For some dog owners, especially those raising farm, hunting, or other types of working breeds, it is not a matter of if, but when can a puppy face the elements and sleep outside. Choosing the right age is important for your dog’s health and development!
There is a proper time for your puppy or puppies to make the transition. Though an indoor kennel in an outlying building situated next to a large yard would be ideal, it’s not always possible or practical, and could defeat the intended purpose. After all, important as it is to have the proper shelter for your animals, herd dogs and guard dogs, for example, are meant to be outside when it counts.
For most breeds, the developmental stages from puppy to juvenile to adolescent dog are about a year. That time can be as fun as it is trying, and critical to your dog’s adult behavior. Those early months inside are important for the dog to bond with you and the family, and to establish yourself as the alpha of the pack. Nevertheless, the time will come to transition your puppy from house to yard, and the timing of that is just as important.
The time when your puppy can sleep outside is not set in stone, but sometime in the four to six month range you can begin the transition.
Why can’t puppies sleep outside right away?
There are two prime factors to consider.
- Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature like grown dogs can. Depending on the season or climate, if it’s too hot and humid or too cold and snowy, you have to let your puppy grow to a size and weight to meet the rigors of the season.
- Puppies are also more susceptible to sickness, diseases, and parasites than adult dogs. Your veterinarian will have your pet on a vaccination schedule of approximately 6 to 8 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks, and 14 to 16 weeks. After that, it should be okay to begin the transition from house to yard.
How to Get Puppies to Sleep Outside
How to make that transition can be a challenge. Ask ten different dog trainers or dog owners how to get puppies to sleep outside and you’ll most likely get ten different answers. No method is tried and true, to be sure, and circumstances and environments are different for everyone. Yet, it would be safe to wager that all parties would agree that a successful transition from house to yard is a gradual process. In other words, start slowly. It’s much more likely you will have the desired results, which will make everyone happy—including the dog.
First, you’ll need to provide a proper heated dog shelter, design a doghouse or purchase an outdoor crate slightly bigger than your curled-up dog. this is especially important for keeping your dog warm during the winter months.
Let Them Find Their “Spot”
During the day, bring the dog outside and let it find a calm spot in the yard to sleep. Place the shelter near that spot. Over the course of the week, repeat the process.
Establish the “Spot” as a Safe Space
Now it’s time to transition to the evening hours. Lead your puppy to the calm spot they’ve accustomed themselves to during the past week, and let them get comfortable. Once they’re settled down in their spot, it may help to sit with them for a spell at first, then leave your chair and go inside. If they stay sleeping in their spot that’s fine, if not that’s okay, too. In either case, bring the dog inside to sleep for the remainder of the night. Repeat that process for a week and you should be ready to make the final transition for your puppy to sleep outside.
Use Familiar Items to Inspire Comfort
Organize the dog’s things from the house—like its sleeping pillow, water bowl, play toy, etc.—and move them to the shelter. Be sure to let them observe what you’re doing. Move everything to your dog’s “spot” and let them settle in.
If you’re expecting a magical moment, think more Pavlov than Harry Potter. The method takes time, patience, and conditioning. It is a process. However, by the time your puppy grows from juvenile to adolescent the transition from sleeping in the house to the yard should be a success!