When it comes to crate training you will be happy to know that there is a simple formula that sets you up for guaranteed success. Today we are going to teach you how to use it!
After hours and hours of reading books from the greats in dog training and five months of patiently puppy training my own dog, using their methods, we have concluded that crate training can be organised into one simple formula.
We call it the "Crate Training Success Formula".
In this guide, we will explain how to easily implement this formula in three easy steps without needing a degree in dog psychology or even dog training.
Dog trainers believe that crate training should only be used while your canine undergoes other types of training such as puppy toilet training, puppy sleep training, house training etc.
So we have broken the guide down into sections to help you understand why you are crate training and how to crate train for that specific reason.
Are you ready? Here we go;
The create training guide has been masterfully created by leaning on three major dog trainers of our time. Doggy Dan, Cesar Millan and Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz.
You may have heard of him, New Zealand’s own, Doggy Dan who is gaining international traction for his holistic dog training ways.
He has helped over 37,000 people successfully train their dogs through his paid online training course, the Calming Code and The Perfect Puppy Program in which we had the privilege to undertake.
Today, we give you some insights into how Doggy Dan crate trains his own pup Moses through his paid online courses.
We have added the cherished wisdom of our favourite Mexican-American dog behaviourist and TV celebrity, Cesar Milan with over 25 years of canine experience to this guide.
We have extracted everything you need to know from his best selling dog training books (How to Raise the Perfect Dog; Through Puppyhood and Beyond and Cesar's Way; The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems) into easy to follow crate training schedules for your convenience.
And finally, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay the author an international best selling dog training book - Training the Best Dog Ever, A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement, is a book based on love and kindness. Barack Obama's dog trainer when he was President, .
You may recognise these trainers and their valuable techniques from our other posts on dog training, that’s because these guys truly know what they are doing.
This crate training guide is full of invaluable advice from these trainers who are experts in crate training.
Before we go any further its important you understand the difference between good crate training and cruel crate training. Its a very touchy subject but does deserve to be mentioned.
Crate training is the process of using a crate as an appropriate enclosure to eliminate unwanted behaviour (peeing on the carpet) WHILE training your dog desired behaviours (peeing outside).
If you use a crate instead of teaching your dog the house rules then most people would agree that crate training is cruel and in fact some countries have even banned crate training for these reasons.
So good crate training is when you use a crate WHILE you teach your dog the rules of the house.
All three dog trainers agree that, when done correctly, the successful use of crates will curb destructive tendencies, while giving your pup a safe space to adjust to the rules of the house.
Generally speaking, the house rules can be broken up into three categories of training, potty training, sleep training and house training (what is and isn't acceptable to chew for instance).
Doggy Dan, promotes the practice of crate training as an effective way to establish leadership and correct behaviour when done correctly and with a lot of love and patience.
He goes on to teach that crate training is a great means to an end, the end being a well-trained house pet who spends more time outside the crate
Bottom Line: While it is not a cure-all for puppy problems, crating can be a beneficial tool for setting boundaries and expectations for your dog.
Choosing the right crate is fundamental in successfully crate training your pooch.
There are many things to consider when shopping around (or building one yourself)-- selecting the wrong enclosure could cause a whole array of new problems!
Housing your dog in a too small crate can be detrimental for their physical and emotional well-being, causing serious health concerns from stunted growth and arthritis to anxiety!
An appropriate crate is just large enough for them to stand and turn around comfortably, without giving them extra space to get into mischief!
Newer wire cages often come with a removable separator to block off extra room for growing dogs-- this is especially helpful with larger breeds!
The most basic way to measure your dog for a crate is to add 5-10 cm to the length and width. However, there any many other important variables to take into account, like breed, temperament etc. We will go into this now.
Bottom Line: Go through the Australian dog crates sizes guide to ensure you choose the right size crate.
Take into account the size, breed, and temperament of your puppy. For example, a high-energy bully breed can easily disassemble a plastic carrier style-- this breed would benefit more from a sturdy wire cage with a lot of visibility.
On the other hand, keeping a teacup Yorkie in the same size wire enclosure could be counterproductive for house training.
