Dog looking out the window

Why Crate Training Helps Your Dog (And How to Crate Train Them)

Like a den in the wild, our dogs prefer a dark, quiet, warm space for settling down. A crate is your dog’s place of safety and comfort! That means they know they can retreat to there whenever things are noisy or stressful for them in the home, or if they just need some cosy alone time. Crates are also an effective potty training tool, so without further ado, here's how you introduce your dog to their new crate.

Before you begin, make sure you choose the right crate for your dog

You might be tempted to give them a luxuriously large space, but a crate should actually be just large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around while inside. If the crate is any larger than that, you might find them toileting in the corner in which they don't sleep.

For puppies who will grow into larger dogs, you can partition the crate so their space still feels snug, and then enlarge it as they grow.

To make the space feel safe and secure, it will need to be dark and covered. A plastic moulded crate is good, as it's sturdy and lightweight and tends to feel more enveloping—like an underground den. If you have a wire crate, you can cover it with a blanket to give it that cozy, safe feeling. Just ensure that your pup doesn’t try to chew the cover.

Its location in your home is key

The crate should be located in a quiet, calm space outside of any high-traffic or open areas. An office, spare room, or corner of a quiet living area is a better location than a kitchen or a hallway next to a door.

Avoid putting the crate in direct sunlight, or under big windows or skylights.

The best way to introduce the crate to your pup

To begin, leave the crate door open until your dog starts to trust their new environment. Put a bed, toys, and food inside to make it more enticing and enjoyable. Allow your dog to go in and out, and have as many positive experiences with their new den as possible.

After a while, begin shutting the door while they're inside enjoying some food or a toy, and at night to sleep.

For young puppies, ensure they are allowed out for toileting purposes as they have yet to develop the control they need to spend all night in their crate. To estimate how long it will be before your puppy may need to toilet, assume an hour per every month of age. For instance, an eight-week-old puppy will need to be let out at least every two hours, whereas an eight-month-old pup may last up to eight hours. Keep a journal of your puppy’s toileting habits so you can predict when they may need to go out. Don’t allow their whining or barking dictate the opening of the door; let them out only when they are calm and relaxed.

Begin to put them into their crate at a variety of times while you are home, so they don’t begin to associate it only with you leaving the house. Use a word like “bed,” said in a light tone, as you lead them to their crate. Always praise them for going in!

Never use the crate as a punishment. It is meant to be your dog’s safe and cosy retreat, plus they cannot understand the connection between their bad behaviour and being put into a ‘time out’.

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