Crate training a dog with crate door open

Key takeaway

Crate training dogs can be a great way to make sure your dog has its own spot to relax in the house, and somewhere to go when nobody is home. However, you should talk to your vet or a dog trainer before considering crate training. When you’re crate training a dog, it’s important to try to make your dog feel safe and comfortable in its crate. While this crate may take some time, your dog should eventually learn to enjoy spending time in the crate.

Crate Training Your Dog 

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to raise your dog right and teach it what it needs to know to live a happy, healthy life. Training your dog to use a crate can be a good way to take some of the hassle out of leaving your dog at home or going on long car rides, but there may also be other benefits to crate training. This is why crate training dogs has become so much more popular in recent years.

There are lots of reasons you might want to crate train, but the main idea is to get your dog comfortable with being in their crate. Whether you’re taking your dog on a long car ride or you need your dog to stay somewhere safe while you run to the store, a crate can provide a safe haven for your dog. Crate training a puppy can also help you with potty training, which is an essential part of the transition from a puppy to an adult dog.

While there are several potential benefits of crate training dogs, it’s important to understand that crate training isn’t for all dogs. Different dogs are going to have different reactions to being in a crate, and things like dog anxiety and your dog chewing paws may get worse when your dog is in a crate. Before you decide to crate train your dog, it’s important to talk with a veterinarian to decide what your best options are.

Crate training dogs may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually a pretty simple process. However, we always recommend talking with your vet before you start crate training dogs, that way you can make sure your dog is a good candidate for crate training and that you’re doing it right. If you want to know more about how to kennel train a puppy, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of what you need to know before crate training.

What is Crate Training?

Crate training dogs is essentially exactly what it sounds like. The more you train your dog to use a crate, the more comfortable your dog is going to be when you leave them in their crate. If you haven’t crate trained your dog, you may notice that they’re reluctant to go into their crate, whether you’re traveling in the car or leaving them at home while you’re at work. Crate training is essentially the process of slowly introducing your dog to the crate in a way that teaches them to seek comfort in their crate and enjoy spending time there. For some dogs, this can be a very effective process.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of crate training a dog is the fact that you don’t have to worry about your dog making a mess if you have to leave them at home. As much as you might want to spend every minute with your dog, sometimes you have to go to work or run errands. If your dog is comfortable in their crate, you can leave them there when you’re away from home and trust that they won’t cause damage. Additionally, puppies can chew and swallow objects if they are not supervised, and using a crate when you can't pay 100% attention to them in the home can help reduce the odds that they’ll swallow something they shouldn't have.

Crate training can also be a good way to make it easier to travel with your dog. Some dogs get very nervous when they travel, and they may even get sick. If your dog is comfortable getting in their crate to travel in the car, they’ve always got a safe haven for traveling.

There are a lot of ways to train a dog, so you may be wondering what the benefits of crate training dogs are. One of the biggest upsides to crate training is that it can give you more freedom as a dog owner, especially with puppies that need constant supervision. Crate training can also be a good way to get your puppy house trained since dogs typically avoid going to the bathroom where they sleep and relax. What’s more, crate training can prepare your pet for potential visits to the groomer or a hospital stay at the vet clinic, where they may be kenneled. Crate training your dog ahead of time can help ease the process if they are required to be kenneled later on.

The truth of the matter is, crate training isn’t right for every dog. Some dogs simply don’t like being in a small space like a crate, and you can’t expect to leave your dog in a crate for too long. Ultimately, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian before you start crate training a dog.

crate training isn’t right for every dog

Should I Crate Train My Dog?

You might be wondering if you should crate train your dog. Whether you spend a lot of time at work while your dog is home alone or you want to travel more, there are several potential benefits to crate training a dog. You might even be considering crate training your dog as a way to help with potty training. The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of things you have to consider before you decide to crate train your dog. It’s generally best to leave important decisions like this to an expert.

While crate training may be a great educational tool for some dogs, it’s not an effective solution for others. Some dogs simply don’t like being in a crate, and you can’t change that by forcing your dog to spend more time in a crate. In fact, dogs that are prone to panic may injure themselves when crated. If your dog doesn’t like being in a crate but suffers from separation anxiety when you leave the house, you can talk to your vet about other ways, such as doggy daycare and dog walking services to improve separation anxiety in dogs. Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to training your dog.