Typically a dog will not eliminate where they sleep or eat, but an oversized crate can allow for dogs to snooze on one side and potty on the opposite end!
Bottom Line: Dog crate sizes by temperament is an important factor when deciding on your crate.
Timid toy breeds will likely be more comfortable in a soft-sided cage or a carrier style with plastic sides--the limited visibility will help them feel protected from “predators.”
Small dogs such as Jack Russells or Pugs are well-suited for playpen, soft-sided, and plastic enclosures. If your dog falls into this category, consider it’s temperament and energy level.
Energetic dogs on the smaller end of this spectrum do well with a playpen style set up, but heftier canines might just topple the pen over!
Medium sized dogs have a wide assortment of crates to choose from, like the Whippet or American Bull Dog, could suit soft-sided, plastic, playpen, and wire crates.
If your mid-range dog is prone to escaping, go for a wire crate--but you may need to pad the bars if you have a chewer!
Extra large dogs like the Great Dane, should give wooden crates a try.
Powerful big stature dogs which easily break out of flimsy wire cages will have a much tougher time making escaping from a sturdy wooden setup.
Here is a general guide for selecting the most appropriate crate size and style per dog breed.
Please note that your dog’s personal temperament must be taken into consideration before relying on the below recommendations.
Now that you have chosen the right size crate for your dogs breed, size and temperament, you are ready for the next step.
We can now finally reveal the special formula that will solve all your crate training problems!
As promised, here it is. The Crate Training Success Formula;
I know it doesn't look like much but it yields incredible results and that's why professional dog trainers use it and recommend it.
It looks simple and that's because it is. It just takes some understanding of your dog and some planning, oh and patients!
In this section, we break this down into three easy, manageable steps for you.
Step 1 - Know your intentions for crate training.
Step 2 - Prioritise your puppy training program.
Step 3 - Commit to a schedule that works with your intentions.
Sounds easy and is it. Let's get into it.
So why are you crate training? By now you should have given some thought as to why you have chosen to crate train. In this guide we have catered to the three most common reasons for crate training.
Choose a reason that closely relates to your reason for crate training;
a) I am trying to potty train my puppy.
b) I am trying to teach my puppy to sleep at night.
c) I am trying to teach my puppy to be well-behaved when left alone.
Bottom Line: Choose your intention and then move on to Step Two.
The latest research from numerous case studies conducted by the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, reveals that a well-trained puppy is highly unlikely to suffer from behavioural problems as a grown dog.
This tells us that behavioural issues such as destructive chewing, self-harming, and anxiety can all be solved through…you guessed it... puppy training!! And the sooner, the better!
To save you a lot of time we have summarised and condensed Doggy Dan's paid online puppy training course into an easy to follow guide.
The Online Dog Trainer uses the 'Calming Code' as a basis of his 'Perfect Puppy Program' for training your puppy to be well behaved and happy.
Doggy Dan believes that once this is in place, crate training becomes a dream.
We have summarised these paid programs for you here.
The program is self-paced, making it very effective for puppies and dogs of any temperament.
Our advice is to stick with it and get everyone in the pack involved. This is just one method you can try out, there are many other dog training methods out there for you to explore.
If you don't have time then you can enrol your dog into a local puppy training school. This can be very rewarding for you and your pooch.
We still use Doggy Dan's techniques and we can vouch that they do work, they are very simple. Although, you do have to be vigilant and very patient for the techniques to work properly.
Bottom Line: Committing to puppy training course is really important while you undergo crate training. It will put a stop of bad behaviours sooner so the crate can be stored away.
For some of us sticking to a schedule makes us cringe. I get it. But it can really set you up for success and it doesn't have to be forever.
For each intention we have provided you with a schedule. All you have to do is adjust it to suit your lifestyle.
The schedule is there to help you understand your puppy’s unique behaviour and for the puppy to understand what is expected.
Honestly, the magic happens when you use a schedule.
Sticking to the schedule allows for consistency, consistency leads to results.
Choose a schedule that aligns with your intentions:
Remember, it's not forever. It's just here to fast track the crate training process.
