crate training method 1

Providing your puppy or dog with an indoor kennel crate can satisfy many dogs' need for a den-like enclosure. Besides being an effective housebreaking tool (because it takes advantage of the dog's natural reluctance to soil its sleeping place), it can also help to reduce separation anxiety, to prevent destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture), to keep a puppy away from potentially dangerous household items (i.e., poisons, electrical wires, etc.), and to serve as a mobile indoor dog house which can be moved from room to room whenever necessary.

A kennel crate also serves as a travel cabin for you dog when travelling by car or plane. Additionally, most hotels which accept dogs on their premises require them to be crated while in the room to prevent damage to hotel furniture and rugs.

Most dogs which have been introduced to the kennel crate while still young grow up to prefer their crate to rest in or "hang-out" in. Therefore a crate (or any other area of confinement) should NEVER be used for the purpose of punishment.

We recommend that you provide a kennel crate throughout your dog's lifetime. Some crates allow for the removal of the door once it is no longer necessary for the purpose of training. The crate can be placed under a table, or a table top can be put on top of it to make it both unobtrusive and useful.

Preparing the Crate

Vari-Kennel type: Take the crate apart, removing the screws, the top and the door. Allow your pup to go in and out of the bottom half of the crate before attaching the top half. This stage can require anywhere from several hours to a few days. This step can be omitted in the case of a young puppy who accepts crating right away.

Wire Mesh type:Tie the crate door back so that it stays open without moving or shutting closed. If the crate comes with a floor pan, place a piece of cardboard or a towel between the floor (or crate bottom) and the floor pan in order to keep it from rattling.

Furnishing Your Puppy's Crate

Toys and Treats: Place your puppy's favorite toys and dog treats at the far end opposite the door opening. These toys may include the "Tuffy", "Billy", "Kong", "Nylabone" or a ball. Toys and bails should always be inedible and large enough to prevent their being swallowed. Any fragmented toys should be removed to prevent choking and internal obstruction. You may also place a sterilized marrow bone filled with cheese or dog treats in the crate.

Water: A small hamster-type water dispenser with ice water should be attached to the crate if your puppy is to be confined for more than two hours in the crate.

Bedding: Place a towel or blanket inside the crate to create a soft, comfortable bed for the puppy. If the puppy chews the towel, remove it to prevent the pup from swallowing or choking on the pieces. Although most puppies prefer lying on soft bedding, some may prefer to rest on a hard, flat surface, and may push the towel to one end of the crate to avoid it. If the puppy urinates on the towel, remove bedding until the pup no longer eliminates in the crate.

Location of Crate

Whenever possible, place the crate near or next to you when you are home. This will encourage the pup to go inside it without his feeling lonely or isolated when you go out. A central room in the apartment (i.e.: living room or kitchen) or a large hallway near the entrance is a good place to crate your puppy.

Introducing the Crate to Your Puppy

In order that your puppy associate his/her kennel crate with comfort, security and enjoyment, please follow these guidelines:


Occasionally throughout the day, drop small pieces of kibble or dog biscuits in the crate. While investigating his new crate, the pup will discover edible treasures, thereby reinforcing his positive associations with the crate. You may also feed him in the crate to create the same effect. If the dog hesitates, it often works to feed him in front of the crate, then right inside the doorway and then, finally, in the back of the crate.
In the beginning, praise and pet your pup when he enters. Do not try to push, pull or force the puppy into the crate. At this early stage of introduction only inducive methods are suggested. Overnight exception: You may need to place your pup in his crate and shut the door upon retiring. (In most cases, the crate should be placed next to your bed overnight. If this is not possible, the crate can be placed in the kitchen, bathroom or living room.)
You may also play this enjoyable and educational game with your pup or dog: without alerting your puppy, drop a small dog biscuit into the crate. Then call your puppy and say to him, "Where's the biscuit? It's in your room." Using only a friendly, encouraging voice, direct your pup toward his crate. When the puppy discovers the treat, give enthusiastic praise. The biscuit will automatically serve as a primary reward. Your pup should be free to leave its crate at all times during this game. Later on, your puppy's toy or ball can be substituted for the treat.
It is advisable first to crate your pup for short periods of time while you are home with him. In fact, crate training is best accomplished while you are in the room with your dog. Getting him used to your absence from the room in which he is crated is a good first step. This prevents an association being made with the crate and your leaving him/her alone.

A Note About Crating Puppies

Puppies under 4 months of age have little bladder or sphincter control. Puppies under 3 months have even less. Very young puppies under 9 weeks should not be crated, as they need to eliminate very frequently (usually 8-12 times or more daily).

