warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/admin2/public_html/sites/all/modules/mailhandler/mailhandler.module on line 123.

Crate training your puppy/dog

11 replies [Last post]
littlelab's picture
Joined: 07.01.2006

This was posted on a another forum and has brilliant advice for those wanting to use a crate, written by Lizi (Two-dogs)

The purpose of this post to provide new puppy owners with useful information and advice about crate training

Early investment in a crate will make daily life a lot easier for you and your puppy.

It is not cruel to confine a puppy to a crate so long as the reason for confinement is beneficial to the puppy’s learning and security. Take a moment to view the crate as a den rather than a cage ~ a quiet, cosy cave where your puppy can sleep and feel safe. Drape an old sheet over the top and sides. Make it snug inside with a thick, fleecy blanket. Zzzzz.

Except for times such as at night and when the puppy is alone in the house, the crate door can be left open so that the puppy can come out and go in as it chooses ~ just like it would with a dog bed.


The purpose of a crate should be to provide somewhere safe for your puppy or dog to sleep. A crate should be large enough for a puppy or dog to stand up in, turn around, and have sufficient floor space for it to stretch out and lie down flat on its side.

Plastic pet carriers suit very small breeds. Larger breeds will need a metal wire crate, which usually come with a tray at the bottom so that in the event that the puppy should have an accident whilst inside, your floor remains protected from any mess.

Although your puppy will grow, don’t be tempted to buy an overly large crate to start with. Dogs prefer to lie with something against their backs, and a small puppy in a large crate will probably choose to sleep in the corners anyway. A puppy will also remain calmer if it has less free space to move about in and so it is better to buy a small crate initially, and buy a bigger one at a later date as the puppy grows.

Considering the amount of room that a puppy/dog actually needs to sleep comfortably, a crate doesn’t take up any more floor space than any other suitably sized doggy bed. It just appears larger because it has a roof and sides, and so if you have the space for a ‘normal’ doggy bed, you almost certainly have the space for a crate.


Just a thick cosy blanket or piece of vet bedding. The crate should remain as a calm, safe space for your puppy to sleep when it is to be left on its own. Toys are exiting, and also present a choke hazard. Puppies/dogs in good health shouldn’t need to drink during the night, and ideally you will never be leaving your puppy alone in its crate at other times for more than 2-3 hours, so it is up to you whether you leave a bowl of water in the crate. The chances are that the puppy will upset the bowl, soak its blanket and then chew the bowl. Be sensible ~ if it is a hot day or your puppy has been playing or exercising, either provide water in the crate, or the opportunity for it to drink before you leave it inside on its own.

A frozen ‘Kong’ is a great alternative to a water bowl. Block the small end with a lump of peanut butter then fill the Kong with water or chicken stock (do not use OXO or powdered gravy mixes as many of these contain onion powder) and place the Kong, peanut butter end down, in a mug in the freezer. Once frozen, the Kong is ready to give to your puppy.

Encouraging your puppy into the crate using a few tasty titbits will help to create a positive association with the crate and being left alone. Always remove the puppy’s collar whenever it is to be left in the crate alone.


A crate can make house-training really quick and easy. Puppies don’t want to soil their sleeping area. However, this does not mean that your puppy won’t soil its bedding if it needs to relieve itself.

House training with a crate takes dedication and consistency from you. During the night, the crate door should remain closed whilst the puppy is inside and you are both sleeping. A seven week old puppy may need to relive itself three times during the night, which means that you need to set your alarm clock accordingly and be prepared to get up three times during the night and take it outside. This is best achieved by either placing the crate in the bedroom, or by you sleeping in close proximity to the crate (e.g. on a camp/sofa bed in the living room).

Make as little fuss as possible when you let the puppy out of and back into its crate each time. Most puppies will sleep through the night (7-8 hours) without needing to relieve themselves by about 12 weeks of age.

If once house-trained, a puppy is usually quiet at night in its crate but happens to wake and whine or bark, it may need to go outside. Please don’t ignore this plea, but with as little fuss as possible, take it outside, allow it time to relieve itself, and then quietly put it back in its crate.


It is extremely unlikely that a puppy will come to any harm in a crate with only a blanket, which makes it the safest place to leave your puppy alone while you are out.