Bottom Line: Stick to a schedule. Tailor it to your lifestyle and be consistent until you see results. Remember, this is a proven to work technique. Try it out and see for yourself.
Now that you have your crate, intention and your schedule, you are ready to learn how to put it into action. Choose the action plan for your intention.
If your intention is to use a crate while little Fido is learning how to hold his bladder and learning where to potty, then crates can be a great tool.
Depending on your work/life schedule, ideally, you would only have your puppy in the crate at night.
All you need for this method is the bladder formula, a potty training schedule, treats and lots of love and patience.
How long does it take to potty train a puppy? It depends on which dog training method you follow (positive reinforcement, clicker training, electronic training, mirror training, relationship-based training, alpha dog training, dominance training).
For simplicity and effectiveness, we have based our recommendations on mainly alpha dog training and positive reinforcement (Doggy Dan's Methods).
Note: If you live in a house with a yard, the process will be much faster. If you are in an apartment, it’s slightly different and requires a little more patience, more about that here.
Lets get into how it works......
A puppy under 10 weeks old is physically unable to hold their bladder throughout the night. An easy rule of thumb to follow is a formula called the bladder formula.
The Bladder Formula
Add the number 1 to your puppy’s age and then convert this into hours.
For example, Fido is 3 months old + 1 = 4 hours. Fido can only hold his bladder for approximately 4 hours at a time.
This means he shouldn’t be left in his crate for longer than 4 hours at a time (at night or during the day).
The potty training schedule provided will allow you to use the bladder formula to plan out your day and night.
The biggest benefit to sticking to this formula and a schedule is that it quickly teaches your puppy that there is a particular place for going to the toilet.
He won’t have time to pee in his crate because you will be knocking at his door every four hours!
Bottom Line: Get committed by setting an alarm clock and be ready for a toilet trip. This is what the schedule is for. The more consistent you are, the faster he will learn! I promise!
You know by now that sticking to a schedule is absolutely paramount for successful crating. This not only avoids smelly and uncomfortable accidents but it trains your pup to NOT cry out. Crying spells will be totally avoided.
So plan ahead and get your schedule ready. Let’s get into it.
Your schedule will be broken up into weeks;
Week One - Observation.
Week Two - Adjust the schedule so it works for both of you.
Week Three - Commit to a schedule until the training is complete.
For some, after week three the training is complete and the crate can be put away.
For others, the puppy might grow attached to the crate and prefer to use it while taking himself to the toilet during the night, with the exceptions of a few mistakes here and there.
If after week three, there is no progress, then go back to the Perfect Puppy Program and step through the fundamental training rules.
Sometimes the way we say our cues, or the way we feed or discipline our puppy, can create trust or respect issues which in turn makes potty training and crate training much more difficult.
Tip: Set your pup up for success by not feeding or giving water before lights out.
Try to make their last meal and drink about three hours prior to bedtime, this will prevent any restlessness and the unnecessary need for going to the toilet.
If you haven't got it already, here is your Potty Training - Crate Training Schedule.
If you want to follow the Perfect Puppy Program, here is a schedule that reflects Doggy Dan’s leadership training for Potty Training.
Everyone loves to hear that they are doing a good job and your pup is no exception!
The greatest dog trainers of our time, rely heavily on “positive reinforcement’ as the best training method, for standard house pets, especially for potty training.
Take Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, the dog trainer to President Obama’s family dog, as a great example.
Dawn suggests naming the cue to go potty and using this same cue to praise your canine when they do their business.
You may be surprised at how fast your puppy learns the connection between the two. Especially if you take Doggy Dan’s advice and give a little treat when doing so. This is guaranteed to speed up the success. It did for my dog and it worked!
Say something like, “go toilet” when they go outside and “good toilet” to praise them for eliminating in the appropriate place.
Keep Cues Short
One to two syllable words more easily than elaborate cues. Add treats IF this is part of your puppy training program.
