With proper training a crate will become your dog’s den. Not only will it nurture his natural instinct as a den animal, but it will give him a cozy place to sleep, help you with house training and give him a safe, comfortable place when you’re not home.

Before you begin.

It’s important to know a few things first.

  • Entering the crate should always be a positive experience for your dog.
  • If you use the crate for punishment, or force your dog inside, he may fear it and refuse to use it.
  • It’s vital that your dog is comfortable inside the crate before you close the door or leave him inside for long periods of time.
  • Even if you don’t plan on using a crate, it’s important that your dog be trained so he will be ok at times when you need it, like when he’s being boarded or at the veterinarian’s office.

How to prepare for crate training

You’ll need a crate, treats, and a clicker if you are clicker training. You’ll also need to choose a command such as “kennel” or “kennel up”. Make sure you use the same word consistently and the command you choose doesn’t sound like other commands or it will confuse you dog.

How to crate train your dog

  1. Leave the door open and put treats inside. This should entice him to enter the crate.
  2. If your dog isn’t going inside you may need to use a higher value treat. Try putting peanut butter, or a stuffed Kong chew toy, in the back of the crate.
  3. Always leave the door open. (It’s okay if he comes back out.)
  4. If this works start feeding him inside of the crate.

What if my dog doesn’t want to go inside?

If he still doesn’t go inside after you try high value treats that’s okay. Don’t make a big deal of it. Just keep the door open and the crate accessible with treats near the entrance. When he goes near the crate say “kennel” so he connects the action to the command. Over time he should be less afraid. Remember to take it slowly. You want him to associate the crate with positive things only.

When do I start closing the door?

Once your dog goes inside the crate close the door for  a few seconds at a time. You want him to get used to it and be comfortable. Slowly increase how long you keep the door closed. Always try to open the door before he whines or cries.

The best way to get him to stay in the crate is to feed him inside. That way he is distracted and won’t be paying much attention to the closed gate.

Don’t leave your dog in the crate for long periods of time.

Dogs are social animals, so spending too much time in the crate could make your dog anxious or depressed. If you need to be away from home for many hours consider sending your pooch to doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker. Think of it like this, sure you like your bedroom, but you wouldn’t spend all of your time in your room, and a dog shouldn’t spend all of his time in a crate.

What do I do if my dog starts to whine and cry?

Do not let your dog out of the crate when he’s whining or he will learn that works and keep doing it. You want him to know that you will let him out when he’s calm. Of course you never want your dog to be hysterical, so if he does not stop whining in a minute or two, make a loud noise to distract him then open the gate the moment he’s quiet.

Don’t leave puppies in a crate for more than 3 or 4 hours.

Puppies should never be crated for more than 4 hours. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long.

Follow these simple tips and your dog should be crate trained in no time!

Remember, a crate is an important tool for house training, general training, a safe means of confinement and helps your dog’s natural instinct. It should be a place where your dog feels safe and comfortable. If you’re getting nowhere with crate training consider talking to a professional.

Need a crate or toys for training? Visit us online or stop by our store where we have the friendliest, experts on hand to help you out.