Crate Training a Dog at Any Age
(Actual Crate Training? Go to “How to Train Your Dog to Go in the Crate and Stay There” 3/4 of the way through this article)
Is crate training a dog cruel? Teaching a dog to be in a crate is not a bad idea if taught correctly and for the right reasons. Dogs, being den creatures naturally encase themselves for security. The training can be done at any age.
Crate training pros:
- it is easier to potty train a dog using a crate.
- housebreaking, creating new habits, not chewing on furniture, also getting things done around the house will be possible with use of a crate.
- You will be able to leave the dog at home if you need to go to work, grocery store, friends house, an emergency, etc.
- The crate will teach a dog that you control his roaming abilities. It’s a powerful leadership tool.
- A crate that fits in an automobile can prevent chewing, urinating in a vehicle, and reactivity that could lead to an accident.
- You can keep people safe from an aggressive dog with a crate. Also keep dogs safe from one another.
Crate training cons:
- If left in the crate too long the dog can develop psychological issues such as separation anxiety or depression. Dogs do not do well isolated for very long.
- Your dog can develop learned helplessness. Basically walking around displaying a clear disconnect relationship-wise.
- Your dog could injure himself trying to escape. He’s a living creature, so all you have to do is imagine what could happen; bleeding gums, broken nails, ripped out fur, lost tail. Yes, a broken, or bitten off tail.
These disadvantages sound horrible but if you crate train your dog correctly you don’t have to worry about any of them.
What is crate training?
Crate training is teaching your dog that a confined space inside your home it’s a good thing. It conveys to the dog that being in the cage, for several reasons, is normal.
How does crate training work?
Crate training typically functions as an aid for dogs that are not housebroken. For example, It can manage a dog that counter surfs, punish a dog that nips, or stop a dog from peeing on your carpet.
It’s important to train the dog to like the crate. When starting formal crate training, using food is the best option, even if the dog seems to like whatever structure you provided.
Once your pet is conditioned to the crate, ideally you would fade it out once the dog has finished the house breaking protocol.
When do I start crate training my puppy?
Start crate training your puppy as early as possible. This way the smaller space will already be second nature. Even if you train your dog to go into a crate later on it shouldn’t be difficult. They are den dwelling animals.
When crate training a puppy, where should the crate be?
When you train your pup to be in the crate there are several options. Ideally the crate should be out of the family’s path of movement. This way the puppy can relax.
However, you should move the crate next to your bed at night time to prevent separation anxiety or other bad experiences. It’s very important that you do this. Stressing a puppy out only lowers their immune system, and you don’t want him to get sick.
How long does crate training take?
To crate train a dog quickly begin on your day off, maybe the weekend. Start with only having the dog in the crate for a few minutes, then add a little more time, often.
If done correctly, with most dogs you can get your dog to stay in the crate for a few hours, in a matter of days. The trick is to add time gradually so the dog doesn’t panic.
What if the dog panics? Unfortunately some dogs eliminate to relieve themselves then owners will come home to poop in the crate. This leads to frustration which can lead to your dog cowering.
Is your dog’s crate the right kind for him?
Could your dog’s crate cause him harm physically or psychologically? When choosing a crate to fit your dogs needs, measurements are important but also the style of the crate.
types of crates
When choosing a crate you have several options. They range from plastic crates, wire crates, heavy duty crates, furniture style crates, or soft fabric crates.
Which crate is best for your dog?
Plastic lightweight dog crates with handles
Plastic dog crates are made out of a more yielding material than metal crates. Although the plastic walls do act as a shield for your dog. Within the plastic walls are holes, which don’t give the best air circulation but this style can give security to fearful dogs.
Unlike the wire crates that can have doors on 2 or 3 sides, the plastic crate usually has one swinging door in the front. Or a door that slides down from the top for escape artists.
This malleable style crate is great for mobility, weather in your vehicle or on an airplane. Having flat walls rather than wire construction can be easier to clean. And often have bacteria and odor fighting qualities.
Collapsible or assembled Wire Dog Crates
The wire crate is made of metal strands. unlike the plastic crate, You can’t usually pick up a wire crate and go. But on the flipside you can fold this type of crate up and store it very easily.
