Some people think it’s cruel to crate train your dog but I’m so glad that we focused on crate training our boys when they were puppies. Most dogs won’t go to the bathroom in the same place they sleep so crate training allowed us to housebreak them quickly. It also prevented them from destroying our home or belongings when we couldn’t supervise them full-time. Our dogs even sleep in their crates overnight which lets everyone get a good nights rest. We tried to allow them to sleep on the bed with us but our dogs are such cuddlers that it didn’t work out very well. It was too much to deal with having them literally on top of us all night long. We made sure to create a warm and comfortable environment in their crates and it’s worked out well for everyone involved. 

We use the Top Paw Double Door crate for our dogs because it’s versatile and functional. This crate has a door on the front and the side so you have flexibility when positioning it in the room, there’s a solid floor, and it easily folds up “suitcase-style” which is huge if your dogs travel with you. We have two of the smallest size crates and they work perfectly for our dogs (a chihuahua and a cheagle). 

crate training your dog

How to crate train your dog:

The key is consistency!

Choose a suitable crate for your dog

In the stores, you’ll find a wide variety of dog crates to choose from. There are styles ranging from a wire crate to a plastic carrier to a canvas crate but we recommend a wire crate for most dogs. It’s the most commonly used, is breathable, and allows your dog to see around him. We use this wire crate from Top Dog because it’s collapsible and has a sliding tray which makes it easy to clean. It’s also open on all sides so your dog has good visibility. The intense containment is one of my top drawbacks to the other crate styles. 

Whichever type of crate you choose to use it’s important to choose the correct size. Your dog should have enough room to turn around comfortably and lie down but if he has too much room there’s a chance he could use one area of the crate as a potty which defeats the purpose of using it to housebreak him. If you are trying to crate train your dog, one option is to buy a crate that will be suitable when he’s an adult and use the crate divider while he’s a puppy to contain him to a smaller area. A lot of wire crates include a divider so you can adjust the amount of room he has as he grows.

Slowly introduce your dog to the crate

When you are starting to crate train your dog, it’s important to keep the experience positive. You should never use the crate for punishment, doing so only makes your dog nervous and anxious about the crate. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety you could also try Treatibles. We tried them for our pup and they were great for calming him down. To get your dog to go into his crate, start by making sure you create a warm and comforting environment for your dog. We keep a pet pillow in the bottom of the crate (this one has a removable cover for easy washing) and give each dog their own blanket since our pups like to burrow. When we were first introducing our dogs to their crates we gave them each an old blanket scarf of mine so it had my scent on it and would feel familiar. Put one of your dog’s favorite plush toys and a couple of tiny treats in the crate so your dog associates the crate with something positive. Until he’s comfortable with the crate, keep the door open so he can go in or out as he wishes and reward him each time he goes in voluntarily.

Confining your dog in the crate

Once your dog has become comfortable with his crate and is no longer anxious, it’s time to start getting him used to being confined in it. Make sure everything is comfortable and put a couple small treats inside. Once your dog goes in the crate voluntarily, close and latch the door. After 1 – 3 minutes, as long as he’s quiet, let him out of the crate. If he’s whining, barking, or making other noise, don’t let him out. That only teaches him that if he makes enough noise you’ll open the crate. He has to be quiet and calm to be let out. Gradually extend the amount of time he’s in the crate while you’re home until he is comfortable being confined in the crate for an hour or more. You can then start working on leaving the room, extending the time, and letting your dog understand the crate is his safe space.

Never leave your dog crated for longer than he can hold his bladder or bowels. On average, puppies can be confined for no more than 3-4 hours. Older dogs can often be confined for 4 – 5 hours. In either case, try to walk your dog before crating him so he can fully relieve himself before being locked up. If your dog is confined for an extended period of time, upon release be sure to take him out for plenty of exercise and playtime.

how to crate train your dog

Some people think trying to crate train your dog is cruel however many dog trainers agree that it is no crueler than leaving a baby in a crib. A comfortable and properly sized crate keeps dogs safe when you can’t be there to supervise. It’s also important to remember that dogs are instinctively den animals and feel safe when they have a secure place of their own. Done correctly, a crate can become this den for your pup. Our dogs love their crates and have developed word association with them. I can say “crate” or “bed-time” and they immediately jump up and run to their crates. 

Have you ever tried to crate train your dog?