Why Crate Training is Great for All Dogs
Crate training is not just for puppies! See what the experts have to say about its benefits.
1) Have you ever wondered why your dog loves to worm his way under a chair, table or other tight space?
Dogs are den animals by nature, and look for spaces in your home or yard that mimic a den. Dog crates make
excellent dens and provide that safe, secure environment that dogs crave. "Dogs, like their wild ancestors,
instinctively want to seek shelter, even in the house. If not provided, they will create it themselves under a
table, chair or bed. A crate serves as a den for the domesticated dog. I recommend covering wire crates to
give your dog the privacy he needs to feel secure."
Dr Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, Dip ACVA, Dip ACVB, world
renowned veterinary behaviorist, author and the director of the behavior center at Tufts University School of
2) "Crates are the quickest and easiest way to house train a dog. Your puppy’s mother has already trained
him not to eliminate in the den. Most dogs will do anything to avoid eliminating in their dens. Therefore
confining him in his crate encourages him to “hold it.” You can make it more den-like and safe with crate
covers and bumpers."
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DVM
3) "When traveling in your car, crates provide safety for you, your passengers and your dog. Using Crate
Bumpers protects your dog during sudden stops and turns."
Dr. Andrew Obstler, DVM
4) Crates are transportable, so unlike you, your dog can have his own familiar bedroom wherever he goes,
whether he’s staying at a friend’s, a hotel or a kennel.
When to Crate Train Your Puppy
1) Puppies usually arrive at their new homes at 8 weeks of age. Just like babies they cannot control
their bladders until they mature. This is usually between 3 and 6 months. While you are crate training
puppies, be patient and expect accidents. Reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior!
2) Introduce your puppy to his crate the first day he arrives home. The best time is when he’s tired.
You can put treats and toys inside the crate, which will entice him to go in on his own. When he enters
the crate give him a lot of praise. You can use a special word or phrase for his crate such as “go to
crate” or “go to bed” and he will soon understand.
3) Always keep a close watch on your puppy. Until he’s housetrained, it’s helpful to keep him on a
leash when he’s not crated. This way he cannot sneak off and have an accident when you are not
4) NEVER put housebreaking pads or newspaper inside the crate. It is important to take advantage of
your puppy’s natural instinct not to soil his den.
Frequently asked Potty Training Questions
1.) How long will it take to housetrain my puppy?
The amount of time it takes to housetrain your puppy is primarily dependent upon you. Do it right and
it shouldn't take long at all - perhaps just a few weeks. Dogs, like babies, are unique - some "get it"
right away and others don't. The key, though, always - is you.
2.) I work long hours what is my best potty training option?
Many people housetrain their puppies using puppy training pads. I don't recommend the disposable
pads, as puppies love to shred them. They do sell plastic frames for them, but they really don't work
all that well. They do sell cloth pee pads. My dogs are double trained to use the pee pads in the
house, and to also go outside through the doggy door. When you are home, and you see your puppy go
into his "pre-potty" routine - sniffing the floor, circling an area, etc., gently pick him up and place him
on the pad. When you are at work, you can place the crate inside of a bathtub....leave the crate door
open, and place the pee pad in front of the crate. Simple Solutions makes a Potty Training Aid, which
you can spray on the center of the pad to encourage the puppy to go. After a few days of doing this,
you can move the pee pad to the opposite end of the bathtub (further away from the front of the crate).
After a few days, you can take the crate and the pad out of the bathtub, and place them on the tile
floor of the bathroom. Keep moving the pee pad further and further from the crate door. Make sure
you take up all rugs and other chewable items from off of the tile floor.
3.) How long can puppies "hold it" during the day?
All dogs are different, but generally, puppies as young as 8-9 weeks can control their bladders and
bowels for up to seven or eight hours, if necessary. We would never recommend leaving a puppy
unattended in a crate for that long, however, and encourage working people to come home during
their noon hour or find someone who can let their puppy out during the day.
You never want to leave
a puppy in a crate so long that he is forced to pee where he sleeps. Once a puppy learns to do this, it
is very hard to break and continue potty training.
4.) What is the most important thing to do when housetraining?
Unless you catch your puppy in the act of making an accident in the house you should NOT punish
him, yell at him, and please, do not take your dog to the spot and put his nose in it! First of all, if your
dog had an accident it is YOUR fault, not your dog's. You should have been watching more closely.
Secondly, your puppy will have no idea why you are mad at him. He's gone to the bathroom hundreds
of times before and was always praised. "Place" is not a concept he understands fully yet, so
punishing him for something that is natural and no big deal for him only confuses him. Just clean it up
and forget about it. If you do catch him in the act, quickly but calmly pick him up and without raising
your voice, say "No!" and take him outside or to his papers. When he finishes, praise him.
