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How To Crate Train A Puppy: Step-By-Step Guide

One of the most essential training that should be done when bringing home a new puppy is to crate train them. Crate training is an effective way to teach your puppy good behaviour and discipline, provide a safe space, and facilitate potty training. The process isn’t an easy one, but with the right approach coupled with patience and consistency, crate training your puppy can be done in a short period of time. 

This comprehensive guide to crate train your puppy will walk you through the steps of properly training your pet successfully. Pretty Pets Kennel will cover the essentials of crate training to help create a positive experience for your puppy!

How To Crate Train A Puppy-Step-By-Step Guide

Why Is Crate Training Important?

Crate training is important for both you and your puppy because of its numerous benefits in the long run. Especially when bringing home a new puppy to your home, they will be unfamiliar with your place at first, so establishing the crate training first is a way to respond to their natural instincts that seek a comfortable, safe space. 

The crate also helps establish boundaries between you and your dog, wherein they can secure a place to retreat whenever they desire. Once the feeling of security is established, other aspects of your crate training can take place. Besides, there may be a time when your dog needs to be put on crate rest post-injuries and surgeries. Therefore, crate-training them at an early age allows them to get used to stay in their crate for an extended period of time without feeling confined or upset.

Training your puppy to get used to crates is a way to discipline them and build better behaviour. The tool is used for effective housetraining that helps them develop better potty behaviour, prevent anxiety and destructive behaviour, promote independence, and ensure the safety of your pet. In addition, crate training also promotes easier travelling with your dog, so whenever you need to take your dog anywhere – whether it’s to the vet or to the park while in the crate – their experience is comfortable and secure while being in a familiar space. 

Crating Caution

The common misconception when it comes to crate training is that it’s used to restrict or punish the dog for their misbehaviour. This is definitely not what crate training is for, rather it’s used for behaviour management and overall positive training that lets your dog feel safe, secure, and comfortable in their own space. 

When crate training is done incorrectly, dogs will associate negatively with it, and can feel frustrated, scared, and trapped. Here are some important crate training cautions to take note of:

  • Putting your dog back in their crate should not be used to punish them. Although it’s used as a way to control behaviour, it should always be done in a way that their experience while inside the crate should be positive. An example of this is to use interactive toys and treats whenever they are in the crate to keep them entertained and occupied whilst separating them from if you have guests over.
  • Never leave your dog in the crate for too long during the day and night. The lack of human interaction and exercise can lead to your dog developing anxiety and depression. Make sure they have someone who will look after them in and out of the crate at all times.
  • Dogs should not live entirely inside their crates. You can stop crates once they’ve developed proper potty training and reduced destructive behaviour. 
  • Always separate designated areas inside the areas where they can do their potty business, eat and drink, and sleep. It should be a comfortable place where your dog can retreat for a safe space and quiet time. Similar to us humans who want personal boundaries respected, the same should be done for your dogs whenever they retreat to the crate space. Keep the dog crate open for your dog to go to at any time they want.

Where Should You Keep Your Dog’s Crate?

The placement of your dog’s crate is also essential, so make sure to choose a spacious, safe, and quiet spot in your household that’s not isolated. The common areas where you can place your dog’s crate are the living room, dining area, or any part of the house where the family frequents and gathers.

At night, you can relocate them in your bedroom to keep an eye out for your puppy and hear them, especially if they need to do their business before sleep and early in the morning. If you would rather keep the crate out of the bedroom, you can opt to get a dog monitor, so you will be able to hear and see your puppy’s needs.

Pet owners can purchase different types of crates to suit their needs. Ideally, there should be at least two crates to accommodate the growth of your dog and to help transport your dog during vet trips or travels. 

The Crate Training Process

Step 1 – Choose the Perfect Crate

Find and purchase a crate for your pet to stay in. They are usually available in pet stores or online and come in different sizes and materials. 

  • Plastic crates (Sometimes referred to as Airline Dog Crate or Carriers or Flight Kennels)
  • Collapsible crate
  • Collapsible, metal crate pen

Step 2 – Introduce Your Dog to the Crate

Place the crate in a central and socially accessible area of your home, with the door left open. Start by introducing your puppy to the crate gradually. Keep it positive and speak to them in a happy tone. Make the crate inviting by adding a soft blanket or bedding inside. Allow your puppy to explore the crate at their own pace by letting them sniff and investigate the place. If they don’t immediately enter the crate, stay calm and patient. You may lead them into the crate space using treats and praise them each time step inside. Repeat until they get used to the crate.

