Melissa Elledge

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What Cesar Millan Can Teach Us about Why Your Dog Peed on Your Bed

Imagine that it’s Sunday night, and you fall asleep in bed next to your pup after watching your favourite TV show. When your alarm goes off for work in the early hours of the morning, you roll over to find not your cuddly pooch, but a warm, wet spot and a sprawling yellow stain on your sheets.

Yuck! What a way to start your Monday, huh?

Been there, done that? Most dog owners have, including yourself, most likely -- after all, that’s why you’re reading this article, right? You’re trying to figure out why your dog peed in your bed and what it means.

Before you punish your dog or pull out the treats to try and train them, take a page out of Cesar Millan’s book. (Literally -- Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog is a godsend for dog owners.)

You might recognise Cesar Millan from his hit TV series, The Dog Whisperer. Here’s what the king of canine behaviour can teach us about why our dogs pee on our beds and what it might mean.

My dog peed on my bed -- what does this mean?

That question isn’t as easy to answer as you may think. There are many reasons why a dog may pee on your bed.

Dogs’ elimination behaviours are much more nuanced than they appear. After all, dogs aren’t performance animals; they’re incredibly intelligent beings with complex personalities and behaviours.

And when they do something we don’t like, or when they disobey us, we often forget just how intelligent and individual they are.

It’s impossible for us to know what’s going on in our dogs’ brains, but with a little time and patience -- and with the guidance of Cesar Millan -- we can solve the problem and learn how to understand our dogs’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

Understanding canine behaviour and urination habits

While trying to figure out why your dog peed on your bed and what it might mean, you might automatically assume your dog is intentionally misbehaving.

After all, we humans tend to be a bit impatient when it comes to housebreaking our dogs.

We don’t want our dogs to make messes in our homes, so we try to train them out of it as quickly as we can. Not only can we be impatient when it comes to training our dogs to avoid certain behaviours, but we can also be impatient when it comes to their overall temperament.

Here’s an example -- let’s say you’re planning to add a new furry family member to your pack.

You go to the adoption agency or animal shelter and you see two dogs. One is jumping up and down, running circles around their enclosure, knocking over their water bowl and getting tangled in their leash. The other dog is lying down, calm and patient, just waiting for you to pet them.

Which one are most people more likely to pick? That’s right -- the submissive one.

Why? Because dogs who are naturally submissive require less time and effort when it comes to training, especially house-training. And let’s be honest -- most of us need all the extra time and effort we can get.

Our impatience may only worsen the problem, according to Cesar Millan, who claims house-training our dogs is a “human” need. 

Your dog's need is to go and relieve herself! So if you want to break your dog of this habit, you need to be sure you are being honest and taking responsibility by providing exercise and discipline according to your dog's needs. (Cesar Millan)

Why does my house-trained dog pee in the bed?

Did you know that house-training often has nothing to do with why your dog peed on your bed?

Sure, it can play a role in some cases, particularly if you have a puppy or a rescue dog that’s never been trained. But there are many reasons why dogs pee on their owners’ beds -- sometimes, even fully housebroken dogs have accidents!

Submissive urination is one of the key reasons why house-trained dogs might soil the bed.

To fully understand submissive urination, it’s important to remember that different dogs have different personalities and temperaments.

Some furry friends are feisty and assertive, while others are fearful and shy. That behaviour plays a much larger role in your dog’s bathroom habits than you might think!

What is submissive urination?

Dogs who are submissive by nature are actually more likely to suffer from submissive urination.

This means that they eliminate waste when overstimulated.

This is an instinctive reaction to an intense behavioural conflict happening inside the dog’s brain -- and it’s one that the dog shouldn’t be punished for.

Many articles on this subject claim that dogs exhibit submissive urination when overly excited or scared, but this is not always the case.

“Overstimulated” is a much better, and more accurate, term than “overexcited.”

Remember, like us, dogs can experience a wide range of emotions -- tying their behaviour to one single emotion won’t help solve the problem.

In fact, this may only make the issue worse.

When a dog is overstimulated and urinates, it may be the result of conflicting emotions, rather than one single, overwhelming emotion.

Dogs who are submissive may get excited at external stimuli, like meeting a new person or hearing a loud, startling sound.

Their submissive nature makes them want to stay calm, but their temporary excitement or fear clashes with their usual temperament.

These conflicting behavioural motivations may result in spontaneous urination.

And, unsurprisingly, submissive dogs are more likely to urinate when their bladders are full -- so it’s important that your dog have a regular bathroom break schedule.

But submissive urination isn’t just associated with behaviour -- it often manifests in older dogs as well.

It’s important to note that age-related submissive urination shouldn’t be confused with incontinence.

If your well-trained dog is getting older and has started peeing on your bed or in your house, you should seek veterinary advice immediately to ensure it’s not a medical issue first.

Other reasons your dog might pee on your bed

If your dog isn’t exactly the submissive type, they might also pee on the bed because...

  • They’re marking their territory -- this is more common in younger dogs.
  • They have a medical condition, such as UTI, kidney disease, or arthritis.
  • There’s a problem with the urethral sphincter, the muscle which controls urination.

If you suspect your dog’s spontaneous urination problem is related to their health rather than their behaviour, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

Solving the urination problem: tips from The Dog Whisperer

If you want to break your dog out of the submissive urination habit, you need to first identify the source of the problem before you can tackle it -- and that includes examining your own approach to training.

Millan says in his book Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog;

Dog training is something that was invented by humans, but dog psychology was invented by Mother Nature. Before we even think about rules to train our dogs, we need to think about rules to train ourselves.