5.) My puppy does great sometimes, but is still having too many accidents. How can I get him to be
completely potty trained?
Until your puppy is accident-free, he is not housetrained. Even though you thought you were about
done with this stage, you must go back to the same level of monitoring and training (even if it means
repeating crate training) you were doing at the beginning of the training, except you need to do a
better job this time around since something didn't work. Be patient. Don't lose your temper. You'll get
there. The better you do, the better your puppy will do.
6.) What Crates do you recommend, and why?
All three of the crates below can be found on Amazon.com under Pet Supplies.
Our favorite crate is the Petsmate Double Door Deluxe. It works great when traveling. There is a
door on top, which allows the pup to see you, allows for extra ventilation, and is also much preferred
when taking the pup in and out of the crate.
Petsmate Double Midwest Lifestages Single Door Crate
Door Deluxe with Divider Can be purchased at Walmart
With the third Walmart Crate, you will need to make it smaller with a plastic box. Only the third crate will
actually meet airline standards if the pup is flying in the cargo. For pets that fly in the cabin with the
passengers, we suggest a soft sided carrying crate that will fit under the airplane seat.
More Crate Training / "Potty" Training
Remember that repetition is necessary. Your puppy will not understand what you want unless you
repeatedly show him/her the desired behavior MANY times.
Keep in mind also that your puppy does not know what is expected and must be shown the proper
place to eliminate, and when.
Your best potty training friend is your crate. When you cannot watch your puppy, use a crate. Think of
the crate the same way you think of a playpen for a human child. Even if you are only leaving the
room for a "minute," either take the puppy with you or use the crate. After all, you would not leave a
toddler in the house alone "for just a minute" would you?
Crate training can be fun for the puppy if you make it a POSITIVE experience. The DEN is an integral
part of the wild dogs up bringing and safety zone. The same thing applies to the "crate". Giving the
pup special "treats" is a great way to introduce him to his crate. The only time the puppy receives
these special treats is when he is in the crate; the treats become associated with the crate.
Use the crate wisely. Don't crate only when you are leaving the house. Place the puppy in the crate
while you are home as well. Use it as a "safe" zone, or for "time outs". (thus keeping your sanity)
By crating when you are home AND while you are gone, the puppy becomes comfortable in the crate
and not worried that you will not return, or that you are leaving him/her alone. This helps to eliminate
separation anxiety later in life.
Again, most puppies will not soil their "den." The first couple of tries you might have some accidents,
but don't be discouraged. An easy way to avoid accidents in the night for the first few weeks is by
following this routine:
1. Set your alarm for about 3 hrs after your normal bed time. When the alarm goes off, get up
immediately, go to the crate and CARRY the pup outside (I do this in my robe, with my shoes kept by
the door to the outside). Place him on the ground and encourage him to eliminate. PRAISE when he
does, and bring him back to the crate. Go back to bed.
2. Set your alarm for another 3 hrs, and get back to sleep. When the alarm goes off repeat part 1.
3. After about a week of the above routine, IF it has been successful(no crate messing) then you can
set the alarm for * way through your sleep time. Follow the remainder of part 1. When you arise in the
morning, TAKE the pup outside BEFORE you do anything else. Feed the pup and then crate. Follow
your regular waking routine, then walk the pup one more time before going off to work.
4. Repeat the feeding, walking and crating at lunch time. Pups from the ages of two to four months
CANNOT control their elimination for much more than 4 hours, so if you cannot return home at lunch
time, arrange for someone to do this for you at lunch.
Remember, if the CRATE is too large, the pup can easily soil on one side and sleep on the other. The
way to prevent this is to buy a crate that will accommodate your pet when it is fully grown. Then get
a plastic box that will fit inside the back of the crate. The box should be large enough that there is
only room for the puppy to stand and lie down comfortably. It needs to be plastic, as a puppy will
chew a cardboard box,
As the puppy grows, provide more room by putting in a smaller box, or cutting down the size. When
the puppy reliably asks to be put outside to eliminate, remove the box so the puppy can use the whole
If the puppy messes the crate, replace the box size to the point at which the puppy was reliable, and
just give the pup a little more time to learn. In conjunction with crate training, potty training starts
Whenever you remove the puppy from the crate or just want the puppy to"go potty," take the dog to
the door that will always be used to "go outside." Use the SAME door throughout the training period.
On the handle of this door, tie a bell to a string, dropping it even with the height of the puppy's nose.
When you bring the puppy to the door, lure the puppy to touch the bell with either it's nose or paw,
(using a treat) causing the bell to ring.