Step 3 – Feed Your Dog Meals In the Crate

Create positive associations with the crate by placing treats, or food near or inside the crate. Use praise and rewards to reinforce their positive behaviour and make the crate a pleasant and rewarding place to be. Associate the crate with mealtime to further reinforce positive associations. Place your puppy’s food bowl near the crate, gradually moving it inside the crate over time. In doing so, they can get used to the crate and expect to step inside of it whenever it’s time for meals. Eventually, your puppy should eat their meals comfortably inside the crate with the door closed.

Step 4 – Play Crate Games

Keep your pup entertained by adding interactive toys into the crate. You may play games within or near the crate such as playing fetch, where you encourage your pet to get the dog from inside the crate. Praise them and enable positive reinforcement for their obedient behaviour while also building your bond and trust with them.

Step 5 – Tally the Amount of Time Your Dog is Crated Each Time, and Gradually Increase it

Gradually increase the amount of time your puppy spends in the crate with the door closed. Start with short intervals, and gradually build up to longer periods. Stay nearby initially to provide comfort and reassurance. As your puppy becomes more comfortable in the crate, gradually introduce short periods of alone time. Leave the room or step out of the house for a few minutes while your puppy remains in the crate. Return calmly without making a big fuss. This helps your puppy develop confidence and independence while being crated. Use treats, chew toys, or puzzle toys to keep your puppy occupied and engaged while in the crate. Do not leave your dog inside the crate for too long without you near. 

Step 6 – Set Your Dog Up for Success

Consistently use positive reinforcement techniques throughout the crate training process. Use verbal praise, offer treats, or add toys when your puppy enters or remains calm in the crate. Avoid forcing or dragging your puppy into the crate, as this can create negative associations. Keep the overall crate training a positive and comfortable experience for your dog.

Step 7, Part A – Crate Your Dog When You Leave

When leaving your pet alone, crate your dog using regular commands, while leaving treats and toys to keep them occupied. Before you leave the house, vary the schedule when putting your pet inside the crate, such as 5 minutes before leaving or 20 minutes before leaving. Praise them when they step inside the crate and give them treats. Do not make an emotional departure and make sure they are calm before leaving quietly. Upon returning, do not encourage excited greetings by responding to avoid developing anxiety when you leave, rather keep the return low-key and quiet. Again, do not leave your dog in their crates for too long as much as possible. 

Step 7, Part B – Crate Your Dog At Night

For nighttime crate training, place the crate near your bed initially or within distance in your bedroom (otherwise set them up near you and use a dog monitor).. Gradually move it to its permanent location over time if desired. Keep the crate door closed throughout the night, making sure your puppy has had a recent bathroom break before bedtime. Be prepared for nighttime bathroom breaks initially, as young puppies may not have full bladder control.

Step 8 – Be Patient

As your puppy becomes more reliable with potty training and develops good behaviour, you can gradually allow them more freedom outside the crate when you are at home. Start with short periods of supervised freedom and gradually increase the duration as your puppy demonstrates responsible behaviour. Being patient and consistent is key to a successful crate training that lets your dog grow up responsibly with good behaviour and discipline – whether it’s in or outside of the crate.

Potential Problems

While crate training can be a highly effective method, some potential problems may arise during the process. Expect problems or issues to arise during the course of the crate training. 

The common behaviours that happens during training your puppy in crates are whining or crying, making mistakes or accidents, developing anxiety or fear, feeling scared that they attempt to escape, or feeling restricted that the crate becomes overused. To avoid these, gradually introduce freedom from the crate in between training sessions and keep them physically active and mentally stimulated in their environment. Avoid negative associations by punishing your dog and putting them in the crate for time out. Reinforce positive encouragement and training with rewards. 


Crate training is important because it provides your puppy with a safe and secure space, aids in proper housetraining, prevents development of bad habits and destructive behaviour, facilitates travel and vet visits, aids in management and training, promotes independence, and ensures their overall safety and comfort. By investing time and effort into crate training, you are establishing a foundation for a well-behaved, confident, and happy pet that has a safe space of their own where they can be independent and comfortable in your home and in their crate. 

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