How to Crate Train Your Puppy

This article goes over the basics of crate training your dog. If you prefer customized guidance, we recommend using the app:

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One of the essential items for a puppy is a crate. But how do you get your puppy used to it and how to ensure they feel safe?

Before you start, you want to make sure the crate you have is:

  • Not too big so that your dog doesn’t mistake it as a bathroom
  • Not too small so that your dog isn’t uncomfortable as they grow
  • Safe and durable

Step 1. Let your dog explore the crate

The first thing you want to do is introduce the crate to your pup, let them explore it on their own. Crates can intimidate dogs at first, add treats inside to motivate their exploration.

Step 2. Add meals in the crate

Once they have enough time to explore their and hopefully get to the treats, you can move to have their meals inside the crate.

Never close the door or lock her in – this will come later.

Once your pup is happily eating their meals inside her crate, begin closing the door behind them while they eat.

If they cry or whine when you close the door, wait until they’ve settled down and reward them by letting them out. If you let your pup out because she doesn’t like it, they learn to make a fuss and get what they want.

Step 3. Switch to napping in the crate

Eventually, you transition from feeding them in the crate to napping. When they are ready, you can switch to feeding your pup in their regular spot and have them nap in the crate. To do this, first, place a blanket inside the crate and give your pup a chew toy. If your dog came from a litter and you happen to have the blanket they arrived home with, use this as it will still have their siblings and possibly mother’s smell on it.

Once inside, close the door. Set a timer for 30 minutes and go about your day. Stay at home for now. They might whine or cry at first, but eventually, she will settle down.

Eventually, your pup should be able to stay and nap in the crate for 60 minutes. Then start leaving the house to have them get ready on their own.

Step 4. Alone in the crate

When you come back they might be super excited. Crouch near the crate and wait until they settle (this might take a while but wait it out so that she learns to associate the create an opening with her being calm). Then open the crate and go about your day. Don’t make a fuss about it. Typically you want to build this up to 30 minutes.

Having your dog-like crate will be a great advantage for you in the future, from car or airplane rides to being able to take your dog home with them when you travel.

What to put in the crate

  • Don’t put newspaper in there – this will encourage your dog to use it as a bathroom
  • Plain crate floor is perfectly fine for puppies, but for toy dogs or dogs with thin-coats (Dobermans, Weimaraners, etc.) recommend using some padding
  • If you do pad the crate, recommend using artificial fleece (lightweight, easy to clean, durable)

Where to put the crate

  • Recommend using the family room or kitchen – wherever people in the house tend to be
  • Avoid putting the crate in issolating areas – causes barking, loneliness, fear, and socialization problems
  • It’s okay to have your dog crated near you in the bedroom at night

Crate Training: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Your puppy is calm when they go into and out of the crate. Your puppy feels stress-free around the crate.You are praising your puppy as they come out of the crate.This creates stress for your dog, can associate the crate as a punishment.
Ignore the puppy in the crate.Providing eye contact and talking to the dog while in the crate.Makes the dog confused and frustrated.
Uses a schedule (sleep, potty, meals)Play by ear.Builds stress for the dog. The dog doesn’t know when they will eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom.

Not all dog goes through crate training the same way

We know that there is no one size fits all for crate training, that is why we created the Pocket Scout to guide you each step in the way.