10 Crate Training Tips for Puppies (with Video)

jack Russel puppies

Puppy breath… when we brought Abernathy home (our first dog as “grown ups”) I couldn’t get enough of his puppy breath. But just like all puppies, we had to train Abernathy to go outside to pee.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to use crate training. Here are crate training tips for puppies that really work. And if you are having trouble with puppy house training at night click here for tips specifically for nighttime.

Is Crate Training Just for Puppies?

This is a question often asked, and the answer is quite simply, no. It is this dog owner’s well-researched belief that crate training is necessary for all dogs – even older dogs – simply because there are times when we need to rely on a crate.

But crate training puppies is especially helpful because you can teach them to enjoy the crate when they are young and they will look at it as a place of comfort as they get older. It also greatly speeds the housebreaking process when done correctly.

Is Crate Training Humane?

Small puppy in crate

Dogs come from wolves which are den animals. Den animals feel safer in… dens. For thousands and thousands of years dogs have used dens to rest, recover from injuries and care for their pups.

Fact is, they feel safer in small enclosures while resting, so it is my opinion that it is not cruel but adhering to their own natural instincts and there can be nothing wrong with that. Now, that I have established that crating is not inhumane, let’s look at crate training for puppies.

Crate Training for Puppies – An Overview

Puppies are cute. They are bundles and bundles of cuteness, but also bundles of mischief, so it is important to get them crate trained as soon as possible.

Method 1

As Zak George says in the video below, this process could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on your dog and more importantly your training technique. So, here are some important steps to follow. First and most important, never tell the pup to go into the cage.

Here are the steps:

  1. Place the crate in the middle of the floor. You can even put a soft blanket or pillow in there. Just let the puppy see it.
  2. Open it up and play with your pup around it.
  3. Place a small snack in the crate. He/she will go for it, no worries there. Praise him/her for going in.
  4. Allow the pup to go in and out as they please.
  5. Place another snack in the crate. He/She will go back in to retrieve it.
  6. You can do this over and over for a while to establish that it is safe place.
  7. If the dog has a chew toy, then threw that in there. Most likely your dog will retrieve it and come out. There is no need to praise your dog when coming out. Remember to keep your praise for going in.
  8. When you feel that your pup is not afraid of the cage, slowly close the door when they are busy with their chew toy or consuming the snack that you placed in there earlier. You can even feed them a small snack for them to consume inside the crate.
  9. Open the cage to assure the pup that it is not a doggy jail and that they go in and out as they please.
  10. Repeat these steps over and over until your pup goes in their own their own.  

Zak George also has a book that goes over these steps in more detail called “Dog Training Revolution.”

Method 2

An alternative method is called Teaching Crate Tolerance and I think is a sure fire way of working with any pup.

  1. Set up the crate.
  2. Show your pup the nice big treat.
  3. Let your pup sniff and even lick the treat.
  4. Toss the treat inside the crate and then lock the door. (The pup should really want to go into the crate and will start pawing at it to get in.)
  5. After the pup has whined for a while, open the door and let the puppy into get it.
  6. We are hoping the puppy will sit down and enjoy its treat inside the crate. If so, slowly close the door for five minutes and allow the puppy some time to enjoy it.
  7. If your pup does not react as you wish, then let the pup out but make sure the treat stays inside. It will not be long before the pup will want to get back in at it.

For more idea on crate training puppies, please check out “The Spruce Pets.”

Crate Training for Puppies – Specific Situations

Black and Tan puppy sitting outside a create door

When I talk to people about crate training, here are some of the common situations I get asked about.

Crate Training – The First Week

This may be the most difficult time to crate train a puppy, but rest assured it can do done, but you gotta be strong and ignore your smothering instincts and stick to the rules. Here are some tips for crate training a puppy the first night.

Remember, your puppy has most likely just been taken away from its furry, playful little siblings and mother, so he/she is very vulnerable and in need of attention. But you must not give in and let the pup sleep in your bed unless that is where he/she will always be sleeping.

Otherwise if you go from bed to create, nobody will be sleeping because dogs are not only den animals, they are pack animals and find comfort in numbers of those they can trust. A great idea as suggested by McCann Dog Training, is putting all their meals in their crates so they automatically know, the crate is great place.

