How to crate train your puppy

Are you training your new puppy? Does your puppy struggle sleeping alone? Can’t be left at home alone? You may wish to consider crate training. 

But what is crate training and how do you crate train your puppy? 

dog in crate

What is crate training? 

Crate training is the process of teaching your puppy to consider the crate as a safe place. This can be used as a bed at night, when you are out of the house for short periods, or a bed that is used when travelling in the car. 

How do you start crate training?

If you have not heard about crate training and have not had a puppy before, this may be an overwhelming idea. 

You will need to purchase a crate which is big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around within. Generally, these crates will either be plastic or collapsible with metal pins. If you are unsure what one to buy, make sure to ask your local pet store for advice.

The crate training process will vary depending on the breed of your pet and their age. Some breeds are far more stubborn to train than others. 

Fortunately, you can break down the training process, so it is easy for both yourself and the puppy. 

puppy sitting in crate

  1. Introduce your pet to the crate

The crate should be in an area of the house which you and your family regularly use. Place your dog's existing bed within the crate. It may help to add in some toys to make the area seem more inviting. When the dog has ventured inside the crate, make sure to reward your pet. 

Make sure the dog views the crate as a positive place, and doesn’t associate it with being in trouble or a negative space. Make sure you don’t trap the dog in the crate; the dog needs to be able to come and go in the introductory phase. 

puppy being fed in crate

  1. Feed the dog in the crate

Move your dog’s bowl into the crate. This will again emphasise the crate is a positive, welcoming place for the dog to be. When the dog is used to going into the crate to eat, you can start asking the dog to do this process. 

  1. Increase time in the crate

Once the dog is comfortable with this process, start to shut the door. When the door is shut, make sure you stay in the room. Start by closing it for a few minutes and then rewarding the dog once the door is back open. When the dog is more comfortable inside the crate with the door shut, you can continue on your usual activities within other rooms of the house. 

dog sleeping in crate

  1. Crate training at night

Once the dog is comfortable within the crate, you can start to leave the dog in the crate at night. Make sure the bed and some toys are within the crate to create a comfortable area. 

If you have a young puppy or older dog, be prepared for the dog to wet the bed during the night until they are used to sleeping through the night. 

You may wish to use a sheet to cover the crate at night; this can help to settle the dog.


Potential problems with crate training

As with any training technique, you may find potential problems along the way. Fortunately, there are solutions. 

If your dog is crying while in the crate, make sure to ignore it. You may need to take the dog out to the toilet on a lead, but try to avoid playing with the dog, and bring it straight back to the crate. 

Make sure you do not let your dog spend too much time in the crate. Dogs shouldn’t be left in the crate all day; this can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Make sure that the dog has sufficient access to food and water, and is able to get out of the cage when they need a toilet break. 

Following these steps should help you to successfully crate train your puppy and get them to see the crate as a positive place within the house.