Guide to Crate Training

Crate training is a great way to keep your house and new puppy safe in it’s home. It is also an essential tool for house training and building up bladder control.

It takes puppies and dogs a little while to get used to crate training but using a boredom buster toys and treats help ease the process.

Introducing the Crate

Think of the crate as a studio apartment for your puppy. A studio apartment can be the worst place in the world if you have nothing to do in it. However, the same space filled with a flat screen tv, wifi, video games and pizza arriving every hour suddenly becomes the best place in the entire world! Now our job as “real estate” agents for crates is to make the space as appealing to our K9 clients as possible. We can use our dogs food, boredom buster toys and chew toys to make the crate a fun place to be.

Make the Crate a Palace

Start off by feeding your dog in the crate without locking the door. Start creating positive associations with the crate. If every meal and fun treat comes from inside the crate, Fido is going to start loving the idea of going in there. We love using food stuffed Kongs, bully sticks and flossies with our dogs undergoing crate training.

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Don’t Isolate your Dog

A lot of people will make the mistake of setting up a crate in the corner of a room or in a closed bedroom (away from the family)and be surprised when Fido fusses. Start off having the crate next to you while you are watching TV, at your desk and next to your bed. Once Fido loves the crate at that proximity, start building up more and more distance.


Build Up Muscle

Think of “crate training” as being similar to “weight training”. Just like you are not going to be able to lift a 100lb weight on your first attempt, your puppy will not be able to tolerate 5 hours in the crate first time. However if you practice often, slowly and within your dogs comfort zone you will make fast progress and your dog will start to love being in his crate.

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Ignore Barking

If your dog barks, whines or scratches to get out, you have to ignore it. If you pay attention to these behaviors and let your pup out all you are doing is teaching Fido that barking, whining and scratching gets him out of the crate! You need to reduce the amount of time spent in the crate next time and make a mental note to not push your pup for as long when practising.
Always make the crate a positive place and avoid using it for punishment. Keep your expectations realistic and reward your dog when they have done a good job.

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  1. Danielle Sullivan

    I crate trained my Lab puppy 6 years ago and I think it’s the most wonderful method. She never has an accident in the house since she was about 3-4 months old. Even during a fierce stomach virus last year, she would wake me up to put her out. It’s definitely intense for the owner the first few weeks, and you have to be watching and encouraging them all day, being very careful to only let them roam free in the house AFTER they have done their business (and then you still watch them), but the payoff is wonderful. And always, the second you let them out, put them straight in the yard! Then some (supervised) free roam indoors.

  2. The Daily Pip

    I don’t have much experience with crate training because we have always adopted older dogs and some were already crate trained. I like these tips and especially the metaphor of crate training like weight training!

  3. Ruth Epstein

    Ok this might sound crazy but till I got to the States I never knew what crate training was, as a kid growing up we never did and even now I know my family never has when rescuing dogs. I never did with Layla either, from day one I worked with her and she maybe had one or two accidents but she did them in the bathroom on the mat phew. In the 5 years that I have her I can count on one hand the accidents she has had, and I personally do not think I will ever do it. They are great tips but I personally do not believe in crates

  4. Hindy Pearson

    I’ve spoken to many people about crate training, but they see it as a prison. Don’t worry I set them straight, but it really is such a handy tool. We got a crate for our 4ish year old dog Jack who had spinal surgery in August. He needed to keep still, and I expected a battle, never believing he would spend a second in it. Now I can barely get him out! When he’s in the house he stays in his crate and loves it. I keep the door open during the day, but close it at night and he’s as happy as anything.

  5. Cathy Armato

    I’ve always crate trained my dogs & my foster dogs. These are great tips. The only thing I’ll say it that although you want to ignore your dog’s crying and barking, don’t let them cry or back all night long. Excessive crying or barking means the dog is in distress. We made that mistake early on with my Husky when we brought her home as a puppy and I’ve regretted it ever since. As you suggest, I also should have situated the crate closer to us at night, not down the hall.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • City Dog Expert

      The idea is that you should build your dog up to long periods of time, not just shove them in and hope the best (which so many people do).
      When you are building up crate tolerance, you want to build up gradually over a period of time and ignore the barking during that period.The ideal situation is that you do this nice and slowly with plenty of boredom buster toys and treats (and a tired puppy) so you don’t even have to deal with barking. If your dog starts barking or howling, you must ignore it but you also know you have pushed your dog too far and the time needs to be reduced next time.
      Hope that makes sense

  6. Dash Kitten

    I like the ‘ignore the barking’ tip it should be front and centre. You must NOT weaken or you make a rod for your own back, and your dog will never behave in a crate again!AAGGHH That would lead to all kinds of stress and upsets!

  7. Denise Gruzensky

    Great message and tips! I especially like how you likened the crate to a studio apartment and how to ensure the dog is entertained. I did not understand enough when I rescued Harley and failed miserably at crate training him. Wish I’d had your tips then!

  8. Malaika Fernandes

    Informative post, i hope pet parents in India to take to the concept of crate training. As a canine Behaviorist – Trainer i have counselled my clients about the pros of having your dog crate trained

  9. Sadie

    We crate trained Jack. We were told he his foster parents had been crate training him so we decided to continue. It is his ‘safe place.’ Henry and Reese are happier with full access to the house.

  10. FiveSibesMom Dorothy

    Great Tips! All five of our Huskies have been crate trained, and they loved it! They had their own bedroom with a/c and a fan! To this day, two still love to run inside and nest all on their own, while two prefer to roam free.

  11. Robin

    These are great ideas. I love the idea of keeping the crate somewhere where the dog can see their family. I can imagine it is difficult for a dog (a natural pack animal) to know that life is going on in the other room without him/her.

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