Easy Crate Training Steps Explained

Filed in Dog Training by on June 29, 2024

Crate Training

Crate training a dog introduces and acclimates to a crate as a safe and comfortable space, ultimately teaching them to view it positively as their den.

By gradually introducing the crate, associating it with positive experiences, and using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, dog owners can teach their dogs to voluntarily enter and settle in the crate, providing a secure and convenient space to relax, sleep, or travel!

Crate Training a Dog Made Easy

Crate training a dog is a valuable dog training tool for your dog’s safety and well-being!

It provides them with a safe and comfortable space and can be helpful for various situations, such as travel, vet visits, or when you need to leave them alone for short periods.

Step One: Choose the right crate

Select a crate appropriate for your dog’s size, allowing them to stand, turn around, and lie comfortably.

Opt for a sturdy and well-ventilated crate. You can also cover the crate partially or fully with a blanket to create a den-like environment.

Step Two: Introduce the crate gradually

Make it a positive and inviting space for your dog by introducing it gradually.

Leave the crate door open and place treats, toys, or comfortable bedding inside to encourage your dog to explore and associate positive experiences with the crate.

Step Three: Encourage positive associations

Use positive reinforcement techniques to associate the crate with positive experiences. Offer treats, praise, and rewards when your dog willingly enters or spends time in the crate. Never use the crate as a form of punishment.

Step Four: Association with mealtime

Incorporate the crate into your dog’s mealtime routine. Initially, place their food bowl near the crate, gradually moving it inside the dog crate over time.

This helps them associate the crate with enjoyable experiences and nourishment.

Step Five: Gradual confinement

Once your dog is comfortable going into the crate willingly, close the door briefly while you are present. Slowly increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Stay nearby, engage in calming activities, or offer a special toy or treat to keep them occupied and relaxed.

Step Six: Gradual alone time

Slowly increase the alone time in the crate, starting with short intervals and gradually extending the duration. Ensure your dog has enough exercise and bathroom breaks before leaving them in the crate.

Avoid making a big fuss when you leave or return to prevent creating anxiety or excitement around crate time.

Consistency and routine:

Establish a consistent routine for crate training. Use verbal cues like “crate” or “kennel” to signal your dog to enter the crate. Consistency helps your dog understand and become comfortable with the process.

Remember to make the crate a fun space for your dog, ensuring it is never associated with negative experiences! Be patient, as crate training can take time and may require adjustments based on your dog’s needs.

Make the Dog Crate Comfortable

You certainly don’t want your pet lying on cold metal or harsh steel caging during your dog crate training experience!

Try your best to make the dog crate comfortable for your furry friend. You want them to enjoy the crate and enter it freely!

Size: Make sure the crate is sufficiently spacious for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie comfortably. However, it shouldn’t be too big, as dogs tend to feel more secure in cozy spaces.

Bedding: Place a soft and comfortable bedding material in the crate, such as a dog bed, mat, or blanket. This will provide a cozy surface for your dog to rest on and help them feel more at ease.

Toys and Chews: Add a few of your dog’s favorite, puzzle, or safe chew toys in the crate. These can help entertain your pup and provide mental stimulation during crate time.

Familiar scents: If your dog has a special blanket or a favorite toy with a familiar scent, place it in the crate. The familiar scent can be soothing and help your pup feel more comfortable and secure.

Location: Position the dog crate in a quiet and calm area of your home, away from excessive noise, drafts, or direct sunlight.

This will create an environment that promotes relaxation and makes the crate a more inviting space for your dog.

What If My Pet Chews the Dog Crate Bedding?

This is especially common in dogs suffering from seperation anxiety! Your dog is nervous about being left alone and probably trying to escape and get to you (but doesn’t know how).

Some dogs become so anxious they may even injure themselves trying to crew through their dog crate! For this reason, the dog crate training process must be conducted gradually and correctly.

If your dog is actively chewing and ingesting the bedding, it’s essential to remove it immediately to avoid potential risks, such as choking or intestinal blockages!

Look for chew-resistant bedding options made from durable materials, such as heavy-duty canvas or nylon. These types of bedding are designed to withstand persistent chewing and may be a safer alternative for your dog.

Suppose your dog continues to chew the bedding despite efforts to discourage the behavior.

In that case, you may need to explore crate alternatives, such as using a sturdy crate without bedding or considering other confinement options like a playpen or baby gate, depending on your pet’s behavior and training progress.

Crate Training a Dog for Potty Training

Crate training can benefit potty training a dog because it utilizes the dog’s instincts to keep their sleeping area clean.

Dogs have an inherent instinct to avoid soiling their immediate living space, which makes the crate an effective tool for teaching them to hold their bladder and bowel movements.

Regarding potty training, the main idea behind crate training is to create a “den” environment where the dog feels secure and comfortable.

Confining your dog in an appropriately sized crate restricts their movement, preventing them from wandering off and having accidents around the house.

Encourage bladder and bowel control

Dogs instinctively try to avoid eliminating in the area where they sleep or rest. The crate’s limited space encourages them to hold their bladder and bowel movements until they are outside and can relieve themselves.

