Crate training your puppy offers owners many different benefits. However, training needs to be completed correctly for the best results. At first glance, a puppy crate may seem like a bad thing, but this is usually because of our human association with cages. The reality is that dogs and puppies enjoy having a place to get away from the family when they need some alone time, and a place that they feel secure is always best. Dogs prefer to sleep and relax in areas that may seem relatively confined. When a dog is in a small space, there is less to worry about as they do not need to be alert for any potential harm. Although obviously, there is little for them to fear in most homes, this is simply instinctual from when dogs were primarily wild.

This article will cover the basics of crate training your puppy and answer some common questions: why crate train a puppy, pick the best crate for your puppy, and how to crate train a puppy. You’ll find that with crate training, it’ll be the beginning of what your puppy will learn through their life, and it’ll allow you to become a better dog owner.

Why crate train a puppy

When training your dog or puppy to use a crate, the most critical point is to leave them alone once they are inside. The crate needs to be an area of sanctuary and where your puppy or dog goes to be alone. Don’t worry if your puppy spends time there; they are just seeking a little refuge to recharge their batteries. A little like how we sometimes just sit and chill out in front of the television!

An excellent reason why crate train a puppy is to assist with toilet training. In any crate, your puppy will have enough room for bowls (food and water), bedding, and a place to toilet. Using puppy training pads in a crate is highly recommended and will make cleaning more manageable. When a puppy is young, it’ll often toilet immediately after eating. Therefore, it is best to keep an eye on them while they eat. After they go to the toilet, praise and clean the space immediately; eventually, your puppy will prefer to go further away from where they eat and sleep. At this time, you can begin to move the crate or puppy pads to the door you’d like them to use to go outside. Toilet training can take some time to accomplish but can be achieved easily with patience and rewards.

How to choose a good puppy crate

When looking for a crate, you’ll find a few different types available. The most common is metal, which can be powder coated or bare. There are some plastic dog crates available. However, you’ll find that these may not last as long, especially if you have a puppy that likes to chew on things. When selecting a crate, it may seem they are all the same, but a few differences can make selection easier.

Consider the thickness of the metal used in the crate. Cheaper crates will use thinner metal, and these may not last as long as a more expensive model that uses a higher gauge of wire. If you’re planning on keeping the crate for many years, it may be well worth the investment. All crates will have one door in the front, but others may have two. If you plan to take the crate in the car, having a side access door may make loading the puppy easier. Lastly, you can consider what accessories are available for the crate. Accessories can include handles, bedding, and crate covers. All good dog crates should come with a dividing wall so they can be made smaller for when your dog is a puppy. Therefore, you should buy a crate that is suitable for your dog as an adult.

dog in crate

How do you crate train a new puppy?

When you first get a new puppy home, it’s a great idea to introduce them to their crate. Crates will provide your puppy with a secure place they can call their own. However, they may not wish to be left alone immediately. At no time should a crate be placed outside for the puppy to sleep. These are too cold and will not offer the puppy any protection against the elements. You should place the crate somewhere close to where you will be sleeping for at least the first few weeks of having your puppy. Dogs and puppies naturally want to be close to their family.

It’s important to remember that an eight-week-old puppy is approximately the same age as a six-month-old human baby. The only experience they have known is being next to their mother and all their siblings. It’ll take a few weeks before they feel comfortable in your home. By being close to you it’ll give them some comfort, and then over a few months, you can start to move their crate closer to where you want them to sleep.

As you are learning how do you crate train a new puppy, it will give you the best information on what to do in certain circumstances. All dogs and puppies learn at different rates, and while it may seem you are not making any progress. However, provided you are consistent in your approach, then it will work out. As always, have some patience and always reward your puppy when they are doing the right thing.