(Cesar Millan - The Dog Whisper)

Throughout his book, Millan talks about two important human and canine behaviours:

  • Calm-assertive
  • Calm-submissive 

Humans must be calm-assertive toward their dogs if they want their dogs to exhibit what he calls the calm-submissive state.

Dogs are masters at sensing even the slightest change in mood and behaviour. They can sense -- and even smell -- when you’re fearful or frustrated.

That’s why it’s imperative, says Millan, to be mindful of how you’re feeling and how your own actions and emotions might influence your dog’s emotional state.

Being calm-assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive, mean, or dominating. Rather, dog owners must be confident, but also calm and relaxed.

They must know what they want to achieve, and they must be clear and direct in the messages they send to their dogs.

Good dog owners (and effective dog trainers) never try to intimidate or control their dogs entirely.

Bearing that in mind, here are some tips for training your dog to stop peeing in your bed (or in the house, or in their crate).

Tip #1: Pay attention to stimuli that may cause the urination.

What makes your dog urinate?

Do they do so in fear, or when meeting new people?

Then, once you’ve made a note of those stimuli, try to avoid them, or introduce your dog to them gradually.

For example, if your dog gets excited when meeting new people, let your friends know in advance not to touch, talk, or look at your dog at first.

Part of this involves paying attention to yourself. We hate to break it to you, but in some cases, your own behaviour might cause submissive urination.

Pay attention to your dog’s emotional state and be sure to react accordingly, and also avoid situations that may overstimulate your dog where possible.

Tip #2: Clean up your dog’s messes behind their back.

If your dog pees in your bed, put them outside or in another room before changing the sheets.

If you immediately clean up the mess, you’re signalling to your dog that it doesn’t matter if they continue the behaviour -- you’ll always be there to clean it up.

This is where the “assertive” part of the calm-assertive attitude comes in. 

 You want that mess cleaned up as soon as possible, but doing so sends the wrong message to your dog, so just be patient and clean up out of your dog’s sight.

Tip #3: Stay calm...

“The fact is that no animal ever responds positively to angry, frustrated, or fearful energy,” says Millan.

If your dog does pee in your bed to intentionally misbehave, staying calm shows them this behaviour doesn’t affect you, which can go a long way in breaking the habit.

Tip #4: ...but also stay assertive.

But if those emotions cause them to act in a way that we don’t want, we can’t give in every time and expect the dog to change. Be firm!

Tip #5: Try using a crate.

Make sure your dog is in the calm-submissive state before approaching the crate, and also ensure you’re in the calm-assertive state.

Wrapping Up 

You don’t have to be a celebrity dog trainer or veterinary neurosurgeon to rewire your dog’s brain and correct undesirable behaviours.

The key components of successful dog training, according to Millan, are respect and trust. In order to build respect and trust and strengthen your bond with your dog, you must pay attention -- both to your dog’s behaviours and emotional states as well as your own.

Why does your dog pee on your bed? What do you think it means? Tell us your story in the comments. We reply to every comment!

Is Crate Training Cruel? Finland and Sweden Seem to Think So…

Is crate training cruel? It’s a question every dog owner has probably pondered at some point. This comes as no surprise -- if you’ve ever watched your tiny, precious puppy howl from their crate, chances are it struck a nerve.

Crate training puppies is so commonplace in the West that many dog owners believe it’s not just helpful, but it’s also necessary to train a well-behaved dog.

Indeed, if you’ve read our other articles on crate training, you’ll know that many veterinarians and dog trainers are advocates of crate training.

Other parts of the world don’t exactly agree, though. Take Finland and Sweden, for example, where crate training is not just considered cruel -- it’s also illegal!

International laws on crate training and cruelty

Dog owners who violate these animal welfare laws can face serious penalties, including fines and court battles.

Swedish Animal Welfare Regulations

Section 13 of Sweden’s regulations on keeping dogs and cats states that, “dogs and cats may not be kept in cages” unless they’re used for transport, hunting, or a competition or show.

Even then, pet owners are required to let their dogs out of their crates at least every two to three hours.

Sweden’s legislation also establishes acceptable dog crate sizes for those occasions which do require crates -- and they’re larger than the Australian and American standard dog crate sizes. The smallest acceptable crate size for a dog measuring 25 cm high is 2 square meters!

To give you an idea, the smallest Australian and American travel crates, which is approved by the The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is only 0.57 x 0.37 meters. 

The Swedish Board of Agriculture also provides guidelines on raising dogs, and their opinion on crate training is a little more blunt: 

You may not bind your dog indoors. If you need to limit the dog's mobility for a little longer, you can set up a grid or otherwise occupy an area. (Translated from Swedish)

Finnish Animal Welfare Regulations

Finland has similar legislation on crating dogs. According to the Finnish Kennel Club; 

A cat or dog or other animal may be kept in a box or cage intended for its transport, or in any other comparable small storage space, only if it is required for transporting the animal, disease or other ad hoc and acceptable cause." (Finnish Kennel Club)

In an article titled, “The cage is not a dog seat,” (translated from Finnish), Tuija Saari, former Animal Protection Veterinarian for the City of Helsinki, says that crating dogs to prevent them from misbehaving or destroying the home is not an acceptable, long-term solution.

If dogs must be left alone for long periods of time, Saari recommends dedicating a room of the home to the dog. The room should be spacious -- i.e., not a bathroom or closet -- and should be furnished so the dog cannot harm themselves or damage any belongings.

“Usually the dog stays quieter when alone when it has a limited, safe area instead of wandering alone in the big apartment,” says Saari. (Translated from Finnish)

Like Sweden, Finland also requires dog crates to be much larger than the Australian and American standard sizes. 