Crating at Night
If you are using the crate at night to stop your puppy from doing his business all over the house, then be sure to calmly wake him up, take him out to potty, praise calmly and then settle him back into his crate. In and out. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
TIP: The Perfect Puppy Program suggests saving special cuddles or treats for potty training. Keep a bag of special treats near the potty (in a tree or on the bench) and use only for potty training.
Just like human children, puppies have accidents from time to time--especially before they learn the ins and outs of the house rules.
Understand that mistakes are part of the process, impulsively yelling or rubbing your dog’s nose in their puddle will only worsen the problem, causing your dog to become more secretive about their accidents.
It is important we apply Doggy Dan’s calming code for these accidents.
Stay calm while dealing with your dog, put them in the crate away from the mess while you discreetly clean it up away from their sight.
Even though we have a formula that tells us how often Fido needs to go to the toilet, we have found that sometimes pups have the tendency of changing their own pee schedule, even if one drop comes out.
For now, logging your pup’s elimination patterns may help to predict when accidents are most likely to happen, and prevent them before they occur.
Positive reinforcement training will teach little Fido to hold until he actually needs to go. This is very powerful.
Bottom Line: Try and stay calm while training, just like little humans they too are sensitive to energy.
Crate training at night is nothing to lose sleep over, as long as you have a little patience and make some preparations beforehand!
If your intention is to train your puppy where to sleep at night while using a crate then this is one of the easiest methods.
Make sure your pooch is accustomed to the crate before you put them in for the night.
Spend some time during the day acclimating them to the enclosure, scatter treats around it, and encourage them to investigate.
Put some cozy blankets and some soft toys in to make it as inviting and relaxing of an atmosphere as possible--with some time your dog will be retreating to this space by their self to take a cat nap or to get away from the household hustle and bustle.
Bottom Line: Spend some time turning the crate into a safe haven for your puppy.
It’s hard not to make a fuss when your pup is crying and barking all night in their crate. Although saddening and often aggravating, it is an issue that nearly every crate-training fur-parent has encountered.
If your puppy to crying out at night try some of these soothing recommendations from Rebecca Setler, the author of Puppy Sleep Training.
Rebecca suggests trying a sound machine or fan pointed away from your pooch to soothe them and block outside noises.
The book goes on to recommend using some plush toys come with a built-in “heartbeat” this could help ease your puppy’s mind--just make sure there are no plastic pieces that your teething puppy could hurt himself on.
Covering the crate with a light blanket or towel help some dogs feel hidden from predators--other dogs will pitch a fit if you cover their crate.
Just like some humans sleep with the door open and others sleep with it closed, it is just a matter of personal preference!
Some dogs even find comfort in sleeping with a worn shirt that belongs to their owner.
Take some time to troubleshoot and try different ideas to figure out what works best for your dog.
Doggy Dan’s number one rule for nightly crate training is to not to give in.
Often puppies bark the loudest right before they drift off to sleep, like a last stitch effort to get you to let them out. As hard as it is, try your best to not give in.
If your pup is absolutely frantic for a long while, calmly let them out to potty and take them straight back to the cage.
Do not play with, pet, talk to, or cuddle them during this time.
It is important to make this step straight to the point-- this teaches the dog that barking and fussing will not get them out to play or petted.
Stay calm during this period, don’t throw them back in the pen and slam the door--remember, a crate is supposed to be their safe place, never a place of punishment!
The Dog Whisperer - Cesar Millan believes this act of staying calm when showing leadership, is the absolute key to building trust in the eyes of your puppy.
Bottom Line: The calmer you are when the puppy is distressed, the more he will look to you for guidance.
Rebecca Setler insists that keeping your dog active during the day is paramount for a puppy to adjust to sleep through the night.
Going for walks, practising fetch, and having play-dates with other four-legged people are all fantastic ways to expend some of that bubbling puppy energy!
Learning how to stimulate your pup is very important. Both Cesar Millan and Doggy Dan agree that the key to success is all within your ability to meet your dog’s needs.
If your dog is fulfilled (mentally and physically stimulated), then they will want to please you in return.
It is important that fulfilling your dogs needs becomes part of your daily routine. Learn how to stimulate your puppy and recognise which types of stimulation are best received by your pup.
