How to crate train your puppy in 6 easy steps

April 05, 2022
how to crate train your puppy

The most important thing about crate training your puppy is that it’s a positive experience. For your puppy to comfortably and happily spend time in their crate, we need to ensure that it’s a fabulous place to be!

We also need to make sure that our puppy’s needs for play, exercise and human interaction are taken care of and that they’re not spending too much time in their crate. 

So let’s explore how to crate train your puppy, so they love their crate! 

Six steps to crate training your puppy

If your puppy hasn’t spent time in a crate before, then you need to introduce the crate gradually. 

Rushing your crate training could result in your puppy becoming wary of the crate or even refusing to go in it of their own accord altogether. 

Follow these six simple crate training steps, and go at your puppy’s pace to ensure they form a lifelong love of crate time! 

Step 1: Make your puppy’s crate comfortable

Pop a nice bed, blanket or mat inside your puppy’s crate so that it’s a comfortable place for your pup to relax. The end goal is that your puppy will happily hang out and take a nap in their crate, so making it an inviting space is vital. 

Make sure your puppy always has access to water when inside their crate. You can use a water bowl that hooks onto the side of the crate so that your pup doesn’t tip it over or step in it!

Step 2: in and out crate training

You want to build your puppy’s confidence in getting in and out of their crate, so the first step of your crate training relies on the door being open at all times. 

how to crate train your puppy

Grab some yummy treats, sit beside your puppy’s crate and spend some time tossing a treat inside the crate and then outside of the crate. 

This will allow your puppy to get used to getting in and out of the crate of their own accord, without fear of being enclosed. 

Step 3: introducing a cue to go in the crate 

Once your puppy is happily hopping in and out of their crate, you want to teach them a cue to go inside. 

Choose the cue you will use, such as ‘in your crate’ or ‘go to bed.’

Say your cue before tossing the treat inside. Once your puppy enters the crate, you can use a clicker or a word to mark the behaviour and then give them the treat. 

Next, we want your puppy to learn they can leave the crate when released. You can use a release cue such as ‘ok’ or ‘go’. 

When your puppy is inside the crate, say your release cue and toss a treat outside of the crate. 

You can gradually build up the time your pup spends inside the crate before saying your release word. 

Step 4: increasing the time inside the crate

Next, you want to encourage your puppy to remain in their crate a little longer. 

Say your cue to ask your puppy to go into their crate and Increase the number of treats that you reward them with so it takes your puppy a little more time to get them all. 

Then use your release word and toss one treat away from the crate before asking your pup to go inside the crate – delivering more treats inside the crate again. 

You could also give your puppy a stuffed food toy or chew inside their crate (with the door open) to build up the time they spend settled inside. 

Step 5: closing the crate door

Once your puppy is comfortable hanging out inside the crate, it’s time to show your pup that the crate door opening and closing is no big deal. 

Ask your puppy to go into their crate, then open and close the door before releasing them. 

Slowly build up the duration of time the crate door is closed, always opening it before your puppy shows any signs of distress. 

Step 6: leaving your puppy in their crate

Now your puppy can comfortably spend time inside their crate with the door closed, you can start moving away from the crate. 

Begin moving around the room while your puppy is settled with a chew or stuffed food toy. 

Then pop out of the room for a minute and return. 

We want your puppy to realise it’s no big deal when you leave. So keep your absences short to start with and build up gradually. 

Don’t rush your crate training

Crate training should be done in baby steps. Rushing the process can very quickly result in a dog who doesn’t enjoy being anywhere near their crate. 

Never use your dog’s crate as an area for punishment. We want it to be a safe and happy space for your dog to spend time. 

A puppy will need regular play and toilet breaks throughout the day, and your crate is not a substitute for that. Instead, use your puppy’s crate as a place of comfort when you cannot give your full attention and only after you’ve met their needs for exercise, play and toileting! 

Puppy Training Classes

We cover crate training in our six week puppy training classes, so if you’d like some help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Over the course of six weeks, we will cover all the foundation puppy training and life skills you need to help your puppy learn good behaviour. 

Our small group classes in Banstead cover house training, play biting and mouthing, crate training, teaching your puppy to settle, socialisation and recall. 

Learn more about our puppy training classes here. 

Alex bracken dog training Banstead Epsom Ewell Cheam Woodmanstern Coulsdon Purley Caterham Chessington Ewell

Bracken Dog Training was established in 2013 offering in person and online training for all ages of dogs.

I am a member of the PPG working towards my APDT membership and I regularly take part in various dog trainer seminars and workshops

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