Crate training your labrador puppy


If you are not sure whether or not to purchase a crate for your Labrador puppy, the following article may help you decide: The benefits of a dog crate

The main purposes of a crate are to help a puppy with learning to be clean in the home,  and to provide a place of containment when he needs to rest or when you cannot supervise him.

Crate training is a term we use to describe the process of adaption that the puppy goes through in learning to happily accept the crate as his own private den.

Which crate?

There are several different ranges of crate on the market, and what you are looking for is a sturdy wire crate that cannot be destroyed by chewing or scratching.Crate training your labrador puppyIt is tempting to buy a crate that will fit him when he is fully grown.

But ideally a crate for a puppy should be relatively small or your puppy may decide to use one end as a toilet.

He should be able to stand up without bumping his head and to turn around easily

Your puppy will soon grow out of his little crate and you will need a full sized labrador crate for the rest of his first year of life and possibly beyond.  So it is worth getting a sturdy one.  It is helpful if a crate can be opened from more than one direction, especially with the larger crates.  You never know when you might need to place it in a different position.

Crates have come down in price over the last few years.    This is the type I use for a larger pup:Large 36″ silver strong dog cage by Doghealth ck36    This size is for  the puppy from about four or five months.   You will need to buy a divider for it, or a smaller crate for the first couple of month.  You can get even cheaper ones than these, but they may be rather flimsy.  A few labs, may be large enough when full grown to need the next size up.

Where to put the crate?

Crate training your Labrador puppy should not mean isolating him from the family. The crate should be placed in a room where people pass through or spend a lot of time.  Puppies need company and should not be banished to a back room or isolated for long periods of time.   The kitchen is ideal in most homes.

What to put inside the crate?

It can be difficult with some Labrador puppies to find bedding that they do not destroy.  Purpose made crate mats are a cosy and popular choice. Vetbed is an ideal crate liner but if your puppy chews it up and swallows bits of it, you may have to think again. Stuffed beds are often ripped open and dismantled by Labrador puppies.

You do not need to leave a water bowl inside a crate as you will not be leaving the puppy in there for longer than an hour or so,  except at night.  An eight week old puppy will be  fine without water during the night-time hours.

Getting your Labrador puppy used to his crate

Start by placing puppy in his crate frequently and each time you place him in there drop several little edible treats through the roof for him.

Don’t shut the door on him during the day to start with if you can  avoid it.  Just let him come straight out again when he has finished his treats.  This introduces the crate as a fun and enjoyable place to be.

Each time you pop the puppy into the crate say “in your crate” in a cheerful and upbeat way.   He will soon come to associate this phrase with going into his crate for a treat

Closing the door

The next step is to close the crate door momentarily and then open it again.   Leave it shut only long enough for the puppy to finish his treat and notice that the door is closed.  Then let him out.  Do not wait until he gets upset or cries.

Repeat many times during the course of the next day or two.

Whilst he is homesick

During the night,  for the first two or three nights,  it may be helpful if you can have the puppy sleep in a sturdy deep sided cardboard box or portable carry crate by your bed. If he is left alone at night whilst he is still homesick  he is likely to howl,  and howling in his new crate is not a habit we want to establish.

Accepting the closed door

The next task is to get the puppy to accept the closed door for longer periods of time.  This may take a day or two. The idea is to leave the door closed for a few seconds longer each time you crate the puppy. But it is very important only to open the door when the puppy has been silent for several seconds.

What if he cries and cries?

If the puppy starts to whimper or howl you will need to turn away from the crate and ignore him. Busy yourself in the room but don’t look at him and don’t be tempted to open the door.

Wait for the silence as he stops crying and tell him what a good dog he is.  Let him out immediately and go back to much briefer periods of closed door for a while.   Build up again gradually,  but do not be tempted to avoid crating him because it upsets him.   If he whines, you need to crate him more often not less.  Just make sure that each time he is crated is very, very brief to begin with.   That way he will learn that being crated is not a big deal

Warning: if you open the crate door whilst your puppy is howling,  he will howl longer and harder next time!

Longer periods in the crate

Build up slowly to a minute,  then two minutes,  then three, five, seven, ten, fifteen minutes and so on.  Up to a maximum of about an hour during the day.

You will need to make sure that the puppy has had a wee recently,  before being crated, and some playtime.   Try to crate him when you know he is ready for a rest.

A routine of: outside for a wee when he wakes,  followed by play, outside for a wee,  meal, outside again for a wee and a poo, then into the crate for a treat and a sleep seems to work well for most puppies.  You will soon figure out what works best for you and your family

What about night time?

At this stage most puppies will also be sleeping the night in the crate.   Make sure he has been outdoors to empty himself before you put him to bed, and don’t leave him more than five or six hours to start with.  So if you put him to bed at midnight,  you will probably need to get up around five  am to let him out for a wee to begin with.

If a puppy has fallen asleep in his crate and slept for more than a couple of hours then you will need to let him out  if he wakes up crying.

If all goes well, you can stretch this five hours out by 15 minutes or so a night until you are getting  seven hours sleep.  If he wets the bed you will need to get up earlier the next night.   I wouldn’t leave a puppy more than seven hours at night until he is around ten weeks old.    And a few puppies will be 12 to 14 weeks before they can cope this long

This can be a tough time,  with some inevitable sleep deprivation,  but it passes quite quickly.

If you found this article helpful you might like to read:  House training a puppy

More help and information

Happy Puppy jacket imageIf you enjoy Pippa’s articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook published  in 2014.

Now available in most countries, the handbook is already a bestseller in the UK.