Some examples are; learning new tricks, off leash exploring (hiking/beach), problem solving obstacle courses and obedience training.
Keep trying until you find what works for you and your puppy. You will be able to instantly tell when your pup is enjoying himself.
Implementing an exercise routine becomes easy when you stick to a schedule, the schedule will teach the puppy when it is exercise time and when it is SLEEP time. This can be very effective.
You can find more solutions on how to get a puppy to sleep here.
Bottom Line: The more you make an effort with your puppy, the easier it is to train them when and where to sleep.
Consider putting the crate in your bedroom for the first few nights, just until your pup gets used to the routine. Being able to see and hear their owners breathing helps a new puppy feel secure in the crate and lets them know they are not alone!
Rebecca Setler recommends elevating the crate so they can see you while you sleep--be sure to secure it well, you don't want it tumbling to the floor with your beloved pooch inside!
Doggy Dan recommends setting up a playpen where the puppy can roam around his enclosure in between naps.
The playpen has the crate, with the door open, toys and a pee pad. This allows the puppy to get distracted and likely to settle himself down.
Doggy Dan also gives the option of setting up the enclosure near your bedroom and then gradually moving it out further away toward the area where you want the puppy to sleep indefinitely.
Rooming-in depends on the household. If you are a working family then maybe it’s better to set the enclosure up in the area you want from the beginning.
Playing soft music as mentioned earlier, dimming lights and the like will soften the stress and make the transition easier.
Bottom Line: Moving the crate to your bedroom at the beginning is a personal preference.
Being a working dog parent is a challenge in itself, but when you add crating into the mix, it can become even more stressful. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be!
In the words of Doggy Dan, “Set your dog up for success”!
Always feed and toilet your beloved pooch right before crating and never leave them confined for longer than they can hold their bladder.
Young puppies and small breeds may only be able to contain their water for an hour or two. Puppies six months or older should be fine for four to seven hours. Go back to the Bladder Formula for more information.
Cesar Millan suggests finding creative ways of rehearsing for the big day beforehand. Leave your pup in the crate for literally one second and work up in increments a little at a time.
Try this without closing the door first and work up to closing the door. A few treats and some encouragement go a long way during this step!
Put a few interesting toys in the crate to occupy their time (maybe a rubber chew toy filled with peanut butter and their favourite plush to cuddle up to).
Having several options to play with will keep them entertained so (hopefully) they will barely notice you left!
Doggy Dan’s Calming Code is a very effective strategy for keeping your canine cool and collected upon your departure and arrival. He teaches us always to be relaxed when interacting with our dogs.
A consistently calm demeanour gently asserts dominance which helps your dog to feel safe (since you are in control, they don’t have to worry!).
Cesar Millan also affirms this principle in his book “Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog,” telling readers to “Make sure your own demeanour is calm and steady. The more times you’ve shown leadership in different environments, the more your dog will trust you even when she’s unsure.”
When you come home, don’t rush to the cage in a frenzy! Take about five minutes to get settled in before you approach the pen.
Do not speak or make eye contact with your pup during this period--overtime this can cause or exacerbate hyperactivity and whining.
Do not let your dog out while they are whining--this teaches them that barking gets them what they want. Giving in will only condone negative behavior, they will learn that you will let them out but on your terms, not theirs.
If they are calm and five minutes have passed, approach the crate CALMLY, and take them straight outside to potty. When they finish their business, praise them and give them the pets that you both have been longing!
Following these steps is vital for creating a calm and obedient dog, mistakes are bound to happen, but patience and consistency are key!
Read more about crate training for working dog parents here which includes an elaborate schedule for working dog parents.
Author's Note: I used a modified version of this method with my (now 8-year-old) beagle, Trixie. Beagles have some of the best noses in the dog world and are commonly used as cadaver and drug-sniffing dogs.
Trixie used this keen sense of smell to discover all the yummy contents of the trash can and dig dirty clothes out of the hamper! Through the use of crate training, positive reinforcement, and some interesting toys, she quickly grew out of this bad habit.