Important Reminders

Collars: Always remove your puppy or dog's collar before confining in the crate. Even flat buckle collars can occasionally get struck on the bars or wire mesh of a crate. If you must leave a collar on the pup when you crate him (e.g.: for his identification tag), use a safety "break away" collar.
Warm Weather: Do not crate a puppy or dog when temperatures reach an uncomfortable level. This is especially true for the short-muzzled (Pugs, Pekes, Bulldogs, etc.) and the Arctic or thick- coated breeds (Malamutes, Huskies, Akitas, Newfoundlands, etc.). Cold water should always be available to puppies, especially during warm weather. [Never leave an unsupervised dog on a terrace, roof or inside a car during warm weather. Also, keep outdoor exercise periods brief until the hot weather subsides.]
Be certain that your puppy has fully eliminated shortly before being crated. Be sure that the crate you are using is not too large to discourage your pup from eliminating in it. Rarely does a pup or dog eliminate in the crate if it is properly sized and the dog is an appropriate age to be crated a given amount of time. If your pup/dog continues to eliminate in the crate, the following may be the causes:


 The pup is too young to have much control.

 The pup has a poor or rich diet, or very large meals.

 The pup did not eliminate prior to being confined.

 The pup has worms.

 The pup has gaseous or loose stools.

 The pup drank large amounts of water prior to being crated.

 The pup has been forced to eliminate in small confined areas prior to crate training.

 The pup/dog is suffering from a health condition or illness (i.e., bladder infection, prostate problem, etc.)

The puppy or dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left alone.

Note: Puppies purchased in pet stores, or puppies which were kept solely in small cages or other similar enclosures at a young age (between approximately 7 and 16 weeks of age), may be considerably harder to housebreak using the crate training method due to their having been forced to eliminate in their sleeping area during this formative stage of development. This is the time when most puppies are learning to eliminate outside their sleeping area. Confining them with their waste products retards the housebreaking process, and this problem can continue throughout a dog's adult life.

Accidents In The Crate

If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out, do not punish him upon your return. Simply wash out the crate using a pet odor neutralizer (such as Nature's Miracle, Nilodor, or Outright). Do not use ammonia-based products, as their odor resembles urine and may draw your dog back to urinate in the same spot again.


Crating Duration Guidelines

  9-10 Weeks

Approx. 30-60 minutes

11-14 Weeks

Approx. 1-3 hours

15-16 Weeks

Approx. 3-4 hours

17 + Weeks

Approx. 4+ (6 hours maximum)

*NOTE: Except for overnight, neither puppies nor dogs should be crated for more than 5 hours at a time. (6 hours maximum!)

The Crate As Punishment

NEVER use the crate as a form of punishment or reprimand for your puppy or dog. This simply causes the dog to fear and resent the crate. If correctly introduced to his crate, your puppy should be happy to go into his crate at any time. You may however use the crate as a brief time-out for your puppy as a way of discouraging nipping or excessive rowdiness.

[NOTE: Sufficient daily exercize is important for healthy puppies and dogs. Regular daily walks should be offered as soon as a puppy is fully immunized. Backyard exercize is not enough!]

Children And The Crate

Do not allow children to play in your dog's crate or to handle your dog while he/she is in the crate. The crate is your dog's private sanctuary. His/her rights to privacy should always be respected.

Barking In The Crate

In most cases a pup who cries incessantly in his crate has either been crated too soon (without taking the proper steps as outlined above) or is suffering from separation anxiety and is anxious about being left alone. Some pups may simply under exercised. Others may not have enough attention paid them. Some breeds of dog may be particularly vocal (e.g., Miniature Pinchers, Mini Schnauzers, and other frisky terrier types). These dogs may need the "Alternate Method of Confining Your Dog", along with increasing the amount of exercise and play your dog receives daily.

When Not To Use A Crate

Do not crate your puppy or dog if:


 s/he is too young to have sufficient bladder or sphincter control.

 s/he has diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by: worms, illness, intestinal upsets such as colitis, too much and/or the wrong kinds of food, quick changes in the dogs diet, or stress, fear or anxiety.

 s/he is vomiting.

 you must leave him/her crated for more than the Crating Duration Guidelines suggest.

 s/he has not eliminated shortly before being placed inside the crate.
(See Housetraining Guidelines for exceptions.)

 the temperature is excessively high.

 s/he has not had sufficient exercise, companionship and socialization.

Buying a Crate

Where to buy a crate: Crates can be purchased through most pet supply outlets, through pet mail order catalogs and through most professional breeders. Some examples are:


Crate Size and Manufacturers:

Dog Size:

Small: (Vari-Kennel #100 or General Cage #201)

Toy Poodles, the Maltese, etc.,  with average weight of 6-10 lbs.

Medium Small: (Vari-Kennel #200 or General Cage #202/212)

Mini Schnauzers, Jack Russells, etc.,  with average weight of 11-20 lbs.

Medium: (Vari-Kennel #300 or General Cage #203/213)

Cocker Spaniels, Field Spaniels, small Shelties, etc., with average weight of 21-40 lbs.

Large: (Vari-Kennel #400 or General Cage #204/214)

Huskies, large Samoyeds, small Golden Retrievers, etc., with average weight of 41-65 Ibs.

Very Large: (Vari-Kennel #500 or General Cage #205/215)

German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes,  Rottweilers, etc., with average weight of 67-100 lbs.