When it comes to cleaning up after a dog eliminates, the wire crate can be either easier or harder.
If it’s a little urine, simply take out the bottom pan, replace it, and wash the dirty pan when you have a chance. However, If a dog decides to poop against the side because he doesn’t want it in the crate, cleaning the wires becomes time consuming!
Another plus of the wire crate is that a dog can relax and see the view. Again, on the other hand, another downside to this sort of crate? It’s if a dog moves around a lot it gets noisy!
Furniture style dog crates
These fashion type dog crates are usually made of wood, and are end tables, cabinets or desks. They can also be elegant indoor dog houses. Popular retail brands are Joss & Main, All Modern, and Birch Lane.
This boarded crate model is not for dogs that like to chew, let alone an untrained dog. If the inhabitant is well behaved, this cherry, or pine crate is good for dogs such as the Yorkie the Maltese, and the French Bulldog. As far as mobility this crate is a more permanent, stationary one.
Heavy duty dog crate with metal bars
The heavy duty dog crate is a strong kennel made for large muscular dog breeds, escape artists, and aggressive dogs.
Do you have a Pitbull, Bull Terrier, or Boxer that chews your leather couch or damages things in your house? This prison cell type crate can help But only if the dogs other needs are met first.
Is your tough dog getting exercise, leadership, chew toys to keep him busy? The jail bar crate should only be the finishing touch to keep your dog, your house, or people safe.
Soft-Sided Dog Crates
If you guessed that this delicate and comfortable crate will not hold most dogs, your dead on. The soft sided dog crate is usually made from PVC, polyester, nylon, and mesh.
If your dog is well behaved this style crate can be extremely convenient as it is very light. Yet, this crate should not be the choice to train your dog with but rather after he’s already conditioned.
Different crate sizes
Is your dog’s crate size correct?
Are you measuring your furry friends crate the right way? Look below to find out.
Typically the height of your dog’s crate should be a few inches above his head while sitting. The length of your pets crate should be a few inches longer than the tip of his muzzle and a few inches out from his rump.
If you are training a new dog or boarding someone else’s dog, be strict for safety reasons.
Listed below are general crate sizes to fit proper dog weight and measurements. The dimensions are more important than the weight suggestions. For example, 2 Dobermans may be the same height but have 40 pounds weight difference.
22″ Height 13″ Width 16″ Length, ideal for dogs up to 10 lbs
Toy Fox Terrier
24″ Height 18″ Width 19″ Length, ideal for dogs near 25 lbs
Chinese Crested Dog
Jack Russell Terrier
West Highland Terrier
30″ Height 21″ Width 24″ Length, ideal for dogs near 40 lbs
American Water Spaniel
King Charles Spaniel
Welsh Springer Spaniel
36″ Height 24″ Width 27″ Length, ideal for dogs near 70 lbs
American Pitbull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Australian Cattle Dog
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Kerry Blue Terrier
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Portuguese Water Dog
Soft coated Wheaten Terrier
42″ Height 28″ Width 31″ Length, ideal for dogs near 90 lbs
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Irish Water Spaniel
48″ Height 30″ Width 33″ Length, ideal for dogs near 110 lbs
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bouvier Des Flandres
Dogue De Bordeaux
Old English Sheepdog
54″ Height 37″ Width 45″ Length, ideal for dogs 111 lbs and over
Do you not get the double doors if you have an escape artist. However, if he is not an escape artist but is aggressive the double doors might be convenient for you to maneuver him through the crate.
Getting started with a crate
Preparing your dog’s crate is rather simple, and it tickles our nurturing instincts. When arranging your dog’s mini loge make sure you take note of what you put in there. Supervise your dog at first to see what he does with it.
If you put a blanket in the crate, check him often to make sure he doesn’t ingest it. When you get to the point when you leave him alone, make sure he has a toy that he loves. Also consider getting a water container that hangs from the side so it doesn’t spill.
You may need to weigh your options with the water. If he drinks too much he will need to pee often. On the other hand, if he doesn’t have access often enough, he can develop trust issues. Maybe even resource guarding.
Should I Prepare Differently for a Rescue Dog?
