Crates and crate training

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

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Crate Training your dog

Dogs love a den, somewhere that is a safe place and they can call your own. Crates provide such a place and are a great training tool.

Crates can also help reduce separation anxiety when you first bring them home by using a blanket with your scent and that of their littermates if possible. Also, placing a hot water bottle in the crate will give your dog that comforting feeling.

Crate Training also provides a place to put the dog so they cannot get dangerous chemicals and are out of harm’s way when you are cleaning, etc.

A crate is a safe place.

As we train the dog to associate nice things with the crate and that it is a haven, you must never lock them in the crate as punishment.

What size crate

.Making sure that your dog has the correct size crate is important. Your dog should be able to stand up and have around 12cm or 5 inches of room above his head., As well as having headroom, they should be able to turn around and lie down. Pet shops will probably be able to guide you based on your dog’s bread.

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Furnishing Your Puppy’s Crate

Toys and Treats:

The crate should represent all good things, and the Treat Fairy should visit regularly. Place your dogs’ favourite treat in the crate away from the door and ideally near the back of the crate. It is important to make sure your doh g is supervised when eating these treats in his den.

The same goes with toys; m they should be indestructible and too big to swallow or cause a choking hazard. For example, a stuffed Kong is a great toy to leave in the crate

Water Bowles

Purchasing a special bowl designed to fit in crates is a great idea. Freshwater should be provided if you are leaving your dog in the crate for more than a couple of hours


Making up a suitable bed in the crate is a must. If possible, this should be a nice fleece blanket or something with your scent.

If your dog starts to chew it out of anxiety, it is important to remove the chewed blanket and all the pieces so they can not choke on it.

Some dogs may push it to one side. This is fine. Please leave it in the crate as it still has your scent.

Many dogs also like the top, back, and two sides to be covered in blankets, so it feels more snug and “den-like.”

Best Place to put the Crate

Try and place the crate as near to you as possible when you are at home. By doing this, your dog will go in it more readily and not feel so isolated. So if you spend a lot of time watching tv in the lounge, then it is best to place the crate in the lounge.

If possible, leave the TV on when you go out to make it feel more normal.

Crate Training and Getting your dog used to the crate

When crate training your dog and getting used to it, it is essential to ensure they understand that a crate is a place of security and comfort and that good things happen in the crate.

  • Your dog will be curious about the new crate. It is important that Treat Fairy makes frequent visits and drops treats and kibbles into the crate. That way, when your dog goes to investigate the crate they will find edible treasures. This will help enforce his positive associations with the crate.   ]
  • Based on the same principle as above, when feeding your dog his kibble, ensure this is in the crate. If your dog is reluctant at first, you start by feeding him just outside the crate, then move the bowl just inside and gradually move it out the back of the crate. Like teaching any new command or behaviour, make sure you praise him when he enters the crate. You can then slowly introduce a command such as Goto your den.
  • Never force your dog into the crate; this will help put him off it.
  •  When going to bed, make sure the crate is placed next to your bed.
  • An excellent activity to play with your dog is as follows. Without your puppy seeing what you are doing, take some kibble (part of his food allowance) and drop it into the crate. Call your dog and put in the cue “find it” or something similar. Followed by It’s in your room.” Now direct your dog towards the crate, making sure your voice sounds fun and encouraging, so he knows it is a good thing. When they find the kibble, give them plenty of praise. The kibble will automatically serve as a primary reward. Whilst playing this game with your dog, they should be free to leave the crate whenever they like. Once you have played this game a few times with kibble as the reward, you can try it with your favourite toy.
  • Get your dog used to being crated by doing this for a short time while you are home with him. Maybe working. The best results from crate training are achieved while you are in the room with your dog. Then you can start leaving the room for short periods so he gets used to his crate without you being there.  As a safety factor, removing his collar whilst he is in the crate is a good idea so he cannot get himself caught on anything.

Important Reminders regarding crates

Warm weather

You mustn’t create your dog if it is looking to be very hot. This is extremely;y important with short-muzzled breeds such as pugs, boxers, french bulldogs etc. Ensure they have access to plenty of cold water and shade

Also, do not leave your dog in the crate in the car as cars get hot very quickly, even on an overcast day.

Been to the loo

Before leaving your dog for any length of time in the crate, make sure that he has been out for some exercise and relieved himself.

Crate as punishment

Never, I repeat, NEVER use the crate for punishment. The crate should be your dog’s safe place to go to when feeling anxious and represent nothing but good things.

Children And The Crate

Children must understand that they cannot play with him when the dog is in his crate. After all, everyone deserves a place they can go to to escape it all, and your dog’s crate is their private sanctuary.

A rough guide on the length of time you can leave a puppy crated.

9 to 10 weeks                         30 to 60 minutes

11 to 14 weeks                       1 to 3 hours

15 / 16 weeks                        3 to 4 hours

17 + weeks                            4 to 6 hours maximum

I believe that a dog should not be left longer than 5 hours – if you leave your dog longer, you should either get someone to come in to give the dog a toilet break or employ a dog walker.

Not all dogs are happy to be crated. You could then consider using a playpen or confining your dog to a puppy/dog-proof room that is safe and secure.

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