the puppy files: introducing…cupcake!


Hello dear readers! It’s Monday afternoon, and though I am a little more sleepy than usual I didn’t want to wait a moment longer before introducing you to our new puppy, Cupcake. (Yes, our four-year old daughter picked out his name.) We picked him up from the breeder on Saturday, and spent about an hour there playing with him and his siblings, and getting some last minute tips on puppy care. It really helped to see where he was coming from. The house was big and warm and cozy — a puppy paradise, really.

We brought him home via a four hour drive that went surprising well. The little guy mostly snoozed contently the whole way. As soon as we got home, he promptly set about exploring his new place. It took him about five minutes before he found a spot to poop. Luckily, it was on the hard floor and was easy to clean up. We spent most of the night laughing and playing, amazed that he was already so good fetching; all those squeaky toys really are actually a ton of fun! The first night in the crate was not so bad. He fell asleep after about ten minutes and only woke up once around 2 am. After a quick, cold visit to the backyard, he went back to sleep until dawn. I thought, this is easy…

That was until last night, which seemed much harder than the first. Perhaps it was finally sinking in that his brothers and sisters were not going to show up? What ever was going on in that little walnut of a brain, Cupcake would not quiet down. After about 20 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to lure him to sleep, we decided to move the crate downstairs. Bad idea. He cried all night! Well, at least until around 2:30 a.m. when I took him outside (burrrrr — when did it suddenly get so cold here?!) and then moved the crate back up to our room. I got him to go to sleep by literally sliding it as close to our bed possible and then sticking my fingers in the crate. Not exactly comfortable for me, but it worked! We’ll try that again tonight. My plan is make sure we wear him out with lots of play before we put him in the crate to sleep.

People keep telling me that dogs learn to love being in their crates but it’s hard to imagine. From the wails he made last night you would think we were torturing him. Please tell me it gets easier! — Angela M.

Previously on the Puppy Files

Getting Our Home Ready For a New Pup

After Losing Our Dear Cat, We Ask: Is It Time For a Dog?

Chosing the Perfect Breed

What to Look For In A Breeder

From our partners

It does! My pup now takes naps in his crate with the door open voluntarily. I made sure that I put him in the crate with the door open many times so that he didn’t always associate it with being closed in and away from the action. Good luck, these first few nights/weeks can be very hard.

Yay! What a cutie! That’s why puppies are so adorable–they can be so annoying…

He’ll get used to the crate once he figures out that it’s his own space. Which may take some time. Do you have a soft blanket in there and some toys? Hiding some treats in there may help too. I agree that wearing him out (or trying to, anyway) before bed will help. It will get easier!

Big congrats!


It is like sleep-training with a baby. It takes time!

Hang in there with the crate training. It totally works. The first few weeks are tough, but it gets better. We fed our dog in his crate for a good long time so he’d associate it with being a happy place. At 2 1/2 he now goes in there on his own when he’s tired. Just be firm and consistent. Everyone in your house needs to do things the same way so you don’t confuse it. And don’t feel bad for him, he’ll adjust quickly. Dogs are adaptable. Pretty soon he’ll be adapted to your family and your household.


He will come to love his crate in time. He probably misses the warmth of all his brothers and sisters and feels lonely. Try putting a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket in the crate with him. Also a soft toy about his size helps.


Oh how I wished I crate trained. My puppy happened into my life when a friend found him abandoned when he was all of 3-4 weeks (!) old. Since I wasn’t at all prepared for him, he spent the first night sleeping on my bed (soundly) and the precedence was set. Tried to use the crate, but it ended up as being viewed as punishment because he was isolated. Whenever he knew he got caught doing something naughty, he would go directly to “the box”. No doors needed. He turned out great, but I think the potty training would have better if I didn’t feel so bad about putting him into the crate.

Oh, and in case no one warned you – make sure he can’t get to your shoes. Puppies usually chew up one of every pair that they can get a hold of. And make sure to keep the pantry door securely closed (and make sure everyone in the house knows these rules). I can’t tell you how many times I came home to find 1) paper towels all over the place, 2) sacks of flour and potatoes removed from the pantry and taken to the living room.


The crate works!! Soft blankets, soft toys about his size AND (this worked for me ) a wind-up alarm clock wrapped in a blanket. There is something hypnotic about it and it reminds them of their mom’s( or their siblings) little heartbeats. The first few nights will suck, but the longer you stick with it, the more accustomed little Cupcake will become. Chew toys are also helpful, becuase they tend to chew when they start. Hang in there!!

Danielle b.

A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel really helped our puppy those first few night


Stay with it. It will be your dog’s favorite place to go if they are trained correctly. Our pup (now 3) was a chore to crate train. We had many sleepless nights. We did discover that keeping some smelly items right outside the crate helped. Gym clothes and shoes worked best to calm her overnight.

Good luck!


I know lots of people whose dogs love their crates. Unfortunately we have never had one of them. We have always had dogs that just slept in our bedroom — a small one that slept at the bottom of our bed, and then for the past ten years, larger ones that sleep on their own beds on the floor at the foot of ours. Whatever works!

We followed Ian Dunbar’s protocol in After You Get a Puppy. Definitely feed solely in the crate and put his toys in there. You want to create a positive association.

We connected an x-pen to my dog’s crate. He only had 1 accident the first week (and it was our fault as we didn’t listen to his whine in time) and he was toilet trained that quickly! Plus, nothing in the house got destroyed. Once he was done teething and could be trusted, he got free reign of the house (around 8 months of age).

Enjoy your new puppy! He’s adorable. :)


Our lab pup HATED her crate at first, too. She yelped so loudly that we had to sleep in ear plugs! Just moving the crate into our bedroom worked for us, though. So if it’s gotten better with you doing what you’re doing, it will definitely improve with time. We clicker train our puppy, and have trained her to go into the crate when we ask. Also, we feed her every meal in her crate so she associates it with good things. She still doesn’t LOVE it or anything, but she now goes and sits by it when she knows its time for bed. We never believed she’d become this okay with the crate, given the rocky beginnings. So don’t lose hope!

I think puppy care is EXACTLY the same as baby care – find something that fits YOUR style and it usually works. I could never let my kids cry it out and I could never get used to putting the puppy in a crate. It was me, not the puppy (or the kids.) She slept in our bed from the beginning. Sleeps there now. Keeps my toes warm. (The kids are relatively successful young adults as well.) Work with the crate if you like it. Ditch it if you don’t!

And that is one ADORABLE puppy!


I’m a huge shelterrific fan, but am sort of put off by the support of buying animals from breeders instead of adopting pets in need of having their lives saved. Sadface, Shelterrific.