You may be wondering if your new puppy can sleep outside. Is it safe? How old should your puppy be in order to comfortably do so? What will they need when they can? Well, here’s everything you’ll want to know.
So, can puppies sleep outside? Most vets and trainers recommend that you do not let your puppy sleep outside. An inability to keep themselves sufficiently warm, consequences of isolation, and potential hazards and dangers are all reasons for this. Equally, puppies that have not had their complete course of core vaccinations should not be going outside of your home altogether.
While it is true that some adult dogs can sleep outside under certain conditions, the way you need to approach your puppies sleeping arrangements are completely different.
And some breeds are even more susceptible to the dangers of the outdoors.
For instance, they have shorter coats and will struggle to maintain a sufficient body temperature even in fair climates.
Nevertheless and with this all in mind, let us delve deeper into the reasons why puppies are best kept inside.
We’ll also be looking at much more appropriate sleeping conditions and when and how to potentially transition them to be able to sleep outside as older dogs, under the right conditions.
Why Puppies Should Not Sleep Outside
Puppies should generally not sleep outside due to potential hazards, the inability to keep themselves warm, and the fact that most young puppies have not had the required vaccinations.
Let us explore the reasons:
Puppies Need Their Vaccinations Before Going Outside
Until puppies have had their full course of core vaccinations, they should not be leaving your home or meeting other people’s animals. This applies to any time of day.
Even your own yard/garden should be off-limits till vaccinations are complete.
Foxes and other animals can carry diseases that could be passed onto your puppy, such as parvovirus or distemper.
Puppies are also more prone to parasites.
Puppies Can’t Regulate Their Body Temperature Yet
Puppies are much more susceptible to the heat and the cold than adult dogs, as they cannot yet regulate their body temperatures.
In addition, their immune system is still developing, so they can get sick more easily as they struggle to stay warm when it’s very cold.
Equally, puppies can really suffer in very hot weather. More dogs die from extreme heat than extreme cold (though both are dangerous!)
Depending on your climate or the season, you will have to allow your puppy to grow big enough to handle the outdoor weather.
This goes for hot and humid climates as well as cold and snowy areas.
Smaller dogs will get colder more easily, too, even as adults. This is because smaller dogs (including puppies) lose body heat faster than larger dogs.
Puppies Need Extra Comfort And Attention
When puppies are small, they need extra comfort and love because they will most likely be missing their mom and littermates.
They have been used to sleeping up against their siblings, keeping each other company as well as sharing body heat.
Puppies Need Socialization
Young puppies need socialization with people and other animals to help them develop confidence and good behavior.
In his first weeks with you, your puppy is bonding with you and learning that you are the leader of his ‘pack.’
A puppy who is isolated outside (or inside) for long periods will often develop behavioral problems such as stress, anxiety, or aggression.
Where Should My Puppy Sleep?
For the most part, your puppy should sleep indoors, in a designated spot. That being said, where that spot is in your house will depend on their age, confidence levels, and how long you have had them.
Whereabouts exactly and what is optimal for them?
Let’s delve into it!
Get A Puppy Crate
Puppies should sleep near your bed in a crate.
Dogs are social creatures, and your puppy will want to be near you, but he should still have a safe space where he can’t get into mischief while you’re asleep.
Crate training is essential for new puppies so that they get used to having their own space where they can rest (allowing you to rest, too!)
With the appropriate training, your puppy will see his crate as a place where he feels safe and warm.
You’ll want to build positive associations for him with his crate so that he enjoys using it.
The First Few Nights At Home
For the first few nights in his new home, your puppy should sleep in his crate but as close to you as possible.
He will be missing his mom and his siblings, so you can elevate the crate (using a chair or another piece of furniture).
By elevating the crate so that it’s level with your bed, your puppy will feel more secure because he’ll be able to see and smell you.
After a few nights, you can move the crate onto the floor next to your bed.
By this time your puppy should be used to sleeping in it and he’ll be able to hear and smell you, so he should still feel safe enough to not cry.
Expect some disturbances, however, as puppies can’t hold their bladders all night long.
Put a soft blanket and an article of clothing that has your smell in your puppy’s crate, along with a pee pad.