Crates in Finland are more akin to playpens -- a large breed dog must be kept in a crate measuring a minimum of 37 square feet, approximately 3 square meters.

Is crate training cruel? What the experts say

Some of the world’s most famous dog trainers advocate crate training. In their book, Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program using the Power of Positive Reinforcement, Barack Obama’s dog trainers, Larry Kay and Dawn Sylvia-Staciewicz, dedicate an entire section of their “Fundamentals Program” to crate training.

The crate is your dog’s sanctuary, the place where he can get away from it all. The crate needs to be respected as your dog’s safe haven, not his jail, and should be associated with reward, not punishment.” 

(Larry Kay and Dawn Sylvia-Staciewicz)

Even Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer himself, has made videos showing dog owners how to crate their dogs for travel, and his blog features several articles with tips on crate training puppies and adult dogs.

Not all experts agree, though.

In an interview with The Guardian, Emma Lincoln, co-author of Dogs Hate Crates, claims the crate training debate is a cultural divide;

Americans have never been so in love with the concept of owning dogs while being so ill-equipped to give dogs the face-time, exercise, socialisation and purpose in life they need. (Emma Lincoln)

The book’s authors claim to have a background in canine psychology, and while it is unclear which specific qualifications they hold, they do have a good point: 

In a country where some estimates count 77.5 million dogs, a huge number of these -- perhaps the majority -- now spend significant time crated in their families' homes. (Emma Lincoln)

Is crate training cruel? Searching for an answer

It’s hard to say for sure whether crate training is cruel -- especially when you consider that two regions of the world have vastly different laws and opinions on the subject.

Countries like Sweden and Finland impose strict regulations on the sizes of crates, and these minimum measurements are certainly much roomier than their American and Australian counterparts.

In Australia and America, dogs must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in their crate -- this gives them very little room and may make them feel cramped.

Keeping these size regulations in mind, is crate training cruel? The answer is yes and no. Crate training can be cruel if it’s done inappropriately.

Like most things, crates can be misused and abused. Locking a dog in a crate for longer than they can hold their bladder -- two hours for puppies, four hours for adult dogs -- is inhumane and abusive. (Yes, that means that leaving your puppy alone in a crate for eight hours while you’re at work is considered animal cruelty!)

Perhaps it is also time for Australia and America to rethink their attitude toward crating.

In Sweden and Finland, crates are more like playpens and give dogs plenty of space. 

If Australian and American dog owners really want their dogs to see their crates as sanctuaries, they should be large enough so the dog has enough room to feel truly at home.

Final thoughts on crates and cruelty

The Humane Society of the United States makes an excellent point in their Crate Training 101 guide:

A crate may be your dog’s den, but just as you would not spend your entire life in one room of your home, your dog should not spend most of their time in their crate.”  (Humane Society of the United States)

What Happens Next? 

  • Prefer to ditch the crate and use alternative methods for training your dog? Check out our Puppy Training Guide for holistic training techniques from New Zealand’s loveable dog trainer, Doggy Dan.  
  • If you are interested in learning the safe methods to crate training, taught by the authors of Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program using the Power of Positive Reinforcement then head over to the Crate Training Guide.
  • Leave a comment if you have found this guide useful or if you have any questions. We love replying to every comment! 

Dog Crate Sizes Based on Breed and Health History

Dog owners must consider several factors when choosing the right dog crate size for their precious pooch. Breed and size are, of course, important when choosing the most appropriate crate size and type, but the dog’s health and temperament and the area you live in also play a part!

Read on to find out how to find the right dog crate size for your pup based on their breed, size, health history, and Australia’s standard dog crate sizes.

How to Measure Your Dog to Fit Their Crate

Measuring your dog to choose the right dog crate size is fairly straightforward. Position your dog so they’re standing up tall and straight. Using a measuring tape, measure the length from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail -- do not include the tail itself -- to get your dog’s length.

When measuring height, measure from the highest point on the head both when the dog is sitting down and standing up.

Take the longer of the two measurements and add 2 inches -- this will give you the shortest height the crate should be.

IATA Approved Travel Dog Crate Sizes, Measurements, and Requirements.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have set pet carrier standards which all airlines must meet for pet travel. These travel crates have slightly different regulations than your average home crates. 

Australian airlines have to impose weight requirements in addition to regulating dog crate sizes. Your dog should be able to sit, lie down, and turn around in their travel crate comfortably.

In addition to height and length, you’ll also need to measure leg height and width.

To measure leg height, measure from the floor to the dog’s elbow joint. Don’t include the shoulder in this measurement.

To find your dog’s width, simply measure across the widest point (usually the belly or the head).

Measuring height for travel crates also works slightly differently. You’ll need to measure from the floor to the tips of the ears (or to the top of the head -- whichever is higher) rather than the shoulders.

Know your dogs weight as travel crates have a maximum weight capacity.

Insert Video of how to measure dog for travel.

Dog Crate Sizes by Breed.

Remember, the best type of crate -- wire, plastic, etc. -- for your dog is based more on their temperament rather than their size.

Extra-small breeds.


Welsh Corgis, Miniature Schnauzers, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Dachshunds, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Papillon, Pekingese, Brussels Griffon, Bolognese, Chihuahua, Pug, Maltese, Toy  Manchester Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, and similarly sized breeds.

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Dog measurements for extra small dog crate sizes: 
Less than 55 cm long x 43 cm tall

Travel crate weight requirements: Up to 1.5 kg

Best dog crate type for extra small breeds: Soft-sided, plastic

Small breeds.


