How to crate train your dog

Dog in a crate

Share Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Your dog’s crate should be considered their safe haven – a cosy, quiet place they can go to escape the hustle and bustle, especially around the festive period. Follow our step-by-step guide to help them get the most out of their crate.

Before you start

Remember to be patient when crate training your dog. Training should take place in a series of small steps over a period of time; it won’t happen overnight. Don’t go too fast, as you may run the risk of making your dog frightened of their crate.

Step one: encourage your dog to explore their crate

  • Find the right place for your dog’s crate; we recommend an area where you and your family spend a lot of time yet where they can get some peace and quiet if needed. Popular choices tend to be the kitchen, living room, or utility room.
  • Fix the door of the crate open so that it can’t swing shut and frighten your dog.
  • Place their favourite treat, chew, or toy inside the crate and leave your dog to explore in their own time. If they don’t seem to be interested, gently encourage them by calling them over in a positive tone of voice or by throwing treats nearer and nearer to the crate until you are throwing treats inside.
  • Once your dog is taking treats from inside the crate, continue to throw treats inside until they are happy to calmly walk all the way in to retrieve them. Remember to be patient; it might take your dog a few days to freely climb inside. Don’t try for more than a couple of minutes each session.

Step two: feed your dog their meals inside their crate

  • As soon as your dog is comfortable with walking inside their crate, encourage them to spend more time in there doing something they love – eating! Try to start feeding them their meals by placing their food bowl at the back of the crate.
  • If your dog shows any signs of reluctance to enter or eat inside their crate, start by placing their food bowl just outside the door and then gradually move it further inside the crate until it’s at the back.
  • Once your dog goes straight in and starts eating, you can close the door. The first time you do this, make sure to open it as soon as they are finished. Each time they successfully eat dinner in their crate, leave the door closed for a few minutes longer. Repeat this until they are staying in their crate for 10 minutes or so after eating.
  • If your dog whines to be let out or shows any signs of distress, you might have increased the length of time too quickly. Take a few steps back and allow them to eat in their crate with the door open again.

Step three: leave your dog alone in their crate

  • As your dog becomes more confident about staying in their crate with the door closed, you can gradually start to leave them on their own.
  • To help build a positive association, place their favourite toy or chew at the back of their crate. Once your dog has entered their crate, close the door but stay quietly within their sight. After 5 minutes, leave the room quietly and calmly but then go straight back in. Stay by their crate for a few moments and then open the door. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the time that you are out of sight each time until you reach 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to practice this at different times of the day so that your dog gets use to being left at a variety of times.
  • Always make sure that your dog has something to keep their attention; a KONG toy holding treats is a great way to keep your dog entertained as well as letting them chew. You don’t want to teach them to bark or whine through boredom. If you continually let your dog out of their crate when they’re being vocal, you will quickly reinforce to them that they can get their way by making noise. Instead, wait until they are quiet and then let them out.

Step four: leave the house for short periods of time

  • Once your dog can be left alone for 30 minutes without showing any signs of distress, you can start to leave them for short periods of time.
  • They will be more inclined to relax if they’ve had an appropriate amount of exercise, been to the toilet, and been fed before you go out.
  • Don’t make a big fuss when you go out or when you get back, as doing so might make your dog anxious about when you might come back.

Our articles are not a replacement for face-to-face vet advice. It’s important to consult with your vet on a regular basis to raise any pet concerns that you may have.

You might also like