Many people feel that locking your dog up in a crate is cruel, but what is being confined
to a small space didn’t make you feel uncomfortable, but rather made you feel secure and
Believe it or not, dogs instinctively seek out tight space. This area soothes them as
well as diminishes the area they feel they need to protect. Many dogs make their own
crates by crawling under coffee tables, desks and beds. It is not their cage, it is their den,
and every dog needs a den. Training your dog to use a crate is not cruel and unusual
Quite the contrary; when crate trained properly before long he or she will
consider the crate as a "den" and go there automatically when they are tired or just want
to be alone.
Why crate train?
Crate training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train and housebreak a
dog. The single most important aspect of training is that you reward and praise your dog
each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her
own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more
time you spend with your dog, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.
It is important that you make provisions for your dog when you are not home. Until your
dog is housetrained, she should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she
will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles anywhere and everywhere, chewing
your furniture, shoes, carpeting and destroying everything she can get her mouth or claws
Why can’t I just put my dog…
Many people, when they leave home, confine their new dog to the yard, a bathroom,
kitchen, or a laundry room. This is counterproductive for many reasons. First, the dog is
not used to spending time in that place. It is filled with unfamiliar and uncomfortable
smells. They do not associate you with that room, but rather the fact that you are leaving.
This may lead to separation anxiety in the future. Second, the floor surface is
uncomfortable and there is no traction available, making the dog more nervous. Also, the
environment is much too large to create the “den” environment that dogs need to feel
comfortable. Lastly, these places are seldom where you are when you’re home, therefore
the dog will not willingly go there and use that as a “safe place” when they are nervous.
A few basic rules of thumb:
1. A crate should never be used as punishment.
2. A puppy should never be confined to a crate for longer than 1 hour for each
month of age plus one (a 2 month old dog should never be in it’s crate for more
than 3 hours, a 3 month old dog never more than 4 hours) when you are not home.
3. The crate should only be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around
and lie down – any bigger and the dog will use it for a rest room. If you
purchase a large crate that will fit your puppy when it is full grown, then you
should partition off part of it so that puppy doesn't have too much room
4. Move the crate from room to room with you and allow your new dog to sleep in
the crate in your bedroom at night. This gives them a sense of security and they
will settle down much more quickly knowing you are right there.
Furnishing Your Puppy's Crate
Toys and Treats: Place your puppy's favorite toys and dog treats at the far end opposite
the door opening. These toys may include the "Kong" or a ball. Toys and balls should
always be inedible and large enough to prevent their being swallowed. Any fragmented
toys should be removed to prevent choking and internal obstruction. You may also place
a sterilized marrowbone filled with cheese or dog treats in the crate.
Water: A small hamster-type water dispenser with ice water should be attached to the
crate if your puppy is to be confined for more than two hours in the crate.
Bedding: Place a towel or blanket inside the crate to create a soft, comfortable bed for
the puppy. If the puppy chews the towel, remove it to prevent the pup from swallowing or
choking on the pieces. Although most puppies prefer lying on soft bedding, some may
prefer to rest on a hard, flat surface, and may push the towel to one end of the crate to
avoid it. If the puppy urinates on the towel, remove bedding until the pup no longer
eliminates in the crate.
Location of Crate
Whenever possible, place the crate near or next to you when you are home. This will
encourage the pup to go inside it without his feeling lonely or isolated when you go out.
When you are not home, the crate should be placed in whatever room your family spends
the most time in (living room).
Introducing the Crate to Your Dog
DO NOT SHOVE THE DOG IN THE CRATE YOU JUST BOUGHT AND WALK
OUT THE DOOR! In order that your puppy associate his/her kennel crate with comfort,
security and enjoyment, please follow these guidelines:
1. Introduce the dog to the crate GRADUALLY! Start on a Friday night and finish
by Monday morning before you leave for work.
2. Occasionally throughout the day, drop small pieces of kibble or dog biscuits in the
crate. While investigating his new crate, the pup will discover edible treasures,
thereby reinforcing his positive associations with the crate. You will also feed him
in the crate to create the same effect. If the dog hesitates, it often works to feed
him in front of the crate, then right inside the doorway and then, finally, in the
back of the crate.
3. In the beginning, praise and pet your pup when he enters the crate. Do not try to
push, pull or force the puppy into the crate. At this early stage of introduction
only inducive methods are suggested. Use as treat to lure him into the crate, give
him another treat once he is in the crate. Do not close the door. Do this several
times throughout the day. If you try to do it only when you’re going to lock the
door, the puppy will get wise and not enter at all. Overnight exception: You may
need to place your pup in his crate and shut the door upon retiring. (In most cases,
the crate should be placed next to your bed overnight.)
4. You may also play this enjoyable and educational game with your pup or dog:
without alerting your puppy, drop a small dog biscuit into the crate. Then call
your puppy and say to him, "Where's the biscuit? It's in your room." Using only a
friendly, encouraging voice, direct your pup toward his crate. When the puppy
discovers the treat, give enthusiastic praise. The biscuit will automatically serve
as a primary reward. Your pup should be free to leave its crate at all times during
this game. Later on, your puppy's toy or ball can be substituted for the treat.