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.


  1. How does this crate training work with dog which will go outside in a kennel during the day. My last lab was a surprise present from my then boyfriend (now husband) and I was working full time so he practically went it his kennel from the start as crates were unheard of then. We are hoping to get a new puppy soon(nelson the surprise died recently aged 13) and should I bother with crate training or concentrate on getting it used to its kennel.

  2. Does the process change as they get older, we got our pup at 12 weeks and the last few nights have lead us to give this a try.

    • Hi Danielle, at twelve weeks your puppy may be able to last a bit longer at night than a new puppy, but it is best to err on the side of caution and not leave him too long to begin with. Pippa

  3. Hi this may sound silly but I’m getting a puppy (hasn’t been born yet)and I already have 2 cats so therefore a litter tray that the cats don’t use any-more; could I train pup to use this to start with?

    • Hi Roze, you could train your puppy to use a litter tray but then you would have to train him all over again to go outside so I wouldn’t recommend it. It is quicker and easier in the long run to teach the puppy to toilet outside from the very beginning. Good luck with your puppy. :) Pippa

  4. Hi,
    I have a 13 weeek puppy and he has never (yet) weed or soiled in his crate over night. A few days ago we decided to take his crate away and leave him in a bed over night, rather than his crate. However now when we come down in the morning there is wee and poo everywhere! I don’t understand why this has happened? Is this usual if and when you take a dogs crate away? Have we taken the crate away too early? When do you think it is acceptable to take your puppy/dog out of his crate over night?

    • Hi Jesse, your puppy is far too young to be de-crated. Keep him in a crate at night until he has been clean and dry in the house for at least three months during the day, and until he has stopped chewing the furniture. Many Labradors can be de-crated at around a year old. Some keen chewers need to be crated for a few months longer. Pippa

  5. Day 3 of having our 8 week old lab ‘Nell’ and we tried to follow our vet’s guidance of getting her in the crate at night time as early as possible. So last night she went in well and settled for 2 hours, then howled and cried for 2 hours. We felt she was becoming distressed and went to her without fuss. A quick outside trip at 3am, then back in the crate but as soon as I left, the howling began again. I waited for a quiet few seconds and went back again without fuss. We both then slept in the lounge till 7am, and she didn’t yelp or move. What should we try tonight? Help!

    • Hi there,
      Your puppy is crying for a couple of reasons.
      1. He is crying because he is scared. He does not feel at home yet, his own home is far away. It will take a few days for him to accept your home as his own.
      2. He is also crying because he is lonely, missing his brothers and sisters
      The combination of these two factors is just too much for some puppies and they get very upset. There is also a risk that they will get into a habit of crying.
      So, many people keep a crate by their bed for the first few nights until the puppy feels more at home. This takes up to a week. You can then move his crate downstairs into the kitchen, where he may still cry a bit, because he will be lonely. But he will get over it more quickly because he feels ‘at home’.
      The alternative is to leave the puppy alone and just let him cry it out. Some puppies are soothed by a radio or a ticking clock, and/or a stone hot water bottle. But for many puppies, some degree of crying is inevitable I’m afraid. If you reward the crying with attention, he is likely to keep it up so you need to decide your strategy and stick to it.


  6. We are collecting our chocolate lab next weekend. I am confused as to what size crate to get him. I think you are suggesting 36″ unless the lab is very large? We were advised by the breeder to get a 36″ but have got confused by other web sites suggesting 42″. Can you confirm which size would you go with? Many thanks

    • Hi Alan,
      Some adult labs will need a larger crate, the breeder knows her own dogs and their likely final size, so I would go on her advice. You will a divider to begin with, or to borrow a puppy crate for the first few weeks, as the big one will be too large initially. I have amended the article to make this clearer.

  7. Hi

    We are thinking if getting a lab puppy, a male. I am currently pregnant and am not sure this is a good idea, however I will have 10 weeks off with the pup before the baby is due, I have a toddler who us lively with Animals. I think it would be great to raise a baby and lab together. Do you have any advice. We have family near by and it’s mum is up the road so plenty if people to help out when I do go into labour? From Vicky

    • Hi Vicky, I think you will find people to support the arguments both for and against having a baby at the same time as a puppy.
      This is a purely personal view. But I would say ‘don’t do it’. :)

      Incidentally, I have raised four children on my own, and currently have four grandchildren under the age of five. Two are babies under three months old.

      I think I can say with absolute certainty that my daughters are very happy that they don’t have a puppy to think about right now. It is kind of hard to remember just how tiring a small baby is, and how hard it is to focus on anything else once the baby arrives. Especially as you have a toddler too.

      Perhaps your hardest challenge will be coping with a toddler and a puppy. A toddler cannot be left alone with a puppy at all, the constant supervision and/or separation will be wearing. And puppies are demanding little creatures, your puppy may not be fully house-trained before the baby arrives, and he will be needing a lot of training and attention at around the time your baby is due.