Talk to your vet

It’s important for you to get an expert opinion before you make any important decisions about training your dog, and that includes starting crate training. Make sure you talk to your vet about crate training dogs before you get started with crate training. Tell your vet what you want to accomplish out of crate training, and what kind of behavior your dog is currently exhibiting. A veterinarian can help you decide if crate training is right for your dog, or if there may be a better form of training or treatment that can help with the problems your dog is experiencing.

For some dogs, there are a lot of benefits to crate training. For example, crate training can be a good way to create a safe space for your dog, so they have somewhere they can go when they want to relax and be alone. A dog bed or sanctuary space can also accomplish this, but it just depends on the dog. Crate training can also be a good tool to aid in house training because dogs won’t typically use their private space like a bathroom. Again, there are other tools to house train a dog, so it’s best to talk to your vet before you make any serious decisions.

crate training can be a great way to create a safe space for your dog

While crate training dogs can offer several benefits, there are also a handful of reasons your vet may recommend against crate training. If you leave your dog in their crate for too long, for example, they may become depressed or anxious as a result of not getting enough exercise and human interaction. Dogs who already have anxiety problems may be more likely to develop anxiety as a result of crate training. You also have to be careful about how long you keep your dog in its crate because dogs need to go to the bathroom regularly, especially with puppies.

Like we mentioned previously, it’s best to talk to your vet before you make any final decisions about crate training. Crate training can be effective for many dogs, but you don’t want to induce anxiety or depression. It’s also important that you understand what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re crate training a dog because improper crate training can lead to several problems. If you think your dog might benefit from crate training, make sure you talk to your vet about crate training and alternative training methods before getting started.

Puppy in crate

Crate Training Do’s and Don’ts

If you and your vet decide crate training your dog is the best solution for you, there are a lot of things you need to know before you get started. Improper crate training can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues in dogs. If your dog is already prone to anxiety or depression, poorly executed crate training can exacerbate those problems greatly. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when it comes to crate training do’s and don’ts.1

Do’s

Let your dog explore the crate: The goal of crate training is to make your dog feel comfortable in their crate, and that starts by letting your dog explore the crate. Leave the door of the crate open and allow your dog to sniff around and explore a bit. A little exploration can go a long way toward making your dog feel more comfortable with their surroundings. If they do appear comfortable exploring their crate on their own, reward them using a treat or other positive reinforcement. Plus, a crate with an open door will feel more inviting to your dog because they won’t feel like they’re trapped if they enter the crate. 

Encourage your dog to enter the crate: You want your dog to get comfortable in the crate, so encourage them to enter their crate. You can use some of your dog’s favorite treats and toys, or even their dinner as motivation to get into the crate. When your dog does go into its crate, make sure you reward them to let them know they’re doing a good job. Positive reinforcement teaches your dog that going into the crate is good behavior that deserves a reward. With time, your dog should feel comfortable enough to go in the crate without being coerced by treats and toys. Keep in mind crates should never be used as punishment, instead, it should serve as a safe space for your dog to retreat to as they please.

Start slow and work up to longer sessions: You never want to leave your dog in the crate for too long, but starting with small amounts of time is especially important. When you first start crate training, keep the door open to allow your dog to move freely in and out of the space as they get used to it. Dogs who haven’t been crate trained may be a bit confused by their crate at first, especially if you leave them in there for several hours. Start with short crate training sessions, then work your way up to more time as your dog becomes more comfortable in its crate.

Leave the door open when you’re home: If you’re at home relaxing with your dog after a hard day’s work, leave the door of their crate open so they’re free to come and go as they please. A crate with an open door will be more inviting to your dog, especially if you don’t close the door behind them as soon as they go in their crate. This helps teach your dog that their crate isn’t a form of punishment, but a safe haven they can use to relax whether you’re home or not.

Keep comfortable items in your dog’s crate: Everybody feels better when they’ve got creature comforts around, so make sure your dog has comfortable items in their crate. Some good things to put in your dog’s crate include their favorite toys, the blankets they love sleeping on, and anything else, such as a soft mat or bed that may make your dog feel at home.

