Crate Training Your Dog

Training your dog to be comfortable inside a crate is a terrific management tool. Dogs are natural den animals which means they find comfort and safety sleeping inside an enclosed space. Due to this natural instinct, crates are wonderful for house-training, alone time, and all forms of travel. That’s why crate training your dog is an essential tool to learn for any pet parent!

Why choose to crate train?

As mentioned above, dogs naturally like to sleep in enclosed spaces where they feel safe and relaxed. Crates can provide this for our dogs and help to manage their problem behaviors. Because dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep, crates can help with potty training and impulse control. They help curb unwanted chewing and provide a space for some alone-time for your dog. They also provide safety to our pets when they’re alone and are great for traveling with your dog in a car or even an airplane or boat. All in all, crates are wonderful babysitters!

How to begin.

Crate training can be done in all stages of a dog’s life, but it’s easiest within the first day or two of bringing your dog home. Remember, the crate is meant to be a safe and relaxing place for your dog to go, not as a form of punishment. So, if you start training right away with positive associations, your dog will want to go into the crate and probably feel most comfortable there!

Step 1

Get your dog used to the crate by associating it with something positive. If your dog is food motivated, throw the tastiest treats inside the crate and then praise them for going in to eat them. If they’re toy motivated, do the same thing but with their favorite toy.

Step 2

Once your dog is comfortable stepping all four paws inside the crate, practice shutting the door behind them for only a couple seconds. Then, let your dog out and praise them.

Step 3

Repeat step 2 multiple times, slowly increasing the amount of time the door is shut. While the door is closed, feed your dog treats through the crate and praise them for being inside. See if your dog can last 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or even a minute.

Step 4

Practice leaving your dog alone in the crate by stuffing a kong with their favorite treats or snack. (A long-lasting chew bone or something of the like will work, too.) Place the special treat inside the crate and close the door behind your dog. Leave the room for about 5 minutes or until your dog is done with their treat. Once the five minutes is up, release your dog from the create and praise them.

Step 5

Make sure to repeat step 4 multiple times, slowly increasing the amount of time you leave the room. This may take several days and require patience from both of you. No matter what, don’t make a big deal of leaving. Don’t say goodbye, pet your dog through the crate, or baby-talk them while you leave. Simply hand them the treat, close the door, and walk away.

Step 6

Lastly, practice actually leaving your house for quick errands while your dog in is their crate. For example, put your dog in the crate while you walk to the mailbox or go to get the newspaper. Water the garden real quick or wait for the kids at the bus stop. Over time, gradually increase the length of your absences.

When done properly, crate training your pup can be an amazing tool to help with certain problem behaviors. Crates should be fun, safe, and relaxing places for your dog to retire to, and can be used for traveling and simple alone time. We love a good crate-trained dog! For more helpful resources, check out our training page!