      If you decide to go ahead, and you have not had a puppy before, do read everything you can lay your hands on so that you will be prepared.
      And I wish you lots of luck

  8. Hi, We just recently picked up our Chocolate Labrador puppy who is now 7 weeks and 4 days old. Tonight will be her 4th night and we have not had ANY success with crate training. No matter how much we get her accustomed to her crate with the door open, as soon as the door closes she starts whining/yelping and will not stop! My family and I all leave the house in the morning for work but we haven’t left her for longer than two hours during the day. At night, she doesn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time and when she’s not sleeping she’s yelping. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Alison,
      Four days is a very short time and many puppies will not have settled in to their new homes at this point. Her crate is still not somewhere that she feels at home. You may find that she settles better at night by putting her crate in your bedroom for a few nights, this will give her chance to get used to the smells and sounds of her new home, and to feel safe when she is left alone.
      This article looks at coping with a crying puppy. You can also teach your puppy not to make a noise in the crate during the day using a clicker. This article explains how.
      I also recommend you join the forums for help and support from other Labrador owners.
      Best wishes

  9. I have a 5 month old puppy who is fine in the crate, once I get him into it – thats the challenge. He doesn’t howl or cry or scratch.
    Initially I put treats in there and some toys and he was excited went in and out and played in the crate. Lately whenever I get ready to leave, he runs away and thinks its a game. I have to physically pick him up and put him in the crate. I do give him a treat afterwards – i try to make it as positive as possible. (He’s in it for no more than 3 hours at any time)
    Any suggestions on how to break this running away habit?

  10. Hi Pippa,

    We are going to have our lab puppy in a few weeks time, and I would like to know if a 30″ dog cage would be big enough for an 8 weeks old puppy.

    Congratulations on your site!

  11. Hi we have brought a 11 week old black lab we have had zack for a week and he is doing all his business outside. Zack sleeps in his cage on a night from 10.30pm till 6am no problems what so every we ,get up and let him out straight away .Zack does go in his cage during the day when we are at home he likes to sleep in there when wakes up we let him straight out and then he has a play then back to his cage for sleep again .Zack has just had his first injection and mircohip placed and been wormed and flead but when we leave him to go to work for 3hrs 30 mins first couple of times no accident in his cage but the last couple of days he has poo in his cage we let him out before we go and he does all his business I just don’t understand why he has done this any tips to help

    • Hi Lisa, could be a couple of reasons. It may be that the first couple of days when he was clean were a fluke, and that he is not yet sufficiently mature to control himself to this degree.

      Or it could be that he is becoming distressed whilst you are out. Puppies will often evacuate their bowels when they are upset. This is involuntary, and not something they can control. Either way, it is a quite a long time to crate a small puppy during the day. You may need to get someone to come and let him out after an hour or two, or leave with someone else whilst you are at work, until he is more mature.


  12. Hi, we just picked up Milo, an 8 week old chocolate lab. He is getting used to his crate but I’m a bit confused on one point.
    I know we shouldn’t remove a whining puppy from the crate. But how do we know if the whining is just confinement (to be ignored until he’s quiet) or if he needs to relieve himself?

    • Hi Kevin, you won’t know, which is why you should give him many opportunities to relieve himself during the day. If you think he may have a full bladder and you want to let him out, wait for a pause in the whining and mark the moment of silence with a clicker or a word that you use consistently for this purpose. Then let him out as his reward.

  13. Hiya, I am about to have my first night with 8 week old Murphy and will hopefully be leaving him in his crate in the kitchen. I am intending on coming down in the night to let him out to the loo, but I was wondering whether to wake him up if I come down and he’s asleep or leave him?
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Frankie, wake the puppy the first night. If you don’t he’ll probably wake you anyway an hour or so later. Wake him a little later each night until he can last through the night. Pippa

      • Thanks Pippa, last night (night 3 of having him) I actually got the chance to wake him up rather than the other way around! But he has got into the habit of waking up almost exactly an hour after we’ve put him in his crate and settled him, and he cries and howls but when I let him out he doesn’t go to the loo. Should we just ignore him at this time and then go down an hour or so later (when he’s hopefully stopped crying) and wake him up to go to the loo? He’s quite a vocal puppy so I am trying so hard not to reinforce his noises!

  14. Hi, I have a 13 month old lab who is on his third (and finally forever) home with my family. He’s perfect in every way, except he falls to pieces when left home alone. He’s been with us 3 weeks now and has been left 3 times for very short amounts of time (the longest 40 minutes). He drew blood trying to get out of the cat flap and I worry that I’ll either end up with huge vets bills or a builders bill! So my question is, can I use the same methods to crate train him as I would a puppy? I need to overcome this for his own safety. Thanks in advance.

  15. Hi, I’m going to be looking after a 2 year old golden Labrador for a couple of weeks while his owner is on holiday. Last year he had to be in a crate as he chewed everything. He literally destroyed our garden and a lot of personal belongings. He is in a crate at his home but I’ve got reservations about putting an adult dog into a cage. He has calmed down but still chews. Can someone please advise me whether its normal to put a dog this age into a crate? He jumps up at people and I will basically have to walk him all day. I don’t have a dog myself and I never have. Any tips you could give me would be great. I’m on holiday at work so can be there all the time but don’t want to be spending the little time I have off being as stressed as I was last year :-)

    • What a hero you are to give up your holiday to care for someone else’s dog! At 2 years old, this dog is probably only crated at night, and for short periods during the day if the owners go out without him. If this is what he is used to, then it shouldn’t worry him. Get the owners to give you a written list of his normal routine and try to stick to it. That way he will feel secure and is less likely to get upset if you leave him for a while.

      There are articles on jumping up, chewing etc in the behaviour section, and you might find those helpful. If you take him for a walk at the beginning of the day, and early in the evening, he will hopefully relax for a few hours afterwards.

      Some dogs do continue to chew up until around their second birthday, but I suspect you will find him a whole lot easier this time around.

      Good luck!

  16. Hello. I have black labrador 8 weeks old !!!
    to many of people what i know saying black labrador its not original breed ,when im saying its black there a just loughing what i dont realy understand why!!!

