Two dogs in a crate

Crate Training Your Dog

By Tammy Gagne


Crate training a dog is one of the best ways to ensure that he stays safe when you cannot supervise him. When you bring your new pet home, crate training will also help with the housetraining process, but your pup will continue using his crate for multiple reasons down the road. On grocery day, for example, a crate is the perfect spot for your pet to wait while you carry the bags from your vehicle to your kitchen. Crates are also practical for feeding time in multi-pet households. Crates aren’t just about making the owner’s life easier, however. As your dog accepts the crate as his own, you will notice him seeking it out to enjoy special treats or just when he wants a little time alone. 

To teach your pet to use a crate:

STEP 1

Select a crate that fits your dog. The Four Paws® Deluxe Single Door Dog Crate comes in five sizes to accommodate both the smallest and largest animals. A Deluxe Double Door Crate model is also available. If your dog is still a puppy, choose the size that will fit him as an adult. A puppy is instinctually opposed to soiling the place where he sleeps—the biggest advantage of a crate as a housetraining aid. If the crate is too large, though, your puppy might use one end as a bathroom. The divider panel that is included with both the single and double door crates solves this problem without making it necessary for you to buy more than one crate.

STEP 2

To introduce your dog to his crate, simply set it up and allow him to investigate the enclosure. Placing a toy or tasty treat inside can help encourage your pet to enter. A treat also becomes an instant reward, allowing your dog to associate the crate with positive reinforcement instantly. Never underestimate the power of praise, though. As soon as your dog goes inside, tell him what a good boy he is.

STEP 3

While you may be tempted to close the door to see how your dog responds, wait until he has had a chance to get acquainted with his new space. Patience and praise are the keys to success here. As soon as he seems at ease—entering and exiting willingly—start closing the door for short periods of time. In the beginning only leave the door shut for a minute or so. If your dog fusses, ignore this behavior and wait for him to stop before unlatching the door. You mustn’t reward him for making noise. 

Some dogs take longer than others to acclimate to a crate. If your dog barks or howls, you may worry that he will never become crate trained, but remain persistent and positive. Even if it seems that he is fussing constantly, wait for a moment when he stops to praise him and open the door.

STEP 4

Once your dog remains calm inside the crate with the door closed for several minutes, try leaving the room for short periods of time. Again, he may put up a fight in the beginning, but rewarding fussing will make him think that it is the secret to getting his way. Wait until the fussing stops before you return to the room. Repeat this exercise, gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of your pet’s sight. Eventually, your dog should remain happily in his crate for up to four hours at a time.

Four Paws®, Magic Coat®, and Wee-Wee® products are available at major pet stores everywhere in the U.S. Please check with your local retailer for product availability near you.