The Six Golden Rules of Crate Training For Dogs

Crate Training For Dogs

It’s not often that I change my mind completely about something. However, on the subject of crate training for dogs, I have done a complete U-turn!

What Changed My Mind About Crate Training For Dogs?

I was in a dilemma when I had a nine-week-old puppy and an older dog who didn’t take to him. I knew the older dog wouldn’t hurt the puppy unless extremely provoked. However, the puppy had no boundaries and wasn’t reading warning signs.

The puppy was also at the stage where he wanted to chew everything. I would take great care to clear the floors of potential hazards like pens, batteries, scissors, etc. Despite everything, he would always come running with the hair clip I lost months ago or my shredded shopping list!

House training was a complete nightmare! I can’t count the times I have stood on the lawn at 4am, shivering and waiting for a puppy to wee, when he thinks its playtime.

When I was at work I was having heart palpitations at the thought of arriving home. I imagined a puppy wrapped in electric cables, savaged by his older brother and drowning in a sea of urine!

My friend suggested a crate and I looked at her in horror!

So the friend suggested I went round to her house to see how crate training for dogs can be an absolute lifesaver. I still had my reservations, however, I went to take a look.

The crate had been placed in the warmest part of the kitchen. Inside was a snuggly blanket, a dog teddy, and a chew toy.

crate training for dogs

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A simple, durable crate will be a one time purchase for your dog. Make it an inviting, snuggly place for your dog to take a nap or just get some peace in his/her ‘safe space’. Place a favourite toy and blanket, keep the door open and offer treats to make the crate more inviting. The crate can also be used in the car to keep the dog safe and secure.

Well, I could see that it looked comfortable but there was just one thing missing.. a dog!

We chatted over a cuppa then her Sheltie wondered in from the garden. He greeted me enthusiastically, then went and laid down inside the crate. I was amazed to see that he had gone there by choice and snuggled down for a nice rest.

My friend explained that it was the dogs ‘safe place’ where he could rest and relax. If the children were too noisy, or he just wanted a quiet snooze he could go to his crate. The door remained open and the dog came and went as he pleased.

So, instead of being locked away like a prisoner, the dog was trained to love the sanctuary of his crate.

I started coming round to the fact that crate training was the only way forward. It didn’t take long for me to become a complete convert. Now all my foster dogs are given the option of a crate.

Here are the six Golden rules of crate training for dogs, if you stick to the following, it is incredibly easy.

The SIX Golden Rules of Crate Training For Dogs

1 Buy the correct size of crate.

Buy a crate that is tall enough for him to stand up in and turn around comfortably. However, bear in mind that puppies grow and you might need a larger one later on.

2 Make the crate a ‘safe place’

Make the crate into a ‘den’ for your dog with a nice blanket, some favourite toys and a couple of treats to entice him in.

3 Keep the doors open!

Leave the door open and reward the puppy whenever he goes inside voluntarily.

4 Pick a Good Spot

Place the crate in a spot where he can see people coming and going and won’t feel alone.

5 Don’t Use The Crate as a Punishment

Never use the crate as a punishment when your puppy is naughty. Always make sure that the puppy associates his crate with things that he loves.

6 Start Small

Start with leaving the puppy in the crate for just a few minutes at a time. Build up gradually, but never leave the dog for more than 3-4  hours.

FIVE  Reasons To Crate Train

1 The dog will be safe whenever you can’t be around.

2 The crate can be used to aid house training if it is done correctly.

3 If the dog is ill or recuperating from an operation the crate will offer a haven where he feels safe and will get undisturbed quiet time.

4 All crates fold up easily and can be taken on holiday or placed in the car to keep the dog safe.

5 The dog will settle better in strange surroundings because the crate will feel familiar to the dog.

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I love innovative dog products which are enjoyable for the dog and make pet owners life easier. These crate training aids are durable and can help with  separation anxiety too, because the dog is given an enjoyable task to fill time while the owner is away. Just spread (dog friendly) peanut butter or other tasty treats and attach to the side of the crate at the correct height. For  longer enjoyment, simply freeze before using.

REMEMBER  Crate Training Is Not For Every Dog!

Accept that not every dog will be happy in a crate and it should only be encouraged, never forced.

