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I am an American-Irish solo world explorer who travels with her rescue pup. This is a place for dog & travel lovers to come together to share tips & more. We want to inspire you to go on adventures with your best (furry) friends!

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Teaching Your Puppy To Sleep in a Pop-Up Crate while Traveling

My puppy, Atlas, has no problem falling asleep at my feet or in my arms any hour of the day. While I would love to let him sleep next to me in the bed, as an adventure pup he has to learn how to sleep in his playpen. We don’t know where we will be staying every night so it’s an essential skill for him to have.

Pop-up Crate

I got him a pop-up canvas playpen that folds down. This was the best option for us because I needed something that would fit in my backpack. I definitely see how a traditional metal crate could be better, but it wasn’t a feasible option for us. The main negative I see about the pop-up crate is that it is not very sturdy. I don’t feel comfortable leaving him alone in the house in it. He could easily jump and push it over, maybe even closing it on himself.

Atlas being a good boy sleeping is his playpen!

First Night

The first night with him, I put him in there and left him in the living room while I went into the bedroom. I quickly realized unless I was going to wait him out, I needed a new plan. (I’m a softy so waiting that out on the first night wasn’t a good idea for me!)

After researching what other people recommend, I moved the crate into my bedroom. I positioned to playpen right at the bottom corner of the bed. I moved my pillow down to the other end so I could reach my arm in. When Atlas was in the playpen, I turned off all the lights and laid down with my arm reaching down to him. I kept petting him until he calmed down and fell asleep. Very slowly, after I guessed he was asleep, I pulled my arm back out and went to sleep myself.

Every time he woke up again during the night, which was about every two hours the first night, I would put my arm back in and pet him back to sleep. It worked well as we made it from about 11:30 pm to 9 am! In hindsight, I could have gotten up a few of those times to see if he had to go potty.

Our current setup with the playpen next to my bed

Playpen Routine

Now every night we do the same routine. Sometimes he takes a little bit to settle down but more recently he has been going to sleep right away. Last night he only woke up once at 5am, but we had an earlier wake up call at 7:30. If our routine ends up being bedtime at 11pm and wake up at 7:30am that’s not too bad! Of course he sleeps a ton during the day so he gets more sleep than I do.

During the day, I bring the playpen next to me. I feed him in there and often put his toys in there. Sometimes he will sleep during the day in there on his own. He prefers to sleep at my feet or on my lap though.

I have started having him take his naps in there as well. When I know he is tired and he isn’t settling down, I’ll put him in and close the door. He might throw a fit for a little bit but then he’ll fall right asleep!

Atlas’s preferred sleeping place, on my lap!

I’m hoping he gets more used to sleeping in the crate. Then I don’t have to be hanging off the bed every night petting him to sleep! This will be a useful skill for him to know though as we travel around. We don’t know where we will be and having a familiar sleeping arrangement will make that easier on him.

Let me know in the comments what you think about my sleeping set up! I am by no means a puppy training expert and there may be much better ways to do this, but this is what works for us.

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