Trixie was also an avid poo hider in her puppyhood. By implementing a strict schedule and limiting food and water intake before bed, we were able to stop the in-house pottying completely.
At four months Trixie’s progress was set back substantially. She snuck out of the house while visiting with my mother and was hit by a car--- USD 8,000, one cast, and major hip surgery later, we began again.
This time tackling learning to walk again and how to potty outside. Using a towel as a sling I helped her to regain her mobility, and she did excellently!
The set back required us to have an even more rigid schedule, because she couldn’t get up to potty by herself, she was essentially crate bound.
Her determination was remarkable. By the time she had healed, she was settled back into her routine and completely housebroken once again!
Ultimately, when to end crate training is entirely up to the owner. Some dogs may be fine left out once they are totally house trained--others may still like to get into mischief while their owners are away.
Remember that your puppy is an individual, what works for other dogs may not work for yours!
You may want to install a puppy cam, to check on your dog throughout the day and make sure they are ready to stop crating before you toss it out completely.
Limit or omit crate time entirely if you see signs of your puppy becoming depressed or emotionally withdrawn.
Crates just not an option for your fur-family?
Try keeping your pup in a small secluded room like the laundry area or a bathroom while you are away. Playpens are another great alternative that allows dogs to have more range of motion, while still being contained.
Bringing in a professional trainer can address a number of issues and lead your fur-child to the point where they no longer need a crate at all.
Hiring a dog sitter can also be helpful for long days at work and will also keep your pup from getting lonely during your absence.
Looking into sad puppy dog eyes behind the bars of a crate can make any dog owner wonder if they are doing the right thing by crating. Dog trainers can’t seem to agree on this either, and some countries have even banned the practice (with the exception of using them for transportation).
If implemented correctly, crate training can promote independence and self-confidence. When misused crates can exacerbate pre-existing issues, create new problems, and cause injury or even death.
A dog left in a crate for that majority of the day will lack social skills, obedience, and self-esteem. Crating for long periods can cause health problems like muscular dystrophy, arthritis, anxiety, and depression.
Read more about ethical crating here.
Why is my dog using the bathroom in their crate?
You could be leaving them for longer than they can hold their bladder. Generally speaking pups can hold their bladder for one hour per month of age--for example, a two-month-old puppy should be let out to potty every two hours.
You may also be using too large of a crate. Many wire style crates come with a piece to close off a portion of the crate; these are especially beneficial for large breed puppies that are growing into their kennel.
Help! My dog won’t stop shredding the bedding in its crate!
You may need to remove the bed entirely.
Try putting just an old towel in for them to lay on and some heavy duty chew toys in there to keep them occupied. Usually, the destructive puppy phase will pass once teething is over.
Also, try taking your dog for a massive run before putting him into the crate and see if this is the cure! Both Doggy Dan and Cesar preach the importance of always meeting your dog’s needs first and then ask them to do something for you.
Crate training can be an excellent tool to help a puppy learn boundaries and expectations, that is if you implement it correctly.
Today we have shown your the Crate Training Success Formula. The formula consists of three simple steps;
Step One - Know your intentions for crate training.
Step Two - Prioritise your puppy training program.
Step Three - Commit to a schedule that works with your intentions.
Stick to these rules and you are guaranteed to succeed.
Bottom Line: The amount of effort you put into crate training should be doubled with house training!
Emily Reardon is a mother of two tiny humans, Layla and Oli, and a sassy beagle named Trixie. Emily attended Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina and began her career in freelance writing as a contributor for Wag!Walking.com. Emily advocates for safe sleep practices and animal rights. Her mission is to bring reliable and highly-qualified content to the pet community.
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!
Dog owners who violate these animal welfare laws can face serious penalties, including fines and court battles.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Remember, the best type of crate -- wire, plastic, etc. -- for your dog is based more on their temperament rather than their size.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Medium: 92 cm long x 49 cm wideExtra 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 patient.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 patient.
Don't say anything until your dog has finished eating. You don’t want to confuse or alarm them.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
We’ve already seen that crate training has some disadvantages. Let’s break down the cons of crate training.
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.
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.
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.)
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 Dog, Millan 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!