Welsh Corgis, Miniature Schnauzers, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, dachshunds, Australian Terrier, Basenji, Pug, Bichon Frise, Border Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Cairn Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dachshund, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Jack Russell, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Maltese Shih Tzu, Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Miniature Poodle, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier, Welsh Corgi, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, and similarly sized breeds.

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Dog measurements for small dog crate sizes: 
Up to 55 cm long x 43 cm tall

Travel crate weight requirements: Up to 1.5 kg

Best dog crate type for small breeds: 
Soft-sided, plastic, playpen

Medium-sized breeds.


Border Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Fox Terriers, Beagles, American Bulldog, American Staffy, Australian Kelpie, Blue Heeler / Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, Cavoodle, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, English /British Bulldog, Irish Terrier, Old English Sheepdog, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer, Shar Pei, Shetland Sheepdog, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Springer Spaniel, Whippet and similarly sized breeds.

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Dog measurements for medium-sized dog crate sizes: 
Up to 71 cm long x 48 cm tall

Travel crate weight requirements: Up to 4 kg

Best dog crate type for medium-sized breeds: 
Soft-sided, plastic, wire, playpen

Large breeds.


Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Chow Chows, Dalmatians, Cattle Dogs, Airedale Terrier, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Australian Shepherd, Basset hound, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boerboel, Boxer, Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Rough Collie, Doberman Pinscher, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Pointer, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Goldendoodle, Hungarian Vizsla, Irish Setter, Labradoodle, Labrador, Newfoundland, Pitbull Terrier, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Weimaraner, and similarly sized breeds

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Dog measurements for large dog crate sizes: 
Up to 101 cm long x 71 cm tall 

Travel crate weight requirements: Up to 6 kg

Best dog crate type for large breeds: 
Heavy duty wire crates, plastic, travel crates

Extra large breeds.


Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Pointer, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Goldendoodle, Hungarian Vizsla, Irish Setter, Newfoundland, Pitbull Terrier, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Weimaraner and similarly sized dogs

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Dog measurements for XL dog crate sizes: 
Up to 116 cm long x 76 cm tall 

Travel crate weight requirements: Up to 8 kg

Best dog crate type for large breeds: 
Heavy duty wire crates, plastic, travel crates

Dog Crate Sizes by Temperament

Temperament plays a much more important role in choosing the right dog crate size than you might think!

Typically we can categorise our dogs into the following temperament classes:

  • Destructive
  • Calm

  • High energy
  • Anxious


The materials used in wire and plastic crates are durable, making it harder for your dog to destroy. If your dog is a chewer, we recommend wire.

Best dog crate types: Wire, plastic

Avoid: soft-sided, playpen, designer crates


Calm, small-breed dogs who don’t tend to chew on things may feel more at home in a soft-sided crate than a wire or plastic crate.

Stylish designer crates are also available and can double as furniture, and are ideal for very well-trained dogs.

Best dog crate types: Soft-sided, playpen, designer crates

Avoid: None

High energy.

Wire and plastic crates are durable, but if you have a large and highly energetic dog, or a “Houndini” who likes to escape, you may want to look into a reinforced steel or plastic crate.

If your dog is hyperactive in their crate, try setting down blankets or padding the bars and metal flooring to reduce noise.

Best dog crate types: Heavy-duty wire and plastic

Avoid: soft-sided, playpen, designer crates


Although they can be noisier than some other crate types, wire crates are well-ventilated and provide optimum visual range.

Plastic crates may make anxious dogs feel cramped. Dogs with anxiety may chew soft-sided crates, which are also harder to clean.

Best dog crate types: Wire

Avoid: Soft-sided, playpen, plastic

Australian Standard Dog Crate Sizes

Not all crates are created equal!  Different types of crates come in different standard sizes. 

Here are the standard dimensions you should expect to find when shopping for a specific type of crate in Australia.

Soft-sided crates

Extra small: 61 cm long  x 43 cm wide x 48 cm high

Medium: 76 cm long  x 48 cm wide x 53 cm high

Large: 92 cm long x 59 cm wide x 64 cm high

Extra large: 107 cm long x 71 cm wide x 76 cm high

XXL: 122 cm long x 76 cm wide x 81 cm high

Wire crates

Medium: 61 cm long x 45.7 cm wide x 50.8 cm high

Large: 122 cm long x 79 cm wide x 84 cm high

Portable crates

Small: 48 cm long x 41 cm wide x 41 cm high

Medium: 76 cm wide x 51 cm long x 48 cm high

Large: 91 cm wide x 61 cm long x 58 cm high

Travel crates (IATA approved carriers)*

Small: 53 cm long x 37 cm wide x 37 cm high -- for dogs weighing up to 1.5 kg

Medium: 62 cm long x 43 cm wide x 44 cm high -- for dogs weighing up to 4 kg

Large: 73 cm long x 44 cm wide x 53 cm high -- for dogs weighing up to 5.8 kg

Extra large: 82 cm long x 56 cm wide x 60 cm high -- for dogs weighing up to 6 kg

XXL: 94 cm long x 62 cm wide x 74 cm high -- for dogs weighing up to 8 kg

*Note that IATA approved carriers also have weight restrictions for dogs and their respective crate sizes.

Playpen crates

Medium: 92 cm long x 49 cm wide

Extra Large: 120 cm long x 82 cm wide

If you work full time and you haven't started crate training, then check out this crate training schedule from Barack Obama's dog trainers. 

Dog Crate Sizes for Dogs with Health Issues

Certain breed-related health issues play a really important role in choosing the right dog crate size and the type of crate most appropriate for your dog.