  17. And can u please tell me how i can training her ,she is very clever girl she just 8 weeks and she knows already command sit,and No. Just in 2 days she learn that . I can train her like basic comand like sit ,down but i dont know how to train her to walk on the lead and some like to not eat wall cos she doing this all the time

  18. Hi Pippa,
    I have a 9 week old lab Milly! She is very lovely and typical. She has been with us for 6 days. We crated her during the night from the start and she has been great! She wakes at 5 am and everything has been fine until last night she cried and cried. As you can imagine after a half hour or so we began to think something was wrong or maybe she needed the toilet so my husband came down and took her down the garden. She just stood wagging her tail! Needless to say we had a very unsettled night and I finally got up and let her out at a very early 4:30 am. Why would this have happened all of a sudden after she was doing so well? Any advice or suggestions would be so appreciated.

    • Hi Angie, check out Night Waking. It is written with older puppies in mind, but might help. Also bear in mind that six days is not very long in the grand scheme of things :) she is still very much a baby. If it happens again, try and pre-empt it by getting her up before she starts to cry, then gradually stretching the nights out again.


  19. Hey there,

    we bought ben last thursday @ 8weeks old. I fully intend to crate him as
    myself and girlfriend work. We where not prepared and hadnt bought
    a crate so it has taken just under a week for the crate to arrive, ben
    has been sleeping in a small dog bed given to me by my mother. I’m wondering if he will reject the crate for the small bed? i plan to throw the dog bed away or keep it locked in my shed, should i just persevere with crate introduction do you think there will be problems?

    overall we feel lucky with ben as he hasnt howeled at night or cried really, only really made noise around 3 in the morning to let him out for a wee etc…just over 8 weeks he runs out to the back garden and does his business now. couple off acciedents in the house (living room rug) right enough but nothing major (touches wood) he can be a little too bitey and playful but we try to replace our clothes and things he shouldnt be biting with HIS toys..if we get bitten to hard i rattle a bottle filled with stones at him then ignore him for 5/10 mins…

  20. Hi,

    We brought home Charlie, our Black Lab, at 8 weeks. We already had a crate before bringing him home but with neither of us having had a pup before it would be an understatement to say we were novices! He cried as soon as the crate door was closed so we (stupidly) gave in and bought a pet pen, which is attached to his crate securely with cable ties (which he cannot access to chew). He has since slept in the pen and uses the crate to wee on a puppy pad through the night and in case he needs to while we are out for a couple of hours through the day. When we are home he always goes to the back door when he needs to go outside. He is now 16 weeks and still wees and often poos on his puppy pad through the night, despite us waking him to take him outside before we go to bed at about 11pm. He is normally asleep from around 8pm. The only problem we have is that he doesn’t make any noise to indicate he needs to go outside through the night, therefore we cannot take him to his spot in the garden. He generally sleeps until about 8am unless he hears somebody moving around upstairs first.

    Also, when we leave him through the day (for up to 5 hours but not every day) he has access to his puppy pad, plenty of chew toys etc. He has started to destroy his puppy pad and we often come home to find it in many tiny pieces which need to be swept up, but also means that he has left nowhere appropriate to do his business if needed.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


    • Hi Natalie, many puppies make no noise when they need to go out, I recommend you set an alarm for four hours after bed time. If the puppy is clean and dry then you can set the alarm a little later the next night. If he has messed, then set the alarm earlier the next night. As soon as you have found a time frame he can cope with, get rid of the puppy pads and block access to anywhere he has used as a toilet. Then it is just a question of stretching out the time he can last for which is partly a question of bladder maturity, and partly a question of building a new habit.
      Good luck

      • Thanks,

        Charlie had his first dry night last night, it must be fate! Any suggestions about him destroying his pads through the day? He is alone from 8-12 and 13-16.30 in his pen.

  21. We have an 8 week old puppy who we brought home on Saturday. I think we have a truly blessed pup. She came home and we played and made a little fuss but put her into her crate for about half an hr to introduce it. She loved it :). That night she slept solid from 11-6. The next night again :) I put her into the crate if I want to wash up or have a shower. She has a bed in there and a little water bowl of a night. She hasn’t wet or pooed in there and is into the habit of going outside.
    We are very lucky I know but she has been in her crate for 3 hrs max so far and no mess :)

  22. Dear piper, i have a labrador puppy he is 18 weeks old this week,i started to take he to training classes but he was an embarrassment even the trainer couldn’t do anything with him we were trying to get him to lie down but he wouldn’t now i try this at home all the time but its as if doesn`t understand and if he does lie down he goes down side ways does this mean there is a problem with his back? he is very good at every thing else hope you can put my mind at rest , kind regards julie.

    • You need to continue working with him. He cannot be expected to learn things right away, the trainer should be able to continue working with you on this and let you know that he is a puppy and will require patience.

  23. Hi,
    I just adopted a 14 week old lab puppy named Lincoln and will be receiving him this Saturday. If it takes a few days to crate train, where should I put him to sleep the first few nights? I doubt a deep cardboard box would hold a 14 week old, would it? Should I just put his bed in my room and hope he sleeps in it, or should he sleep in my bed with me?

