Learn How To Properly Crate Train A Dog

How To Properly Crate Train A Dog

crate train your dog

Congratulations, you decided to crate train your dog!  You will not regret it, I promise.  When you crate train your dog, it provides a sense of security for both your dog and you!  The crate will become their “house” and it keeps them safe from their own devices.  As a result, you will have peace of mind that they will not eat something that could do serious harm.  If you crate train your dog correctly, everyone will reap the benefits.

How long can a dog be crated at a time?

There is no real answer to this, but as a general rule of thumb, you can estimate this to be as many hours as he is months old, plus one.  Therefore, a 2-month-old puppy should be fine for approximately 3 hours at a time before needing a potty break.  Of course, everyone is different and what they ate, when they ate last, how much water they drank & when will all factor into when they will need to take care of business.  Don’t be afraid to change things that work for your dog’s schedule best.


cozy crate

Getting Your Crate Ready

When you crate train your dog, the first thing you should do is make their crate comfy.  Try getting a bed that fits well inside.  Or you could try an old shirt or blanket that is folded up.  This will provide warmth and will have your scent on it, making him feel secure.

Proper way to introduce your dog to a crate

Now that the crate is dog-ready, it is best to provide your dog with a pleasant experience from the beginning.  The best way to get them acclimated is to toss treats or toys into the crate.  They will be excited for yummy treats so they will be eager to go inside.  Let them go in and out by keeping the door open while you are home.

Another great way to get your dog to enjoy his crate is to feed them in the crate (while keeping the door open).  Have him go inside and then eat his breakfast or dinner.

Begin Crate Training

After your dog is somewhat used to their crate, you can begin closing the door.  You will want to make sure he is settled and will not try to fight his way out of it when you are not home.
When you begin crate training with the door closed, have your dog stay inside for short amounts of time to test how they are.  Start with 5 – 10 minutes and gradually build on the time.  Don’t let their whining deter you.  Dogs are like toddlers, they are manipulators!  They know that crying can get them what they want.  The key is consistency.  A general rule of thumb for whining/barking dogs is to have them stay quiet for 3 minutes (or longer) straight before you take them out of the crate.  Otherwise, they are learning that whining and barking work.
If you give in, they will register that crying gets what they want.
Be strong, you can do it!

When To Call It Quits

If a dog cannot handle being locked up, he will do whatever it takes to break out.  This could mean, scratching incessantly, biting on the door/sides of the crate, manipulating the sides of the crate, etc.  All of these actions can pose just as much risk to your dog’s well being as leaving him un-crated; think broken nails, broken teeth, getting stuck between the wires in a metal crate, etc.  If your dog cannot be crated, try gating him in a puppy-proofed room where he won’t harm himself by trying to break free.

When can I stop using the crate?

When you believe your dog has matured and will not eat you out of house and home, you can try weaning them off of the crate.  My suggestion is to wait until they are at least 1 year old, preferably 2+ years old.  Even though a 1 year old day will be potty trained, they still have chewing tendencies that can get them into trouble.

The best way to do this is to give them small doses of “freedom” and seeing how they are at each interval.  Assuming things are fine, you can increase the length of time at each instance until you feel confident that things will be okay.  Don’t be surprised, however, that after weeks of perfect behavior, you come home one day to a house that looks ransacked!

If your dog is still getting into things and cannot be trusted while home alone, keep him crated.  It really is the best thing for everyone.

Just remember, a crate can provide peace of mind for both you and your dog.  The old adage is true, “Better Safe Than Sorry”!