Dogs suffering from hip dysplasia should have a large crate, even if they’re a small breed. Small crates can be too cramped, which may exacerbate the dog’s hip problems.

However, according to the Textbook of Small Animal Orthopedics, young dogs who are genetically predisposed for hip dysplasia -- meaning they’re descended from dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia -- should be confined to a small crate (roughly 1 meter cubed) to prevent the condition from developing.

It’s important to consider both existing and possible health problems when choosing the right dog crate size, so consult your veterinarian if your dog has any health problems.

That's it for dog crate sizes!

I hope this guide has helped you learn a thing or two about dog crate sizes! 

If you got a lot of value out of this post please share it and drop a comment below because we love to respond to every single one. 

6 Steps to Crate Training While at Work

First of all crate training a puppy while at work begins with training your puppy when you are NOT at work! Hang on, wait, what?

That's right. If you want to know the secrets to successfully training your pooch to stay at home while you work all day, then you must train your dog to be well behaved.

I know, it sucks right. The truth is, you can't leave your dog in a crate for 8 hours a day while you work. It's illegal in some European countries and its not the real reason why you wanted a puppy. 

The question should be "How to train my puppy to live in harmony with my possessions while I am at work". This would give pet-owners much healthier answers. 

Ok so now you are thinking "puppy training is important, ok got it. Learn how to train a puppy, then my puppy will be peacefully laying around the house waiting for me to return. But what happens in the meantime? I have to read the books, take the puppy training courses, WORK, live my life?"

I feel you!!  This is why we have taken the courses and read the books, so that you don't have to.

This 6 step guide to crate training while at work is based on Amazon's best selling book for the last three years, Training the Best Dog Ever: a 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement.

The book is written by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay, who trained Barack Obama’s dog, Bo Obama.

At end of the article you will find their crate training schedule for working dog parents. 

We have also taken the paid course from Doggy Dan, New Zealand's hottest dog trainer right now and condensed it into an easy to follow Puppy Training Guide. This will teach you how to train your puppy to be well behaved. 

So this guide includes easy to follow resources to teach you how to leave a puppy in crate while at work and how to train your puppy so you can eventually put the crate in storage!! 

Let's get started. 

Why should I crate train my puppy?

If you’ve ever raised a dog from puppy-hood before, you know that leaving a puppy alone while at work is not ideal if you value your belongings (and your sanity).

Crate training, both for puppies and adult dogs, is a controversial topic among dog owners and handlers. Many of us see our dogs as children, and we want to treat them as such. Some dog owners view crates as doggie prisons complete with intimidating metal bars and a lock.

If this is a sensitive topic for you too then you can read about what animal rights activists are saying and which laws are starting to change, in favour of not creating. 

We have dedicated a lot of time to the understanding the legitimate pro's and con's of crate training and understanding IF in fact crate training is cruel. 

Despite this, both veterinarians and dog trainers recommend crate training your puppies. There are certain situations which require dogs to be crated, namely transport. Crate training puppies can also help with solving behavioural problems and housebreaking.

In saying that, dog training experts only rely on the crate for a very short period of time, while they train the dog to live within the rules of the house. 

Crate training misconceptions.

Some dog owners might think that leaving their puppy alone in a crate while they’re at work is cure-all for behaviour problems. Spoiler alert -- it’s not.

Crating your dog should only be a temporary solution to a temporary problem. Why? Well-behaved dogs don’t need crates -- not even when they’re left alone for 8 hours or more!

If you’re crate training your puppy while at work because you want them to behave while you’re out of the house, your training doesn’t end when you can finally close the crate door.

The goal is to make sure your pup can behave without the crate at all!

If the only thing stopping your dog from destroying your home is the bars of the crate, you have failed in your dog training attempts.

You can’t just train your pup to stay locked up in a crate all day -- you must train them to behave well in general.

While crate training can be a part of that, you should also work on building your relationship with your dog, fostering trust and respect, and being mindful of your own body language when interacting with your dog.

With all that in mind, how do you crate train a puppy when you work full-time? 

We’ve rounded up some tips from some of the best dog trainers on the planet to help you get started!

Crate training a puppy while at work: tips from the experts who trained Barack Obama’s dog.

Successful crate training will not happen overnight, no matter how busy you are at work.

Patience is the key to crate training a puppy, according to world-class dog trainers Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay, who trained Barack Obama’s dog, Bo Obama.

They’re also the authors of Training the Best Dog Ever: a 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement, an invaluable resource for dog owners.

The following crate training steps come straight from the same experts who train presidential pups, so we’re willing to bet they work better than the generic advice you’ll find in other articles!

Try these exercises in the mornings and evenings before and after work, and remember to leave the crate door open for the first few steps.

Dawn and Larry have broken this into SIX steps for successfully training your pup while at work.

Step #1: Make your pup fall in love with their crate.

I know, I know... You have heard this one before but doing this right at the start sets you up for success.

If your pooch sees their crate as a prison, your crate training endeavours will go nowhere.

The crate should be like a comfy bed, not a holding cell. There are many things to consider when choosing a crate, including crate size and time limits in the crate, among other things.

The best way to convince your pooch to fall in love with their crate is to use treats and positive reinforcement -- two of your pup’s favourite things! (Besides you, of course.)

First, scatter some treats around the crate, but not inside, and step back.

Wait for your pup to explore and gobble down the treats. When your puppy starts to sniff around the crate, praise them, but don’t say or do anything else! 

Continue to scatter treats around the entrance to the crate, and eventually inside the crate, using positive reinforcement and praise whenever your puppy investigates the crate.

Remember to give your puppy plenty of space -- standing over them may intimidate them.

