How to crate train your puppy

A small brown puppy lying in their bed next to a crate

Puppies, adults, and seniors all benefit from crate training. There’s a common misconception that a crate is a cage meant for controlling or punishing your pet, but in reality, crates take advantage of your puppy’s natural denning instinct and provide a safe, enclosed space. They can be used to enforce nap time and calm down overstimulated puppies. Your dog should ultimately view their crate as a private bedroom that they can relax in.

Tips for crate training

  • Feed your puppy’s meals in the crate. This creates a positive association with the crate. If you have multiple dogs or pets, feeding your puppy in their crate allows them to relax and enjoy their meal, secure in the knowledge that they don’t have to defend it.
  • Play crate games. You might have a training goal in mind–making the crate a fun place to hang out in–but your dog only knows that they’re having a good time.
  • Hide surprises in the crate. Once your dog figures out that the crate spontaneously generates treats and toys, they’ll be more likely to enter and investigate on their own.
  • Follow a schedule. Dogs love consistency and routine. If you regularly crate your puppy after a long walk, they’ll adjust to the routine and seize the opportunity for a nap.
  • Keep crate time appropriate for your dog’s age and activity level. Dogs aren’t meant to be crated all day. Make sure your puppy is getting plenty of play, training, and interaction throughout the day.

Suggested equipment

  • Kongs (filled with food and frozen)
  • Long-lasting chews
  • Crate attachments
  • Treats and kibble

Why you should crate train your puppy

Your puppy may need to be crated for the vet, the groomer, car rides, or kennels. If your puppy is trained to view the crate as a welcome place, they are more likely to relax and be less stressed overall. Some pet owners benefit from turning the crate into a mobile safe place that helps their dogs settle in new environments.

Crates are also used to aid in house-training. Your puppy is naturally averse to soiling their sleeping area and will bark, whine, or scratch to let you know they want out of their crate to go potty.

If your dog is ever injured, your vet may prescribe crate rest until the injury heals. And in an emergency situation, if your dog has been trained to view their crate as a safe space, they are more likely to retreat to it, making them easier to locate and evacuate.

Gentle Beast offers online training courses led by pet behavior expert Alex Sessa, CPDT-KA. Our Crate Training course helps you get your puppy used to their new crate and sets you both up for a lifetime of success.

About the Author

A picture of Melody smiling towards the camera
Melody Lee
Contributing Writer

Melody Lee is a contributing writer for Gentle Beast, and is a CPDT-KA dog trainer. She lives in Manhattan with two feral cats, Littlepip and Alphonse, that tolerate her clicker training attempts. One day, her cats might let her adopt a dog of her own.

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