Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted.

Can you advise me at what age it’s too late to crate train a puppy? We got ours at 11 wks and she’s now 14 wks. At first she was really good at night but now she constantly barks when we go to bed. We have an open plan house so it’s hard to dedicate a room to her. If we shut off the stairs with a gate, she goes mad. She treats the living room like a playground and toilet. In the end myself or my partner end up sleeping downstairs with her just so we can all get some sleep!

It’s never too late to crate train a dog. However, this is a process – just throwing a dog in the crate, shutting it and leaving is not the way to do it. There are lots of good articles on the Internet which can tell you how to go about it. Or, you can hire a trainer to help you, and get a lot of other important information on raising a puppy, during that session.

If you have an older dog that you’d like to crate train, the process is basically the same. Times might vary, because an older dog won’t need to go out as often as a puppy, but the principles are the same.

As to your puppy’s barking at night, she’s doing what works. She wants to be with you and she’s learned that if she kicks up enough of a fuss, she’ll get what she wants. You need to stick to your guns for a few nights and teach her that at night, she sleeps downstairs and you sleep upstairs.

She’s destructive in the house because she doesn’t know any different. She needs to be housetrained and chew trained. This is puppy-raising 101 – puppies need to be taught how to act in the house. If you have a toddler, you don’t let them have the run of the house (particularly if they’re not wearing a diaper!). They don’t yet know how to behave, and must be taught. It’s no different with puppies.

One session with a good trainer can get you on the right path with your puppy. You’ll get a ton of invaluable information, that will make your life easier for years to come.

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at Sue is also the owner of which provides professional education to animal trainers.