Dog Crate Training: How to Crate Train a Puppy 101?

Last Updated on November, 2021

There’s no place like home. Well, that’s how we humans feel, but it can be a bit hard to teach the same thing to your puppy when it comes to crate training. So we’ve scoured the internet to develop the best possible solutions on how to crate train a dog.

Your dog should find the crate as their happy place, and we’ve made sure they do that through this guide.

Crate training requires time and patience from the owners’ side. People tend to forget that every dog has a different level of understanding. They also need time to adapt to a new environment. 

Not to worry, though, because even if your dog has zero sense about crate training, this guide will help you.

In this article, we’ve explained everything that you’ll need to do to make your dog feel comfortable around their crate. So, if you’re on the lookout for an easy crate training process, you’ve come to the right place.

Key Factors You’ll Need to Keep in Mind Before Starting Crate Training

Dog in a crate
A Puppy Inside the Dog Crate

Human Misconception About Crates

Most owners think that training a dog to stay calm in their crate is for the owners’ comfort. This is a huge misconception among dog owners. Crate training is an excellent way of letting your dog feel safe in THEIR den. Humans do view crates as a cage, but that’s not how dogs think or should feel.

Owners need to understand that dogs are den animals. If trained right, crates would start giving dogs a sense of security as it’ll be their personal space.

Using Crates as a Punishment

Most dog owners make the same common mistake during crate training. They use the crate as a punishment tool for the puppy. If you’re doing the same, DON’T DO THIS. If you’re going to cage them up over a minor mishap, they will start viewing the crate as an insecure place. (1)

Make them Choose to be in the Crate

Dog owners often underestimate the importance of building a crate’s value around a dog. However, this is one of the most important things you’ll need to keep in mind as you crate train your dog. 

We’ll discuss the specifics later in the article on HOW you can build the crate’s value. However, you should know it plays a major role during the process.

Communicate and Praise the Dog While they’re in the Crate

Communication is one of the most important things when it comes to dog training. While your dog is in the crate, you need to praise them for being in there.

Dog’s love being praised from time to time. They respond to it well as it gives them a sense of accomplishment. 

You need to show them affection so that they know they’re doing something good by being patient in the crate. These small things go a long way and can shape up your dog’s behavior.

Read our Comprehensive guide on how to properly train a puppy.

Choosing A Dog’s Crate

Dog Crate

We all want the comfiest furniture to sit on while watching TV, and we also look for the coziest of beds to sleep on, right? Similarly, dogs want their happy place to be a comfortable spot. From plastic and metal to fabric and wooden, there’s a vast array of dog crates in pet supply stores.

Now, the questions that pop up in your head are: how exactly are you to choose the best possible crate? What things do you need to keep in mind? 

Not to worry, folks. After thorough research, we were able to determine which crates are the best for your dog. So, if you’re on the hunt for one, we’ll help you pick one.

Size of the Crate

Crate training for a puppy should start after they’re eight weeks old. At that age, puppies are pretty small in size. Unfortunately, owners often make the mistake of buying a crate that’s small in size. 

They fail to take into account that puppies grow up fast. So, the best thing to do is buy a crate that’s not too big for a small pup and not too small for a 5-6-month-old puppy.

It should only be big enough for them to turn around and stand up. If you’re wondering how to reduce the size of the crate for a small puppy, you can use dividers in the initial stages. 

As they grow up, you can adjust the divider panel. That way, there’s enough space inside so, always take the dog’s age and size into account before buying the crate.

If you haven’t already bought a crate and are looking for one, you should check out Midwest Homes Dog Crate. This ‘All-Inclusive Dog Crate’ comes in numerous different sizes, so you’ll be able to select one easily depending on your dogs’ age and size. 

In addition, it comes with multitudes of other valuable features. It includes two doors for easy access both of which have a heavy-duty slide bolt latch that firmly locks the door to ensure your puppy stays safe inside. 

There’s a divider panel that can help you adjust the size of the crate depending on your needs. It also contains a durable dog tray at the bottom alongside a pan-stop that keeps the leak-proof tray in place. 

Alongside all this, this particular crate is easy to assemble, which means you won’t require any tools. It can also be folded flat, which makes storage and traveling quite convenient, so whether you’re off to a short road trip or need to carry the crate on a flight, storage will be the least of your concerns.

This isn’t all; the crate comes with a one-year-long warranty as well, so in case you have any issues, you can get the crate repaired or replaced quickly. Considering how much this crate has to offer, it’s sure to meet all your needs at an affordable price, so we recommend getting this one.