After the puppy rings the bell, give it the treat, (use a SMALL piece of meat or dried liver) and say
"OUTSIDE" in a happy tone of voice. Take the puppy outside on leash.
Reminder: During housebreaking DO NOT allow the pup outside to eliminate alone or loose in the yard.
Yes, that means in the rain, snow, whatever: YOU GO OUTSIDE ALSO. Give the puppy plenty of time.
Don't rush or you will be sorry. When the puppy urinates or defecates, praise the puppy with "Good
Outside" and again, give the puppy a tiny, tiny treat.
Continue to wait. When the puppy poops, again praise the puppy with"Good Outside" and give a treat.
Go back inside, stop at the door again, and treat once again. If the puppy does not "potty" even after
staying outside 15 minutes, return back inside, place the puppy back into the crate, wait 15 minutes
and start again from the beginning.
If done religiously, this training process should take only about 2 weeks for the puppy to understand.
This method will work with any dog, regardless of age. If you adopt a dog from a shelter or a rescue
program, follow the same routine. Remember, even though the dog is older or even an adult, he still
does not know the rules of your home,and may not have ever BEEN in a house. Be PATIENT and this
method WILL work.
You may feed your dog in his crate, but remember to take him for a walk shortly afterwards and
remove his water 3 hours before bedtime. If it's hot or your pup has exercised, leave a small amount
of water or a few ice cubes to prevent dehydration. Avoid feeding him in the crate all the time, or he
may become dependent on the crate and have difficulty eating in other environments.
Take it slow and easy...be PATIENT....and have FUN with your puppy! With proper training, it won’t be
long before your dog’s crate becomes a wonderful sanctuary for him and the favorite training tool for
How to Crate Train Your Dog
1) When you are crate training puppies, the size of the crate is very important. Your dog should have
ONLY enough room for him to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. It is recommended
that you buy one that will accommodate his full-grown size. However, you will probably have to block
off the back of the crate while he is still a puppy or else he will make one side of the crate his potty,
defeating thepurpose. Scroll down to the bottom to see the types of crates we recommend.
2) Dogs are social animals, so the ideal location for a crate is in a room full of activity. By making the
crate comfortable your pet will enjoy his new room while still being part of the family. Keep the
crate in your common living area during the day so he can be part of the family activities. If possible,
move the crate to your bedroom at night or get a second crate for sleeping. Dogs instinctively want
to sleep near their pack. This will also allow you to correct him if he gets fussy in his crate.
3) Before training begins start a schedule and keep a written log of his feeding/ drinking and
elimination times. This will help you predict when he’ll need to go. A puppy normally needs to
eliminate after eating, playing and waking from a nap. As a general guideline, puppies can “hold it”
one hour for every month of age, up to 8 hours (i.e. 3 months = 3 hours max).
Dr. Andrew Obstler, DVM
4) Confine him for 5 minutes at first to acclimate him to his crate. Gradually increase the time as he
becomes more comfortable. DO NOT show excitement when releasing him or he’ll think of leaving his
crate as a reward. Crate him several times a day, not just when you leave. Do not leave your dog
unsupervised for long.
5) Just as a baby cries in his crib it is common to expect some distress at first. He may whine but don’
t let him out until he stops or you’ll be rewarding negative behavior. Although crate training puppies
can initially be noisy, be consistent! Crate Covers help reduce the amount of distractions your puppy
sees, so he’ll be relaxed and more comfortable in the crate.
6) Crate your dog for the appropriate time and immediately take him where you want him to eliminate.
AS he is eliminating, praise him lavishly and give it a name such as “go potty.” I reward with a play
session. The pup learns that “as soon as I relieve myself, I get to play with my owner.” Only reward
him when he eliminates. If he doesn’t, put him in his crate for 15 minutes and try again.
Director, Pet Training and Behavior Counseling, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, NJ
7) Destructive chewing behavior is often the result of an unsupervised dog being bored or anxious.
Using a crate during an owner’s short-term absence eliminates this possibility. Dogs sleep the vast
majority of the time when their owners are away anyway. Crating your dog while you’re away keeps
him from being destructive and prevents him from ingesting something that could potentially harm him.
Separation anxiety occurs when a dog becomes distressed over his owner’s departure. Because dogs
are pack animals, they are not always prepared to cope with isolation, even if it’s temporary. Making
your dog’s crate time a positive experience can help remedy this. Therefore the most important rule of
crate training is to never use the crate as a place of punishment. Never make a big deal about letting
your dog in or out of this crate. Wait until he’s calm before releasing him from his crate, and avoid
giving praise or affection until he’s relaxed.