Learning how to crate train your dog could be one of the best things you do for your dog, yourself, and your house. Even though each dog has his own unique personality, the crate training process will typically be the same for each dog – you may need to make some changes for your dog’s specific situation. Here are some easy-to-follow steps on how to crate train your dog.
- Select & Prepare the Dog Crate – The first thing you will need to do is select the right crate for your dog. There are various types of crates available and you should take some time to figure out which crate will work best for you and your dog. There are plastic kennels, metal crates, travel dog crates, wooden end table crates, collapsible fabric dens, dog houses, etc. If you need help selecting a dog crate, see our article on How to Choose a Dog Crate or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. After you’ve selected the dog crate, you can add a little comfort to it by placing a pillow, blanket or a dog crate pad on the bottom of the crate.
- Introduce the Dog Crate – Once the crate is selected, place it in your home where it’s most likely going to stay and introduce him to it. If he seems hesitant, do not force him into the crate – allow him to walk around and sniff the crate until he’s comfortable. When he seems to be comfortable with this new addition to the house, try to get him to walk into the crate using treats as encouragement. Eventually, he will go in – if nothing else, at least to check it out. As soon as he does, give him a treat and praise him with “Good Crate” or “In Your Crate, Good Boy.”
- Increase Feeding Times – To show your dog that the dog crate is a pleasant place to hang out, feed him at the crate. If he isn’t comfortable staying in the crate for an extended period of time, place his food bowl next to the crate. Make sure you have plenty of water as well. Paying attention to the demeanor of the dog, try putting the food bowl and water dish inside the crate. After a few feedings inside the crate, try closing the door. To ensure that the dog feels safe, open the door to the crate as soon as he is done eating. Each time you feed him, increase the amount of time that you leave the door shut.
- Encourage Alone Time – While it can be nerve-wracking to leave a puppy alone for the first time, it is an important step when you crate train. Your dog needs to learn that he will spend time alone, but that you will always return to let him out of the crate. Dogs don’t typically enjoy eliminating waste in their own comfortable space, so as long as you have taken him outside to go potty, you shouldn’t have a problem while the dog is alone. Begin by leaving your dog alone for a half hour to an hour. Upon your return, immediately take the dog outside on a leash to potty. Each dog will be different, but when you notice that your dog is doing well with the amount of time you leave him alone, gradually increase the amount of time. This may take a couple of weeks, or it may take a month or more.
- Extend Periods of Time – When you feel that your dog is ready to stay in the dog crate for extended periods of time, give it a try overnight. Use a voice command like “Bedtime,” walk him to the crate and close the door. You may not want to make the initial extended stay in the crate one where you are traveling or out in public. Rather, encourage longer stays at home, just in case something doesn’t go as planned.
After you crate train your dog, there will be more possibilities that open up to you and your dog. You should know that he might have “accidents” in the crate until you figure out the potty routine that works best for you and your pet. If it happens, simply clean up the mess and take him back outside to finish his business.
For more information on why it’s important to crate train your dog, see our article “Why Should I Use a Dog Crate?”
Do you have any crate training stories or tips to share? You can share them in the comments below.