      • Thank you Pippa. I read the article, but it still doesn’t answer my question as to where the puppy will sleep on the first night at my home. I can’t expect him to be comfortable in the crate the first day, can I? Won’t it take a few days until I can put him in it for that long? I’m also concerned because he is an older puppy and may not take to it as easily as an 8 week old, which seems to be the target age of most of the articles. I’m sure he’s ever even been in a crate, as he is a rescue dog and removed from a shelter at a young age and fostered with his litter mates. Thanks

  24. We have had our 6 month old chocolate lab for 3 weeks now and she has been really good in her crate of a night time sand occasionally through the day. The crate we are using has been divided so minimal space, I was wondering if we gave her the whole crate so a bit more room, would it be a step backwards? I don’t want her to foul in there but want to give her more space. Thanks

  25. Dear Pippa,

    Thank you so much for the great articles; they are our main guide as we learn to live with a labrador puppy.

    We brought Chicha home two days ago, at just over 8 weeks old, and so far she is proving to be a very mild-tempered little girl. She is showing almost no signs of separation anxiety and we want to do the “right things” to make sure she stays a happy, composed dog.

    We live in an apartment and are committed to crate-training, and it’s lucky she seems to like her crate so far. She takes all her naps there during the day. She doesn’t seem to mind being crated at night either, but she seems to have a super immature bladder and needs to be let out almost every 1 1/2 to 2 hours to wee or do number two. After two draining nights (literally, my husband and I are like zombies and we have a toddler to take care of as well), we are wondering if we shouldn’t give those potty pads a try for a couple of weeks until her bladder control gets better, meaning letting her toilet inside during the night and making sure she doesn’t have any accidents during the day.

    My question is: will it be more difficult to crate-train after she’s had free rein of the kitchen at night for so long?

    Thank you so much!


    • Hi Sylvia, yes it will probably take a little longer to house train your puppy if you allow her to wee and poo indoors. But you need to do what you need to do in order to cope with your own family situation. :) The first few nights can be hard, but this stage does not last for long. Best wishes Pippa

      • Dear Pippa,

        Thank you for responding, and thank you again for all the advice. I decided to stick to the preemptive nighttime outings and it worked like a charm last night! I caught her awake but silent both times I went to take her out before morning. She did her business and settled right back to sleep, or was at least quiet. I am sleep-deprived but pretty elated. 😉

        One more thing: since you are my authority on labrador training, which one of your books would you suggest I buy if I want to teach her good manners at home and out and about in the city?

        Thank you again!

  26. Hi Pippa! I have an 8 week old pup, we’ve had him for 2 and a half days now, last night was his first night in the crate, and he howled, and howled, and barked, and barked. I know he can hold his pee for atleast 3 hours after relieving himself, so i set my alarm, and was up at 3, and then up at 6. I got a few hours of sleep, which means he must have been quiet for a little bit. Do I keep perserving, is this normal? I really want him to settle in his kennel. He gets fed 3 times a day right now, his last meal at 5, is it possible hes crying because hes hungry also?

    what do you suggest?

  27. Good early morning !
    I have just brought a lab pup she has been with us for 3 days now so content in the day and I’m crate training her … I knew the first few nights would be tough but she howls and gets herself into such a tis she sicks up froth on her bed is this normal ? I leave her about 11 pm and get up at 5am with her inbetween those times she probably has 2 to 3 howling crying periods of around 10 to 15 minutes

    Many thanks

  28. My wife and I recently brought home our 7-week old lab puppy. Crate training has not gone very well so far. The first night we had him he slept for almost 6 hours in his crate before waking and starting to cry. Now he will not last 30 minutes. My wife works from home and she puts him in the crate for a small period during the day. He will cry for over an hour. Should the crying last this long? Do we need to keep him in for shorter periods of time instead and build back up?

  29. Hi, I have two 11 week old chocolate male labs. They are from the same litter and sleep in the same bed at night. They have started eating my kitchen at night time when they are left alone so we are looking into getting a cage for them. Can anybody advise which is better. Buy 2 small cages and separate them or buy 1 xl cage and put them in together till they get a bit older and hopefully stop being so destructive?

  30. Hi Pippa
    I have been reading all your articles and finding them very useful. My puppy is 11 weeks but we got it when he was 8 weeks old. The week following Xmas we had to leave him with a trainer because he was too young to travel with us. When we came back, we have been struggling in teaching him to relieve himself. The trainer told us that if he went outside the place we set for this in our apartment, while he can go out after his vaccination, we should hit the floor and put him in his crate for 45 mins and after we took him out, put him out there in the special place to go again, I read on your articles that since he is a puppy we should´t punish him, so I did not make a fuss about the accidents and just insisted on the next time for him to go in the place. I bought a tray with synthetic garden so that he could go there, because I also read you don´t recommend newspaper. He was doing fine, until now he likes to lie on the synthetic garden and bite at it and pull it instead of doing what he has to in it. He was doing great before that, he was a little excited and it looked like he wanted to rip it apart. I pulled him from it, and then he went and did his business on the floor kitchen instead. So I decided to put him in his crate for 45 min again. I don´t know if this is not the solution and that he is still a baby, but he was making a mess out of the tray.
    I also read that at this time they usually sleep about 5 hours from the time you put him to sleep at night, but he will make noises and wake up every two hours, and when I tried stretching the time, he pooed inside the crate. Is it normal that he poos more than twice at night? Is it still an immature bladder? I am not getting any sleep at all at night, and I feel that the road that we advanced has gone back a few steps… is this normal, or what do you suggest?