Choose the right crate: Speaking of comfort, the crate you put your dog in has a lot to do with how well they respond. First off, you need to make sure your crate is big enough for your dog, meaning that they can stand up and turn around easily. A crate that’s too small can lead to physical and psychological discomfort. You should also make sure your dog’s crate is durable enough that they can’t get out when you leave them home.2

Don’ts

Don’t use crate training for punishment: Crates can be a good training tool if you teach your dog to use its crate as a safe haven. If you send your dog to their crate as a punishment when they do something wrong, your dog creates negative associations with their crate and may start to avoid or show reluctance toward you and the crate. As tempting as it may be, you should never put your dog in a crate as a form of punishment. If you’re not sure how to deal with your dog’s bad behavior, your vet or trainer can recommend alternatives to crate training a dog.

Don’t leave your dog in the crate for too long: When you’re crate training a dog, you want to teach them to feel comfortable and safe in their crate. If you leave your dog in their crate for several hours — without working up to it gradually — it may lead to anxiety. Dogs who are consistently left in their crate for several hours at a time may not get enough human interaction, which can lead to depression and anxiety. As a general rule, you shouldn’t keep an adult dog in a crate for more than 4-6 hours.

Crate Training Your Dog: Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cruel to crate a dog at night?

As long as your dog has been properly crate trained, you shouldn’t worry too much about crating your dog at night. The purpose of crate training is to familiarize your dog with their crate, that way they’re comfortable in their crate. If your dog has been properly crate trained, they should have no problem sleeping in their crate at night and spending days around the house.

If you’re also putting your dog in a crate while you’re away at work, it’s important to consider the potential effects a lack of human interaction can have on dogs. Crate training dogs may be a good way to make working and traveling easier, but dogs that are left in a crate for too long may develop psychological problems.

How long should you leave a dog crying in a crate?

You might notice that your puppy or adult dog is crying in their crate, so you may be wondering how long you should leave a dog crying in a crate. It’s not unusual for dogs to cry in a crate as a way to get attention or deal with the new, confined space they’re in. Choosing a comfortable crate and crate training dogs can help reduce whining.

It’s important to remember that dogs need to go to the bathroom, so they may be whining to get out of their crate and go outside. You should never leave an adult dog in a crate for more than 4-6 hours at a time; puppies should not be left in a crate for more than 4 hours.

How long does it take to crate train a dog?

While the process is similar for crate training any dog, the timeline for successful crate training varies a lot from dog to dog. If your dog does a good job of acclimating to its crate, you may be able to crate train them in just a few days. For most dogs, crate training takes several weeks and is a much more intensive process.

Help your dog acclimate to crate training by crating for only a few seconds or minutes at a time

If you’re having trouble crate training your dog, make sure you talk to your vet about proper crate training techniques. Improper crate training can lead to anxiety, depression, and other medical concerns, so you need to do it right.

Can crate training be bad for dogs?

In many cases, crate training dogs is an effective way to get them to be comfortable in a crate when you’re away from home or traveling with your dog. However, there are potential downsides to crate training. For example, dogs that suffer from anxiety may have even worse anxiety during crate training. Crate training can also be difficult for dogs who have medical conditions that lead to frequent urination or defecation.

Ultimately, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian before you start crate training a dog. Your vet can help you decide if crate training is right for your dog, plus they can offer tips to help you crate train.

Final Notes

If you want to make your dog more comfortable with being in a crate when traveling or when you’re away at work, crate training may be effective. Crate training can help your dog get comfortable with their crate, creating a safe space for them. However, it’s best to talk to your vet about crate training dogs before you make your final decision.

Are you considering crate training your dog? Dutch can help. At Dutch, we connect pet owners with veterinarians who can help recognize dog food allergy symptoms, facilitate crate training, and more. Your vet can even prescribe treatment for your pets that you can receive directly at your doorstep. If you need a vet to help with crate training a dog, contact Dutch to get connected today.

References

  1. “Crate Training 101.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/crate-training-101.

  2. Crate Training Your Puppy - UC Davis School of Veterinary ... https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk491/files/inline-files/Crate_Training_Your_Puppy.pdf.