Crate training your dog may take up a little time and little effort, but it’s well worth it in the long run when you got to nip out to work or travel across the country to do whatever it may be.
It’s a great way of transporting your dog and plays a big helping hand in house training your pup n the future too.
Whether you have recently bought a puppy or have an adult puppy that you would like to crate train, continue reading this guide to find out how you can crate train your dog in 5 simple steps. To help understand the why? behind crate training, in the next part, I’ll explain what it is and who it can benefit.
- 1 What is crate training?
- 2 Why would you need to crate train a puppy?
- 3 A few benefits to crate training
- 4 When you would not need to crate train a puppy
- 5 How to choose the best crate for your dog
- 6 How to prepare the crate
- 7 How to crate train a puppy or adult dog
- 8 Conclusion
What is crate training?
You may have heard the term ‘denning’ before when it comes to puppies sleeping. All that means is that your dogs tend to find a place that’s enclosed and feels safe to hitch up for a while.
It’s the same reason that you’ll find both puppies and adult dogs tend to sleep under beds and in closets or behind the couch, the list goes on. And before we get started I’d just like to say that crate training your dog s not a bad thing, at all!
I’ve met a few parents that don’t seem to like it and think of it as a cage, well I can certainly tell you that’s not the right way to go about it. And if you believe that, then you’ll most definitely end up treating it like that…
Dogs are genuinely denning animals and whether you crate train them or not, you’ll still find that in most cases they’ll be denning up in one way or another.
Which means its probably better than you have things ordered in the right way so that your dog knows where to hitch up and how to do it in a way that doesn’t cause any disruption to your home.
Why would you need to crate train a puppy?
The main reason you would need to crate train a dog is to ensure that your dog can remain alone over a short period of time without needing supervision form you. This doesn’t mean that you should leave them over long periods of time though as you’ll notice the words ‘short term’ was specifically used.
The idea is that if you can crate train your dog in the right way, then he or she will make positive connections with the place you choose. This means it will be a place of safety, to sleep and much more, it’s super important that you follow the steps in this guide to help you do this in the best way possible.
Should you even crate train your puppy?
Let’s run through a few good reasons why you would even consider crate training your dog in the first place. To make things easier I thought Id list everything out in bullets to give you a quick idea as to whether it’s for you. Heres a few reasons to why you would need to crate train your dog:
- Helps with avoiding your dog damaging your home whilst you’re out or asleep
- Great for house training a new puppy or adopted an adult dog
- Will help in managing behavioral problems by enforcing regiment in your home
- You regularly travel and need your dog to get used to confined spaces
Even for most dogs that don’t fall directly into the list of needing crate training. It’s still a good idea to train them up in a crate too, as you’ll find that at some point throughout their lives they’ll probably need to get into a crate.
It’s better that you get past the hard part now than instead waiting until your stuck in a situation later on down the track.
A few benefits to crate training
Now you know what carte training is, its also god to know a few of the real benefits to crate training too. That way you can be completely comfortable and certain that you’re making the right decision to embark upon this new journey for you and your dog.
A few main benefits to crate training your dog would include:
- Speeding up the time of house training
- Ensuring that your pup is safe when your not able to supervise
- Providing a nice safe and comfortable place for your dog to reside
- It gives you a quick and easy tool to manage your dog’s behavior
- Helps with transporting your dog and traveling around with them in a crate
- It will also help with preparing your dog for the vets, surgery or kennels later down the road
Either way, no matter how you look at it there are plenty more pros than cons, to crate training a puppy. All you got to do is make sure that you’re training your dog in the right way, which you should have no problem in doing if you follow the steps in this guide.
Whilst that’s all the good stuff, its equally as important to look at the downsides or the reasons why you would not need to crate train your puppy too.
When you would not need to crate train a puppy
For a dog that suffers from panic attacks or has separation anxiety, then crate training would not be a great option. This is not to say that you still ant crate train down the road, but to start out it’s not the best recommend practice until your dog has recovered from the trauma previously.
To make this a little easier to identify, I’ve listed out a few bullets in some signs to look out for in order to see whether your dog is suffering from any of the above. You should NOT crate train your dog is you see that you spot:
- Excessive urinating or pooping inside the crate
- Damage to the inside of the crate caused by your dog
- the crate has moved a substantial amount with your dog inside
- Any sign that your dog has tried to escape abruptly
The difficult part of this is to know when your dog is scared or anxious or just misbehaving, as I’m sure you’ll understand that almost every dog you place into a crate for the first time is going to attempt to escape.
What the important part is though, is that you can make the call on whether to continue the training or stop and attempt to do things another way.