    • Hi there, puppies will sometimes poo at night if they are anxious and get upset, but more usually, eliminating in the crate is a result of the crate being too big. Pippa

      • Hello,

        I have a 3 month old black Lab and we have decided not to crate him. He is in the kitchen safe when we go out with his bed and toys and we do the same in the evening. So far we have had no problems at all, he loves his sleep, he goes to bed when we go to bed and wakes when we come down the stairs, he doesn’t bark or cry. I am now in 2 minds as every article I read says about how importing it is to crate puppies. My husband would rather we didn’t crate him, as he is going to be a big dog and I wouldn’t like to crate him when he is so big. Am I making a rod for my own back ? at the moment he stays on his own while we are at work (3 days a week) for about 5 hours but I do have people go round and check on him. Once he can go out (after his next vaccination) he will be taken out during the day too. He is a very happy dog and other than being quite hard to toilet train he is very good, I have tried the toilet training matts but he just runs off with them! I am sure once he can go out this will improve. Any advise greatly received! Thank you!

        • Hi Katie, if you and your puppy are happy with your present situation after a whole month, I see no point in messing with it. You may or may not find you have problems with chewing at some point, but some dogs are simply not a problem in this respect. Pippa

  31. Hi I have a 9 week old lab we have had him for 4 days now he’s coming out of his shell but becoming giddy and biting my 2 year old which leads to tears I don’t want to punish him because he is playing but he is leaving marks on my son what can I do ?

  32. I have 2 six month old chocolate labs they are house trained and have their own crates at night time (in the same room) as advised by the vet, they are happy to go to bed in their crate but one of them wakes crying at 5 am sometimes earlier so I let them out to do their business and put them back to bed but he just sits there crying I don’t know what to do as I’ve tried ignoring it but it can last for hours his brother is not bothered and would probably sleep for longer if I didn’t get up to let them out.

    • When you get up to let him out, you reinforce the crying. If you feel he really needs to go out, then try and pre-empt him by letting him out early before he starts to cry, for a few days. You could also try putting a frozen kong in his crate when you put him back to bed. Check out this article for more info

  33. My family have just got our 1st black Labrador she is 9 weeks we are trying to crate train her,she goes in it in the day with abit of whining as im at work but she gets checked on every 2 hours as she goes out for the toilet and doesn’t do it in her bed but at night shes going to bed at 10.00 after being left out and doing her toilet but then crys for hours at night which we try and ignore but then she soils in her crate so im having to clean it up in middle of night,hee crate is in the lounge for now as its our busy room,am I doing it all right,many thanks

    • Hi, she probably soils her crate because she is getting upset. It sounds as though she spends a lot of time alone, she may settle more happily in some kind of day care. Night time crying tends to be over within a few days if you want to wait it out, or you could try putting her crate next to your bed at night, until she has got into a better sleeping routine. Check out the housetraining articles in the puppy care section and do consider joining the forum for support. Pippa

  34. After reading all the problems people have had with their puppies this almost put me off getting mine! However, I am happy to report that it’s not all bad! I got Poppy, black lab 9 weeks old, a week ago tomorrow. I set up her crate toys etc inside her play pen and decided to use the clicker method of rewards. I threw a couple of treats inside her crate and she went inside no problem. 5 minutes later she lay down inside it and went to sleep. She loves her crate which is always open during the day. I started by leaving the pen open for her to come and go and then closing it for a minute then opening it again, gradually extending this throughout the day. She has picked up really quickly that when she goes outside that she has to do the toilet and looks to me for the click and a treat, although she still has little bladder control, accidents only happen when I don’t take her out often enough( thankfully just urination). She will get a play out in the kitchen diner for half an hour when she has just been to the toilet and when she voluntarily goes to her crate for a play with her toys or sleep, I close the play pen door. She wasn’t that keen on me leaving the room to do stuff around the house and howled and yelped for a bit before settling in her crate but I just I ignored her and never give her attention when she is crying for it. She howled and yelped for about 20 mins the first night and 5 the second night but I didn’t go down to her and she only needed out once at 5.30am. Since then she goes to bed at 11.30 and that is her until whatever time I get up at in the morning 8 or even 9. She is dry all night and doesn’t even cry to get out when she hears you upstairs. Not bad for a 9 week old! She sits on command and is learning the down command, clicker is a great help. All in all, she has done really well in her first week and I’m glad to say that you shouldn’t automatically think the worst case scenario! On and she is happy to lie in the footwell of the car sleeping whilst I’m driving on my own.

  35. Hello, really helpful article thank you! My question is with regards to what is the best thing to do with my puppy during the day? I have to leave him for a max of 1 1/2hrs 4 times this week whilst I go to work. He is crated at night, he cried for 1/2 an hour 1 st night, 15mins second night (we’ve only had him 2 days). I don’t want to put him off the crate by shutting him in there during the day while I am at work. Would a play pen be an idea? Any help would be very much appreciated.

    • Just to update, pup is now 12 weeks and quiet at night. We get up in the morning when he wakes up. However he still doesn’t like being crated during the day whether we are home or not. It seems to be the confinement he doesn’t like as opposed to the being alone which doesn’t bother him.

  36. have a 10 week puppy that still howls 10 to 15 min and then every 2 to 3 hours. He hates being in hi s crate. I have done what you say and if we are in the room she is good. It is just at night.

  37. Hi
    Myself and my partner are thinking about getting a black labrador puppy. We are both very keen but are worried about the fact that we both work full time and so after the initial settling in (I will be taking a few weeks holiday from work) it will be alone for the most part of the day.. We are a little worried about the puppy needing the toilet etc during this time, is it advisable/okay to leave a puppy/dog alone for such a long time during the day.

  38. Hi
    I have a black lab (currently 15 weeks) hes always gone in is cage ok and slept 8 hours thru night no mess. the most he has been left in the daytime is4.5 hours and is fine seems happy enough no mess. how old is it ok on odd days ( not every day) to leave him 8 hours ? i read on another sight 18 weeks plus is this correct ?