When preparing for a rescue dog remember these 2 things.
First consider the possibility that your new adopted dog could have experienced trauma. It’s natural for some dog owners to want to baby a dog that’s hasn’t had a break in life.
Don’t you fall into this trap. Yes, be more patient with him but still be a leader. He actually needs it more than other dogs.
Secondly, keep in mind that your new family member is an Instinctual Animal. Train this dog the same way you would any other dog, unless he’s aggressive.
Do I Need a Crate Training Schedule?
Your puppy will be crying in his crate the first night. This means he needs to be on a timely schedule immediately! If not, predicting when Fido chews and urinates will be a guessing game.
Want to Crate train your puppy or dog to stop barking in the crate at night?
Create a simple daily chart. It’s actually just another part of housebreaking.
You will add more to the chart than Crate related issues. The chart will help you by using the crate to fix these issues.
Below is an example of a typical house breaking chart for crate use. And whether he’s a puppy or past six months, housebreaking will work.
Your chart will be customized.
Start with the time your dog wakes up and finish when he goes to sleep.
Document the times of the day your dog does an undesirable behavior but also desirable.
You will notice patterns throughout the week. You will naturally develop a routine with your pup.
Does he wake you up in the middle of the night? Add that too!
Crate Training Chart
6:00 am Puffy wakes up and urinates
6:30 am Puffy eats breakfast
6:45 am Puffy goes poop
7:30 am puffy goes for a walk
8:30 am Puffy jumps on people who enter the house (UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIOR)
11:00 am Puffy takes a short nap
1:00 pm Puffy plays nice with the kids (DESIRABLE BEHAVIOR)
2:00 Puffy urinates on the living room carpet (UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIOR)
5:00 Puffy eats dinner then is extra sensitive and loving (DESIRABLE BEHAVIOR)
7:30 Puffy gets energetic and painfully play bites (UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIOR)
This above mock chart is only an idea of how easy it can be to make one for yourself. When you think Crate Training Chart/Schedule, think replacement behaviors.
Once you can predict your dog’s behavior you can offer different options ahead of time. And oftentimes you will manage the dog using a crate.
- you will know when he will most likely take a wiz in the house, crate him in advance, then when it’s convenient, take him outside!
- You will learn when he needs exercise before going in the crate.
- You will begin noticing increments of how long he can be in the crate
- You will learn how long he can hold his urine and when he should be in the crate and when not
- You will see his energy spurts at a certain time and can drain him ahead of time.
It will be the same Crate training schedule for a puppy, older dog, golden doodle, Maltese, husky, cattle dog, boxer, Yorkie, etc.
How long until a Puppy can Sleep Through the Night?
Do you deal with a puppy crying, whining, barking the every night?
Want him to just go to sleep?
16 weeks (4 months) is the average age for a puppy who will routinely sleep through the entire night.
But I Need My Puppy to Sleep through the night Now!
If you need to crate train a puppy fast, like … the first night you should begin early in the day. Think “crate everything.”
What I mean is, throw his toy in the crate, feed him in the crate, open both doors of the crate so he has to go through to get outside of the house. Wherever you are, put the crate at your feet so he can have the option to go in.
Exercising your puppy is an important step in making your puppy tired. Not to mention your puppy’s energy expenditure needs.
Does it Matter How I Exercise My Puppy?
Different pups enjoy different workouts. Some love to chase objects. Others like tug of war. Be sure to let him win sometimes. This way he won’t get discouraged.
Others like power walks. If you don’t prefer walking you can get a really long line and allow him to run more naturally than in short Spurs, than say, in a yard.
Consider covering the crate. This may help him sleep. On the other hand, he might be more comfortable seeing through the crate!
puppies can sleep at 8 or 10 weeks if they have a good routine & their basic needs are met. If you’re truly doing this you won’t have to worry about your puppy not sleeping through the night anymore.
How to Train Your Dog to Go in the Crate and Stay There
Is your dog destructive when you’re not home? Does he go potty in the house, ingest objects in your absence, or chew on furniture?
