dog bed and keep it in the same room as the crate.

This approach will delight them as not only they’ll have a comfortable bed but also two options to choose from.

Ultimately, many dogs will exhibit the behavior once you train your dog to manage without the crate at night.

Related article:

FAQs

You should wait until your dog is 2 years old to stop crating them. After that, you can assess their behavior outside the crate to determine the best length of time to continue crating.

If your canine is not prepared to leave the crate, it’s a sign that they have been trained well. Give them time to feel comfortable and adjust to their crate. Don’t rush the process and train your puppy gradually.

No, there is not a specific age for your dog to stop using crates; the minimum requirement is two years, but if your pup needs more time to be fully crate trained they can continue.

Conclusion

You now know when to stop crate training after reading this article. Until your puppies mature with age, they need to undergo crate training under your close-eye supervision.

After that, you can gradually stop crate training by phasing it out with some of the techniques you learned in this article.

Even after gradually phasing it out, some dogs may prefer it in certain instances, such as when they get stressed or sleep. So, in such situations, you must let the dog choose the best.

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Stefano Giachetti
Stefano Giachetti is always excited to share his knowledge and love of animals with you through our blog, IPetGuides. And he has always loved animals and has been blessed to have many pets throughout his life. Currently has a Pomeranian Dog Breed.

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