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Crate Training Your Dog

Posted on 2nd Jul 2014 @ 1:41 PM



Written By Dianne Atkins (Head Instructor Dog Obedience - Hills Kennel & Training Club)

Housetraining is just like any other type of training. It is essential that you reward the correct behaviour – with praise, attention, treats, or games. Punishment – be it physical or verbal – is counterproductive and negative.

Crate training is a very effective way of housetraining. It keeps the puppy safe from chewing things like electrical cords and your new shoes when you cannot be around to supervise. It can be considered the same as a playpen for a baby and is a good management tool until the puppy or dog is trained. It can also be used as a travel kennel, and may satisfy your dog’s need for a den-like enclosure.

Crate training is a viable option for when you will only be leaving your dog for a short amount of time. Never crate your puppy for longer than two hours.

Why is Crate Training so Effective

  • ·       Animals avoid soiling in their sleeping area
  • ·         It reduces the chances that your pet will “toilet” before you have the   opportunity to take him outside.
  • ·         You will be outside with your pet as he “toilets” allowing you to reinforce this desired behaviour with praise.
  • ·         Crates are a safe way for dogs to travel in cars. It protects them from being hurt should you be involved in an accident, and it also protects the driver and passengers from the hazards presented by a loose dog in the car.
  • ·          Easier to control a puppy or dog when non-doggy friends come to visit.

Buying a Crate

The crate should be a size that allows the dog room to stand up, turn around and lie down on his side stretched out comfortably. Buy one that will be comfortable for your puppy when he is his adult size.

The wire crates are recommended for safety and airflow. Prices are approximately $100.00 for a medium sized wire crate. If you compare the cost of replacing a shredded couch or even carpet cleaning by a professional company they are reasonably priced.

Crate Training Step By Step

All crate training should be done positively with no negative associations. The crate is always a good place to go never use it as punishment.

Introduce your pup to the crate by leaving the door open and allow him the chance to explore. You can also start by feeding all meals in the crate. Another idea is to put some treats in the crate while the puppy isn’t looking so he can ‘discover’ them in there when he decides to investigate the crate. Praise your dog every time he enters the crate.

Once he is comfortable with it, then you can begin closing the door behind him. Place his toys in the back of the crate. Include soft bedding – a blanket or towel; but remove it if your pet chews on it, urinates on it, or seems to prefer sleeping on the floor of the crate. It is better to keep the crate in a central location in the home to help the dog feel more at ease with crating and from there he can see the family moving around and is not isolated.

Remember, when first introducing your pet to the crate do not try to push, pull or force the puppy into the crate. He will never feel safe and comfortable if he is forced inside the enclosure. You can leave the door open and praise your dog every time he enters the crate. Only put him in for very short periods to start. When he goes in the crate by himself put a cue on this “go to bed”.

The First Night At Home

If you brought your puppy home early in the day on the first day home, and if you had time to do the above steps, great! The puppy will already be familiar with going in the crate after a treat. If you have had less time, but you want your puppy to sleep in a crate here's what to do. Play with the puppy until he's tired, make sure he has toileted outside and place the crate in your bedroom as close to your bed as possible. For few nights if the puppy whines and will not settle for an extended time talk softly to him until he falls asleep. You can, if needed, place your fingers through the wire of the crate to calm him. You may lose a little sleep that night and possibly the next but try NOT to open the door for the puppy for at least four hours.

Do not get angry with the puppy or yell at him. If the crate is comfortable and warm, the lights are out, and you are right there to talk softly to him, he will fall asleep within an hour, less if he is tired. At eight weeks of age your puppy may not go more than four hours without toileting. So as soon as the puppy whines after waking up, be ready to take the puppy outside.

Crating When You Leave The House

At some point you have to go out somewhere and can't take the puppy. He's made it through his first day and night at his new home. He is familiar with his crate and it does not have any unpleasant associations linked to it. Make sure the pup has been exercised and has toileted. It is helpful if he has played a bit and is tired. Take off his collar and remove any unsafe toys that may be in the crate, put him in the crate gently with a treat. Close the door and leave the house without giving him a lot of attention. No talking to him etc. He may whine a little. Don't stay away too long. An hour or two maximum as a puppy cannot be expected to go longer than a few hours crated during day time.


A Place To Get Away From It All

After the puppy has grown a bit and is used to being put into his crate you will see something interesting happen. When the puppy is tired and wants some time alone, possibly away from the children (who should not be allowed access to the puppy’s crate for play purposes) he will go to his crate, curl up and go to sleep. Leave the doors of crates open and most puppies will go in to take a nap on their own.

When Not To Use A Crate

Do not crate your puppy or dog if:

  • ·          He has diarrhoea 
  • ·         He is vomiting. 

  • ·           He has not toileted shortly before being placed inside the crate.  
  • ·         The temperature is excessively high.
  • ·         The puppy or dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left alone 
  • ·         He has not had sufficient exercise
  • ·         The puppy or dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left alone 
  • ·          He has not had sufficient exercise
  • ·         And, you must not leave him crated for more than the Crating Duration Guidelines suggest. 

Crating Duration Guidelines


Approx. 30-60 minutes

  9-10 Weeks

Approx. 1-2 hours

11-15 Weeks

Approx. 2 hours

16 + Weeks

Approx. 3 hours


*NOTE: Except for overnight, neither puppies nor dogs should be crated for more than 4 hours at a time.

For your puppy or dog’s safety remove collars before leaving in a crate.