Dog Crate Training

What is dog crate training? How do you crate train a dog or puppy?

Training your dog to use a dog crate can be a relatively easy affair, and any dog of any age can be trained. You will soon find that, once crate trained, your dog will love his new home and will use it as a safe and quiet place of his own. This is equally true of play pens, and the same advice is relevant.

If possible, you should begin crate training with a small puppy, and have your puppy sleep and rest in his home. He will soon love the security that the crate brings. A puppy pen can be used in conjunction with the dog cage, and can be an area where the dog can socialise whilst still being in a controlled space. The puppy pen is especially useful whilst your puppy is in the chewing stage.

To begin training, the dog should be actively encouraged to enter the crate, but never force him, and also, never “go over the top” with praise. Just treat the crate as a natural and obvious place to go.

Place the dog bedding inside the crate,together with a favourite toy, and perhaps a little treat, and leave the crate door open.

Introduce your dog to the dog crate with the minimum of fuss.

Ideally, leave the dog in the room where you have placed the crate or step away and allow exploration. If the dog ignores the cage, place an enticing bone or novelty toy inside and give your dog time and privacy to discover its new den.

The best period to experiment with the crate is a night time when the dog would be naturally relaxing and ready to rest. You may also add an item of your old clothing inside the crate (re-scent the item by leaving it in your washing basket for a day) to encourage your dog to explore the unit, and associate it with the loving that you give to it.

Random crating is best to avoid any association. If your dog is only placed into the crate when exciting events occur (when visitors arrive etc.) it will quickly make an negative association and may become frustrated or distressed.

If your dog shows little sign of entering the dog crate (after several daytime and overnight periods) then it is important that you are firm with the dog and order it to enter. Back your dog into the crate and close the door. Praise the dog, perhaps give it a treat, and then leave the dog alone for a brief period (starting with 3 or 4 mins, working up to 10 / 15 mins) and return. Open the door, praise calmness and allow the dog to exit of its own accord. Repeat this over the day and for the last period of the night.

As with any training – it should be fun for you both. Don’t overdo it by long sessions. It is better to have lots of short lessons, and lots of praise and smiles.

The kennel should not be used for punishment as any potential negative association should be avoided. It should be used if you move house, travel, caravan, boat or when taking your dog to other homes or premises so that your dog has a continuity among the change.

Good crate training is very important. The bad news is that, dependant upon the dog, it sometimes takes some time, the good news is that it usually works. However, never leave your dog locked in his crate or play pen for long periods alone. It is not fair. A dog who is unhappy being confined may try to escape and may cause damage to the crate or to itself.

Kennel Club Advice on Dog Crate Training

“When ordering a crate for your puppy, buy one big enough for it to lie in stretched out and standing up in when it is fully grown. Make sure that the mesh is not too big as puppies may get their mouths caught. Put some bedding inside and tie some toys in the far end of the crate so the puppy has to go in there to play with them. Gently place your puppy in there whenever it falls asleep. Leave occasional treats in the crate for the puppy to find, so the puppy learns to love going in there. Do not shut the door until your puppy is comfortable being in there, and start closing the door when you are feeding it and when it has fallen asleep. Make sure you stay around to let it out the moment it wakes up or finishes its meal.

You can gradually increase the time the puppy stays in the crate, and initially this should be whilst you are in the room with it.

Make sure it has recently emptied its bladder and bowels before it enters and do not leave your puppy in the crate or puppy pen for more than a couple of hours during the daytime. Although most puppies are content to sleep in their crate overnight, they get very distressed if they have to foul near their beds, so you must be prepared to get out of your bed to let them out if they need to toilet during the night. If they have fouled inside the crate, you must clean it out immediately or the puppy will hate being in the crate.

Never use the crate as a sin-bin or you will teach your puppy to resent it. Always remove the puppy’s collar when in the crate in case it gets caught up on it.
A full range of crates including Crufts branded crates can be ordered from Croft.”

More helpful information from the Kennel Club may be found on the Kennel Club’s website under ‘Essential equipment’.

Warnings and Safety Tips

It is important that the owner looks after their dog’s safety and care.

This includes such things as never leaving a dog in a locked car; never allowing your dog to walk off the lead on a public road;safety in the sun, garden etc. It also includes being aware of perhaps less obvious dangers when using some of the products reviewed on this site.

When using mesh / wire products for dogs & puppies

  • Do not leave collars on dogs – crate or no crate – in case the disc or buckle get caught which can cause serious injury or choking. This is equally true of play pens. In general, a dog or puppy should not be left unsupervised whilst wearing a collar – especially one which includes a large buckle or identity disc. Please remember that this advice is given specifically regarding wire products, but it nevertheless holds true in other circumstances – there are many things in a home, garage or garden where your pet can become entangled. Awareness of these will help you as a responsible dog owner. It bears repeating that a dog should never be left unsupervised in a crate or play pen with its collar on.
  • Remember that a wire crate and many puppy pens are made of wire mesh and it is possible that your dog may attempt to bite the mesh or push its leg through the wire spacing. If your dog does this, it may get trapped or suffer injury. This rare accident may be brought on by separation anxiety where the dog just wants to escape, or by boredom. The first should be treated by correct crate training, and the second by the introduction of safe toys or chews such as Nylabone or Kong. A combination of both approaches may be best. Almost anything that causes stress can bring on separation anxiety at any age, and in extreme cases the solution may be medication as well as a behavioural approach. Destructive chewing and biting are often symptoms of separation anxiety, as is unwanted urination or defecation. Please be aware of your responsibility in supervising and training your dog, especially in early use. Keep your dog relaxed, frequently praise calmness, and be prepared to give special training if necessary. The responsibility is that of the owner, but we will be willing to give advice as necessary.
  • Do not allow your dog to stand or play on the mesh top of the dog crate or puppy pen. The product is not designed for this.