Whether you need to crate train a rescue, shelter dog
Step 1- Begin The Right Way
Begin with a bag of treats (pinky nail size or smaller) 1-2 feet from the crate. If your dog or puppy is not motivated, make sure they are very hungry before training.
This would be the same for an older dog or younger one.
Step 2- Shaping
Toss a treat into the crate. It helps if the treat reaches deep inside the crate, near the back. This will help the dog get used to the crate, yes. But it will also prevent the dog from laying halfway out in later training.
Dog won’t go in the crate for the treat?
If your dog is afraid to go in the crate, toss that initial treat then toss additional treats leading outside the crate as if you were creating a line. Thus lure the dog from the outside of the crate, to the inside.
Step 3- Getting Your Dog to Stay
Once the dog goes inside the crate continue tossing treats to him inside. Being rewarded in succession will quickly teach him that the crate is a valuable place to be.
How often do you give him a treat to keep him in the crate?
The answer to that depends on how how many seconds he will wait until trying to get out.
For example, if he stays in the crate for 3 seconds then realizes there’s no more food he may decide to leave. In this case you would throw in a treat every 3 seconds to keep him there.
Your goal should be to get him up to five seconds per treat in the crate, to 15 seconds (3 treats).
This may mean throwing a lot of treats and at first to get him to stay there. You will quickly realize that you can quickly Add more time in between giving your treats.
You will find that this is pretty easy once you do it. I have the average dog wanting to go back in the crate within minutes, and staying.
Step 4- How to Properly Release Him
Release the dog from the crate by tossing a treat just outside the crate. Say his name then “free,” and that he sees you doing it.
Step 5- Reducing Rewards
Let’s be real. You don’t want to reward your dog every time he goes to the crate.
He will now quickly desire to return to the crate. At this point only reward him with 1 treat and make him wait in the crate for it.
Step 6- Ready to Close The Door?
Now that he’s somewhat reliable you can begin closing the door of the crate. First shut the door only to Immediately re-opened it. “Free” him from the crate then repeat, adding more time.
Step 7- You Need A Vocal Command
Add the “crate” command once Fido obeys from a couple feet away. Do this right before he’s about to enter every time. It will soon be clear that he understands the verbal cue.
Step 8 Make This Command Real!
Continue to increase distance as your dog is reliable. Initially, make sure your dog is behind you before sending him. It will be easier for him if the target is in view.
Add 1 step of distance at a time and don’t give him a treat every time he’s released. Sometimes surprise him with his favorite toy or affection.
In case your still wondering how long this entire process should be, a dog can easily be crate trained in 7 days!
Now that we have that squared away, let’s get into other nuances of crate training!
Crate Training a Dog that Won’t Go in His Crate
You adopted an anxious, abused, fearful dog that hates crates and won’t go into it anymore.
It is ok, ya know, to force a dog into the crate. But only if it would practically take months to lure him in with a treat. If this is your dilemma, follow me for a minute.
There’s a couple different crate entrance methods I want you to try. This is assuming your dog will not potentially be aggressive toward you.
This will also help an older dog with separation anxiety as long as his needs are met. If you’re crate training a big dog you may need a prong collar.
First, Make sure your dog is very hungry and have something he’s crazy about. Maybe chicken.
Grab him by the collar. Quickly put him in the crate before he has a chance to build resistance. Even if he refuses to enter, don’t you give in!
Once he’s in immediately offer a small reward through the crate. Release him from his little den and repeat the exercise.
But what if the dog won’t take food?
So your dog is too scared to take food at the moment he is in the crate.
In this case open both of the end doors of the crate.
Put him on at least a 10 foot line. You can double ups leashes but where they are connected may hit the crate and make your progress less seamless.
Throw the long line through the crate and pull him through quickly. If you have a larger crate you can bend down and walk through and pull him through. That’s usually not the case, though!
After only several times pulling him through you will observe less resistance from him. This is because a dog cannot hold an emotion forever.
At this point apply less pressure on the leash. This will allow him to do more voluntary work. You may also now see that he is willing to take food.
Why? When you already got him to go through?
Because you brought him from a bad association to no association. Now go further and make it a good association.
Note: if you need to ((((Crate train a dog for)))) travel
Potty Training a Dog with a Crate
Can any dog be potty trained with a crate?