Avoiding Accidents Inside the Crate

It’s also important to understand that dogs can often injure themselves while they’re in the crate. To avoid that, you’ll need to make sure there isn’t enough space inside for them to run.

It’s important to acknowledge that they’re supposed to rest in the crate, not run inside it. So, only provide puppies enough space for standing comfortably, sleeping comfortably, and turning around easily.

Dog Inside the Crate

Quality of the Crate to Ensure Dog’s Comfort

The majority of dogs prefer plastic crates, also known as flight kennels. It’s a bit cozier than a wire crate and, as the name suggests, they’re easy to carry during flights as well.

A plastic crate also comes with other advantages. It’s covered from all sides. Second, they’re soft-sided crates, easier to pick and place for the owner during car travels.

Wire crates are much more effective during crate training. As mentioned, the size of wire crates is adjustable through divider panels. 

They come with removable puppy pads at the bottom. These pads are cleanable in case your dog pees inside. 

They’re far more secure than the plastic ones, so, all in all, we recommend getting wire crates. You can also find them easily at most pet supply stores.

Crate Training Process: Step by Step

Dog Sadly in a Crate

Importance of Crate Training

It’s safe to say that we all know what crate training is, don’t we? It’s house training for the dog. But, before we begin crate training a new puppy, do we know the importance of teaching it to our dog?

Well, at its core, crate training is an excellent way of letting the new dog know that they have their own safe space. It also helps as you potty train your dog, and it can help you carry your dog during travels.

Now, once you’ve selected a crate, It’s time for you to start the process. To help you with the exercise, we’ve come up with a step-by-step crate-training process. It’s not only practical but easy to follow for both puppies and adult dogs. (2)

Help the Puppy get Familiar with the Crate

Introduce your dog to the crate by putting it in a place where the family spends most of its time. By putting it in the same room as everyone, they start noticing the presence of the crate.

It’s also essential to make sure that the door of the crate always remains open when it’s in the family room. So, whether your dog’s going inside or not, it’s best not to close the door of the crate.

Play Around the Crate with your Dog

Girl Playing With The dog

Dogs’ have so much energy, especially puppies. Most dogs can play for as long as you’d want them to, and this is a great thing that you can use for crate training. 

Once they’ve become familiar with the crate, you start playing crate games with the puppy near an open crate. For example, you pick a toy, toss it around the room, and while doing so, you can throw it in the crate a few times.

If you spend time around the crate, they’ll develop a habit of knowing that the crate is a safe place to be inside. Once you’re done with that part, you put a cozy sheet or a blanket inside the dog’s crate. Once they’re tired, you can help them lie down in the crate.

Giving them Treats for Stepping In the Crate

There’s no better way of developing good dog behavior than rewarding a dog with small food treats. You start giving your puppy a treat when they step into the crate. Then, you continue tossing treats inside to encourage them.

This way, they’ll realize they’re doing something good that’s making the owner happy. They’ll also recognize that stepping inside is helping them lure a free treat. This way, you’re making them even more comfortable around the crate.

You start the process with open doors. To make the practice even more effective, you can start closing the door and opening it. Closing and opening the door will let them know they can step inside and outside anytime.

Dogs always respond to cues for every action. This habit develops over time by practicing voice cues. 

While crate training, it’s pivotal that you point towards the crate and create a voice cue of some sort. It’s best to do so with a treat in your hand.

Start Feeding them their Meals In the Crate

Feeding a Crated Dog

Now that your puppy finds the crate as a safe place to be inside, you’ll need to step the game up. Begin feeding them regular meals in the crate. 

Dog’s have regard for the place where they eat. Therefore, feeding their regular meals in the crate is a great way of building an association with the crate.

If they’re a bit hesitant about eating it inside, it’s best to keep the food dish at the edge of the crate. Once dogs get comfortable eating inside, start placing the food dish a little further.

Now, sit quietly near the crate. It’s also essential to keep the crate door closed while they enjoy their meal. To make puppies happy, you should open the crate door after they’ve finished the food.

Consistency and Time

Dog training procedures always need consistency, especially with older dogs. Whether you’re doing it twice a day or more often, it’s important to know that you need to maintain consistency.

In terms of time spent inside the crate, it’s best to start the process with a few minutes. Puppies under the age of six months should never be left in the crate for more extended periods. 

It isn’t much of a problem with older dogs, but you need to be careful with puppies. So, after feeding the pup, you should close the door for about eight to ten minutes. Then, before the dog whines, open the door and let them out.

