A woman kneeling down next to her crated dog

Crate Train Your Dog

Supervising your puppy is important for their health and safety, but also for training. If you are not watching your learning puppy, then you are missing very important training moments—including the chance to praise them for good behavior and to correct unwanted behaviors. A crate will allow you to know your puppy is contained and safe when you aren’t able to watch them, and it will help you expedite potty training. 

 

In the past, there has been a negative perception of dog crates. To some, the crate is seen as a puppy jail or a punishment. But, if used correctly, the crate will act as a den, which is a necessity for dog housing. This den will serve as a safe space for your dog, which can help prevent anxiety. It allows them to get away from kids, storms, other pets, or anything else that may be causing discomfort at the moment. The den aspect is also a major reason why the crate is an effective potty-training device. Dogs do not want to potty where they sleep and eat. 

 

 

How to Train & Build Positive Associations with Crates:

  1. Make sure that the crate you choose is large enough for your puppy to stand up, lie down, and turn around. If you get a crate that’s too small, it will be uncomfortable for your dog, but a crate that’s too large will give your dog the space it needs to have an accident without it ruining its den. This behavior might encourage future accidents in the crate and around the home. Remember that as your puppy grows, you will need a larger crate. Purchase a crate appropriate for your dog’s expected adult size, and use a divider to make the crate smaller for the time being.  

Positive Association with the Crate:  

  1. The most important part of crate training is making sure your puppy always associates it with a positive experience! Keeping toys in the crate is a great way to do this, but be sure the toys are safe for your dog to have while unsupervised. Plush squeaky toys, bones, tennis balls, and rope toys are not recommended. These toys aren’t meant for long periods of chewing and can come apart and create a choking or obstruction risk for your pup. Trainers typically recommend Nylabone® hard chew toys and KONG® dog toys.  
  2. Put your puppy in the crate during downtime. This downtime could be after coming in from outside, after playtime, or when you are doing other things around the house. Start in increments of 10 minutes and work up to longer periods. Reward with a treat and verbal praise when the dog goes inside. Then provide toys, like a peanut-butter-stuffed KONG. Another great way to create this positive association is by feeding your pup their meals in the crate.  
  3. Every time you take the puppy out of the crate, take them straight outside, so they will start to associate leaving the crate with potty time. Remember to reward or praise your dog for going outside every time. Don’t forget to take the puppy outside after they wake up from naps and after playtime.