Dog crates are usually an enclosed and secure space for your dog to spend time alone. Crates are often made from thick wire or fabric, they have doors and latches and come in various shapes and sizes to suit your dog.

Using a crate is a great way to limit your dog’s access to the home if they’re displaying challenging behavior, and it can provide them with a safe retreat, a great method of transportation, and more.

Before you start leaving your dog in a crate, you’ll need to crate-train them. In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of crate training 101, so you can start introducing your dog to its new favorite space safely.

What Is Crate Training?

Crate training is the process of gradually introducing your dog to a crate, and building positive associations.

Crate training can be successful with dogs of any age, and it centers around slow introductions and lots of positive reinforcement.

Crate training can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your dog’s age, health, and past experiences with crates.

How To Start Crate Training?

The most important thing to remember is that the crate should be a safe and enjoyable place for your dog to be.

Crates should never be introduced as a place of punishment, and training should be a slow process with lots of baby steps. Rushing the process can build negative associations for your dog and delay training.

Here’s what you should be doing to set your dog up for success, and ensure successful crate training:

1. Choose The Right Crate

Your first step should be to choose the right crate. You’ll need to give your dog enough room to stand up, lie down, move, and stretch comfortably.

If you’re crate training a puppy, get a large crate that they can grow into, and if you’re training an adult dog, choose a crate that has enough room inside to fit at least another dog of their size, if not slightly more.

If you’re crate training a puppy, DON’T use their large indoor crate for transportation. If you want to travel with your puppy in a crate, invest in a smaller model for transport – a larger crate can put them at risk of injury when traveling.

2. The Right Positioning

Where you place your crate will depend on the layout of your home and the space available. However, to keep your dog safe in the crate, you should:

  • Avoid exposure to temperature extremes, and keep the crate in a temperature-controlled environment
  • Don’t place the crate near power cords or electrical items
  • Don’t keep toxic plants within reach of the crate
  • Avoid leaving stuffed, overly chewy, or squeaky toys in the crate as these can present a choking hazard
  • Keep the crate in view of you, or in one of the busiest rooms of your home, during training. This will make your dog feel at ease and prevent separation anxiety. Once they’re more comfortable in the crate, you can move it to another room

3. Make It Comfortable And Inviting


Before you start training, make the crate a comfortable and inviting space for your dog. Line the craft with a variety of soft bedding, a few safe toys, and treats if you’re training.

You can use something as simple as old towels and bed sheets, but most people recommend specially designed crate mats and beds.

If you’re training a puppy, you can also find waterproof mats and beds to help you deal with drink spillages or accidents.

4. Slow Introductions

Once you’re ready to train, take it slow. You should never force a dog inside its crate – this will only make them want to avoid it. Leave the door open for your dog to explore the crate on their own terms.

Although some dogs will want to explore the crate straight away, others will be more reserved. If your dog needs some extra encouragement, you should:

  • Encourage or bring them next to the crate, and talk in a happy and excited tone. Leave the crate door open so you won’t startle them.
  • Leave some high-value treats (like cheese or chicken) inside the crate, or leading into the crate. If your dog doesn’t want to take the treats or enter, don’t force them.
  • Continue placing high-value treats in the crate until your dog walks in on its own. This could take a few minutes, or you may need to repeat it over a few days.

5. Consistency

Continue encouraging your dog into the crate like this until they are ready to go in and out on their own terms. Once your dog is exploring the crate on its own, you can practice shutting them in the crate.

At first, this should be for around 30 seconds, with you next to the crate. Reward them, and let them leave. Now, you can gradually increase the time left in the crate, with you moving further away from it.

Be slow with this process – it can sometimes take a while depending on the dog. Once they’re comfortable with this, you can also start pairing the entrance with a cue such as ‘crate’. When they enter, reward and praise them for their behavior.

If you can repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the time in the crate and pairing it with a cue, they’ll be ready to leave crated in no time.

Ideally, your dog should be able to sit quietly in the crate for around 30 minutes while you’re out of sight before you start leaving them in the crate for longer periods.

It could take several days or weeks to progress from this stage to longer (4-5 hours) in the crate. Take it slow.

The Bottom Line

Crate training has many benefits for both you and your dog, but the process shouldn’t be rushed.

It’s important to take it slow and progress things on your dog’s terms – rushing the process could destroy any positive associations with the crate, and make it much harder to crate train your dog (see also ‘8 Steps to Crate Training a Rescue Dog‘).