Quick Guide to Crate Training Your Dog

Crate Training

Crate training a puppy or a dog at any age gives pups a sense of safety and security, as well as quiet time away from the activity of the home. Learning how to successfully crate train a puppy or dog should not only be a rewarding experience, but a positive one too.

Which steps every adopter should start with for crate training a puppy or dog.

How to pick a crate Setting up a crate for training How/when to use a crate
Choices – wired, plastic, fabric Detach crate door/leave door open Only use as a positive experience
Crate size to match grown dog size Layer with puppy pads/small mat As a dog-only den for the night
Roomy enough for a dog to stand Add soft blanket for comfort To give a dog space to rest/nap
Spacious for a dog to turn around Include favorite toy Can help a dog feel safe in thunder
Comfortable for dog to lay down Leave food-stuffed toy inside Use to transport a dog safely
Must house him as an adult Clip small water bowl to wall If a dog is left alone for a short time
Block off excess crate space Position crate to face active area Only after a dog has gone to potty
Find your best match
It only takes 60 seconds.
White long haired dog.

How to Crate Train a Puppy or Dog: 12 Easy steps

  1. Place crate in kennel with door open and facing a high traffic area. In the beginning of crate training, a dog feels more comfortable around familiarity.
  2. If a puppy is beginning training, layer the crate floor with puppy pads first as the pup is still learning how potty time works.
  3. Add a soft blanket and some toys to the crate to make the crate more appealing.
  4. Leave kibble or a treat near the back of the crate for the first time a dog or puppy is introduced to the kennel. Treats or kibble encourage pups to enter the crate voluntarily.
  5. Crate training should begin after an activity that tires the pup out a little, for example after a walk, or after playtime.
  6. Use a command that lets the pup know it is time to go into the crate. Words like “kennel” or “crate” work well.
  7. The first time a crate is introduced to a dog or puppy, stay in the kennel as he explores his new den, and then give him lots of praise for going inside.
  8. Once a pup has explored and sniffed the crate for the first time, call him to come out and give him praise for passing his first crate experience.
  9. Dog and puppies should only associate a crate with positive experiences. Repeat steps 6 to 8 two more times.
  10. On the third time the pup enters the crate, close the door gently behind him, and sit quietly for a few minutes in the kennel.
  11. Open the door after a few minutes and give him praise as he comes out.
  12. Repeat steps 6 to 11, each time waiting a minute or two longer to let the dog or puppy out of the crate, until the pup is comfortably relaxing in the crate in 30 minutes sessions.

Puppy crate training schedule

Very young puppies are still learning bladder and bowel control and should not be crated for long periods of time.

  • Crate time should be broken up with walks, play or short activities, and a crate should be used for rest, chew-time or hanging out in.
  • Puppies under 6 months should never be in a crate for longer than 3 consecutive hours as they have not mastered potty time at this young age.
  • The rule of thumb for puppies older than 6 months is to crate in hours for the age of the puppy in months, plus one.

Below is an example of a crate training schedule, and a reminder that the in-crate hours should not be consecutive for puppies but rather broken up over 24 hours to fit the puppy’s activity and feeding schedule.

Puppy Age (months) Plus One Crate Time (hours/day)
2 +1 3 daytime hours + potty breaks
3 +1 4 daytime hours + potty breaks
4 +1 5 daytime hours + potty breaks
5 +1 6 daytime hours + potty breaks
6 +1 7 daytime hours + potty breaks
7 +1 8* daytime hours + potty breaks

*Puppies and dogs should never be crated for a consecutive 8 hours in one day, unless crating overnight. Very young puppies must be taken for a potty break at least every 4 hours, even during a night schedule. If potty accidents occur, increase the frequency of breaks.

8 Tips on how to encourage voluntary crate training

Crate or kennel training should always be a voluntary exercise. Here are some tips to making crate training a puppy or dog an experience with mutual benefits.

  • Always praise a dog that has been crated.
  • Start with short in-crate sessions by leaving new toys or treats inside.
  • Feed a pup in the crate with the door open at first.
  • Crate train only for the recommended amount of time the dog can comfortably hold his bladder and bowels.
  • Never force a fearful or panicking pup into a crate, use a rewards for motivation.
  • Always supervise all crate training sessions.
  • To encourage time-out in the crate voluntarily, remove the door.
  • Make a crate a positive experience where a dog feels secure, include a soft blanket.

Adopting a crate-trained dog

The benefits of crate training adopted dogs or puppies is that a new pet parent is able to crate their new family member for comfort and safety, of both humans and pups. Crates in the home can be seen as a comfortable, private den for adopted pups, which helps to avoid:

  • Dogs rambunctiously greeting new guests.
  • Running rampant through the house when the family are out.
  • Chewing up furniture or other items of value.

Learn more about benefits of crate training a puppy or dog