    • Hi Rachel, this is a contentious topic and one that there is no consensus on. I would not leave an adult dog alone without access to a toilet area, for 8 hours except in an emergency. I wouldn’t leave an older puppy (six months to a year) alone for more than four hours or so, and much younger puppies, much will depend on how long they can last without a wee. It really is a matter of opinion, but if you are crating a dog you need to consider that more than two hours is a very long time to be shut in a tiny space.

  39. hi pippa,
    i am getting a lab puppy soon, he will be 8 weeks when i get him. i have two indoor cats ..any advice for the introductions?

  40. Hey Pippa, I will be picking my black lab puppy up Dec 26, and I just wanted to know if letting him sleep in bed with me is an okay idea. I am so okay with him sleeping in my bed even once he is an adult, so it won’t be just a puppy thing. I appreciate your website so much!

  41. Hi, me and my husband are supposed to be getting a new 8 week old lab puppy in a day or two, and I have a 16 month old baby. She loves animals, she usually just rubs and tries to hug them but I’ve never had a dog in the house while I’ve had her, ive read all of the puppy articles pretty much and I’m just wondering if it is smart to get a puppy, although I would love for them to grow up together. So confused! Please help!

  42. Hi Pippa,
    My name is Alana and I’m writing to you from Sydney Australia. I wanted to start off by saying that your site is very helpful and I amazed and appreciative of the time you take to individually respond to most people. I hope you don’t mind if I ask a few questions of you, for your advice.
    I have Buddy, an 8 week old Lab. We have had him for three days so far. He is doing generally well – going to the potty outside (only one accident) and the whining or missing home has certainly decreased over the last few days.
    We had every intention of crate training him from the beginning but the crate didn’t arrive to us from the mail service until today (day 3) and so Buddy has spent the first two (dare I say crucial?) nights sleeping out of a crate on our tiled living room floor. He wakes every now and again to go to the toilet and mostly resettles well. But now we have the crate and I do want to promote it with him. We have put treats in and feed him in there; he goes in there to eat them, lots of praise, but he doesn’t spend any longer in there. Despite the crate having blankets and towels, toys and bedding, Buddy climbs back out when he wants to sleep. I was just wondering if you think he will eventually, with preserverence, willingly sleep in his crate? I have not yet closed the door on him but will begin trying that and using a clicker to mark silence if he cries. I think I’m looking for some encouragement because I mostly read how much labs love their crate/den and goes in there to sleep but my pup wants to sleep on my feet or just tiles. Thank you for your time. Hope to hear from you.


  43. I think I should also mention that Buddy was one from a litter of 9 and he spent most if not all of his time outside. He and his fellow pups slept on concrete outside with his mum before we picked him up. Buddy does not want to sleep on a towel or blanket on the tiles, just the tiles.

  44. We have a one year old male lab who is still not 100% house trained. We take him out frequently (I mean frequently) and he does tell us when he needs to go but he can’t always hold it till he gets outside so he walks and pees inside till we get him out. Because of this behavior we’ve had him tested and he has had UTI’s…now every time he has an accident we’re taking in a pee sample. Last time there was no sign of a UTI, we even had his bladder xray’d and a culture done. There is no medical reason for him not holding his bladder. Is this common and will it get better?

  45. I should also mention that we do use a crate and he has never had an accident whilst crated. He even sleeps through the night (about 8 hours) without going so we know he is capable of holding it.

  46. Hi Pippa.
    We have had our 6 week old lab for 3 nights now. We have not used a crate, instead we have a bed which we have in our bedroom. The first night she whined frequently and she had a few accidents on the floor, which was expected. The second night, I woke up at 1, 3 and 5am to take her outside to go potty which she willingly did. She still whined a bit, but less than night #1. Last night, she seemed to sleep heavily, even snoring, but roamed around the room to different areas to sleep. She gave an insistent whine around 2am, so I woke up and before I could let her out, she pooped on the floor. However, I believe her whine indicated she needed to go potty.
    It seems as though she prefers to pee and poop outside, as she has done so every time we take her out. If she continues to only whine when she needs to go in the middle of the night, would it be ok to not crate her and hope she can control her frequent potty trips as she gets older?

  47. Hey my names Jared and I recently (about a week ago) bought a lab puppy. He is only 9 weeks and i have tired putting him in a crate beside my bed but he cries/wines/barks for so long I tired putting a blanket over the crate which helped one night but then the past nights hes just slept with me and i plan on putting him outside when he gets older because of my mom but how can i train him for the crate or have i messed up with putting him in my bed? He does good by waking up and letting me know he needs to potty advice??

  48. Hi Pippa,
    We brought our lovely 8 week old chocolate labrador puppy home a few days ago. He is a really calm and content puppy and he seemed to fall in love with his crate straight away going in there freely. After all the things we had heard about crate training we thought we were very lucky indeed. The mainstays in his crate are his bedding, a fleece blanket wih his mothers scent as we wrapped it around her, and a couple of his favourite toys..He will quite happily go there when the doors are open and lay down and also be happy and sleep with the doors shut.

