Crate training Made Simple

How to Crate Train a Puppy

Crate training is effective as a training tool to teach the dog good behavior while in the home. Train Your Own Dogs uses a method of controlling the environment while training the dog and using a crate can assist us in these measures. 

Housebreaking can be enhanced if the dog naturally doesn’t want to use the bathroom. Living in an apartment and not having a backyard can be tough when you need to leave. Putting the dog in the crate can be beneficial to training the dog to behave while gone.

You need to read this post to crate train your dog correctly. There are a lot of ways dog owners use the crate incorrectly and you will not have that issue after reading this information. Many popular websites have talked about the benefits of crate training.

Getting the right size

You want to get the proper size for the dog. The cage should be big enough for one dog to fit. There could be bigger issues once the dog looks at one side for sleep and the other side the bathroom

Getting the correct size for the dog will eliminate that issue. Getting this right from the beginning is key. If you haven’t then start right away.

Smaller dogs you can find one that is for a small breed dog. For very large dogs you should look to get a Kong cage due to its durability.
Small dog inside of the crate

Crate Training a Puppy

Exercise Before Crate

If there is any section I can pick if you only gave me that was most important it is this one. You have avoided many issues by making sure you follow this simple step. EXERCISE your dog!

Before you put them in the cage make sure you take care of this step. Exercise the dog for at least an hour. If you have them in the cage overnight exercise them for another hour at night.

You will avoid over excitement in the crate. In addition, you will avoid whining. The tail aggressively hitting each side won’t happen.

If you need any guidance regarding the exercise portion of crate training, we have made dog exercise basics for all breeds. Make sure you get a deep understanding of what type of exercise is required for crate training your puppy.

Different crates


There are many different styles of crates to choose from. We recommend you choose a crate that is open where the dog is see out of it. Amazon has a best seller for dog crates and all of the ones that are the top sellers are the ones that we recommend.

Small breeds should have a small cage. There is no reason to get a big crate for a dog that is really small. We left a picture in this section to show you how the dog should fit into the cage. Check out this link to show you how crates look for small dog breeds.

Large dogs should take up more real estate in the house so that they can fit into the crate properly. Take the time to find one that is secure and will hold the dog inside. We recommend getting a Kong Cage for bigger breeds but typically one that is this size .

Other styles you should consider are the traveling styles for little dogs. You can take them on the road with you and have a nice place for them to rest. While driving the best thing to do is to have the dog outside of the crate.

Pros and cons of Crate Training

TRAVELING CRATE FOR SMALL DOG

The pros of using the crates we recommend is that they have the slide out tray at the bottom. This feature allows you to wash out the cage and bleach it after any accidents. You will have accidents from time to time with dogs who rarely ever use it inside, but they will happen.

The dog also has good visual inside the crate. When the dog can see you, you can also see the dog. That creates a win-win situation for both owner and dog. When the view is limited you will have a harder time knowing what is going on.

The smaller crates without the visual are the ones we don’t recommend unless you are traveling. They are good for short term use but long term it isn’t in the dog’s best interest to block his view of everything around him.

You also don’t have the slide out trey. You must disassemble the travel cage clean the entire crate then put it back together. Since this one is higher maintenance, we don’t recommend it and the dog can’t see out of it.

Pros and cons of crate training are up to you and what you and your dog need.

Positive Association with Crate Training

You want a positive association with the crate. There are multiple ways you can accomplish that. First you want to put a treat inside. Preferably a piece of meat. Steak or chicken is fine

Once the dog is exercised and inside of the cage the only thing they want to do is sleep. When they wake up take them to the bathroom.

The dog should never have any issues going into the crate because once they are in, they are going to sleep. The exercise for the morning is taken care of and now you can enjoy the fact that you have done your job correctly.

Once the crate becomes about something other than a place where they sleep, eat, and rest all the time this is where you will start to see major issues arise. Make sure the dog is relaxing the entire time and don’t be lazy on your part. Make the time to exercise them or don’t put them somewhere that is going to develop problems.

Set them up for success. If you’re going to do it make sure you do it right.

Dr Katrina Warren made an excellent video about this association and dog behavior 

Open crate policy

Leave door open often when crate training. Crate training a puppy with the door open is very important. 

Make sure you leave the crate open and ask the dog to stay inside. The way you do that is by opening the cage and when the dog takes a step you give them a verbal correction.

If they take a step towards the outside, you want to offer the same correction. The dog after getting proper exercise will not put up a strong fight.

After the correction make sure they sit or lay, and the crate remains open until you request that they come out.