Extra Large: (General Cage #206 or Mid-West #89-Z, 89-E or 99)

Newfoundlands, Great Danes, etc, with average weight of 110 lbs. plus.



The Cost of A Crate

Crates can cost between $35 and $150 depending on the size and the type of crate and the source.


The Cost of Not Buying a Crate

The cost of not using a crate:


your shoes


table legs;

chairs and sofas;

throw rugs and carpet, and

electric, telephone and computer wires.

The real cost, however, is your dog's safety and your peace of mind.

Alternative Method Of Confining Your Puppy

There are alternative methods to crating very young puppies and puppies who must be left alone in the house for lengths of time exceeding the recommended maximum duration of confinement (see Crating Duration Guidelines). We suggest the following:

Use a small to medium-sized room space such as a kitchen, large bathroom or hallway with non- porous floor. Set up the crate on one end, the food and water a few feet away, and some newspaper (approx. 2'x3' to 3'x3') using a 3 to 4 layer thickness, several feet away. Confine your puppy to this room or area using a 3 ft. high, safety-approved child's gate rather than shutting off the opening by a solid door. Your pup will feel less isolated if it can see out beyond its immediate place of confinement. Puppy proof the area by removing any dangerous objects or substances.

crate training method 2

Crate training takes some time and effort, but it is a proven
way to help train dogs who act inappropriately without
knowing any better. If you have a new dog or puppy, you
can use the crate to limit his access to the house until he
learns all the house rules—like what he can and can’t chew
on and where he can and can’t eliminate. A crate is also a
safe way of transporting your dog in the car or taking him
places where he may not be welcome to run freely. If you
properly train your dog to use the crate, he’ll think of it
as his safe place and will be happy to spend time there
when needed.
Selecting a Crate
Crates may be plastic (often called “flight kennels”) or
collapsible, metal pens. They come in different sizes and
can be purchased at most pet supply stores. Your dog’s
crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and
turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate
that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess
crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and
retreat to the other.
The Crate Training Process
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on
your dog’s age, temperament, and past experiences. It’s
important to keep two things in mind while crate training:
The crate should always be associated with something
pleasant, and training should take place in a series of
small steps. Don’t go too fast.
Step 1: Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
 Place the crate in an area of your house where the family
spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft
blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your dog over to the
crate and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure
the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit
your dog and frighten him.
 To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop some
small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and
finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all
the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force him to enter.
Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will
walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If
he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in
the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long
as several days.
Step 2: Feeding Your Dog His Meals in the Crate
 After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding
him his regular meals near it. This will create a pleasant
association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering
the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all
the way at the back of the crate. If your dog remains
reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside
as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious.
Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further
back in the crate.
 Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to
eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating.
The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he
finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the
door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in
the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If he begins
to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length
of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate
for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the
crate, it’s imperative that you not let him out until he
stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out
of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.
Step 3: Conditioning Your Dog to
the Crate for Longer Time Periods
 After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with
no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for
short time periods while you’re home. Call him over to the
crate and give him a treat. Give him a command to enter,
such as “kennel.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside
of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters
the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then
go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly
again for a short time, then let him out of the crate.
 Repeat this process several times a day. With each repetition,
gradually increase the length of time you leave him in the
crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight. Once
your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes
with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin
leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods
or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several
days or several weeks.
Step 4, Part A: Crating Your Dog When Left Alone
 After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate
without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving
him crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put
him in the crate using your regular command and a treat.
You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the
crate. You’ll want to vary at what point in your “getting ready
to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although
he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave,
you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes
prior to leaving.
 Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged but
matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for
entering the crate, and then leave quietly. When you return
home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by
responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep
arrivals low-key to avoid increasing his anxiety. Continue
to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when
you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being
left alone.
Step 4, Part B: Crating Your Dog at Night
 Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and
a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in
your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have
a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate
during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your
puppy when he whines to be let outside.
 Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so that they
don’t associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog
is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near
you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you
prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep
time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you
and your pet.
Potential Problems
 Too Much Time in the Crate
A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can
feel trapped and frustrated. For example, if your dog is crated
all day while you’re at work and then crated again all night,
he’s spending too much time in too small a space. Other
arrangements should be made to meet his physical and
emotional needs. Also remember that puppies under six
months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three
or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders
and bowels for longer periods.
If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may
be difficult to determine whether he’s whining to be let out of
the crate or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If
you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then
your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by
being released from his crate. If that is the case, try to ignore
the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably
stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate
will only make things worse.
If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several
minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to
eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him
outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not playtime.
If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate,
the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining.
Don’t give in; if you do, you’ll teach your dog to whine loud
and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually
through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast,
you’ll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem
becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate
training process over again.
 Separation Anxiety
Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety
won’t solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from
being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to
escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only
be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization
procedures. You may want to consult a professional animalbehavior