How to crate train a puppy

In how to crate train a puppy, the training may take a few days or several weeks. The exact timeframe all has to do with the puppy’s temperament and how teachable they are. Some dog breeds are notoriously hard to train (e.g. Chihuahua), but some take up new things quite easily (e.g. Border Collie). For the best results, always associate the crate with a positive experience. Never use it as a form of punishment. Start with small steps that lead to bigger changes. Here we have broken the process down into several stages:
Introduce them to the crate

Place the crate in an area where you spend the most amount of time. Use a cable tie to keep the door open while training; this will stop any potential issues, such as the door hitting them as they try to enter. Introduce your puppy to the crate using encouraging language.

Give them time to discover the crate. It’ll have a unique scent and may seem scary at first. You can place some of their favourite treats inside, so there is a familiar scent available. Allow your puppy the time to go in by themselves; never place or push them into the crate. When they go in, make sure you create an exciting atmosphere with celebration and cuddles. You can try adding bedding that includes an old t-shirt with your scent on it to encourage them to enter. This step may take a few days or occur immediately.

Feed meals inside the crate

Dogs are highly motivated by food. Start by placing the bowl near the crate. Then over a few days, slowly move it close until it is in the back part of the crate. Remove the bowl after they have finished eating and have left the crate.

After he is comfortable eating in the crate, you can start closing the door. Start slow and try not to make too much noise. Dogs like to feel enclosed but not trapped. When they are happy with the door being closed, leave it like that for about ten minutes. Watch his behaviour and if he starts to look uncomfortable, let him out and praise him for doing a good job.

Add a command

When you are successful in how to crate train puppy, you can start adding commands. With commands, it is better to use a single syllable word. Command commands for crate training a dog include ‘crate’ or ‘kennel’. With time your puppy will associate that word with going to the crate and being fed. You’ll know when you are successful in this when you give the command, and your puppy goes into the crate.

Crating a dog for extended periods

Crate training your puppy is an excellent idea, especially if you need to leave the house for a few minutes. Once your puppy is comfortable in the crate and can be left in there for about ten minutes, you can start to stretch out the time. You can get him to go in the crate by either commands or treats and then close the door. When you’re looking to leave, don’t make a fuss; instead, simply walk out the door. For the best results, try not to have a routine when you’re leaving, as the dog will become aware of what is happening, which can lead to them stressing and making a fuss.

Dogs generally do not have a sense of time, and in their mind, an hour is the same as ten minutes. Usually, if nothing is happening, a dog will sleep. When you return home, make sure you do not make a fuss. Walk in like you usually would, and after a few minutes, let your dog out of the crate. Praise your dog for being good while you were gone to reinforce their behaviour. When training starts with small amounts of time and then gradually increases it. On the first few times, a simple trip to the mailbox will suffice. Then you can work your way up to a trip to the shops.

Potential issues when you crate train a dog or puppy

As you learn how to crate train a puppy, you may run into a few issues. Knowing how to combat these issues can get you back on track to success. If your dog is feeling a little anxious and restless in the crate, it could be a sign they are spending too much time in there. Try to limit the amount of time they spend in the crate. For young puppies (under six months), limit the time to no more than three hours, as they simply do not have bladder and bowel control. You should only close the door on the crate when your dog needs to be contained, such as when guests are visiting.

Sometimes your dog may whine while being in the crat. There are a few reasons they may be doing this. They might be lonely and seeking some attention. Or they need to be let out to use the toilet. Start by ignoring the whining for a few minutes. If your puppy just wants attention, the whining should stop soon. If he keeps going, then use your toileting phrase and look for a positive response. You should get a clear indication that he needs to be let outside, such as a wagging tail or yelps.

puppies in crate

Successful Crate Training

When thinking about how do you crate train a new puppy, you now have the tools for success. Like all dog training, it takes some time and repetition. Never use any form of negative reinforcement, this will make the dog afraid of the crate, and they’ll actively avoid using it. The result you’re seeking is for the dog to go to their crate when given a command and stay there until you give the command for them to come out. As a bonus, your dog will eventually not need to command but respond to your behaviour. For example, they may hear a knock on the door and know that this means time to go to the crate!