Crate Training your Puppy or Dog
Tips, Techniques and Advice

As a new puppy owner, you may be interested in learning the many benefits of crate training your puppy. When introduced properly, the crate will likely become your puppy's favorite retreat for safety and comfort.

It's also a well known fact that no other type of training will eliminate as many unwelcome dog behaviors as puppy crate training.

However, it is important to understand that crates should not be used as storage units for extended periods of time.

To get the most out of crate training, you'll need to learn how to avoid costly mistakes and concentrate on crate training techniques that work.

While crates make great management tools and aids for house training, they are best if used as a short-term management tool so to avoid over-confinement.

Choosing and Preparing the Crate

The ideal crate for crate training your puppy should be the right size to allow your puppy to comfortably sit, stretch out and turn around, yet small enough to prevent your puppy from messing in one corner and sleeping comfortably in another.

After purchasing the right size crate, your next step would be to ensure it appeals to your puppy. A great way to accomplish this is by placing some safe chew toys and soft bedding for extra comfort. If you are planning to crate your puppy for more than a couple of hours, consider attaching a water dispenser filled up with fresh water to the crate.

Crate Training your Puppy

Choosing the Best Location for the Crate

For the first couple of nights, place the crate in your bedroom so you are within reach to reassure the puppy and take him out to potty as necessary.

During the day, the crate can be placed in a central area, such as your living room, hallway or kitchen, where you can keep an eye on your puppy. Just avoid placing it in direct sun and next to air vents.

How to Introduce Your Puppy to the Crate

Your goal for successfully crate training your puppy is to have him associate the crate with positive emotions such as comfort, security and enjoyment; therefore, the secret is to go slowly. Once you have made the crate appealing, follow the below step-by-step instructions for crate training your puppy:

  1. Keep the crate door wide open and place some edible treasures inside.
  2. Praise your puppy lavishly for entering the crate and investigating, while ignoring him when he comes out.
  3. Continue adding treats inside the crate throughout the day.
  4. Feed the puppy in the crate when mealtime comes. If your puppy is hesitant eating inside the crate, consider placing the food bowl nearby the crate's entrance.
  5. Finally, when bedtime comes, place the puppy in the crate and shut the door.

Dealing With Whining When Crate Training a Puppy

While some puppies fall asleep right away without much fuss, others may have a hard time falling asleep. And it's easy to understand why -- being in a new environment away from mother and litter mates may be quite a scary experience for new puppies.

It helps to reassure the puppy in a caring, yet matter-of-fact tone of voice. Petting, giving treats and making a big deal out of the puppy crate training whining in hopes of reassuring the puppy will only make matters worse. The good news is that most puppies will eventually fall asleep, finally allowing both of you some much deserved rest.

Crate Training Your Puppy After the Introductory Stage

After two or three nights, most puppies will get used to sleeping in the crate at night. However, crate training your puppy does not end here.

Depending on your puppy's age, you will have to take your puppy outdoors to potty several times a day and in the night. For instance, a puppy under 9 weeks of age may need to be taken out an average of 8 to 12 times daily, and at least 3 times a night.

Whining, sniffing and turning around are signs that crate training your puppy is working; indeed, the puppy is simply demonstrating its discomfort and unwillingness to soil where it sleeps, which is the primary objective of a crate. You must be very observant in recognizing these early signs before an "accident" occurs!

But your puppy's crate is not only a great house training tool but also a great management aid. It will turn helpful when you can't directly supervise your puppy. The crate will prevent your puppy from being destructive and getting into trouble. However, it is important to consider how much is too long to crate your puppy to avoid the issue of over-confinement which may ultimately affect your puppy's well being.

How Long Should You be Crating Your Puppy?

While puppies get better at holding their bladders and bowels at night, during the day, when the puppy's activities are at peak level, more frequent outdoor trips will be needed. Also, puppies need plenty of time spent outside the crate so they can meet their exercise and socialization needs.

The following is a guideline on how long a puppy should be crated during the day based on his age:

  8 to 10 week
no longer than 30 to 60 minutes
  11 to 14 week
no longer than 1 to 3 hours
  15 to 16 week
no longer than 3 to 4 hours
  17 weeks and up
no longer than 4 to 5 hours


Some experts, including the one in the crate training video at the bottom of the page, don't recommend crating 6 month and younger puppies for more than 3 hours.

The table that you see above is based on my experience with my own dogs, but it's always good to observe how your dog responds to extended periods of time in his crate and adjust accordingly.

Common Crate Training Mistakes

To help your puppy succeed, you must adhere to important guidelines. The following crate training guidelines and tips will help you avoid mistakes that may have a deleterious effect on your puppy's progress in crate training.

  1. Ensure your puppy always associates puppy crate training with positive feelings. Pushing your puppy inside the crate or using it for punishment may create a negative stigma in the puppy's mind that may difficult to remove.
  2. Keep your puppy in the crate as needed, but be careful not to exceed a time frame he is not yet ready for.
  3. Remember to always remove your puppy's collar before placing him inside the crate. Even when using a plain buckle collar there is risk for it to get dangerously hooked on the crate's wire.
  4. Avoid crate training your puppy in hot weather or areas where he can easily overheat. Also avoid placing the crate near cold drafts.
  5. If there was an "accident" but you didn't catch your puppy in the act of soiling his crate, it's too late for punishment. So, if you leave and find a mess in the crate upon your return, just clean up soiled areas in the crate with a good enzyme-based cleaner. And next time, take your puppy for a walk before placing him in his crate.
  6. Avoid opening the crate when your puppy is whining unless you are sure he has a need that requires to be dealt with.
  7. Don't crate your puppy only when you need to leave or he will associate the crate with social isolation. It is good practice to also crate him when you are around.

Here is a brief video that provides additional crate training tips...

Final Thoughts...

A crate is a great way to house train your puppy, keep him out of trouble and even transport him as needed. Crate training dogs may also help you keep your dog out of trouble and fix numerous behavior problems.

Make sure you don't crate your puppy or dog for longer than suggested. If you need to confine your puppy for an extended period of time, use a dog pen or place your puppy in a small to medium-sized room equipped with non-porous floor and place the crate (with the door left open) in one corner and some newspapers several feet away.

Always make sure your puppy associates the crate with pleasant things, and you may be soon on your way to crate training your puppy with success!

Related Articles

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you need more help with crate training your puppy, I highly recommend this Ultimate House Training Guide. It's the best housetraining product on the market and, in addition to crate training, it explains other housebreaking techniques.


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