Crate Training A Puppy. . .
. . .Are You Nuts?

One of the most effective ways of crate training a puppy is the best way of house breaking a puppy. This method will also give you the added benefits of keeping your sweet little puppy out of trouble when you’re not around to supervise him. Crate training a puppy is highly suggested by top breeders and trainers. That's how we got hooked on it over 14 years ago. What a difference it makes, whew!

After all, you don't want your house and all your belongings chewed up do you?

Providing your puppy with a crate satisfies your puppies need for a den-like place to go when he is tired or just wants to "hang out" and relax.

Ok so I get a little long winded here, but stay with me, ok.

Let’s look at the advantages of crate training a puppy

When placed in a properly sized crate (one that is large enough for him to stretch out in, turn around in and stand without hitting his head) your puppy won’t want to potty in the same place he sleeps.

Depending on the breed, you may want to buy a larger crate that your puppy can grow in to. Look for a crate that can be made smaller by inserting a panel.

  1. The crate helps to reduce separation anxiety.
  2. A puppy in a crate isn’t roaming around the house on a "seek and destroy" mission when your not able to watch him.
  3. A crate keeps your puppy away from potentially dangerous household items like poisons, small objects he can swallow, electrical wires, your kids favorite stuffed animal etc.
  4. Your puppy will gain confidence by learning that sometimes he has to be alone and will develop self-control and self-confidence.
  5. You are providing your puppy a safe, private, and comfortable place that resembles a den-like space that he will have all to himself.

"A crate should never be used for the purpose of punishment"

I have learned that when crate training a puppy early in their life they actually will grow up enjoying or even preferring to rest or "hang out" in their crate.

Once we have succeeded at crate training a puppy, we always make it a point to keep our dog’s crate out and available through their entire lives. You can even take off the door once it is no longer needed for house breaking a puppy.

When you start crate training a puppy, you will find that there are many choices in crates. Basically there are two kinds of crates available that most people use. One is the plastic or fiberglass dog crate, and the other one is a wire crate.

Both have advantages and both will accomplish crate training a puppy. The advantage of the wire crate is that it's collapsible, assembles and disassembles very quickly making it easy to take with you on trips. We take our crates every time we go camping or on vacation with the pups.

Ok so now you have your crate and your ready to start crate training a puppy, let’s decide where you want the crate to go. During the day for naps and relaxing time, find a place that is quiet and a little secluded where your puppy won’t be disturbed during his crate time.

Now if you’re like me you just have to put something inside the crate for your puppy to sleep on, but before you do, a couple of warnings:

  1. During puppy hood, anything you put in your puppies crate most likely will be totally shredded. So don't go and put that cute little blankie that your mom sewed up for you, 'cause it's gonna get chewed up.
  2. Hey that's what puppies do early in their life. When house training a puppy, get ready for oopsies, laundry and a whole lot of paper towels!
  3. A puppies instinct is to relieve himself on absorbent surfaces such as grass or carpeting. With that thought, although your puppies instinct also tells him not to potty in his sleeping space, he just may give in to the urge because you have provided such a nice and cozy surface for him to go potty. Personally I have never had any problems with this, but then again in the beginning I keep my puppies on a strict potty schedule too.

Crate Training Tip:

Early Instruction Influences
Everything When Crate Training A Puppy

Introducing Your Puppy To His Crate

I get kinda winded from here on out, but well worth it. So stay with me :)

First and foremost successful crate training a puppy depends hugely on YOU consistently providing your puppy with exercise both before and after crate time.

Make sure that you have a good amount of time to spend with your new puppy without a ton of distractions. This will make the crate training session go easier for both of you.

Start by putting the crate where you will be keeping it during the day. Now place something in it that he wants to get to. This could be a toy or even a tasty snack.

I like to place tiny pieces of snacks just outside the opening then continue with a trail into the middle of the crate. At this point is where I introduce the command "kennel up."

While encouraging your puppy to investigate his new crate, point at the treats and say "kennel Up". As your puppy discovers edible treasures this will start to enforce a positive association with the crate and the command.

When crate training a puppy, don’t rush him, let him investigate on his own. You are just trying to have a smooth and easy introduction between your puppy and the crate.

If you keep it fun your puppy will feel more at ease. Once your puppy has taken a few trips into this "new thing" (this could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, yes days, keep smiling, this all depends on how defiant or stubborn your little cutie is) it’s time for the next step.

Now it’s time to have him spend a minute or two in the crate with the door closed. I highly recommend that you do this at a time when he has been exercised and is ready for a nap.

Calmly place your puppy into the crate while saying the command "kennel up" and close the door. Sit next to the crate, but don’t interact with him, this is what we will call his "quiet time."

The first time you begin crate training a puppy with the door closed don’t leave him. Because, if you leave your puppy as soon as you put him in the crate he will associate crate time as you leaving him alone. And that my friends will start him crying and yelling for you to come back because he thinks your deserting him.

Your goal here when crate training a puppy is to have him achieve a minute or so with complete compliance. Remember your goal...your house breaking a puppy.

If your puppy manages to stay in for a minute without fussing, go ahead and open the door and continue sitting there. If your puppy comes out, don’t make a big excited fuss over it just simply pat him on the head and give him a few words of praise.

