Dog crate training is a popular method of house training. A crate represents a den for your dog. Using a crate to train your dog teaches him that the human den (the house) is to be kept clean and is a place of comfort. Crating helps with potty training puppies by encouraging the development of bladder and bowel control, and it also helps prevent dogs from chewing up household possessions when you aren't home.

Don’t keep your dog confined for longer than he can be expected to hold his bladder or bowels. Young puppies can only be crated for a few hours at a time.  For example, a 4-month old puppy should spend no more than 3 hours straight in a crate during the day.

An adult dog can be crated for longer periods but should be well exercised and taken outside to eliminate before going into the crate. Never have your adult dog spend the majority of the day inside a crate!

When you want your puppy go outside to eliminate, pick him up and carry him. If you let him walk to the door by himself, he might make a mistake before he gets there. If you have a special place where you want him to relieve himself, take him there.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do keep your training sessions brief and very gradually build up to more time spent in the crate.
  • Do put a crate pad inside the crate so your dog is comfortable.
  • Do toss treats into the crate and encourage your dog to retrieve them and explore the crate on its own.
  • Do feed the dog meals in the crate, keeping the door open so the dog can exit after the meal is finished.
  • Do place the crate in a social area of the house, such as the living room so your dog doesn’t feel isolated when in the crate.
  • Do be sure to let your dog outside to eliminate before crating him.
  • Do leave the crate door open after your dog is housetrained, so he can go inside when he wants to chill out.
  • Don't use the crate as a time-out or punishment - the crate should always be a positive place for a dog.
  • Don't have your dog spend the majority of the day in a crate.
  • Don't force the dog to go into the crate. He should go inside willingly.
  • Don’t leave toys in the crate that a dog can chew to pieces and swallow.

Dog Crate Size

Buy a crate that is sized right for your dog - it should be large enough for him to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.  Puppies are small, but they grow very fast!  To save money, buy a larger wire crate with a divider panel so you don't end up going through multiple crates very quickly.

As the puppy grows up you can move the divider at different lengths, expanding the crate area he is in.  Make sure there isn't enough room in the crate for your puppy to have an "accident", yet keep the area large enough for him to feel comfortable.

Dog Crate Size

Crate and Punishment

Don't use the crate as a form of punishment or reprimand for your dog. He will fear and resent the crate. If correctly introduced to his crate, your dog should be happy to go into his crate at any time. You can use the crate as a brief time-out as a way of discouraging nipping or rowdiness.

Children and Crates

Do not allow children to play in your dog's crate or to handle your dog while he is in the crate. The crate is your dog's private place. His right to privacy should be respected.

Barking, Crying, and Whining in the Crate

In most cases, a dog who cries incessantly in his crate, has either been crated too long, or is suffering from separation anxiety, and is anxious about being left alone.

Materials and Styles

There are many different varieties of dog crates to choose from. Styles vary from basic and functional to elaborate designer posh dog crates.

Wire dog crates are durable and last for many years. They have good visibility, ventilation, and are easy to clean. Drop pin wire dog crates are designed for permanent setup and come in sections that are fastened together with pins. Collapsible wire dog crates fold up and can be carried suitcase style with a handle. Wire crates are not approved for airline travel.

Plastic dog crates (kennels) have ventilation holes on the sides and a steel mesh door. They are available in a range of colors, are lightweight and strong, and provide shelter from cold, wet environments. They usually meet regulations for airline travel.

Molded fiberglass crates are similar to plastic - lightweight and strong, often meeting airline regulations. Plastic and fiberglass crates are often called flight kennels.

Wood frame dog crates come with a steel bar or mesh insulation panels. Wood is used for both sturdy airline-style shipping crates, as well as for attractive furniture-style crates, that blend in with the room.  Styles range from looking like an ottoman, igloo, barn, end table, and many more.

Wicker (or rattan) dog crates are either made entirely of wicker or consist of wicker pieces interwoven through slats of a wire cage. They are decorative and meant for indoor use and not intended for travel.

Soft dog crates are made of nylon, nylon/mesh, or canvas with aluminum or composite tubing for soft-sided or tent-style crates. Some soft dog crates are rectangular in shape like a traditional wire dog crate, while others are dome-shaped similar to a cabana or tent.

Aluminum crates often used at dog shows, come in foldable or fixed styles with ventilation panels. They are made from aircraft-grade aluminum, are lightweight, strong, and rust-proof.

Covers for dog crates provide a quiet, private place, that attaches with buttons and snaps. Some covers can be rolled up to give your dog a view of the room. They are made of cotton canvas, polyester, and other fabrics. Most are machine washable.

Designer dog crates create a posh environment for your dog. Inside the crates, the walls are covered in silk, velvet, faux fur, or bed fabrics, and are luxurious. Designer dog crates are not recommended for puppies while teething or chewing (up to 6 months of age), or for dogs with chronic chewing problems.