3 Month Old Puppy Life | Part 3 of 6 [Crate Training & Managing Separation Anxiety]

Puppy crate training

For puppy crate training I suggest a crate/Xpen duo. This also aids you in potty training! (See part 2)

Even though it’s so unbelievably exciting to bring your puppy home finally, I made sure to set times during the day for puppy nap time. Most people don’t realize that puppies need naps like a 2 year old needs naps… if you let them get over tired the biting gets SO much worse. Over tired puppies are not fun. The connection doesn’t stop there! Human babies/toddlers may struggle to settle themselves enough for nap time so we often put them in a crib (kennel) or play pen (xpen) and they may cry at first (cough cough do you see the connection yet?) … BUT they do eventually settle down and learn to self soothe 

A lot of separation anxiety starts because puppies never learn how to be alone. Then being alone becomes increasingly more stressful for them. Teaching them from the beginning to have what I call “structured separation” is very important. For about 2-3 hours a couple times a day in rotation with meal time and potty time, put your puppy in their play pen/kennel. 

For the first week I would either hand feed or feed him in his playpen. He has pillows and stuffies in his kennel, a pee pad and plenty of bones and chew toys on the xpen side. This is located in my main room so he gets to see me walk in and out of the front door, into separate rooms, or sit on the couch infront of him. It’s important to me that he knows how to settle and not be frustrated because he can’t get to me. I did not respond to any attempts to get out and didnt yell at him for barking. I simply waited for him to settle down! 

Disclaimer: If the barking is extreme and could be potty related, put on the leash and take them outside without petting or interacting with them. Give them a chance to go pee and then take them directly back into their pen with minimal interaction. Being TOO interactive with your puppy during that time could teach them extreme barking lets them out so “be a tree” dog trainers would say lol you are nothing in this moment but what the leash is attached to. 

After about 3 weeks of this I’ve actually detached the xpen and extended it to my entire (small) living room. Sometimes just the couch 

and now for his quiet time he’s either left in a puppy proofed living room or put completely away in the kennel with the door shut. He does best when I’m in sight but does still whine sometimes when I leave the room and I still follow the same rules. I may take him to potty if the barking seems more frantic but otherwise he has learned to settle himself down with a bone!

I do also have just a small kennel by my bedside because I would like him to sleep there when he doesn’t need a kennel anymore. I can’t take credit for training him on this one though! 

from the first night he went right in and slept through the night. A smaller sized kennel helps puppy feel more secure and you’re less likely to have accidents! This is also the kennel I keep his stuffy that smells like his siblings and I really think that helped him night one as well 

(side note: with large and giant breeds check out FB market place or yard sales for crates of multiple sizes while your puppy grows.)

A few tips to help if you are still struggling:

Xpens are great to give puppies more space but I do also suggest adding on a kennel so they start to get used to the idea. Put a lot of comfy beds in there and they may settle themselves inside on their own. You can also cover it with a blanket to make it feel more “den” like.

Don’t yell. Screaming at your puppy to shut up or constantly saying “it’s okay, shhh, hush” will likely only make the barking worse at this age. Completely ignore them and don’t even look in their direction.

Puppies need SO much sleep. Even more sleep when they hit their growth spurt. If you see your puppy getting tired, take them to their play pen with a chew toy they like and let them fall asleep on their own!

If you STILL can’t get your puppy to settle away from you and can’t handle the barking look into enrichment toys like kongs or lick mats so they have something to settle with. I used fish skin if he was having a hard time and he’d chew it and then fall asleep 

I would say on average a puppy 12-16 weeks old will need to sleep 6 hours during the day. Split that time up for kennel nap time throughout the day and maybe one out on the couch as well so you can enjoy the puppy snuggles  (I’m not a monster!!! )

Anyways, remember kennels are important for safety while puppies are still eating everything they see and it’s always a good idea to give our puppies an understanding of boundaries early on. While it does break our hearts when our babies cry when we put them away, not teaching them how to be alone can create severe stress and anxiety later in life.

– Trainer Morgan
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