Your puppy may well wake you in the middle of the night for a toilet break, in which case do take him out to pee.
When you take him for a toilet break, don’t speak to him or do anything else that might get him excited and thinking that nighttime toilet breaks are for playtime!
Take him straight back to his crate afterward so that he (and you) can settle back down to sleep.
By training your puppy to sleep in his crate right from the beginning, you are helping him in his housetraining process.
Puppies don’t like to relieve themselves where they sleep, so your puppy will make an extra effort to pee on the mat rather than on his blanket.
Once Your Puppy Is Housetrained
Once your puppy is old enough to be housetrained (from 4 to 6 months to a year), he will likely still sleep in his crate.
He’ll see his crate as a bedroom as well as a place to escape noise.
You can decide on different sleeping arrangements once you know it’s safe to leave your dog free to roam the house without getting into trouble.
The age at which you can stop using the crate depends on your dog’s temperament, but for most dogs, they tend to be more settled at around 2 years of age.
When Puppies May Be Able To Sleep Outside
Puppies may be able to sleep outside when they are of sufficient age, the weather permits and there are no other potential hazards or dangers that could otherwise harm them.
If you have a puppy that will grow to be a working dog on your farm, for example, you may need your puppy to be able to sleep outside at some stage once he’s older.
However, you need to be aware of specific dog breeds that cannot sleep outside, no matter their age.
Those of note are:
- Yorkshire Terriers,
- Toy Poodles,
- Boston Terriers,
- Rat Terriers,
Essentially any dogs with particularly short coats.
Note: Sick dogs should never sleep outside.
Nevertheless, here are some conditions where puppies where you can start to consider allowing them to sleep outside.
When He’s Old Enough
Once your puppy is a year old, he’s usually old enough to be able to regulate his body temperature.
He will also be socialized and used to your routines in your home, so he’ll know what’s expected of him.
Having said that, there is no exact age at which all puppies can sleep outside.
Some breeds are not used to staying outside, and they may need lots of training to get used to it.
Other breeds are more instinctively drawn to spending a lot of time outside.
When Weather Permits
Your puppy may be able to sleep outside, during the day only, if the weather permits.
The best weather for year-old puppies to sleep outside is neither too hot nor too cold.
Dog breeds with thick, double-layered coats can withstand cold weather more easily than other dogs.
Examples of some such breeds are:
- Australian Shepherds
- Shetland Sheepdogs
- Great Pyrenees
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Siberian and Alaskan Huskies
If the weather is very warm, your puppy is better off sleeping inside where he can keep cool.
Some dog breeds do much better in hot weather due to their thin coats. Some examples are:
- Ibizan Hounds
- Cane Corsos
The average ideal temperatures for dogs to sleep outside are from 45 degrees F to 77 degrees F. However, there are additional elements to consider:
- The wind chill factor. A chilly wind can easily cut through a dog’s coat and make it more difficult for him to stay warm.
- Humidity. Whether it’s snow, fog, or rain, any extra humidity in the air will affect how your dog deals with the temperature. A dog with damp fur can quickly develop a chill, even in temperate weather.
- Activity levels. If your dog is active while outside, that will affect how he will react to the temperature. He may appear comfortable in cold weather while running around, but will he be warm enough when he’s asleep?
When You Are Around
You may consider letting your puppy sleep outside briefly and momentarily when you are around.
Perhaps you are outside with them or maybe you can see them out of the window.
Nevertheless, so long as you know where they are at all times and can respond should you need to, it may be okay.
The Yard Is Safe & Fenced Off
If you have taken sufficient measures to keep your puppy safe, such as installing fencing, closing off areas, or removing hazards, again it may be okay for your puppy to remain outside (and sleep there for a while) should they desire.
Ideal Outdoor Sleeping Arrangements For Puppies
If you do decide, or if the time comes when your puppy/older dog can sleep outside – then you are going to need to optimize the sleeping arrangements and conditions to keep them safe and warm.
Here’s what you will want to provide if your older puppy is going to sleep outside.
The Right Shelter
Your dog will need a dog shelter for sleeping that is slightly bigger than your dog when he’s curled up. Having a compact place for sleeping will help keep him warm.
