Crate-training a Dog

Dog lying in kennel

*Information adapted from Best Friends Animal Society*

Benefits of crate-training

Dogs are den animals, meaning they enjoy having a small, safe, well-defined space. A crate can act as a den for your dog to rest. It can also help with house-training, as dogs instinctively avoid soiling their dens.

A crate limits your dog's access to the home until they learn your rules and boundaries, keeping them from eliminating in inappropriate areas or being destructive.

At some point, you may need to crate your dog during travel or while they recover from an injury. These situations will be less stressful if your dog is already familiar and comfortable with a crate.

Buying a crate

Most pet supply stores carry dog crates. Make sure the crate you buy is big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie on their side,. However, it should be small enough that they can't eat on one side of the crate and eliminate on the other. For a puppy, you may consider a larger crate with a divider so you can adjust as they grow.

Introducing the crate

Place treats or toys in the crate to encourage your dog to go in and help them associate the crate with something good. If your dog is afraid to enter the crate, keep placing treats further and further back until the dog is at the back of the crate. Once they are taking treats in the crate, feed them a meal in the crate with the door open. It may take a few days before the dog is comfortable enough for you to close the door.

Things to consider

A crate should not be used as a form of punishment. Your dog should associate the crate with something good and view it as a safe place.

Dogs are social animals and should not live in a crate full time. Except for nighttime, dogs should be crated for only a few hours at a time. If you must be away from home for an extended period of time, arrange for someone to stop in and let the dog out for a potty and exercise break.

Although most adult dogs can stay in a crate all night, puppies and some seniors cannot "hold it" that long and must go outside a few times during the night. They should also go out at least every two hours during the day.