Establish a routine

Crate training helps establish a routine for potty breaks. Dogs thrive on consistency, so having a structured schedule of crate time and regular outdoor bathroom breaks sets expectations and aids in understanding when and where they should go potty.

Prevent accidents

When properly sized, the crate inhibits a dog’s ability to have accidents inside the house. This reduces the likelihood of them developing crate issues!

You Still Need to Provide Adequate Potty Breaks!

2 Months: Approx. Every 2 Hours

3 Months: Approx. Every 3 Hours

4 Months: Approx. Every 4 Hours

5 Months: Approx. Every 5 Hours

From then on, you’ll need to use common sense when providing potty breaks. Unless sleeping, allowing your dog a potty break once every 6 or 7 hours is a good idea.

Crate Training a Puppy for Safety

By providing a designated, secure space for your puppy, crate training helps prevent them from getting into dangerous situations when you can’t directly supervise them.

It also helps with house training, as dogs instinctively desire to keep their sleeping area clean, encouraging them to hold their bladder and bowels until they’re let outside.

Additionally, crate training can help reduce separation anxiety and limit destructive behavior, making it easier for you and your puppy to adjust to being apart for periods!


Your puppy will want to cause all kinds of trouble, especially when teething! Nothing is safe, from the rubber coating on your electrical wiring to the paint on your walls!

Not only can this provide apparent health and safety risks, but it can also become costly.

Consider the dog crate like a crib for a human baby. Young puppies can easily injure themselves or swallow something dangerous if left unattended!

Crate Training During the Night

Crate training during the night can be essential to your dog’s overall crate training process! Establish a bedtime routine that includes crate time.

Take your dog out for a bathroom break right before bedtime to minimize the chances of needing to go during the night.

Create an enjoyable environment in the sleeping area! Avoid loud noises or distractions that may disrupt your dog’s sleep. Consider using white noise or calming music to help them relax.

Tire them out:

Be sure to give your dog adequate exercise and mental stimulation during the day to help them settle down and sleep better at night.

Walking, playtime, and training sessions can help burn off excess energy.

Midnight potty break:

If your dog is young or still in-house training, they may need a middle-of-the-night bathroom break (or 2-3, depending on the age).

Take them out on a leash, keep the interaction minimal, and avoid any playtime. Then, return them to the crate.

Dog Crate Training for Travel

Crate training for travel can benefit both your dog’s safety and make the travel experience less stressful!

During long trips, plan for regular breaks to allow your dog to stretch, relieve itself, and have some water and snacks. Never leave your dog unattended in the crate during stops; ensure they’re secured on a leash!

If you’re traveling by car, gradually introduce your dog to the crate inside the vehicle by placing it in the backseat or the cargo area.

Start with short trips and gradually increase the duration to help your dog acclimate to car travel in the crate.

Consult with the airline or transportation company

If you’re traveling by air or another mode of transportation, check the specific guidelines and requirements provided by the airline or transportation company.

They may have specific regulations regarding crate size, documentation, and handling procedures.

Are Dogs Den Animals?

Yes, dogs are den animals! They instinctively seek out small, enclosed spaces like dens for safety, security, and rest.

This denning instinct is rooted in their ancestors, such as wolves, who would seek out sheltered areas like caves or burrows.

The den provides a cozy and protected space where dogs can feel secure and retreat when they need to rest or feel safe.

Crate training a dog takes advantage of this denning instinct by providing dogs with a confined, secure space mimicking a den.

When crate training is done correctly, it can help dogs feel comfortable, calm, and give them a sense of their own space.

While many dogs naturally enjoy using crates as a den-like space, not all dogs will automatically take to crates. Each dog is unique, and their comfort levels with crate training may vary.

Patient and positive training methods are crucial to helping dogs view the crate as a safe and comfortable space.

Types of Dog Crates

Wire crates
Wire crates are made of metal wires and offer excellent visibility and airflow. Wire dog crates are collapsible, making them easy to store and transport. Most wire crates have a removable plastic tray at the bottom for easy cleaning.

Wire crates also often come with a divider panel, allowing you to adjust the size as your dog grows!

Plastic crates

Plastic crates, also known as travel crates or airline-approved crates, are sturdy and typically have a solid shell with a wire door or vented openings for airflow.

They provide a more enclosed and den-like environment for your dog and are often required for air travel.

Soft-sided crates

Soft-sided crates are made of fabric and have a lightweight and collapsible design. These crates are convenient for travel and short-term use but may not suit dogs who tend to chew or scratch.

Soft-sided crates offer less durability and security compared to other types.

Heavy-duty dog crates

These crates are designed for dogs who are robust or prone to escaping. They are typically constructed with thicker and stronger materials, like reinforced metal or aluminum.

Heavy-duty crates offer enhanced security and durability, making them suitable for more powerful or determined dogs.

Decorative crates

Decorative crates are designed to blend in with your home decor. They may be made of materials like wood or wicker, resembling furniture pieces such as end tables or dog crate covers.

While aesthetically pleasing, these crates may not be as durable as other types and could be chewed through by determined dogs.

Crate Training a Dog Conclusion

Crate training takes time and patience. Stay consistent with the routine and gradually increase the duration of confinement. With time, your dog will become more comfortable and eventually sleep through the night peacefully!

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