Repeat this step several times a day -- we recommend at least five to six.

Start crate training just before mealtime so your pup will eat the treats!

Don't use any verbal cues at all, apart from positive reinforcement and praise. 

Step #2: Feed your puppy a meal in the crate.

What could make a crate more appealing to a pup than food?

Once your puppy is comfortable entering the crate, place a small portion of their meal (in a bowl, of course) into the crate. If your pup wolfs down that portion and looks to you for more, praise them and give them another small portion.

Dogs who have multiple food bowls placed throughout the home are more likely to feel comfortable eating in their crate, according to Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Kay.

Pay attention to your dog’s mood and body language. If they’re reluctant to eat their usual food in a crate, they may not be ready for this step yet. Repeat step one and be attention to your dog’s mood and body language. If they’re reluctant to eat their usual food in a crate, they may not be ready for this step yet. Repeat step one and be patient.

Don't say anything until your dog has finished eating. You don’t want to confuse or alarm them.

Step #3: Name the crate.

This might seem a little over-the-top to some dog owners, but naming the crate isn’t beneficial for you -- it’s beneficial for your dog.

Naming the crate will help your dog with verbal commands in future stages of crate training.

Keep it simple: short names like “crate”, “bed”, or “den” will work just fine.

Don't choose an overly complicated name. Remember, dogs only know 165 words (according to Animal Planet) -- the simpler, the better.

Step #4: Use treats and positive reinforcement to teach your dog cues.

Step 1 Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Kay recommend combining praise with the crate name.

For example, after you place a few treats inside the crate, say, “Crate.” If your dog goes straight inside, say, “Good crate.”

“Notice that you’re not teaching her to do something that she hasn’t already done, but simply giving a name to something she has been doing.”

The trainers recommend repeating this about 10 times a day for a few days. Busy dog owners can split this up into 5 repetitions in the morning and 5 in the evening.

Make sure you continue using treats and positive reinforcement during this stage.

Step 2 - Now you’re ready for the next step: closing the door (for short periods of time).

When your puppy enters the crate, close the door, praise the puppy, and offer their treats through the bars or openings before opening the door again.

You should only leave the door closed for a few seconds at first, but as you repeat this step, leave the door shut a little longer each time.

Repeat this step several times per day. Six is recommended, but if you’re busy working, three times in the morning and three times in the evening will suffice.

Notice that you’re not teaching her to do something that she hasn’t already done, but simply giving a name to something she has been doing - Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Kay, The White House dog trainers. 

Make this step as fun as possible!

Don't leave your dog shut in the crate for long periods of time.

Step #5: Prepare your pup for your absence.

Here comes the hard part: leaving the room with your pup in the crate.

Step 1 You’ll start by taking just one step back as you give them a treat through the crate bars or openings. If your puppy behaves, step forward again and praise them verbally.

Step 2 Take a step back and turn your back to the puppy for a few moments before returning and praising them with a special treat -- the former White House dog trainers recommend a piece of hard cheese or something similar.

Step 3 Repeat the process for the third time, give your dog a special toy, like a Kong with treats inside, to play with.

Step 4 For the third and subsequent repetitions, increase the steps you take from the crate, and increase the time you’re away before returning.

Let your pup see you doing something else, whether it’s tidying up the house or just filling out paperwork.

The goal is to teach your dog that she gets something really great in the crate when you leave (not when you return) - Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Kay, The White House dog Trainers

Mind your body language when letting your dog out of their crate. Don’t act even slightly excited or proud if your pup is doing well.

Don't underestimate this step. Repeat this as many times as necessary in the mornings and evenings.

Step #6: Leave the room.

Now you’re finally ready for the big hurdle: leaving your dog alone in the crate.

Start slow, leaving your puppy alone in the crate for literally one second. As with the other steps, increase the time you’re away with each repetition.

Make sure your pup has a special treat or toy to keep them preoccupied. By now they should feel comfortable playing in the crate alone. 

The hope is that your dog will become so engrossed in the [toy] that she will barely register that you’re leaving - Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Kay, The White House dog Trainers

Walk into other rooms of your homes and occupy yourself with something the dog can hear, like cleaning.

Don't rush this step. Some dogs will adjust immediately, while others may need several weeks. Be patient; you don’t want to exacerbate your pup’s anxiety.

How do I crate train a crying puppy?

The answer to this question is simple: be assertive. 

If your pup cries in their crate as soon as you leave the room, wait until they settle down again before you reappear.

Re-entering the room the moment your puppy starts whining teaches them they can cry to get a reward -- in this case, your presence. This is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!

We’ve talked about Cesar Millan -- AKA “The Dog Whisperer” -- and his approach to training in another post. If you want to train a well-behaved dog, says Millan, you need to learn how to exhibit what he calls the “calm-assertive” state.

This involves being aware of your own body language and emotions.

Always stay relaxed, confident, and firm when training. Never raise your voice or show signs of frustration -- dogs (and most humans) don’t respond well to negative energy or emotions. 

Don’t use the crate for punishment, either -- that goes without saying.

What should I do until my puppy is crate trained?

Training a puppy takes a lot of time and patience, and it’s not something to be undertaken lightly.

If you work full-time and you hope to crate train your puppy, you should arrange some alternatives for your dog while you’re working.

Remember -- and we cannot stress this enough! -- you should never leave your puppy locked alone in a crate for more than 4 hours at a time.

Crating your dog while at work should be a temporary measure to protect your belongings until your pup is well-trained enough not to destroy your things.

