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Crate Training for Puppies

Updated on May 20, 2009

A crate can be an extremely valuable tool for new puppy owners looking for effective methods to house train their newly acquired furry friend while ensuring a safe, comfy, place to resort to, when he cannot be properly supervised.  A crate may also transform into an effective carrier when the dog must go to the vet. But perhaps, in a dog's eyes,the most relevant function of a crate is the level of comfort and security a crate offers.

While many owners still perceive crates as a form of restraint, almost viewing them as unpleasant  little prison cells, truth, is, modern crates are perceived by most puppies and dogs as modern replacements of dens. A step back into the history of wild canines may provide a better insight on the topic.

In the wild, dogs used to resort to dens when they were sick, tired or simply in need of some time alone to rest. Most dogs sought these safe places for reassurance, relaxation and it is interesting to learn that most dogs in the wild were actually born in dens. Because  manmade crates closely mimic dens, most puppies appear to be naturally curious about crates especially when owners know how to effectively  turn them into comfortable, pleasant sleeping areas where puppies can relax and enjoy their  own special place along withtheir favorite toys. 

The following strategies and tips will ensure your puppy enjoys the crate you have so carefully prepared for him. 

How to Succesfully  Introduce your Puppy to the Crate

-Choose the Right Size

Upon visiting your local pet store you will notice that crates come in different shapes and sizes. While the material, color and shape is really up to you, you must be very careful on choosing the right size, especially if the crate's main purpose will be house training. While your instinct may tell you to purchase the largest crate because you want your puppy to have the most space and because you are fast forwarding and thinking of him growing up quickly this is an actual mistake.  

In order to work well, the crate must be large enough so that you puppy may lay down, stand up and turn around, it must be snug enough that he will feel uncomfortable in soiling it.  Many owners make the mistake of purchasing a large crate only to find out later that their puppy can soil a corner and still be able to sleep comfortable on the total opposite side. Go with a small crate but not that small, that your puppy has trouble moving around. If you do not want to purchase future crates because your puppy will be growing, look for crates that come with partitions that allow you to adjust the size as the dog grows. Ask the store clerk for help if you are unsure on what crate to buy.

-Choose the location

You want to get the crate ready before the puppy is introduced to your home. Decide on the location of the crate. You want it to be in a quiet spot of your home but not far from human companionship or your puppy will whine when unable to see you.  Keep the crate far from cold drafts and direct sunlight because you do not want your puppy to be too hot or cold. 

Teach your Puppy to Love its Crate!

Do's and Don'ts of Crate Training

-Do's and Don'ts

You must ensure that your family fully understands and abides to the following:


  • DO allow your puppy to sniff and inspect the crate before putting him inside.
  • Do praise the puppy for entering the crate on its own.
  • Do decide on a command to be said in a positive happy tone of voice, examples may be ''go in the crate''or go to your place'' .
  • Do watch your puppy for signs he needs to go out potty. Common signs are restlessness, whining, sniffing around and appearing in discomfort. 
  • Do use the crate for any period of time when the puppy cannot be supervised.


  • Don't push your puppy with force inside the crate, rather try to gently persuade him inside talking kindly or placing a toy or treat in it.
  • Don't praise your puppy after taking him out the crate or he will perceive the crate on something unpleasant and will want out more often.
  • Don't use the crate as a for of punishment. You want your puppy to always perceive the crate as a pleasant place to be or you may have future problems in getting your puppy in the crate.
  • Don't come running each time your puppy is whining in the crate and you know he has just recently gone potty. Let him out though once quiet if needed.
  • Don't allow children to bother the puppy when in the crate.
  • Don't feed puppies in the crate or they may grow up to become food possessive.
  • Don't scold the puppy for soiling the crate, the puppy may fear you and the crate.

Most puppies when introduced correctly to their crate will enjoy their place. After all, it is an instinct that has been instilled into their genetic core from years of living in dens. 

When does Nature Call in Puppies?

Careful owners may be able to predict potty time in order to make potty training faster. Here are some tips:

  1. Feed your puppy always at the same time and take your puppy out after eating.
  2. Take your puppy out after napping
  3. Watch your puppy for straying away when playing and sniffing around, this may be a sign he must go.
  4. Keep an eye on him in the crate for signs of having to go (restlessness, snififng, whining).
  5. Use the month plus 1 formula: calculate how many months your puppy is old and add 1. This equation will give you the approximate hours your puppy may go without going potty potty.


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    • sscott profile image

      sscott 6 years ago

      Great hub - very useful info. I have a chihuahua so chose to use an X-pen with a small den inside rather than a crate. I chose this route as I wanted to litter box train my puppy when she was very young. I didn't want my dog to have to wait for at least 8 hours to go potty while I was at work.

    • profile image

      Nathan 7 years ago

      Great article! Crate training is easily one of the most effect methods for housebreaking a dog. It utilizes natural canine instincts. The crate is like a den, and your puppy naturally prefers den-like environments! The better job the owner does of making the crate feel like a den (like using a cover and making the inside comfortable) the more effective crate training will be!

      Thanks again for the great Hub. Cheers!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      Using the crate to allow the dog to unwind is perfectly accpetable, in my opinion. My dogs love their crate as well. Now that they are 18 months old I still use it because I do not trust them around my home when we run errands. They tend to get into trouble and I would hate the thought of coming home finding a disaster (ie eating stuf they are not supposed to)

    • kblover profile image

      Brian McDowell 8 years ago from USA

      Nice article. I love crates and I'm glad the dog I look after does too. He adores his crate, he'll even run to it if he's feeling especially afraid of something. Also gives him a nice place to just chill and pull himself together.

      I don't use it for punishment, but if he's feeling particularly "scattered" or just all out of sync, I'll send him there to try to unwind and calm down. Usually it works. I agree with not praising leaving the crate. I always praise him getting in.

      Anyway, just wanted to comment since I'm a crate fan also :)