Crate Training your Puppy!

by Jenny Mee // November 2017

Crate Training your Puppy!

Most dogs naturally seek out enclosed spaces to sleep, and if introduced properly the crate can offer a safe haven for when your puppy is feeling tired or worried. It is also beneficial as an aid for training and toileting.

Once your puppy is happy in the crate he can be left there for short periods to prevent accidents in the house or destructive behaviour when you are out. It also gives him somewhere safe and quiet to retreat to when life just gets too much or during potentially scary times – such as firework season!

The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and stretch out when lying down. It may be better to go for a slightly bigger crate than initially needed to allow for growth. Cover the crate with a blanket or sheet so it is dark and cozy.

A welcoming crate should have:

  • A cozy bed or blankets.

  • A non-spill water bowl.

  • A range of safe toys to tempt your dog – from soft toys to teething toys (like nylabones).

Getting Started

  • Encourage puppy to explore the crate – throw a few treats near to and then just inside the crate and then quietly praise him for exploring.

  • Do NOT be tempted to force him in at this point (or even just a little push!)

  • Don’t be in a rush to shut the door on him either – fear developed at this stage will take much longer to overcome.

  • Instead just encourage him to spend time in there with the door open, and give him lots of incentives – stuffed kongs, toys, chews, treats – even feed him his dinner in there!

  • Once your puppy is happily using the crate on his own start to get him used to the door closing for short times. Ideally start when he is asleep and let him out as he starts to wake up. 

  • When your dog is used to this routine, leave him for a minute after he wakes up, (with you still in the room). Gradually (over about a week) increase the time you can do this. If your dog gets distressed shorten the time on the next attempt.

  • When you can leave the dog with the door closed for a few minutes, leave the room for a short time but stay in the house.

  • Again, gradually increase the time you are out of sight till you can put the dog in his crate when you go out shopping.

  • Playpens can be a useful addition as they allow more room to move and play, whilst keeping your possessions safe and the puppy away dangerous household items such as electric cables or cleaning products. They can also be used during the first few weeks when you cant shut the crate door, allowing you some control over where your puppy goes (and toilets!) overnight.


  • If you are leaving your puppy in the crate for a few hours, ensure he has lots of things to do and play with.

  • Puppy teething can last up to around 12 months old, so if you don’t want him to chew the wrong things give him some right things to chew!

  • Experiment with different textures to see what he likes, and try freezing things – stuffed kongs, carrots, rope toys, even a rolled up damp tea towel can provide teething release straight from the freezer!

  • Set your puppy up to succeed – if you don’t want them to chew your new sofa, don’t allow them unsupervised access to it.

  • For safety reasons it is advisable to remove all collars and harnesses whilst your puppy is in the crate unsupervised.

  • And finally, every puppy is an individual and will develop and learn at their own speed. Focus on the positives – if an accident happens, don’t get cross as you may frighten your puppy. Instead work out why it happened and what you can do to prevent it in the future.

The Dog School East Midlands team are holding a FREE talk on “Preparing for your new puppy” on Saturday 16th December 1.30pm at the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Wymeswold, Loughborough.

 To book your free space, or for more information on any of the training we do, contact us on:

 01509 882316