Puppy Crate Training

by | Oct 18, 2015 | Puppy Training


There are several benefits to crate training your new puppy:

  • It is an effective method for housebreaking
  • It satisfies their need for a den-like enclosure
  • It prevents destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture)
  • It keeps a puppy away from potentially dangerous household items, such as electrical wires

Here’s the best way to crate train your puppy.


What You Need To Get Started

Most puppies can be crate-trained easily. The crate should be just large enough for your pup to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Cover the floor of the crate with a soft pad or towel to make an inviting and you’re ready to begin potty training lessons. A soft pad or a towel is easiest to wash when your puppy has an accident – and she will.

Enter The Crate Without Hesitation

Open the crate door and toss some yummy treats inside. If your pup hesitates to going after them, toss them close to the doorway so she can stand outside and poke her nose in the crate to eat them. Praise your pup every time she goes in and eats a treat. Gradually toss the treats further into the crate until she’ll step inside to get them. When she enters the crate easily, offer a treat while she still inside. If your pup is willing to stay inside, keep treating. If she comes out, that’s okay-toss another treat and wait for her to reenter. Do not force her to stay in the crate.

Show, Treat, Repeat

When your pup is entering the crate without hesitation, use a verbal cue, such as “go to bed,” as you toss a treat in, so you can eventually send her to her crate using just the verbal cue. When your pup will stay in the crate, happily anticipating a treat, gently close the door. Give her a treat, then open the door. Repeat this step, gradually increasing the length of time the door stays closed. Sometimes you can reward without opening the door right away. When your puppy will stay in her crate with the door closed for at least 10 seconds without exhibiting any signs of anxiety, close the door and take one step away from the crate. Return to the crate, reward her and open the door again. Repeat this step, varying the time and distance you leave. Don’t always make it longer and farther-intersperse long steps with shorter ones.

It’s My Safe Place At Home Now

Start increasing the number of times you treat without opening the door, but remember that a reward marker always gets a treat. Leave the crate open when you aren’t actively training. Toss treats and toys into the crate when your puppy isn’t looking, so she never knows what wonderful surprises she may find. You can feed your puppy her meals in the crate-with the door open-to help her realize that her crate is a wonderful place. Some puppies do the whole crate training program in one day!

Some take several days, and if you take weeks or more. If at any time during the program your puppy wines or fusses about being in the crate, don’t let her out until she stops crying! Instead, wait a few seconds, and reward, then back up a step or 2 in the training program and increase the difficulty in smaller increments. If you let your puppy out when she’s fussing, you teach her that fussing sets her free. If however, she panics to the point of risking injury to herself, you must let her out. You may have a pup with separation anxiety. The crate is generally not recommended for dogs with separation anxiety, as they tend to panic in close confinement. If you believe your dog has a separation anxiety problem, stop the crate training and consult a qualified positive behavior professional who has experience with this.

When your puppy is crate trained, you have a valuable behavior management tool for life. Respect it. If you abuse it by keeping her confined to much, for too long a period of time, or by using it as a punishment (never do this) your dog may learn to dislike it. Reward your pup often enough in her crate to keep the response happy and quick. Don’t ever let anyone tease or punish her for using the crate. Children sometimes can be especially guilty of this, so watch them closely!

A House Training Schedule

For an 8 to 12-week-old Puppy:


As soon as your pup is awake, take her outside – preferably carry her. When you get her out of her crate, it’s a good idea to not set her feet down until she’s in the place where she should go. This will help her understand that outside is the only option. When she goes, praise and reward her with a toy or a small treat. Most likely she will only urinate. It’s now time for her first meal. Feed your puppy! Within 3 to 5 minutes of her completing her meal had back outside for a potty break and a reward coming through! If she doesn’t after 5 minutes of a figure 8 walk in her spot bring her back in and place her in the crate. Stay with her. She has to go. Wait a few minutes or until she starts fussing and take her out again for another five-minute figure 8 walk. Repeat this until she poops. Lots of praise!


Within a few hours or if you notice her walking in circles or drinking more than a few laps of water it’s time for another trip outside. This time walk her in a figure 8 pattern in her “potty place”. When she pees again it’s time for much praise.


Time for her midday meal. Once again, repeat the routine just like after breakfast feeding.


Follow the late morning routine. DINNER TIME Feed your puppy! Then follow the pattern you’ve done after every meal every day. If your pup has an accident, never strike her; never yell at her, you’ll get more out of her by winning her over through praise and rewards. Instead, take the mess outside to the place you want her to go and let her sniff there after mealtimes. Don’t forget a small treat and praise when she goes in the right place. And also don’t forget that a treat needs to be given immediately after she does something good not a few minutes later when you bring her back inside. At 5 months of age, your puppy is ready to transition to eating two meals per day if not one. This is of course based on what your veterinarian recommends.

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