You should never leave your dog in the crate when…
Whilst separation anxiety is a clear cut reason to take your dog out of the crate and change things up. There are also other times when you may need to remove your dog from the crate too. A few those include:
- Not leaving your dog for longer than they can hold their bladder
- No longer than 5 hours at any given time
- In extreme hot weather
- Whilst your dog is sick or has diarrhea
- When a vet has instructed you not to do so
- If you have not provided your dog with regular exercise
From reading the above you can see that all the points are almost obvious of why you wouldn’t leave your dog in the carte. But as with all things you can easily overlook something that can cause more problems than good.
Now being armed with the knowledge needed, its for you to get into the practical steps of how to crate train your dog.
How to choose the best crate for your dog
The first thing you’re going to need in order to crate train your dog is a crate (go figure). So it’s important that you get something that will do a good job and last throughout the time that you need it.
Whilst there are many crates on the market, there’s only a few that I actually recommend that you can take a look at below. You’ll find there are a few different types of crates you can buy such as wired, wooden or fabric.
And just like any other product, you’ll find that some are better quality than others too. But you’ll probably want to start off with a wire crate at home and then move onto a wooden or fabric for traveling if need be later on in time.
TIP: Always go for a crate that you know is going to be around 3x bigger than your dog. It’s better to get it too big than too small and if you find that you need to make things cozier, then you can always add some additional padding inside.
If you’re one of the smart ones and already have a crate or just bought a crate from the list above then its time to get into preparing the crate in the right way.
How to prepare the crate
Once you’ve got hold of a good crate its time to start getting it ready for your dog. That means getting hold of a few things to make it comfy for your dog to spend time in. A few accessories I recommend you get started with include:
And that’s it! Whilst you don’t need all 3 of these items, its good to place a few things that your dog is familiar with already inside so that they can make a positive connection with the crate.
And if you have a wire crate and live in a cold state then you could get hold of a crate cover to make sure your dog stays warm at night too. Just make sure to get the right size as you’ll need to measure your crate to ensure that it fits snug.
Preparing your home
After you have everything you need its time to start preparing your home for the crate and your dog’s new location where they’ll spend the majority of their time. Here you’ll find a few things that you may need to consider first before dumping the crate in just about anywhere.
In order for your dog to have a nice experience in their crate, you’ll want to make sure the crate is :
- Placed away from any windows but near enough light
- Nice and comfy with bedding inside
- In a place where you spend lots of time so your dog doesn’t feel isolated
- Layered with a cover blanket or old towel to make it nice and cozy
Following those steps, you should have no problem in finding a good location to place your dog’s crate and get started with training.
TIP: Make sure to remove any leash and collars from your dog before you place them into the crate as this may prove to be a danger if you haven’t.
How to crate train a puppy or adult dog
When it comes to training your dog in the crate you can make things as easy or as difficult as possible. In most cases, if you’re like me then you’ll prefer the easy route so you can focus on those more important tasks throughout the day.
Whilst this is a great approach to getting things done in an efficient way, I would still like to stress the importance of not rushing this process too. As the first few steps can be a gamechanger in wether your dog loves the crate or absolutely hates it in the future.
The general approach that you’ll want to take is to make sure that you have achieved a new milestone successfully before moving onto the next step.
To give you a realistic expectation as to how long this can take, well you can expect to be training your dog to use the crate anywhere between form a few days to around 3 months.
I’m sure you can understand that every dog is different and every parent teaches things in a different way, so you’ll need to just do your best and adjust when needed. That’s why its a great idea to get started with this as soon as possible as it will ensure that your dog gets used to the crate fast!
This step involves trying to get your dog as familiar as possible with the crate so that they can make a good connection with the environment and objects in and around the crate.
The first thing you can do is pace toys inside of the crate for your dog to play with. Ideally, you’ll want to use toys that their already familiar with but new toys can wok just fine too.
- Make sure the crate door is tied open
- Place some toys or stuffed animals into the crate
- Bring your dog into the room and lead them to the crate
Hopefully, they should be inside now, if not then just keep going through the first few steps until they are. Maybe try swapping out some of the toys with other items your dog loves to help with getting them into the crate.
Don’t try to force your dog into the crate in any way, instead, you should simply act as if your getting on with your day and allow them to investigate the ara and make a positive connection with it.
If you cant get your dog to enter the crate then it may be worth placing a few things just outside of it to get them used to that area of your home first.
TIP: If your dog doesn’t take to using toys after a few days, then you can move onto placing food inside the crate and repeat the same steps listed above. Keep repeating the steps for about 10 times each time, and then have a small break before trying again.
You can also use associated words or commands to vocalize what you would like your dog to do. That means saying something like “crate time” could help your dog to understand that its time to get into the crate (or at least that you want them to).