Don’t use a collar and lead on a dog when he is crated.

Make sure the crate has no rough edges and is properly assembled.

Crate Training A Puppy At Night

I find that a puppy settles better at bedtime if the crate is covered in a blanket. This gives more of a cocoon effect and gives the puppy extra security. Also, put a recently worn T-shirt or jumper in the crate too, the puppy will find your scent comforting. Put the television or radio on with a low volume so that the puppy doesn’t feel alone. Try to resist going back to the puppy (I know this is hard!). Only return to the room if you feel the puppy is extremely distressed or ill.

An Alternative to Crate Training.

As I said before crate training is not for every dog, but there is an alternative.

A Playpen or Stair Gate is a great way to keep the puppy in a safe area or room.

They are really useful if visitors arrive who are not comfortable around dogs or who have babies or small children.

Two dogs can be separated if one isn’t vaccinated, neutered or if one of the dogs likes to take his time accepting another dog.

The playpen can be taken outside so the dog can experience grass and fresh air and the gate can be moved to different places in the house.

They fold down and easily fit into the car, so the dog can still travel with you.

I find the playpen invaluable when we take our dogs camping. I always know that they are safe and secure.
crate training for dogs

A playpen gives you the peace of mind that your dog is safe but still able to play and interact with the family. 

crate training for dogs

I like these foldable, portable crates/playpen for holidays and camping trips. If space in the car is limited, these can be easily slotted into a small space in the boot.

This playpen comes with a free carry case and a collapsible bowl. It can be used indoors or outside, I really like that the panels provide some shade from the sun and the bowl is always on hand so the dog can have a drink.

Here is a link to another article which shows how you can make a huge difference to your dog’s health just by making a few small adjustments.

Thank you for reading.

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13 thoughts on “The Six Golden Rules of Crate Training For Dogs

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  1. I was opposed to crate training and didn’t use them for our first two dogs, but when we got Maisie she got into everything and acted up when left home alone. We decided to try a crate and it quickly became her safe place. She seemed to be relieved to go into it when we left the house, she slept well and wasn’t tempted to get into things out of frustration. Now each of our dogs has a crate and they go in and out as they please. They love their crates!

    1. I’ve completely changed my mind about crates, they seem to love a ‘den’. You must need enormous crates for your dogs! I hope you are all doing well.

  2. We’ve slowly managed to get our recent rescue adoptee Fen to use his crate – he has many issues from past ill treatment, crates being one of them, but he now loves it – it’s his own private space, covered in a blanket + full of his ‘treasures’ (stolen socks, cardboard, etc) It is such a relief that he’ll go in quite happily while I have a shower, etc and I know he’s safe. I tried leaving him in his crate + going out for 2 hours – he was still snoring when I got home. I also thought it cruel to use them but after getting some for my 2 late labs, when I decorated they whined and staked out the floor where their crates were usually kept until I put them back. It’s a dog’s own safe den. We have a rule only owners are permitted near when they’re inside – it gives dogs peace from visitors, etc. And it’s also useful for a ten minute ‘time out’ if they get wired – not as a punishment, but it calms overexcitement – if the blanket comes down over the door they know they’ve pushed their luck. Fen’s behaviour is improving swiftly since we’ve been able to use the crate for ‘time outs’ yet he still goes in to sleep so it isn’t traumatising him at all. I’m a crate convert – they’re great 🙂

    1. Yeah I’m a crate convert too . If they’re happy, why not? and we get peace of mind that they’re safe when theyre on their own. Wish I’d tried them out years ago! Thank you for stopping by, I have a rescue with issues too!

      1. I’ve been reading your blog for rescue tips 🙂 It’s fab. Fen’s my deerhound/greyhound with no bite inhibition (re: our wee twitter chat) but he’s slowly improving. Keep up your blog – it’s a godsend to a rescue newbie like me! (And apols for my previous wordy post – I’m trying to work while Fen sleeps but then he demands attention all day. I’m sooo tired – and waffly near a key board! But Fen’s worth it :D)

      2. Thank you so much, that means a lot and you
        can waffle to me anytime! Your hard work will pay off, I’m sure, but take care of yourself too

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