You must have awareness, or watching your dog, the entire time. That’s all it takes. Exercise and a correction. The crate always stays open unless you’re gone but you want the dog in there resting and recovering in their room.

How to put the dog in the crate

Have the dog sit before they go in and before they come out. You will thank me later but to describe why we do this is because we don’t want the dog bursting out when we open it up. This also helps us with providing life rewards for good behavior.

Once the dog is in the cage let them sit down or lay down. Once they are comfortable with the cage open then you can proceed to close it. Don’t rush to close the dog. If the dog is fully exercised you should have no problem with them laying down for a long nap right after you put them inside.

Same with bringing them out of the cage. Walk up to the cage and wait for the dog to sit. Don’t tell them to sit but wait for them to sit. Once they sit, calmly, and slowly open the door. When they come out wait for them to sit again. After that you take them out.

Never violate any of these rules while training. Once the dog is fully trained and knows the routine you are free to do whatever fits for you and your dog.

I would recommend you follow these simple instructions to help build a lasting relationship.

Feeding In the crate

You got the food in hand and ready to feed your pup. Wait for them to sit before you open the cage door. If the excitement level is high that’s something you should consider regarding their exercise program.

Whether the dog is in or out the cage request for them to sit down before any eating takes place. Once you have that compliance the dog will wait patiently, and you can feed them. This is the best way to feed your puppy. Establishes respect and table manners.

How Long to leave puppy in a crate?

There is conversation about having the dog inside for short increments to begin and then increases over time. I’ve never done this personally because of how we exercise the dog before.

The crate is open most of the time and we are supervising the whole time.

Normally the dog will sleep and when they wake up, we take them outside for a bathroom break or for more exercise. The time you leave the dog inside is a personal decision.

We don’t recommend having them in there all the time. 12 hours a day or 8 hours a day. If you need to do something and can’t watch the dog, then they will need to be in there. Once you are home and can supervise leave the door open and have them out often.

Working and crate training

If you must go to work for 8 hours the best decision to make is to put them in the back yard. If you don’t have this option and don’t have a friend or significant other to take them to the restroom you may need to reconsider if you should have at dog this time.

An older experienced dog can most likely deal with the long period, but it just isn’t an ideal situation. If this is temporary, then you can manage for a while but if this is all you can do it would be best to take the exercise portion serious.

Using the bathroom in the crate

Look at the article Potty Training 101 for puppies for strong details about how to potty train and the schedule to crate train puppies. For a brief summary take them out 4 to 5 times a day without fail. Let them use the bathroom often and keep this schedule for a long time.

The dog should understand that you will take them out a lot in addition to taking them on walks and runs. Taking them out twice a day is lazy, and you will build a really bad habit with the dog.

The more you take them out to relieve themselves the better chance you have at getting the dog trained quickly and with no problems.

Crate Training a Puppy at Night

I don’t want to sound like a broken record but here’s what you need to do to have a successful night with your dog or puppy. Take them on a long walk or run in the morning. That will take care of them for the rest of the day.

When it comes to the night portion take them out one more time. The puppy will be passed out for hours once you tap into that energy. Tire them out with another 30 to 45-minute walk or run and the silence will be the only thing you hear at night.

The next night repeat and keep repeating. The puppy will sleep and by the time they wake up you are right there taking them out to relieve themselves.

Sounds simple because it is, and it works like a charm with every dog. Crate training a puppy 

Crate Training an Adult Dog

Crate training an adult dog is exactly the same formula. Dogs that have not been in the crate need to see the crate as a resting place or bedroom.

Most adult dogs will start to go to the cage and sleep in there. 

How to stop puppy crying, separation anxiety and whining

Make sure you put the puppy or dog inside of the crate under the right conditions. Don’t use throw the baby away inside of the crate. Take the time to make sure they are taken care of and their needs are met

Once you make the commitment to change your approach the dog will not cry, have separation anxiety or whine because you are covering all bases.

Doing this over a short period of time will yield results. When you do this over a long period of time you will have a dog free of many issues. If you don’t believe me then challenge me. Exercise your dog every day twice a day for a month. After a few days you will have to admit that the crying, separation anxiety, and whining has all decreased or stopped altogether.

Howcast.com have a video agreeing about the physical exercise but also add on stimulation throughout the day. Different methods same concepts.

Conclusion

Make sure you understand that this is simple if you got the steps down. Just to recap here.

  1. Exercise before crate
  2. Make them sit down before entering
  3. Make them sit down after exiting
  4. Leave the crate open often
  5. Take the dog to the bathroom 4-5 times a day

Have a good one!

Additional Resources