In the meantime, here are some healthy options:

  • Spend a lot of your home time training your puppy. If you want something easy to start with try the Perfect Puppy Program or other more advanced methods like clicker training for correcting unwanted behaviour. This will help remove the need for a crate sooner. 
  • Keep them in a puppy-proofed room in your home (spare room).
  • Arrange for a friend or pay a dog sitter to walk and play with your pup at lunch time to break up the day.
  • Invest in a qualified dog trainer to take your puppy for the first couple of weeks or month to teach the puppy how to be well behaved.
  • Find a friend who also has a puppy, let them entertain themselves while you both work. 

If you prefer to take a much more active role in your dog’s crate training, check out our crate training schedule for busy dog owners.

It is inspired by book Training the Best Dog Ever: a 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement

Crate Training a Puppy While at Work FAQs:

How long can a puppy be left alone in a crate? According to the Humane Society, puppies under 6 months old should be left in a crate for a maximum of 3 to 4 hours at a time. Other dog trainers recommend just 2 hours; this will vary depending on the dog’s temperament.

How long can a puppy be left alone during the day? Again, this will vary depending on age and temperament. Experts can’t agree on an answer, but four hours is the accepted maximum even for adult dogs. Never leave your dog alone for longer than they can hold their bladder (use the bladder formula to know when your dog needs to go to go).

When can I start crate training my puppy? You can start crate training as early as 8 weeks old. The earlier you start crate training your puppy, the easier it will be to leave your puppy home alone.

What Happens Next? 

  • Download the crate training schedule for busy dog owners and commit to it for at least two weeks. 
  • Checkout the Puppy Training Guide inspired by New Zealand's famous dog trainer Doggy Dan. We have condensed his paid course into an easy to follow guide. 
  • Leave a comment if you have found this guide useful or if you have any questions. We love replying to every comment! 

Top 6 Crate Training Pros and Cons

Crate training and its pros and cons has long been a subject of debate among dog enthusiasts. This is unsurprising -- many pet owners see their dogs as their children and consider crate training inhumane.

In fact, some dog owners and even some animal rights organizations think crate training dogs is so cruel that they’re working to ban it.

Even the experts seems to disagree on whether crate training dogs is considered abuse. For example, the SPCA of New Zealand claims that crating dogs can be useful for behaviour training.

Meanwhile, in Finland, leaving a dog in a crate with the door shut is illegal. There are only a few exceptions to this: dogs can be crated for a short amount of time while in transport.

With so much conflicting information available, it’s hard for dog owners to make a decision on crate training. We’re certainly not claiming to have all the answers, which is why we want to discuss all the crate training pros and cons in depth.

Whether your dog can be successfully crate trained or not will depend on multiple factors, including your dog’s age, temperament, and history. You and your veterinarian know your dog best, so you should work together to decide whether crate training your dog is the right option.

Crate Training Pros & Cons - The Pros

Crate training is a highly controversial topic. Yet successful crate training can be a blessing for dog owners, especially those with hyper hounds who like to chew and scratch everything they can get their paws on. (Sound familiar?)

Let’s start off with some the crate training pros, which come from a mindful approach to crate training. (We’ll talk about how NOT to approach crate training for dogs later.)

Crate Training Pro #1: It provides dogs with their own safe, comfy space.

We humans love our beds so much that we find it hard to drag ourselves out into the real world every morning. You want your dog to feel the same way about their crate, so make it comfortable.

Pad the crate with a blanket, preferably one the dog has scented, and add some of your dog’s favourite toys.  Never leave choking hazards, such as tennis balls or other toys that could get lodged in the dog’s airway, in the crate.

Crate Training Pro #2: Temporary training tool.

Imagine that you just got a new puppy. Your tiny tot is just so cute that you can’t bear the thought of them sleeping anywhere but right in bed next to you. (We don’t blame you -- who doesn’t love puppy snuggles?)

But you know that your precious pup can’t be trusted. While you snooze, they might just rip apart your pillow or pee all over your brand new carpet.

So you might consider crate training your puppy on the first night to provide them with a safe space to rest while they acclimatize to their strange new environment. 

Not only will crate training your puppy help keep him (and your furniture) safe while you sleep, but it can also help with the potty training process.

Many expert trainers temporarily use the crate to start their behavioural training journey until the puppy understands the rules of the house. A crate training schedules can be a very effective way of using crates as a temporary tool to eventually have a well trained dog who is always relaxed and obedient inside the house. 

Crate Training Pro #3: It can help make transport easier.

There are times when crating your dog will be virtually unavoidable. You may consider crate training your puppy who is not yet leash trained in order to safely transport them to the vet, groomers, or daycare.

If your dog is a show dog, they will need to be crated while they travel to and from the show. If you travel regularly with your dog, crate training can provide them with a place where they feel comfortable.

Let your dog get comfortable with the crate before travelling to ensure they feel comfortable and safe.

Crate Training Pros & Cons - The Cons

We’ve already seen that crate training has some disadvantages. Let’s break down the cons of crate training.

Crate Training Con #1: It may trigger or exacerbate separation anxiety.

Many dogs suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, just like humans do. Separation anxiety is different from general anxiety, though. As its name suggests, separation anxiety stems from the absence of a loved one -- in this case, the dog owner.

According to Merck Veterinary Manual, about 14% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, which can lead to all sorts of destructive behaviours.

Dogs with separation anxiety tend to panic when confined to a small space, particularly when that small space is made of metal bars, which leads to our next con in our roundup of crate training pros and cons.

Crate Training Con #2: Crates can be dangerous, even lethal.

Let’s go back to the new puppy analogy. You’ve started crate training your puppy and they seem to adjust well. You feel confident enough to leave them in the crate while you go to work.