As long as you crate trained him first, yes, this type of training is pretty cookie cutter.
Most puppies do not like to soil on themselves.
But make sure the crate is not too big, otherwise he will eliminate in it and relax away from his waste.
Estimate how long your puppy can wait to eliminate. For 2/3’s of that duration, your pup can be out of the crate. Then put him in the crate when there’s a higher probability that he would urinate or defecate.
For example, if he can hold it for an hour and a half, When an hour is up, put him in the crate.
Leash him directly from the crate and quickly get him outside!
Dogs have 1.6 seconds to connect 2 things together. So use proper timing to get potty training results in half the time.
Just as his urine stream is ending, swing a piece of chicken (pinky nail size) in front of his nose for the taking. This way he doesn’t have a chance to become aroused from something else.
Congratulations if you just marked his potty spot as a positive spot!
Note: of you want to potty train a puppy on pads in an apartment mark the behavior in this same manner with good timing!
Now if the dog pees or poops outside the house give him freedom, once back inside.
If he didn’t go potty outside he goes back in the crate for a few minutes then returns outside. Repeat this until he goes.
Note: Do not use a bell to potty train your puppy. It will cause behavior & relationship problems between your dog and you.
Does Crate Training Work for a Puppy that eats Poop?
This question is best answered when asked differently. Let’s look at two different ways to look at it!
As in “detain” him or control his movements while you’re busy at home but there’s poop on the yard (gross). Yes.
As in potty train him and the poop eating will disappear? Sorry but no. Poop actually has a lot of nutrients and dogs digestive systems are made to handle it, as long as there’s no parasites etc.
How then do you stop a dog from consuming his own waste?
And it’s the same protocol to correct a pup from eating rocks, cat poop, grass … everything.
The dogs behavior will eventually need to be addressed. This would within his actual attempt to gobble whatever it is that he’s obsessing over.
This is advanced house-breaking
Crate training a dominant dog
Signs of a dominant dog are many but for this section, it’s when he “doesn’t like being told what to do.” He would rather be in control.
Sure he’ll go in the crate for food … but because you commanded him? I didn’t think so.
Now, you’ll never truly break a dominant dog. Even if he’s insecure. This is because the need for him to be superior is a trait, not an emotion.
If your dog has the potential to be aggressive don’t challenge him.
Does he have predictable dominant body language? If so, he’s considered safer. Especially if an actual dominant breed such as a Doberman, Dutch Shepherd, Rottweiler, is not tact on to your present dilemma.
To manage this type of issue you first need to establish yourself as a leader. And carefully. This does not mean to challenge him.
After this he should learn a formal crate command. You may even need a muzzle.
On a different subject, if you have more than one dog, yes, you can Crate train one dog but not the other. As long as their needs are met, you’re the benevolent boss.
Is it possible to Phase Out Your Dog’s Crate?
You crate train your dog to eliminate going potty indoors and destroying our stuff. But is it possible to stop crating your dog forever?
Transitioning From a Crate to a Dog Bed at Night
Teaching your dog a new way to hit the hay is usually the easiest switch to begin with. The dog or puppy is most likely going to be tired anyway.
Begin with the dog bed right next to your bed & make sure you have that last potty break right before you go to sleep. Also consider limiting his water earlier in the evening.
Here’s What Happens if You Leave Your Dog Uncrated During Your Entire Workday
He will chew things, pee all over the place, and your home will be a disaster.
But if you know how and when to uncrate a dog, whether it’s a Frenchie, GSD, or whatever breed, it can be done.
Start by leaving him out of the crate for only seconds at a time. Exit your home and close the door only to immediately open it and return inside.
Pretty easy way to begin right!?
Next, wait a few seconds. This should quickly turn to minutes, and yes, even within the same hour you began.
You will soon notice a calm demeanor about your dog as you come back inside. This means he’s beginning to trust that you will return.
At this point, teach your dog to wait longer for at home, alone. Do this by simply adding more time. It gets easier.
Once you add minutes to his wait time you can begin doubling it. 5 Minutes, 10 minutes, 20 & so on. The dog himself will be the biggest indicator of your progress.