Before your puppy is to be left in its crate while you are away from the house, practice leaving and returning whilst you are at home ~ when you go to the bathroom, upstairs, into the garden, to the car, etc ~ so that the puppy gets used to being alone. Just follow the leaving and returning procedure outlined below each time:

It is important that your puppy will remain calm whilst you are out, so ensure that it has eaten, relieved itself and is tired when it is to be left in the house by itself (e.g., after it has been awake and active for a couple of hours). Tune the radio to a talk station such as Radio 4 and leave it on a low-moderate volume. Put the puppy in its crate, close the crate door, and ignoring the puppy wait a few moments for it to settle. Don’t talk to the puppy as you leave the house, e.g. “be a good puppy, mummy will be back soon”, etc. The puppy won’t understand what you are saying and talking at this point may excite it. The puppy needs to be relaxed and calm when you leave it, which means that your departure and the moments leading up to it should always be relaxed and calm too. If you must say anything, without using the puppy’s name and with your back turned, quietly but firmly give the command ‘stay’ as you leave the room. The puppy has no choice but to stay, so this practice will help it to learn that the word ‘stay’ means that it mustn’t move from a certain spot until you return.

It is also important that when you let the puppy out of its crate, it is not overly excited. When you return, enter the house calmly as though the puppy wasn’t there. Do what you would normally do, e.g. put your keys away, get a glass of water, go to the bathroom. This will give the puppy a couple of minutes to take in your return and allow any initial excitement to disperse. When you come to let the puppy out of the crate be pleased to see it but stay reasonably calm ~ too much excitement from you will excite the puppy. Once you have both said hello, take the puppy outside straight away so that it can relieve itself.


Ensure that wherever you place your puppy’s crate it is not situated in a draft, in direct sunlight, or beside a radiator, and although you may think that your puppy may enjoy a view of the garden or street while you’re out, seeing the outside world but being unable to get at it may cause a puppy to become excited, frustrated or anxious. Make sure that you move away any toys or chews that are in view too. Toys are exciting, and it is important that your puppy remains safe and calm in its crate.

If you choose to have a crate in your bedroom and your house has stairs, you may also want to have one downstairs too ~ upstairs for sleeping at night, downstairs for sleeping in the day and for when you need to leave the puppy alone in the house.


Remember that a crate should always be a place of calm and safety for your puppy. For example, placing the puppy in its crate while you vacuum enables the puppy to get used to the smell, sight and sound of the vacuum cleaner without it being able to chew the flex or get overly excited or anxious at the nozzle moving across the floor. If the puppy does react to your vacuuming with anxiety or excitement, wait until it has calmed down before letting it out of its crate. Once the puppy shows no reaction to the vacuum cleaner whilst it is in its crate, you can leave the crate door open while you vacuum. If your puppy repeatedly shows excitement or anxiety to the vacuum cleaner or other household appliances, consider seeking professional help to resolve the problem.


Putting a puppy in its crate should never be used as a punishment for ‘bad’ behaviour. In the puppy’s mind, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are human labels. Puppies are not like children ~ they don’t associate ‘time out’ with ‘bad behaviour’ and to avoid ‘time out’ they need to be ‘good’, in fact, using ‘time out’, i.e. isolation, as a punishment, can have severe, psychological repercussions if not used appropriately and correctly.

If the ‘bad’ behaviour is chewing your furniture, give your puppy something acceptable and appropriate to chew on such as a calcium bone or nylon or natural rubber chew toy. The teething period for puppies is from birth to approximately 14 months, but the desire to chew doesn’t stop there. Throughout its life you will need to provide your dog with a suitable outlet for its normal chewing behaviour. Dogs don’t chew things out of spite or naughtiness. They chew things because the action of chewing allows the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.

Older puppies and young dogs ideally shouldn’t be left alone in a crate in an empty house for more than 4 hours at a time. Dogs are intelligent, social animals that need stimulation and company. If you need to regularly leave your puppy/dog alone for longer than 4 hours, consider leaving it with a friend or pet-sitter.


Crate training at home can help to reduce your puppy’s stress at times when confinement beyond the house is unavoidable. For example, crates and/or wire kennels are used in veterinary surgeries. When the time comes to neuter or spay your puppy it is more likely to remain calm when confined at the surgery, which means that physically, mentally and emotionally its stress levels before and after the operation are more likely to remain low, making the whole experience less traumatic. Although there is no scientific study on the subject, anecdotal evidence suggests that the lower a dog’s overall stress level is before and after an operation, the less it is likely to lick or chew at its wound and stitches.

Early crate training will make going on holiday easier for your dog too. If you board your dog, it will be better equipped psychologically to cope with the kennel environment and being away from you. If you holiday at a ‘pets welcome’ hotel or cottage, take a crate with you so that on having to leave the dog in your accommodation while you visit an attraction or go for a meal, you know that it will be safe and content in its cave.



Jack, Maia, Molly, Lillith and Angel the cat