How To Get Your Dog To Enjoy The Crate

Positive Housetraining Using a Crate

Crates are a good house-training aid and a comfortable, safe place to go, provided they are used correctly. If used properly, the crate encloses a puppy or dog safely and becomes a favorite place for sleeping or safety. It can also be a highly effective toilet training tool. Some puppies and dogs love their crates immediately, while others need a bit of time to acclimate.


Training Techniques:

  • Make the crate comfortable with bedding and safe toys.
  • Leave the door of the crate open so the puppy or dog can investigate inside. Encourage the dog to go in by throwing a favorite treat or toy inside.
  • If the puppy decides to settle inside the crate, allow her to d so without closing the door so that she can make her own decision about whether to stay or leave.
  • Once the dog is comfortable inside the crate, begin closing the door for a few seconds at a time, gradually building up the duration.
  • Give the puppy a durable rubber chew toy with some yummy food inside to pair the pleasure of eating with the crate.
  • Feed the puppy’s meals in the crate to continue the positive association.
  • If the puppy begins to whine or bark, wait until she is quiet before opening the door to let her out.
  • This whole process can be used to help adult dogs acclimate to a crate, too, but remember that some dogs do not adjust well to being confined in this way and do better in a pen or safe room in your home.

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Photo by J. Nichole Smith | www.mylittleandlarge.com

What Not to Do:

  • Never make the crate a punishment where the puppy can be confined if he has done something wrong.
  • Try to minimize the time your puppy or dog spends in the crate. If you isolate a dog in a crate for a large portion of the day, he will literally go crazy when you come home and let him out. What would you do if you were shut in a small cage for eight hours?
  • A small puppy has limited bladder control. If you leave him in the crate too long, you will be forcing him to soil his bed. It’s not only unkind to the dog, but the puppy may never become housetrained.

Troubleshooting:
Problem: My puppy whines constantly in the crate.

Solution: Whining and crying is a fundamental aspect of puppyhood, especially in young puppies. Make sure never to reinforce the behavior by letting your puppy out of the crate while he is crying or whining. Wait for at least 3 seconds of quiet.

Problem: My puppy pees and/or poops in his crate.

Solution: The crate might be too big for the size of your puppy. The crate should be big enough that your puppy can stand up and turn around comfortably. If it is too big, your puppy will likely find an area to soil in it. If the crate is the right size, you may not be letting him outside often enough, and he is physically unable to hold it.

Problem: My puppy cries in the crate at night.

Solution: Try putting a blanket on top of the crate; this can have a calming effect for some puppies. Keep the crate in your bedroom if possible. A puppy that is isolated from the family will often cry out of loneliness.

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JOIN THE CONVERSATION
  • Sally

    This information has been very helpful, but I have one question. Until the puppy is house-trained, should it remain exclusively in the safe zone (except, of course, when we take it outdoors)?

  • Stephanie Lopez Fitzgerald

    My adult dog does all of of this. He cries and whines as well as bark. It doesn't stop either. He will go on for hours until I tell him to be quiet and it does it again. We would be gone for so long but that's our lifestyle. He was in a crate for years and never got used to it. The crate would be soaked wet of his saliva. Any towels we put in there were ripped up to shreds.

  • Lucy

    The puppy was very young and wasn't acclimated properly to the crate. No abuse or corrections, the blanket has the scent of his litter mates, just the owner worked a lot and did all the right things except let the dog choose in the first 2 weeks of puppy ownership because of time restrictions. If someone sleeps near the crate she is fine throughout the night, but when left alone whines and barks a lot.

    How do we work to recondition the dog's feelings about the crate? She is 9 weeks old, mostly stays calm, comes out a lot for play but is potty training still and hasn't gotten the full hang of it and there are small children in the house making it impossible to just let the dog meander about. So when put in the crate fusses for a while and then calms and sleeps with no issue. Thoughts?

  • Clío

    I am going away in June and am planning on taking my two dogs with me (a two-year old Westie and two-year old Yorkie cross). As part of the regulations I have to comply with, both dogs are required to be crated. Neither of my dogs are happy with crating and even with treats, they simply refuse to enter the travel crate. How can you teach an older dog to accept the crate in this instance, please?

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