If you decide to crate train your dog from a young age, it will provide many benefits for you and your new companion. It will not only be able to retreat into its own space for some peace, but you will also find that traveling, vet visits, and other times when you need to leave it unattended will be much less stressful.

So, if you’ve got a new puppy, you will surely want to get it accustomed to spending time in a crate. However, don’t worry if you don’t know where to start because we’ve got you covered.

The following article will walk you through everything you need to know about training your dog for the crate, from choosing the right crate for your dog and setting up their space to overcoming challenges and gradual increases in time.

lady placing cute dog in crate in a car

Benefits of Crate Training for Dogs

There are many benefits of crate training. By crate training a puppy, you harness the dog’s instincts to seek comfort, calm, and safety when it feels overstimulated or overcrowded.

When housetraining a dog, keeping it from chewing on household objects is essential. Moreover, in addition to being safe for your dog in the car, crates are a convenient way to transport it.

With scheduled training dogs for crates, house training is much easier and quicker. Dogs will try to hold it until you take them outside since they don’t like to soil the area where they sleep, so this training will help teach them proper elimination habits and make potty training more effective.

Just remember, the sooner you start and associate the crate with positive experiences, the easier it will be for your puppy to get accustomed to it. Avoid using the crate as punishment.

When to Start Crate Training

It is always best to start crate training your dog as early as possible. Ideally, you should start within the first week of bringing your dog home. It is even recommended to start as early as 8 weeks of age.

However, adult dogs have ingrained habits, which means they may resist change. Also, some dogs have already developed negative associations with the crate due to previous experiences and need extra patience and positive reinforcement during training.

Early crate training helps to make the crate a familiar and positive place from the start. It becomes their den, their place to relax and feel safe.

The key to success is positive reinforcement crate training, i.e., lots of treats, praise, and play, so your puppy learns to love their crate. Initially, you only need 10 to 15 minutes, then gradually increase the duration as your dog gets used to it.

Most importantly, you never use the crate as a punishment.

Choosing the Right Crate

The first among several common crate training challenges and solutions is choosing the appropriate crate for your furry friend.

You should consider two main factors: size and material, but also if it’s sturdy enough, has multiple entries and rounded corners, is easy to clean, and is transportable.

When deciding the size, choose a crate that is just large enough for your furry friend to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. However, it shouldn’t be too big, since, in that case, it may use part of it as a bathroom.

You may need to buy several differently-sized crates while your puppy is growing up, or choose one sized for its adult size and use dividers to make it smaller.

Regarding materials, the most common are wire, plastic, and fabric. Wire crates provide the most visibility and ventilation, while plastic crates are durable, easy to clean, and offer more privacy. Soft-sided fabric crates are lightweight and collapsible and provide a cozy den-like feel. Since each has pros and cons, choose what will suit your dog’s needs and your preferences.

Setting Up a Positive Crate Environment

Creating a comfortable and inviting crate space for your canine companion is critical to successful training.

One of several crate training tips for dogs includes finding the perfect location for the crate, meaning you should place it in an area where you and your family spend most of the time, like the living room. In this way, your dog will feel like part of a family.

On the other hand, avoid high-traffic spots in the home or locations with many distractions that could make it difficult for your dog to settle in.

The inside of the crate is also important, so make sure you add comfortable bedding, some safe chew toys, and treats. You can also cover the crate with a light blanket while leaving one side open.

After your furry friend is comfortable entering the crate, start feeding meals there with the door open to create a positive association.

Step-by-Step Crate Training Process

A successful crate training program relies on positive reinforcement and rewards.

  • Ensure your dog associates the box with positive memories by placing treats or a favorite toy inside. Once your dog enters the crate voluntarily, you can close the door for short periods while giving treats, praise, and belly rubs.
  • Keep the initial time in the crate short, about 5 to 10 minutes. Once your dog is used to it, you can slowly increase the time. Give your dog lots of praise and treats, and play with it when you let it out of the crate. This positive reinforcement will teach your dog to enjoy his time in the crate.
  • Feeding your dog in the crate is also an excellent way to create positive associations. As soon as your dog can enter the crate comfortably, start feeding him in the crate with the door open. 
  • Provide interactive toys to keep the dog occupied if you must leave him alone in the crate. Things like puzzle toys and chew bones can keep them entertained. However, make sure the toy pieces are small enough so your dog can’t swallow them.

Overcoming Crate Training Challenges

How long does it take to crate train a dog? As crate training can sometimes be challenging, we cannot give you an exact answer. If you face challenges such as whining, resistance, or anxiety, be patient.

You may notice your canine companion whining once you leave it in the crate for the first time. If this occurs, don’t let it out, or else it will learn to complain to get attention. Instead, once it gets quiet, reward and praise it.

Some dogs may not want to go into their crates at all. This is where making the crate a positive place by giving your dog treats, toys, and praise each time they go plays an important role. Start with just a few seconds, building up the time slowly.

Anxiety can also be an issue, especially for rescue dogs or those with separation anxiety. Placing a blanket, toy, or treat in the crate will make it cozy for them. You can also try leaving on a radio, fan, or TV for background noise. Check out natural sedatives for dog’s anxiety for more information.

Gradual Increase in Crate Time

After you notice your dog comfortably spends short periods in the crate, it’s time to begin increasing the time.

After your pet is satisfied spending 20-30 minutes in the crate, start leaving it in for 30-60 minutes at a time. Give it a puzzle toy with peanut butter or anything else to keep it occupied. Don’t make a big deal about letting them out when you return; stay calm and give it a quick treat.

Over the next couple of weeks, gradually increase the time to 2-3 hours. Continue giving it interactive toys to play with to prevent boredom, and always avoid letting it out if they’re whining. When you return, provide lots of praise and treats to help it associate longer crating periods with rewards.

Leaving the Dog in the Crate Alone

Once your dog can stay in the crate for a few hours without issue, you can start leaving for short trips. Head out for 30-60 minutes at first, like running errands or grabbing lunch. Repeat this a few times per week, slowly making your trips longer.

Give your dog a long-lasting treat before leaving each time. Keep them on a regular feeding/bathroom schedule, so you know they’ll be fine for the time you’re away.

If you are unsure, you can begin by leaving for 15-30 minutes at first.

If your dog seems comfortable, you can start leaving for more extended periods. Take your dog for a walk before crating them, so they have a chance to go to the bathroom.

However, remember that puppies under six months should not be left in a crate for more than three hours since they cannot control their bladder and bowels for long periods.

Lastly, you need to establish a routine. You might take them for a walk, treat them in the crate, say a simple “bye, be back soon,” and then leave calmly.

Alternatives to Crate Training

Although crate training is usually an excellent solution for you and your dog, specific scenarios, including your dog’s separation anxiety, make it inappropriate. In that case, being restricted during alone time could worsen their distress.

Moreover, very high-energy or giant breed dogs may feel cramped in a standard crate, while seniors or those with medical issues may have trouble getting in and out of a crate or holding their bladders for long.

If crate training isn’t for you, there are some alternatives. For example, you could separate your dog into one room using a baby gate instead of a crate.

Another option is to train your dog to stay in a designated spot, like a dog bed. Give the “go to your spot” command and reward/praise when they do.


While crate training isn’t for every dog, it can be an invaluable tool for you and your furry friend if you do it right.

Crate training requires patience and consistency, but your dog will be happily crate-trained in no time with the proper techniques and plenty of positive reinforcement. Remember: start slow and make the crate a positive place with rewards and praise. Before you know it, your dog will think of the crate as his little cave and a safe place to relax.

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