Crate Training 101


Honored Member
Staff member
So you've opted to crate train your puppy or dog. Maybe it's going great and maybe it's going awful. Here's everything you need to know about how to successfully crate train your pup!

Buying the Right Crate
In my opinion, wire crates are the best way to go. Puppy can see out, you can see in, and they usually come with dividers. If you have a Great Dane puppy, be prepared to spend loooots of money. You will NOT be able to just buy one size for his whole life. Why?

Your crate only needs to be large enough for puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down, comfortably. Any larger and puppy will soil one end and sleep in the other. The purpose of the divider is to adjust the size of the space your pup occupies, so that he may grow into his crate. Even if you buy an extra large crate with a divider, you will NOT be able to make it small enough for your 12 week old Great Dane. You will need to get a much smaller crate for the first several months of his life.

A crate and a pet carrier are not one and the same. Typically pet carriers are way too big for crate training, and they don't get as much let's say you live in Arizona and your air conditioner quits while you're out. That pet carrier is going to be extremely hot, but a wire crate wouldn't be as much of a steambox. So, cheaper: yes. Effective: NO.

Where to Put the Crate
A quiet, low traffic area of the home is a great place to put puppy's crate. His crate is his safe place where he can go to get away from the stress of the new place, people, etc. So putting it right in the living room where the most activity is defeats the purpose. The kitchen, laundry room, or any other low-traffic area is a good place for puppy's crate. Some people put the crate in their bedroom in an attempt to avoid puppy screams, which is fine, but the day you decide to move it, dog may have issues with it. If he's been sleeping in your bedroom for the first 8 months of his life and then you decide, "He can handle being away from us," and move him to the kitchen, he may become a lost little puppy all over again.

Intro to the Crate
The mistake many people make is just putting the dog in the crate, shutting the door for the night, and going to bed. They do this every night for the whole first month and then larger, feistier puppy decides he's not going to get shoved in the crate anymore. You have to teach your dog to want to be in the crate. Here's how I start.

Toss a treat in the crate, click and give another treat by hand. It's perfectly fine if puppy just walks in, turns around, and comes back out. Do this maaannny times, then start asking for pup to stay in a little longer. Toss in treat, then hold a treat at her nose just inside the door. She's going to be focused on getting that treat from your hand, so she'll be content to stay for a while. Just keep her there for maybe 5-10 seconds. Now start having her sit or down after entering the kennel and jackpot, jackpot, jackpot so she wants to just snack in the kennel and stay put. You can now add a command("kennel," "crate," "go to bed," etc). Once she's consistently going into a sit or down every time she goes in, start pushing the door shut and immediately opening it back up. Don't even latch it, just push it shut and open right back up. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Now start holding the door shut for a few seconds. Then a few more seconds. Then start latching the door. Repeat this many, many times. If puppy becomes anxious, go back a step. Now latch the door and take a step away from the kennel. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Take two steps away. Three steps. Duck around a corner and immediately come back. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Duck around a corner and don't return for a few seconds. A minute. Two minutes. And so on...

Never force your puppy into her crate. This will create a negative association with it and she will learn to fight you more trying to get in it and will avoid it entirely.
If possible, take an old tshirt or blanket to the breeder and have them place it with littermates and mom before you get puppy. Putting it in the kennel will help puppy feel more "at home" because it smells familiar. If this isn't an option, you can put one of your old tshirts in it. You don't have to do this at all, but it really helps some pups. Frozen kongs are a great way to keep pup focused on getting that good stuff out rather than, "Hey where is everybody and why can't I run around?" I use a mixture of unsalted, natural peanut butter and oats. (Recipe in the recipes forum.)

I personally do NOT believe that crates should be used for time-out. This completely defeats the purpose of crate training. It's supposed to be your pup's safe place, NOT a place of punishment. If you're constantly putting pup in "time-out" in the crate, she's going to learn that crate=I did something bad and I'm in trouble. Dogs don't understand the concept of time out. Okay, so you stuck me here because you caught me chewing a shoe...I still need to chew something so heck I'll just find something here. You want the crate to be an AMAZING WONDERFUL HAPPY PLACE, so using it as punishment completely kills that.

Why Does My Puppy Cry??
In my opinion, your puppy isn't crying because he's stuck in a crate. He's crying for a variety of other reasons:
-Where's Mom and my brothers and sisters????
-Where am I and who are these people???
-Wonder if I can go play if I cry and get them to come let me out...I really want to PLAY!
-I need to PEE, let me out!!!

The first night, you can usually expect him to cry, all night long. Or at least part of the night. Just ignore him. Make sure you take him out to relieve himself before putting him to bed so he doesn't have an accident in the kennel during the night. He's probably going to need to go to the bathroom 1-2 times again before 6 o' clock the next morning, so yes, you're probably going to have to get up to take him out at 4 o' clock...puppy just can't hold it till 8 the next morning! If possible, try to let him out only when he's quiet. Puppy needs to learn that ONLY quiet puppies get to come out and play. Loud puppies just get ignored.

Frequently Asked Questions
Should I give my pup food and water in the kennel?
Food--you can but don't have to.
Water--NO. If you stuff your pup with food and water in the kennel then he's going to need to potty. And if you aren't there then he just can't hold it, and even though he doesn't want to, he's going to do it somewhere in the kennel.

Should I put potty pads in the kennel?
NOOO. Potty pads are supposed to make the puppy want to potty on them--the kennel is not meant to be a bathroom. Plus the potty pads are just one more thing for him to tear to shreds all over the kennel.

How often do I need to take my pup out?
IMMEDIATELY after eating, drinking a lot, playing, waking up from a nap, first thing in the morning, and right before bedtime. Once again...IMMEDIATELY. Puppy is not going to wait for you to fix breakfast or fix your hair before taking him out. GO GO GO, and hurry! Then do whatever it was you needed to do.

I've done all this and my puppy still cries. What about a shock collar?
NO. NO. NO. And....NO. Not to be rude, but if you've really done all of this to a T, then you shouldn't have an issue. Granted, there are the few cases that will still have some problems even if you do everything right. Reread this post and see if you've done anything wrong. If you're not catching anything, get professional help.
Good luck, and happy training! :dogsmile:


Experienced Member
Another couple of tips on crate training:

Try to have your puppy resting in its kennel even when you're home. You don't want your puppy learning that kennel time means you're leaving.

If you're having difficulties with your puppy being quiet, during practice times you could try giving your puppy a really good bone, or kong with peanut butter while in the crate and then leave but come back BEFORE your puppy is done/bored with the bone. Hopefully this will help teach your puppy that when you're gone he gets to chew something great and will have him actually looking forward to you being gone.

There is also a great dvd called "Crate Games" by Susan Garrett that works on building drive for the kennel, building impulse control, and using the dog's kennel as a foundation for obedience and agility training.


Well-Known Member
Another safe and humane way to contain and train your dog is through dog pens. These pens for your dog require no special tools in setting up. Within seconds, you can provide your dog with the freedom to roam and play around without the worry of damaging your properties at any time.:)

If you want to take your dog outside, you may consider buying an outdoor dog kennel. It is an affordable way to keep your dog safe in your yard or garden. It also prevents your dog from being attacked by other animals and provides him a great way to enjoy the warm and sunny environment outside.:)

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Well-Known Member
We are working on this. She is very good in a carrier in the car, but does truly believe she needs to be free when she wants to be. She naps willingly in her crate though, so I know she has some positive association with it. She also naps in her expen but likes being at my side best. I am thinking now is a good time to start leashing her to me when she is not in the expen. Opinions? Thanks all!