How to Crate Train a Puppy

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It's good for a puppy to feel relaxed while in a crate. Having them be at ease in a crate is useful when traveling or when you need to take them to the veterinarian. Spending time in a crate is also useful when teaching a young dog not to chew everything. Depending on your puppy's temperament and age, it may take a few days or several weeks for i5 to get used to being in a crate.

Only leave your dog in the crate alone after they used to being in there and seem to enjoy it.

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Create positive associations with the crate

You can create pleasant associations with being in the crate by using treats, praise and toys. Olivia Healy, CPDT-KA, FFCP says this can be accomplished by things like: feeding meals in the crate with the door open, giving the puppy access to the open crate during the day, randomly hiding treats in the crate for the puppy to find, playing fetch by tossing the toy into the crate and allowing the puppy to run out with it, etc.

Consider supplementing these positive associations with pheromone products like Adaptil, which can help with this as well. Products like this use "feel good" pheromones like the ones that a mother dog uses to communicate with her puppies through scent, to make them feel comforted and safe. Pheromone products are available in the form of collars, diffusers, and sprays. However you approach crate training, always break down crate training into small stages and go at a speed that's right for your puppy.

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Entering the crate

Don't keep the dog in a crate all by itself.

Put the crate in a frequently used room. Putting in a blanket can be both good and bad. While it can give a puppy something to chew on, a blanket in the crate can also give them a comfortable bed. Depending on the size of the crate and the size of the puppy, it could be ok to put in a blanket if the crate is large enough to for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down in, but not large enough to have a restroom in one corner and a bed in another.

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The puppy should not be soiling in the crate. For some puppies, having a cozy bed can make them more at ease. With the door secured open to prevent it from hitting your pup, drop some tasty treats just inside and around the crate. Call your puppy using a playful, excited voice.

Using treats with the crate

Trainer Olivia Healy, CPDT-KA, FFCP, recommends starting off by tossing a treat into the crate, saying "Yes!" or clicking a clicker when the puppy enters. Then tossing another treat outside of the crate. After a few repetitions, you can pretend to throw a treat into the crate, say "Yes" or click when the puppy enters, and then feed them a treat in the crate.The purpose of this is that the puppy doesn't need to see a treat in the crate before they first go in.

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You can encourage them to go into the crate by placing treats near the back. Olivia Healy recommends starting off by tossing a treat into the crate, saying "yes!" or clicking a clicker when the puppy enters, and tossing another treat outside of the crate. After a few repetitions, pretend to throw a treat into the crate, say "yes" or click when the puppy enters, and ​then​ feed them a treat in the crate. (This way we are not dependent on the puppy seeing a treat in the crate first.) The gesture of pretending to throw a treat can turn into a hand signal similar to pointing into the crate, and a verbal cue like "go to bed" can be added once the puppy is confidently running into the crate on their own.

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Increasing crate time

Slowly build up to leaving the door closed for longer periods of time.

Once your puppy is happy going into the crate, you can shut the door for a few seconds. Don't expect them to go in and stay in there for a long period of time at first. Slowly build up the amount of time your dog is in the closed crate while you're sitting next to it. Always give them a treat when they go in and use the cue, "Go to bed."

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Safe toys and chews in the crate will help to keep her amused. Trainers say that stuffable treat toys like Kongs are a great option for this because they get both the comfort of being able to chew and the distraction and satisfaction of food or a treat. If your puppy whines, wait till it is quiet for five seconds before opening the door. If it keeps whining, restart the training from the beginning.

When your pup is relaxed in the crate for 5 to 10 minutes, leave the room briefly. After a few minutes, open the door. Do this several times a day, gradually increasing the puppy's time in the crate as well as how long you are out of the room, until she's happy to be in the crate for 30 minutes.

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Leaving your dog home alone

Only leave your dog in the crate alone after they used to being in there and seem to enjoy it.

Your puppy can now be left in the crate for a short time while you leave the house. Invite her into the crate in the usual way, but only shortly before you leave. Go out quietly, and when you come home, let your puppy potty outside and calm down, before you make a fuss. The ASPCA recommends that a puppy shouldn't be in a crate longer than 30 to 60 minutes at 8 to 10 weeks, one to three hours at 11 to 14 weeks, three to four hours at 15 to 16 weeks old and four to six hours at 17 plus weeks.

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Avoid leaving a pup in a crate if she's being sick, has diarrhea or during uncomfortably hot weather. It's a good idea to use the crate for short periods when you're home or your pup may associate the crate with being left alone, leading them to feel depressed or anxious, says the Humane Society. Healy also recommends setting up a nanny cam or pet cam to observe your puppy's behavior in real time. If you are seeing signs of distress, it's time to head home and try a shorter departure next time.

Nighttime crate use

Teaching your puppy to sleep in the crate is good for stress-free nighttimes.

You also can use the crate at night. Place the crate it in your bedroom; you can move it elsewhere later. Get your puppy to enter the crate in the usual way. If your pup whines during the night, wait a few minutes. If they don't stop whining, then quietly and without playing take it for a potty break. Try to take your dog outside before it wakes you. If your puppy's night whining persists, start crate training over from scratch. And if you're seeing lots of signs of stress from your puppy, get in touch with a qualified trainer.

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Keeping your puppy crate happy

You can increase your puppy's satisfaction about being in the crate in a few ways. Try things like feeding meals in the crate with the door open and giving the puppy access to the open crate during the day. Randomly hiding treats in the crate for the puppy to find can be a fun way to keep them interacting with the crate. Stuff a stuffable toy like a Kong with yummy treats and then tie it to the inside of the open crate. Play fetch by tossing the toy into the crate and allow the puppy to run out with it.

Finally, not every dog loves being crated. If it's just not working or you're seeing unusual signs of stress, get in touch with a certified trainer. Separation anxiety can be a serious issue with a genetic component.

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