A crate can help you housebreak, transport and introduce your 12-week-old puppy to the other pets in your home. It's also his den, a place where he can feel warm, comfortable and secure, especially during the nighttime. A puppy can stay in a crate longer at night than during the day because your puppy's body systems slow down at night.
A 12-week-old puppy can stay in his crate for one to three hours during the day, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. At night, he will need to go out one to two times because he will not have sufficient bladder and bowel control. Plan on taking him out every four hours. By the time he is 4 to 5 months old, he will be able to get through the night.
Preparing for Night
Puppies love to sleep and may want to rest during the early evening hours. Keep him busy with play and interaction. If you don't, he will want to play in the middle of the night and may start to whine. Remove his water and food three hours before bedtime. Just before he enters his crate, take him outside to potty. Give him plenty of time to potty so he can go four hours in his crate.
From the time you bring your puppy home, teach him a verbal command for potty time. Use the same phrase when you take him out to potty throughout the day and in the evening. Keep him on a schedule with potty time and eating so his body begins to adjust to the schedule. If he whines during the night, don't jump up and take him outside. Use the phrase. If he gets excited, you know he needs to go out.
While your pup is too young to get through the night, place the crate in the hallway or in your bedroom so you can hear him. It may help to have a rhythmic sound such as a ticking clock or ceiling fan to help him sleep. You may want to set an alarm for the middle of the night to get him up to potty. The preference is yours. Some people prefer to listen for their puppy's whining.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.