As the puppy starts getting comfy inside the dog crate, you increase the time from a few minutes to about half an hour. You’ll need to do this 3-4 times a day with your puppy inside the crate. 

Do it for a few minutes to help them learn that the crate is THEIR place to chill. Although you don’t want them making a mess inside the dog crate, so it’s best to take them out during their potty break.

  • 8–10 weeks: 30–60 minutes
  • 11–14 weeks: 1–3 hours
  • 15–16 weeks: 3–4 hours
  • 17+ weeks: 4–5 hours

Related: Puppy Training Schedule

Practice with Longer Crating Periods

Chihuahua Dog Inside The Crate

Now that you see your dog sitting comfortably in the crate without any fear or anxiety, you’ll need to go a step further. You’ll close the door of the crate and sit quietly next to your dog for a few minutes.

As time passes, you should leave the room for just a few seconds. Then, see how your dog reacts to being alone in the crate with the door closed.

To check their behavior, come back inside the room after a bit. If they’re calm, you should start increasing the time. Remember to always reward them with a treat after coming back.

Once they’re comfortable in the crate for more than 30 minutes in your absence, you can start leaving for short periods. Make sure to leave yummy treats and some toys in the crate before leaving.

One thing that you’ll need to keep in mind while leaving the dog in the crate for more extended periods is his/her potty breaks. No matter how calm you find your dog in the crate, it would be best if you always let them outside for their potty breaks. Potty training itself is a massive task, so you wouldn’t want to affect that during crate training.

By the way, if you want to read a full guide on how to potty train a pitbull puppy, click here.

Don’t Crate Train Dogs who have Separation Anxiety

We, humans, make the mistake of treating a dog’s separation anxiety using crate training. You should NEVER leave a dog in the crate. Dog trainers say that dogs with separation anxiety problems should never be crate trained.

Crate confinement does not only harm their behavior. It can also cause them to injure themselves as they’d want to escape the crate.

Never Encourage a Puppy’s Excitement when you Open the Crate

Opening a Dog From His Crate

It’s pretty standard for dogs to come bursting out of the crate when you open the door. This usually happens when you encourage the excited behavior of a dog briefly. If you want to make this habit go away, you’ll need to make sure you NEVER encourage their exciting behavior.

It does not only improve their manners, but it can also help you avoid minor accidents. To practice this exercise, you’ll need to build some house rules for your furry friend.

Walk calmly around the crate before letting your dog out. This way, their excitement levels would cool down a little. After this, you should open the door a little bit but, with yummy treats in your hand.

As you open the door, you place the treat at the back of the crate. This helps you build the value of the crate. The dog does already value the outside. By rewarding him for being in the crate, you create value on the inside as well.

Conclusion

Crate training comes with tons of dos and don’ts that we have to keep in mind. The most important part of the training, of course, is time and patience. Young puppies aren’t fast learners, and they’ll need time to learn. During that time, you should stay patient because only then can you achieve your goal.

This training procedure is a complete guide on successful crate training. If you want to develop a lovely bond with your furry friend, we recommend giving this guide a try.

It’s your choice whether you’d like to try this or not. Either way, we hope this article was helpful to you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Long Does It Take to Crate Train A Dog?

Crate training depends on your dog’s age, intelligence, and temperament. It could take weeks, but it’s also crucial for the owner to stay patient and consistent. However, your puppy will learn crate training within 2-4 weeks with well-planned strategic training. 

Should I Put My Dog In A Crate At Night?

It’s essential to establish a bedtime routine for your dog. Sleeping inside the crate at night also teaches your puppy to control their bladder. That way, you’ll be able to potty train them as well.

What To Do If A Dog Cries In Crate At Night?

The best solution for this problem is to put the crate next to your bed inside your room. That way, your dog wouldn’t feel lonely.

Should I Ignore My Dog’s Whines In The Crate At Night?

Dogs always whine inside the crate in the start. It would help if you ignored their whining. If he’s whining just to check you, he’ll stop soon. Yelling at the dog or pounding at the crate is never a good thing to do.

Should I Cover My Dogs’ Crate?

You should never completely cover the crate as it can block airflow. Instead, cover only three sides of the crate. 

What To Do If The Dog Is Stubborn?

There aren’t any hacks for crate training stubborn dogs. The philosophy remains the same as you’ll need to stay patient and consistent.

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/LifeProTips/comments/3jfdtu/lpt_dont_use_your_dogs_kennel_as_a_punishment/
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-crate-training-is-great-for-your-dog/
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