The best dog shelters are heated, so if you’re in a cold climate, ensure you’re providing the correct temperature for your dog.
The shelter should be water and windproof. You want your dog to have warm, dry bedding at all times while being safe from draughts.
Some kennels feature plastic flaps that hang over the entrance for additional protection against cold air.
Ideally, you want the kennel to be raised off the ground to prevent your dog from feeling the cold earth.
Some kennels feature adjustable feet that raise the floor enough to provide natural insulation.
Remember to take into account how hot the kennel will get in warmer weather, too.
You may need to make adjustments to the bedding or remove the feet of the kennel to keep it cooler in summer.
A Comfortable Bed
You want your dog to be as comfortable as possible in his kennel.
Make sure the floor of the kennel is covered with a layer of warm, soft blankets or a cushion.
Some kennels have fleece beds with plush bolsters.
Be sure your dog has access to plenty of water all night long.
Put his water bowl near enough to his kennel so that he can get it without going too far.
How To Transition A Puppy To Sleeping Outside
There will be a time when you may be able to transition your puppy to sleeping outside. Just consider this should be a slow, gradual process. Not done abruptly and instead, built up over time.
Here are some ways you can transition your older puppy to sleeping outside.
Arm Yourself With Patience
There is no one best way to transition your puppy from sleeping inside to sleeping outside.
Every trainer will have a slightly different method, and what works with one dog may not work with yours.
Know that this process will take time, and be gentle with your dog as he adjusts.
He may find the change to sleeping outside a bit confusing, so take things at your dog’s pace.
On the bright side, younger dogs usually learn fairly quickly – you will probably find that the most difficult bit is not giving in when your puppy gives you a longing look that says, ‘take me inside!’
This training can take days or months depending on how clingy your puppy is as well as other aspects of his temperament.
Let Your Puppy Pick His Spot
See where your puppy likes to settle down to sleep in your yard: wherever that is, that’s where you’ll want to put the dog shelter.
Let your puppy sleep for a little while outside during the day (with your company) in his spot.
He may not go into the shelter right away: you are just getting him used to sleeping for a while outside.
Repeat these outside naps a few times during the week (e.g., once daily) in the daytime.
Create A Safe Space Inside The Shelter
If you’ve done crate training with your puppy when he was younger, you’ll know the importance of making his sleeping place feel safe.
Make sure you’ve put down comfortable blankets – preferably ones that smell like you – and some favorite toys.
Be sure the toys are appropriate for leaving with your dog while he’s outside without you.
Let your dog see what you’re doing so that he understands this is going to be his space. Bring his sleeping pillow, and have his water bowl nearby.
Build Positive Associations With The Shelter
Put some treats inside the shelter at bedtime so that your dog associates the shelter with something positive.
Let him eat the treats, but don’t make a fuss if he comes right out again.
Do this every day so that your dog understands that his shelter is where good things happen.
Have Your Dog Test Out His Shelter
Lead your dog to the shelter and coax him inside. Let him get comfortable.
Once he’s settled down, stay with him for a bit (perhaps bring a chair) and then go inside.
If your dog stays in his spot, that’s fine: if not, that’s OK too.
Either way, let your dog stay outside for a short while before bringing him inside to spend the rest of the night indoors as usual.
Repeat this process for at least one week or as long as it takes for your dog to feel confident.
For the most part, puppies should not be sleeping outside.
This is especially true if they are under 1 year old, yet to have their full course of vaccinations, or are a breed with a short coat.
That being said, there may be some circumstances where a puppy can begin to sleep outside.
It will require a slow and gradual transition, and you need to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.
Just consider that sleeping outside during the day is an entirely different concept from at night.
A dog sleeping outside at night requires considerable consideration and planning.
You need to be really sure they stay warm and are fully protected from the elements. Whatever they may be.
At What Age Can Puppies Sleep Outside?
It is generally recommended that a puppy does not sleep outside until they are at least a year old. This will ensure they can regulate their body temperature and their coat has had a chance to come in. However, you should look to start the transition to sleeping outside at around the 6-8 month mark. Note, that some breeds should never sleep outside.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.