Now imagine that, instead of returning to find your dog sleeping soundly in their crate, you discover doggie paw prints in a pool of blood.

It’s a horrific thing to think about, but this was reality for one dog owner. Riley, the star of the show over at the Riley’s Place blog, injured himself on his crate while his owner was at work.

About a month ago I came home from work one morning, opened the door and found my entire 18×24 foot kitchen literally soaked in blood. There were puddles of blood, doggie footprints in blood and spots of blood from one end of the room to the other.

Dangers of crate training


Riley's Place

All this -- from a broken toenail.

While Riley’s mum doesn’t know exactly what happened, she speculates that his claw got caught between the thin metal bars at the bottom of the entrance to his crate. (She notes that she leaves the crate door open so her dogs can roam.)

Crate Training Con #3: Crate can be misused.

Let’s face it -- in a perfect world, no one would ever dream of abusing animals. Sadly, though, people do. Some dog owners lock their dogs in crates for the majority of the day, leaving their dogs to spend their lives in misery.

Celebrated “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan has dealt with this first-hand. In his book Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved DogMillan describes an encounter with a talented police dog named Viper, whose speciality was sniffing out contraband, namely cell phones.

While Viper was one of the best sniffer dogs on his handler’s team, he was extremely skittish and distrusting of humans -- because he spent the majority of his puppyhood locked in a crate.

We won’t spoil the book for you, but rest assured that Viper’s story has a happy ending. It also serves to show that misusing a crate can deeply traumatise even the most well-trained dogs.

Myths about Crate Training for Dogs

If you’ve researched crate training in depth, you’ve undoubtedly seen claims that dogs are “den” animals, and will therefore naturally adjust to crate training.

This claim is only somewhat true. Wild dogs are den animals, but domestic dogs are not.

Dogs who exhibit denning behaviour, like wolves and coyotes, make comfy dens for themselves when it comes time to give birth. Pregnant female dogs are, obviously, particular about their dens, because they need somewhere safe to deliver their young.

Crate Training Myth

The mother examines several possible denning sites before choosing the final one, which is often remote from her usual territory. Here, she will give birth and raise her pups until they are old enough to look after themselves.

A study on wild dog dens in India found that most of the dens were situated near areas bustling with human activity. Even the dogs’ eating habits were somewhat surprising -- the dogs preferred to beg for scraps from humans rather than venture out to hunt.

Wild dogs pulling puppy dog eyes for table scraps is adorable to us, but it’s also a clever tactic. Not only do the dogs get fed, but they’re almost guaranteed safety. In urban settings, dogs are less likely to encounter predators, and they enjoy much better access to the necessities, namely food, shelter, and water.

So what does this have to do with crate training your dog? Well, it’s important to understand that our beloved domestic dogs don’t exhibit this behavior.

Your precious pup’s brain is wired differently to their lupine cousins’. Domestic dogs now rely entirely on us to fulfill their survival needs -- they have no need for a denning instinct.

It is true that pregnant domestic dogs will search for comfortable, secluded places to give birth, but those dens are temporary and exclusive to female dogs. They’re also usually located within an urban setting -- our own homes. And, even for wild dogs, dens aren’t permanent; wild female dogs abandon their dens after raising their pups.

All that just to say that our pet dogs aren’t den animals, and crate training your dog isn’t going to trigger some denning instinct in them left over from evolution.

Alternatives to Crate Training for Dogs

Not all dogs can be crate trained, and not all dog owners are comfortable with crate training their dogs. What else can dog owners do to keep their darling dogs on their best behaviour?

Crate Training Alternative #1: Try clicker training.

One of the main reasons you might want to crate train your dog is because they’re a mischievous mutt. If you leave them at home by themselves even for ten minutes, they might just chew the paint right off the wall. (We’re not speaking from personal experience or anything…)

If you’re thinking about crate training your puppy because they destroy everything they can sink their sharp little teeth into, consider clicker training. Instead of punishing your dog for destructive behaviours by locking them in a crate, work to correct them and prevent them from happening again.

Crate Training Alternative #2: Rethink the crate.

Many dog owners who are vehemently against crate training dogs compare crates to a prison. (And, considering the cold, metal bars on most dog crates, it’s not hard to see why.)

As we’ve already discussed, traditional metal crates can be dangerous, and besides, they’re not all that inviting. If you want to create an alluring space for your dog without intimidating metal bars, then get creative!

You can easily convert an old nightstand into a cozy (and doorless) hideaway for your pup.

Dog Crate Furniture

If you’re not exactly a DIY wizard, you can find some really cool alternative dog crates on the market, like stylish glass dog houses with plush pillows. Treat your pup to a cool crate and they’ll never wake you up at 6 AM again!

If you absolutely must purchase a wire or metal crate, try padding the bars and any sharp or protruding edges with memory foam or another soft material.

Crate Training Pros and Cons: Wrapping Up

Like most everything in life, crate training has its fair share of pros and cons. Part of being a responsible dog owner is working together with your veterinarian to make the best choices for your dog.

But just remember, dogs are more than just man’s best friend -- they’re family, and they deserve to be treated like family.

What’s your stance on crate training for dogs? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this debate! Have any personal stories on crate training your puppy? Share them in the comments below!

What Happens Next? 

  • Subscribe to the Lexington Dog Bed Database for training tips from Certified Dog Behaviourist and International Dog Trainers.
  • If you work full time and you are thinking about crate training, then checkout a proven crate training schedule from Barack Obama's dog trainers - Crate training a puppy while at work.  
  • Do you like a friendly debate? Share your thoughts below on the controversial topic of crate training and I promise you we will reply to every comment to keep the debate alive!