5. It is advisable first to crate your pup for short periods of time while you are home
with him. In fact, crate training is best accomplished while you are in the room
with your dog. Getting him used to your absence from the room in which he is
crated is a good first step. This prevents an association being made with the crate
and you’re leaving him/her alone.
1. Warm Weather: Do not crate a puppy or dog when temperatures reach an
uncomfortable level. This is especially true for the short-muzzled (Pugs, Pekes,
Boxers, Bulldogs, etc.) and the Arctic or thick- coated breeds (Malamutes,
Huskies, Akitas, Newfoundlands, etc.). Cold water should always be available to
puppies, especially during warm weather. [Never leave an unsupervised dog on a
terrace, roof or inside a car during warm weather. Also, keep outdoor exercise
periods brief until the hot weather subsides.]
2. Be certain that your puppy has fully eliminated shortly before being crated. Be
sure that the crate you are using is not too large to discourage your pup from
eliminating in it. Rarely does a pup or dog eliminate in the crate if it is properly
sized and the dog is an appropriate age to be crated a given amount of time. If
your pup/dog continues to eliminate in the crate, the following may be the causes:
a. The pup is too young to have much control.
b. The pup has a poor or rich diet, or very large meals.
c. The pup did not eliminate prior to being confined.
d. The pup has worms.
e. The pup has gaseous or loose stools.
f. The pup drank large amounts of water prior to being crated.
g. The pup has been forced to eliminate in small confined areas prior to crate
h. The pup/dog is suffering from a health condition or illness (i.e., bladder
infection, prostate problem, etc.)
i. The puppy or dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left
Note: Puppies purchased in pet stores, or puppies which were kept solely in small
cages or other similar enclosures at a young age (between approximately 7 and 16
weeks of age), may be considerably harder to housebreak using the crate training
method due to their having been forced to eliminate in their sleeping area during
this formative stage of development. This is the time when most puppies are
learning to eliminate outside their sleeping area. Confining them with their waste
products retards the housebreaking process, and this problem can continue
throughout a dog's adult life.
Accidents In The Crate
If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out, do not punish him upon your return.
Wash out the crate using a pet odor neutralizer (such as Nature's Miracle). Do not use
ammonia-based products, as their odor resembles urine and may draw your dog back to
urinate in the same spot again.
Crating Duration Guidelines
Age of dog Time in crate
9-10 Weeks Approx. 30-60 minutes
11-14 Weeks Approx. 1-4hours
15-16 Weeks Approx. 4-6ours
17 + Weeks Approx. 6+ (8 hours maximum)
*NOTE: Except for overnight, neither puppies nor dogs should be crated for more than 8
hours at a time. (8 hours maximum!)
The Crate As Punishment
NEVER use the crate as a form of punishment or reprimand for your puppy or dog. This
simply causes the dog to fear and resent the crate. If correctly introduced to his crate,
your puppy should be happy to go into his crate at any time. You may however use the
crate as a brief time-out for your puppy as a way of discouraging nipping or excessive
[NOTE: Sufficient daily exercise is important for healthy puppies and dogs. Regular
daily walks should be offered as soon as a puppy is fully immunized. Backyard exercise
is not enough!]
Children And The Crate
Do not allow children to handle your dog while he/she is in the crate. The crate is your
dog's private sanctuary. His/her rights to privacy should always be respected.
Barking In The Crate
In most cases a pup that cries incessantly in his crate has either been crated too soon
(without taking the proper steps as outlined above) or is suffering from separation anxiety
and is anxious about being left alone. Some pups may simply need more exercise. Others
may not have enough attention paid them. Some breeds of dog may be particularly vocal
(e.g., Miniature Pinchers, Mini Schnauzers, and other frisky terrier types). You may need
to increase the amount of exercise and play your dog receives daily.
When Not To Use A Crate
Do not crate your puppy or dog if:
• s/he is too young to have sufficient bladder or sphincter control.
• s/he has diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by: worms, illness, intestinal upsets
such as colitis, too much and/or the wrong kinds of food, quick changes in the
dogs diet, or stress, fear or anxiety.
• s/he is vomiting.
• you must leave him/her crated for more than the Crating Duration Guidelines
• s/he has not eliminated shortly before being placed inside the crate.
• the temperature is excessively high.
• s/he has not had sufficient exercise, companionship and socialization.
The Cost of A Crate
Crates can cost between $35 and $150 depending on the size and the type of crate and the
The Cost of Not Buying a Crate
The cost of not using a crate:
• Vet bills for things ingested by the dog
• Your shoes
• Table legs
• Chairs and sofas
• Throw rugs and carpet, and
• Electric, telephone and computer wires.
The real cost, however, is your dog's safety and your
peace of mind.