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Hello PF!

It's been about a month and a half since we brought home our beautiful boy, Butters, who is now 15 weeks old.

For the past month, we've had him on a pretty strict schedule of awake for an hour for potty & play, then crated for 3-4 hours for enforced nap time and unsupervised time. We have been keeping this schedule on weekends as well, especially with enforcing naps, as he's still young and he has trouble self regulating.

I'm wondering when we can ease up on enforced nap times or shorten them a bit; or just reduce the amount he's sleeping overall. I'm trying to find the balance of giving him enough rest without having him in the crate for "too" long, on weekends in particular when we are actually around to be with him.

He also settles a lot faster with a crate cover. We want to slowly give him more space, possibly in an X-pen, for his unsupervised time but the few times we've put him in the pen to try it out, he'll bark a lot - the same way that he does when we crate him and it is not covered. Looking for tips on how to progress him here.

Thanks in advance!
 

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That's a lot of covered crate time! Puppies do need lots of sleep, but I suspect this technique might now be working against your efforts to teach him to self-soothe.

For the past couple of months, Peggy (now 6 months old) has been covered in her crate at night (about 10 hours) and maybe 2-3 days per week, for a couple of hours at a time, if we need to run errands without her or if she's having a tough time sleeping but we can sense she really needs it.

I started sleeping with ear plugs in university and have NOT been able to break the habit 20 years later. It's like the earplugs tell my body it's bedtime and nothing else works. You don't want Butters to be like that! It's a pain in the butt, especially if you unexpectedly find yourself without that "sleeping crutch."

Does Butters like to chew? And does he fall asleep after? If so, you could get an x-pen, attach it to his covered crate, and leave the crate door open and accessible. And then give him his favourite chew. (Peggy loves bully sticks, Himalayan yak cheese, kongs stuffed with frozen banana, and the smoked chicken tenders from Trader Joe's.) Puzzles also work. I like to make them myself, with things like a treat inside a box inside ANOTHER box. The x-pen contains the mess and it's a good physical and mental workout.

Try this while you're nearby watching TV or reading a book. Nothing too exciting. Maybe he'll chew and then retreat to his crate. Or maybe he'll snooze in place for a bit. Or maybe he'll complain.

I believe in occasionally letting puppies cry it out. Not for long. And not to the point of hysterics. But sometimes, if you let it play out, it's really more of a grumble than a full-fledged meltdown, and it passes quickly. You just need to let it happen.

I'd occasionally murmur shhhhhh, but mostly I ignored Peggy when she behaved that way. Then, the moment she would stop and relax, I'd open the gate. Over time, I delayed opening the gate a little bit longer and a little big longer. And eventually I didn't have to because she was asleep.

An alternative to the pen is tethering. I do this, too, either to our pantry doorknob while I'm working in the kitchen, or to an anchored carabiner I keep in the living room. Can also use a mat or bed and move it around with you, always tethering Butters so he can reach "his" place.

NOTE: My advice is all just from personal experience. I always recommend Ian Dunbar's "Before And After Getting Your Puppy" as a solid foundation. Anecdotal wisdom can be contradictory and that's the last thing you want. Consistency is so key.

Now please share photos of Butters! ?
 

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I find that way too much nap/crated time ! Why don’t you go with what the puppy really needs and let him enjoy life around you ? I don’t even remember forcing a puppy to take naps. I mean, when they need to sleep, they will just flop anywhere and it’s fine.

Crating should be used when you need to leave the puppy somewhere safe because you are leaving or because you can’t watch him. Other than that, you should take advantage of the time you have with your puppy and let him play and explore the house under your supervision.
 

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My dog was/is the sort of puppy that had to be penned when not closely supervised, and was also a Tasmanian devil in a poodle suit. X pen has been extremely useful! He sleeps in a crate most nights but still spends a decent amount of time in pen. He has a bed and chew toys. But he spends a lot of time sleeping in there. It took some tough love for a couple days before he stopped crying in it. Now he knows he must be quiet if he wants out. He's been fine with me leaving him for 2-3 hours even when he was little, and by the time he was 5-6 months he had enough bladder control to be left for 4-6 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for some of your personal anecdotes here!

The reason we have to enforce naps with him is because he doesn't settle on his own and then becomes VERY cranky. This is after lots of play time and exercise, training, and puzzles.

Will try to gradually move him to the x pen and go with some tough love for a few days to get him used to it.
 

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Personally, I did not desire Norman to be on a strict schedule (unless absolutely necessary). I would let him play and play and play his heart out and he would nap when he was ready. When that was the case, I would pick him up and put him in his bed and let him sleep as long as he wanted.
I think schedules can be greats for pups, but I just didn't want to use them for Norman because I feel that they should nap when they are ready. But like I said earlier, I would put him in his crate for "rest" when he was clearly cranky or I needed to do something where he couldn't be supervised.
Overall I think you are doing what you see best for your pup!! But if you were looking for any new ideas, I would let him play that cranky puppy attitude out. I did this with Norman and he would always have a great sleep after that lol!!!!
 
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