Crate Training Puppies in a Group

Crate training a litter or group of puppies is pretty much the same as just one puppy. It is important to provide as much positive reinforcement as possible when they are inside the crate.

And it may also be a good idea to always give them their meals inside the crate so as to instill in them that the crate is a place where good things happen.

Crate Training Large Puppies

The most important thing to remember is that dogs need to have enough room to stand up and turn around in. It might be a great idea to get an extra-large crate like this one, which has a divider so that you can make it larger as they grow.

It is also more cost efficient. One thing you really want to be careful about though is durability. Larger dogs can be rambunctious so they need a strong, sturdy crate that will not easily break which might injure them.

Crate Training for Puppies At Night

According to Top Dog Tips, this can easily be done by following this simple, seven step formula.

1. Crate Train Your Puppy

This will provide you with a good way to control your puppy, especially for when you are gone and would prefer that your home does not become a giant chew toy or toilet box.

You will want to place the crate near your bed. This will help your puppy to feel safer and you can keep an eye on them.

2. Do Not Reward Crying Or Whining.

Your puppy may whine sometimes during the night, but do not respond to them when they do. You will just be teaching them that whining gets them out of the cage. So, please wait for them to stop whining. The minute they have settle down and are no longer whining, is your time to let them out, but do not feed them.

3. Puppies need a routine.

Plan to feed your puppy three to four hours before bedtime. You want them to get all their business out before they ever get in the crate.

Puppies need lots of sleep. So, plan it in a way that your puppy gets lots of sleep in the morning and afternoon, but not three to four hours before bedtime. Get that puppy to burn as much energy as possible by playing and talking long walks.  

Give them as many bathroom breaks as you can. Especially right before bed. We want to try to squeeze out as much as we can before they settle in for the night.

Right before bed, give your puppy something to wind down to, like chewing on their favorite toy. Doing so will make sure that your puppy is good and ready for sleeping a long period of time.

4. Comfort

Place something comfortable in there for your puppy like a mat or a blanket.

A shirt of yours that still has your smell on it may be a good idea as well because it will help them to feel more comfortable having your smell there.

5. Something to do.

·  Place something like a chew toy in there for teething pains. Not only will that sooth their teething pains but will give them something to do if they are bored.

6. Mozart anyone?

Music may be soothing for your puppy. Frankly, I have never tried that, but it is and interesting idea and might work.

7. Don’t be lazy.

Get up early and let your puppy out. Puppies have so much energy so it is difficult for you to sleep in now, so be warned; you may wake up to a mess if you try to sleep in too late.

When to Stop Crate Training

older puppy laying on dog bed

This is a very difficult question that mostly depends on your dog and what breed it is.  

At minimal, you should wait till at least until your pup is done with teething.

Another factor to consider is the type of puppy. A small, rambunctious and curious breed like a Jack Russel Terrier might need much more time than a Great Dane or Mastiff.

According to Cuteness, this could take anywhere from one year to eighteen months, but if your breed is particularly active breed that loves barking at what is going outside the window, loves to chew things and gets into trouble a lot, you might have to keep your dog crated when left alone for life.

Also, if you must be away from home for long periods during the day due to work, you can stop crate training by placing the crate in a gated area. This will provide your dog with a place to walk around and their bed or place to hide when they are frightened.

Now that your dog is crate trained, you might want to get rid of the crate. However, this might not be a great idea simply because dogs love routine and having their own special place.

So, by getting rid of it, you might be encouraging them to take up space on your lazyboy chair, favorite place on the couch or your own bed, and depending upon the breed, it could get quite uncomfortable, so there is no need to get rid of it. What you could do is remove the door from the crate, so that they can go in their whenever they want.

Dog Training Courses

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors in ways that are innovate and kind and most of all they WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced.

Summary: Crate Training Tips for Puppies

I hope this post will help you with all of your questions on how to crate train your pup.

Please remember that the most important things to remember, is to be never use your crate is a punishment facility, order your puppy in a stern voice into the crate, never physically force an unwilling pup into a crate. Also your puppy should never stay in the crate for more than four hours at a time. Doing so will have disastrous effects.

But most importantly, use commonsense. The training program must be fun for them. You must make them understand that the crate is a safe and fun place for them.

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.