If your dog managed to get straight into the crate by following the steps above then hurray! Give yourself a pat on the back for the great work so far. But it doesn’t end there…
Next, you’ll want to give your dog a reward or treat for following the steps so that they know each time they go into the crate its a good thing. My advice is to have a few treats on standby so you can share them out when they finally make it into the crate.
Make sure not to get them too excited though as you’ll end u dealing with a case of your dog wanting to come back out and play.
This step involves teaching your dog to sit or lay down inside of the crate.
If you have a dog that is happy with just lying down and is making no real effort of getting out, then that’s great you can move into the next step. However, if you’re still having trouble with keeping them inside, then here are a few tips to follow.
- Grab a few treats and ask your dog to sit inside of the crate (if they do then give them a treat)
- Ask your dog to lay down inside of the crate and maybe assist with helping them to relax by stroking their back whilst they do.
- Finally, instruct your dog to come out of the crate after around 2 minutes by speaking and waving them out before repeating the exercise another 10 times or so.
The idea here is to keep practicing until your dog gets used to the new process you are trying to instill. Make sure to have 10-minute breaks every so often to recoup some lost energy and allow your dog to re-attempt.
Let’s move onto the next step!
Next, its time to practice closing the door so your pup knows that this is a place where they might be for a while. If you followed the previous steps correctly then your dog should be inside of the crate which you mean you can next attempt to close the door slowly.
- Aid your dog into the crate and then help them to lie down and reward them with a treat.
- Close the door slowly and calmy with no sudden movements but do not lock it when its shut.
- Reward your dog by giving a few more treats through the door and then repeat for about 5 times over
- Aid your dog to leave the carte and then repeat the process 10 times over
You may find that your dog tries to escape when you close the door and if that’s the case then you’ll need to just calm them down through speaking and stroking. Keep repeating this process until you can safely leave your dog for around 2 minutes without them trying to escape from the crate.
Let’s get stuck into step number 4
This step involves moving away from the crate once your dog is inside and laying down. It’s probably the most difficult step to follow as you’ll find you develop a much-needed urge to just let them out.
Anyway here’s what you’ll need to do
- Aid your dog into the crate and help them to lay down (reward with a treat).
- Close the door and latch it whilst making sure they remain calm
- Step away from the crate but remain facing it (stay there for a few minutes)
- Return to the cage and open it for your dog, then reward them for being a great participant
- Repeat the steps until your dog remains calm whilst you walk away
You can even try to mix things up here, such as walking around the room or just to the door of the room, and even tidying or something. The idea is that you want your dog to get used to you doing this so that they remain calm and relaxed whilst you continue on with regular tasks.
Last but not least is step number 5.
Before starting this step youll want to make sure that your dog is well-fed and well-exercised as you’ll be leaving in the crate for an extended amount of time now.
Why is this done?
Because when your dog has been well exercised and fed they are more likely to relax and want to chill out in the crate. Its the same case for dogs and humans but there’s a fine line of over-stimulation and relaxation. So you’ll need to make sure you don’t overdo it before bringing them into the crate.
This step is quite simple as all you’ll need to do is:
- Place a filled kong toy into your dog’s crate and then aid them into the crate to relax and enjoy the treat
- Help them to lay down and then close the door and latch it
- Step away slowly and then leave the room for 5 to 10 minutes
- Note down your dog’s reaction by listening for sounds and repeat the process
If you hear that your dog starts to whimper that’s perfectly normal, but if the crying becomes excessive then you may want to show up but not open the cage. Keep repeating this process until your dog is able to remain in the cage for 10 minutes or more at any given time.
HOORAY!!! you’re all done and you can now leave your dog for at least 10 minutes without a problem. Keep doing this exercise and increase the time by 10 minutes each time until you get up to an hour or so.
Lastly, we’ll go through a few things you need to know when crate training
- Never leave your dog for more than 5 hours
- Always exercise your dog before leaving them in the crate for long periods of time
- The crate must have enough room for your dog to stretch their legs, sit and stand.
If you have a puppy youl need to take a slightly different approach which means stil following the steps above. But you’ll need to adjust the amount of time you leave them for until they get older.
Heres a quick guide to follow:
- 30-60 minutes at 9-10 Weeks old
- 1-3 hours at 11-14 weeks old
- 3-4 hours at 15-16 weeks old
- 4 hours+ at 17 Weeks old and older
Don’t you like reading? No problem as I’ve included a video that will explain everything below!
There’s no doubt that crate training is a great way to help your dog prepare the world ahead. Whether you have a puppy or a fully grown adult dog, its still just as important to make sure that they can be left alone without the need of supervision for a few hours or so.
My guide on how to crate train a golden retriever should provide you with everything you need to know and then some! So make sure you read it thoroughly and follow the steps accordingly to get the best results. Make sure to leave a comment if you have any questions too!
Sean is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about Golden Retrievers, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia.