Guide to Crate Training a Puppy or Adult Dog

Crate training a puppy or adult dog is advantageous in many different ways, especially when the crate is introduced properly so the puppy or dog perceives it as a safe and comfortable place to call home.

Whether you are house training your puppy, looking for a place to keep your dog safe or planning to travel soon and bring your pampered pooch along, a crate may be the ultimate solution for many of your problems.

Best of all, crates are appreciated by most dogs because they have a hard-wired instinct to feel safe in a crate. Many will even seek shelter in it on their own!

When done correctly, crate training will create a much happier household for all family members.

Understanding Why Dogs Like Crates

There are still some misconceptions in regards to crate training a puppy.

Contrary to what some people believe, crates are a far cry from being cruel little prison cells that people use to lock up their dogs when they behave badly. In reality, most dogs see crates as a comfortable, snug place to relax and possibly doze off. The reason for this is that all dogs are den animals by nature.

In the wild, when a mother dog is about to whelp, she seeks a comfortable and safe place to give birth. An underground den often offers the optimal place for the successful upbringing of a litter of puppies. While mother dog cleans up her puppies during their first few weeks of life, as the puppies grow they will learn to soil outside of their den. It is a natural instinct, therefore, for puppies to not want to soil where they eat and sleep.

Because crates mimic dens, puppies often seek them for comfort and try to avoid soiling in them. This explains why crate training puppies to speed up potty training is such a popular potty training method.

Dog Play Pen

Benefits of Using Crates

Crates are quite versatile and offer many uses. For example, crate training dogs to fix behavior problems is an effective management option for owners of dogs exhibiting problem behaviors. Dogs prone to chewing inappropriate items, dogs that do not do too well around guests or dogs that tend to resource guard their food around other dogs in the household can be crated for safety purposes.

Some crates can also be used as effective dog carriers when dogs need to be taken along for car trips or on domestic or international flights. There are many different crates on the market for travelling purposes, ranging from soft-sided crates to the most durable aluminum crates.

Airlines have strict requirements when it comes to crates and each airline has its own guidelines, so good research must be done before purchasing a crate for a flight. While there are no laws that require you to crate your dog during car travel, it's good to remember that crates provide protection to dogs travelling in the car.

How to Choose the Right Crate

With a variety of crates on the market, choosing the perfect crate may feel overwhelming. But before you begin crate training your puppy, it is critical that you look for one of the right size.

In general, a crate used for the purpose of house training a puppy must be smaller in size than a crate used for other purposes. Crates used for crate training an older dog that is already house trained may be more spacious compared to the smaller crates used for crate training a puppy.

For smaller breeds, buying a crate is easy. The same one you buy for a puppy will still be good when he matures into an adult dog.

When you have a larger breed, get an adult-sized crate that comes with divider panels. At first, provide your puppy with the smallest area and remove panels as your puppy grows.

Use the following chart to help you choose the right dog crate for your puppy:

Adult Dog Weight
Depth of Crate
Up to 25 lbs
Up to 40 lbs
Up to 70 lbs
Up to 90 lbs
Up to 110 lbs
Above 110 lbs

Here are some additional tips to help you choose the right crate...

  1. Puppies that are very young and are incapable of holding their bowel and bladder movements may initially do better in a dog play pen.
  2. Dog owners looking for crates that help embellish their homes may find wood crates to have a certain appeal.
  3. Another consideration to keep in mind when crate training a puppy is that plastic crates are generally more difficult to clean compared to wire crates which often offer a slide-out plastic pan.
  4. Owners of escape artist dogs may find aluminum dog crates helpful in containing their Houdini dogs.

Visit puppy crates for additional information about different types of crates, along with pros and cons of each type.

Why Puppy Crate Training is Important

A dog that is crate trained is set up for success simply because a dog in a crate is prevented from getting into trouble. A dog that is crate trained is also easier to transport because it is already used to spending time in its crate.

Best of all, crate training makes house training puppies and adult dogs much easier based on the dog's innate predisposition for being a den animal that doesn't like to eliminate in close proximity to where it sleeps and eats.

Dogs like routines and structure as they thrive on consistency. And crates help provide a routine which helps dogs learn what to expect.

To properly ensure the puppy or dog enjoys the crate, it is critical to start dog crate training gradually. Some puppy crate training whining is normal and expected, especially the first days when the puppy misses its mother and litter mates the most.

To help your dog make positive associations with the crate, provide plenty of toys, treats, and a comfortable blanket. This will ensure the process of crate training a puppy is successful and less stressful.

Here is a brief video with additional tips on crate training a puppy...

Final Thoughts...

Wondering if crate training puppy is difficult? Crate training a puppy when it is young is much easier than crate training a dog that is older. Older dogs may require extra steps to successfully acclimatize to a crate, especially when the dog has never been exposed to a crate before.

But whether you are crate training a puppy or an adult dog, remember to never use the crate for punishment; crates used for crating a puppy or adult dog should always be viewed as a safe and happy place to be in.

Related Articles

You may also wish to explore the following articles:

Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

Another good source of information on crates and training is this puppy training guide. It not only shows how to crate train your puppy (or an adult dog), but it's also the most complete guide for behavior and obedience training you'll find anywhere. I've used it myself and ended up very impressed with the quality of the material.


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