    Night times however have been a different story – the first night he howled a lot and we had to get up every hour to take him for a wee, being careful only to enter when he was calm so as not to encourage howling. The second night was similar but he slept longer up to 1.5-2 hours at a time before howling and needing the toilet which included a poo accident on the kitchen floor. The third night we thought we would try ignoring the howling and barking for a longer period of time of three hours, but after 2.5 hours we were woken by awful howling and barking and unfortunately he did a couple of poos in his crate including on the fleece with his mums scent which now needs to be washed which night discomfort him further. He really is such a great puppy everyone says, but we’ve not quite cracked the nights yet. I see others who comment can get their puppy to sleep up to 5-6 hours at night without trouble. He is taken to the toilet several times a day and is on a kibble diet – same brand as breeder.. Are we doing anything wrong? Does he need more toilet trips during the daytime? Given the accident tonight in his crate we are now concerned about ignoring the howling and barking incase it happens again.

    Look forward to your comments, thank you! Steve

  49. Hiya pippa,
    I have a gorgeous red fox femal lab ruby she is now 9 months old and we adore her I never ever thought I coukd love a dog so much lol
    we got her when she was 12 weeks old and have crated her from day one at nite and dhring the day when we have left her for short periods
    crating at nite has always been abit up and down we woukd have 3 or 4 nites and we wouldnt bear a thing from her till may b 6am
    then we would get a couple of nites where she would just cry and cry
    then she got tbst she was waking at 3am every morning crying and would not settle at all no matter what we did so I said to my husband lets risk it and leave her crate door open so she came come in and out if she likes ( crate is in our living room)
    The first 3 weeks she was amazing not a peep and no mess when we came down in tbe morning about 6:30
    even stopped crating her during the day aswell
    but the last week every morning we have come down tbefe has been 2 or 3 piles of poo she doesnt cry and she is doing it near the door so confused going 3 weeks perfect now pooing at nite but left during the day out if cratd perfect we left her 8:30 am till 2pm and no mess or wee any where absolutely perfect could u share some light on this as I am totally confused how 3 week can b perfect then all of a sudden its not tonite I am putting her back in her crate but fully expecting crying and barking again please help !!!!!

  50. We have a 7 week old puppy. She was kept her first night in our bathroom with a gate and the door open. The door open to view our bed and is just within a few feet of the door. I did not know a puppy needed to go out every 2-3 hours at night so we did not do that and her first night she did not have a crate. We expected messes and there were plenty of messes. The second night we have had a crate but we did not close it up and so we woke to many messes again. Today though and last night, this is the third night, we noticed that when we take her out she will go potty and we praise her and bring her in and within a few minutes she is dribbling pee on the carpet. Meaning she squats and goes a little bit on our carpet. We say “No.” And take her outside. This was happening yesterday and today and went on for about three hours. Then we put her in our bathroom for a while after playing but did not close her in the crate and found messes after 10 minutes and she had just went pee outside (not to mention the dribbled accidents in between) and she had poo’ed. What is happening? Its like she always has to go and isn’t holding it at all. She will play and sleep for periods of time so she can hold it she just isn’t why is she not totaling eliminating when we take her out? What all are we doing wrong and what other issues do you think we may have to deal with because of these issues? We have only had her for 3 days. We have not been home much due to the busy weekend which is not common for us. Could it be that she has not been anywhere long enough to feel at home? Are we stressing her out? We really want this to work. We are a family of 6, including pets a family of 8. We also have a cat. I have a 3 month old (yes I know I am insane for getting a puppy now), 3 year old, 6 year old, and an 8 year old. I am a stay at home mom. And will be the one to train her primarily. Please help!

    Thank you,


    • Hi Amanda, she is just a baby, and this will take weeks, not days to get right, so you need to put your patient hat on :) Here is the house-training article you need: At seven weeks old, your puppy will wet herself whenever her bladder is getting full, whenever she is excited, and whenever she is scared. So saying NO or getting annoyed will often make a small puppy dribble urine. You have to completely ignore any mistakes or puddles and focus on getting her to wee outdoors using frequent visits and lots of praise. Follow the instructions in the link I have given you, and join the forum for support

  51. Hi, I just had a quick question. I have a 7 week old lab, he’s been really good about sleeping in his crate and I ignore all whining, after if taken him out once and a full 1-1.5 hrs has passed. Tonight, he relieved himself multiple times before bed and I usually stop giving water after around 7pm. He slept a solid 3 hours, woke up and we didn’t engage him because I want him to learn that a whine is the appropriate signal to tell me he needs to pee/poo. So, he woke up after the long sleep, made a minor whine but immediately began playing on his own and no other whines or howls occurred. Then he went back to sleep! I was just wondering if I’m the one who should just take him out even though there was no whine because he’s young? Or am I lucky and his learning to play.on his own in his crate at night quietly starting to work? I should note the previous nights he’s made clear whines where I get up every 1-2 hrs and take him out to pee/poo with no play at night and come straight back. any proceeding whines are completely ignored. Also I sleep on a couch next to him and watch TV, sleep, go on my phone which he can see. Sorry if I ramble, just giving you the whole story. the main question is without the whine do I need to take him out? P.S. he pooed 2-3 times during the day and let out some smelly farts during the sleep tonight (but he also has a bad habit of eating grass which I’m trying to curb– any tips with that are much appreciated)

  52. Hi Pippa, your site is our saving grace. We are beginner lab owners and our 9 week pup is keeping us coming back for more and more advice. Crate training is working well – yay! However, Rossi seems to be jumping on the couch alot and crying if he can’t get up. We’ve ignored him, prompting him to get back in his little bed (his supervised play and nap area which sits on the floor in the lounge by the couch) but he is a persistent little bugger! He wants couch! I think our mistake was we’ve cuddled him a few times in our arms whilst we’ve been on the couch and he probably thinks he has the couch privilege now. Should we pop him in his crate for time out during these episodes, or would he associate the crate as punishment?