Remember, this is supposed to be his quiet time. If you make a big deal out of his exit then he will begin to think that his goal is to not stay in the crate but to get out of the crate quickly as possible.

Now, if you open the door and your puppy is either sleeping or wants to stay in the crate, Wooo Whoo! Let him stay in the crate with the door open and then he can come out on his own.

If this happens, make sure that you immediately take him outside so he can do his potty business. Saying something like "let's go potty". And always praise your puppy when he potties outside.

Ok, so maybe crate training a puppy doesn’t always go quite so smoothly the first time. In fact your puppy most likely won’t willingly stay in the crate the first time.

As soon as he figures out that he has been locked in, he will start making a huge fuss, crying, whimpering, and barking in an attempt to be let out. BIG NO NO!

To let him out at this time would be a big mistake! Letting your puppy out of his crate the first time he cries will only teach him one simple rule:"AH HA! I can get out of this thing if I just complain enough and make a whole lot of noise!"

Let’s not go down that destructive path. Doing this will only make a puppy think it’s acceptable to complain and behave poorly whenever he wants in order to get his way.

Creating and allowing that type of behavior will flow over into all sorts of areas in his behavior later. And boy oh boy you don't want that!

It's just like a child, if you don't teach them correctly from the beginning, you'll pay in spades trying to reverse and correct the problem later in the adolescent and teen years. Ugh! Let's just stick with house breaking a puppy the right way from the start, ok?

While house training a puppy with the crate, if he continues his fussing, firmly slap the top of the crate and in a stern voice tell him "Quiet" and ignore him. Remember people, your only going for a few moments with a quite, compliant puppy.

If your puppy persists in a rebellious little way you must stick to your guns!! To let him out at this point would only be teaching him that if he complains loud and hard enough he can get out. Period! Don't ruin all your work at house breaking a puppy at this point.

Now if your sweet little angel has just pushed your last button remember this, you’re not asking anything unreasonable here. At this point it’s time for a little discipline. Yes,discipline.

Oh Hush! It’s not that bad. Remember, your goal here is crate training a puppy, your the teacher, the pack leader, the alpha, he is the student.

If he just won’t stop, open the crate door, firmly grab him from the scruff of his neck and take him out of the crate. Firmly tell him "Quiet" with a little swat on the bottom and gently place him back into the crate closing the door.

Stop Already!! Don’t go pansy on my here! Come on....You have to win this one parents!! At this point if you get him to stay in for just a few moments, let him out. Again don’t make a big deal out of this. But do make sure to praise him!

It's just like disciplining a child, once in a while you have to slap a hand or swat their booty.

In nature, dogs run in packs, led by a leader, their mom, called the "alpha" or "pack leader". In your home, you want your dog to consider you the pack leader.

This is a very important role that you MUST establish right from the moment you become the new owner of a puppy or dog. If this role is missed, you most likely will find yourself with a puppy or dog that will be the ruler of your home, kids, and walks.

If this happens, you will never be able to have any control over your puppy because he will not see you as the leader, but instead HE makes all rules and therefore does not have to listen to you. Yuck!


Whew! You stayed with me! :)

You have successfully completed your first part of crate training a puppy, now it’s time to start extending the stays in the crate.

Once he is happy and unafraid of his crate, make him stay in the crate for a few minutes, then gradually increase the time and be sure to praise him! Continue to do this a few times throughout the day, adding just a little bit more time in the crate.

Before you know it, your puppy will be happily staying in his crate for longer periods of time. And many puppies will search out their crate on their own to take a nap or just to relax.

My pups do it all the time. In fact our Miss Annie will put herself to bed at night at 9:00pm like clock work, and we didn't ask her to go, she just does it. Too funny.

Always use the command "kennel up" when you want your puppy to enter his crate. When my girls are out in the living room and we say "kennel up girls" they jump right up and take off to their crates.

If your wondering, yes they do have their own personal crates and they go directly to them without a fuss. They kinda decided early on whose crate is whose.

Always remember to take your puppy out to go potty before entering the crate and immediately after he is due to come out. This is especially important when your start Nighttime Crate Training.

House training a puppy this way will start putting him on a schedule and will also help to train his bladder.

A little side note here, prior to your puppy coming home to you, your puppy may have been confined in a dog run or small enclosed area. In this case, the puppy had no other options but to go potty in their sleeping area.

This is where you come in and have to put forth the effort and time to crate training a puppy and help your puppy learn about his crate and what it is used for.

FYI: When properly crate training a puppy under 4 months of age, he should really be able to stay in his crate between 3–4 hours while your away.

Come on, stop your fussing. This amount of time spent in the crate really isn’t that horrible. Guidelines for time periods for crating puppies, click here

As a matter of fact, many people don’t realize this, but most puppies that are left in the yard or in the house during the day spend most of that time sleeping.

And I will leave you with this visual:

The only difference between a crate trained puppy and one that isn’t crate trained is that the un-crated puppy spends most of his day...

...Re-landscaping that pretty yard of yours And/Or...

... UN-upholstering your furniture.

The choice is yours, but hands down I would take the crate trained puppy myself every time! :-)

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