Crate Training

Dog Crate Training: 10 Steps To Follow

November 30, 2021

So you’re starting the crate training process for your dog, huh? While it might seem like an arduous undertaking, we’re certain that your efforts will pay off and both you and your pet will be left feeling very content. To help you get started, Diggs has put together a step-by-step dog crate training guide that’ll facilitate the task, making it less challenging and more fun. Consider this an opportunity to bond with your canine companion!

Step 1: Choose the Right Crate

Choices, choices, choices. Choosing the right crate for your dog will be a fundamental piece of the crate training puzzle. What type of material is going to work best? Plastic? Fabric? Metal?

The Revol Dog Crate is an excellent choice for any pup that’s going for both security and comfort. It’s made with premium materials and ergonomic, easy-to-use doors. It’s perfect for puppies, as it comes with a puppy divider and removable tray for easy cleaning. That’s right; you won’t have to worry about the inevitable mess.

You’re going to want to size out your crate correctly. If the crate is too big, your pup will have more room for destructive behavior like urinating, defecating, or jumping up on the walls of the crate. Depending on how big your dog is going to get, purchase a crate for their adult size and then use a puppy divider to adjust accordingly.

Step 2: Make Your Introductions

Once you’ve purchased your crate, it’s time for introductions. This should be a gradual process. Focus on short intervals. Place the crate in a section of your house where you spend a lot of time. This could be your living room or your home office. We do want your pet to feel like they’re part of the action. We don’t want them to feel trapped or frustrated, or like they’re being imprisoned.

For this step, positive associations rule. We want your dog to think of their crate as anything from a safe haven to a security blanket, to a place that they can go to reset, relax and feel rejuvenated. This is their home within a home, after all.

Let your dog sniff, stare, and wander through their crate. Give them time to self-evaluate and again, don’t rush it. In the beginning, keep the door open. Put their favorite plush toys and rubber bones inside. Use a lighthearted and happy tone of voice when you’re near the crate and keep the treats flowing when your dog is in this meet-and-greet phase.

Step 3: Feed Meals Inside of the Crate

Feeding your dog regular meals inside their crate is an effective way to keep things positive and get the best response from your pup. If your dog is hesitant at first, start by putting their food dish near the crate as opposed to inside of it. When they start to get the hang of it, place their meal inside their crate (as far as they’ll allow it to go). Maybe start at the front and then work your way to the back of the crate. Let your pup see this through.

The ultimate goal is to be able to feed your pup in their crate with the door closed as that indicates that they’ve reached a level of comfortability with their crate. Consider this a turning point. Remember to open the door as soon as they are done with their meal. Let them out and give them verbal praise. We want them to know what an accomplishment that was.

Step 4: Set Up a Crate Training Routine

A crate training routine should be established early on in this endeavor. All of your household members should be on the same page when it comes to your pet’s crate training routine. The goal here is to encourage your dog to use their crate throughout the day, regardless of whether you are in the house with them or not. Here is a sample crate training routine for your dog.

7:00 am: Wake up, remove from the crate, potty break

7:30 am: Breakfast

7:45 am: Walk, potty break, crate for play and nap

8:45 am: Potty break, supervised playtime outside of the crate

9:45 am: Walk, potty break, crate for play and nap

10:30 am: Training session (ten minutes), supervised playtime outside of the crate

12:00 pm: Lunch

12:15 pm: Walk, potty break, crate for play and nap

2:15 pm: Potty break, supervised playtime outside of the crate

5:00 pm: Walk, potty break, crate for play and nap

5:45 pm: Dinner

6:00 pm: Walk, potty break

6:45 pm: Training Session (ten minutes), supervised playtime outside of the crate

8:00 pm: Decompression

9:30 pm: Crate for bedtime

When your dog is in their crate, supply a crate training tool like Groov. It’s a high-quality and durable training aid that will help your dog love their crate. It’s multi-functional and works well with the Revol Dog Crate, in addition to other wired crates.

Step 5: Provide a Comfortable Space

Set your pup up with a soft and snug crate that’s comfortable for snoozing, rest, and relaxation. Our Snooz Crate Pad pairs well with Revol. It is tear-resistant, washable, and extraordinarily comfortable. Throw in a soft blanket, or maybe even one of your sweatshirts to surround your dog with a scent they are familiar with. If you’re crate training a puppy, make sure you are not dressing their space with anything that has the potential to become a choking hazard.

Step 6: Use Positive Reinforcement

The first five steps above are all part of the positive reinforcement process. When crate training, always use this method. If your dog is taught to love their crate through positive reinforcement, it becomes a place for safety and security, sort of like a bedroom for a child. You might be surprised how quickly your dog takes to their crate when it’s highlighted as something that’s worthwhile.

Treating your dog’s crate as a place for punishment or confinement as a result of scolding will make your pet fearful of their crate. When it comes time to leave the house, they may engage in destructive behavior out of fear, anxiety, or stress, hence the importance of positively reinforcing their den.

Step 7: Incorporate Interactive Toys and Chews

Interactive toys and safe chews are helpful when it comes to crate training. These items are effective tools in keeping your pet busy and engaged for long periods of time. Choose safe toys that will not pose a hazard while your dog is unsupervised, or leave them with their favorite toy if they have one. Below are three types of interactive toys that your pet is sure to love.

Kibble-Dispensing Toys

Kibble-dispensing toys give your dog a reason to keep at it, which is why they are so effective. They usually require the push of a button or some other tick of a box. It presents a challenge for your pup and one that requires the activation of their natural instincts as well as their full attention. These toys keep your pet fixated and ready for more.

Treat-Dispensing Puzzles

Treat-dispensing puzzles are another form of interaction that will be sure to keep your dog engaged while in their crate. Consider these types of play items a level up from the kibble-dispensing toys mentioned above. Puzzles require your dog to solve a problem, which is a great challenge for your canine companion.

Hide-and-Seek Toys

Hide and seek interactive toys usually come with detachable pieces that the pet parent hides within the home base of the object. The objective here is for your pet to find the detachable pieces and take them out of the toy. These toys don’t use food as an incentive and are better for dogs that are struggling with their weight.

Step 8: Extend Your Dog’s Stay

Once you’ve chosen the right crate, made your introductions, set up a crate routine, and have supplied your pup with all of their goodies, it’s time to take your crate training to the next level. Practice leaving your pup for longer periods of time. Associate “crate time” with a verbal cue like “Bed!” or “Kennel!” You can even crate them for up to 20 minutes before you actually leave the house.

Although the point here is to get your canine companion used to their crate for longer periods of time, we still want to keep these intervals relatively short and sweet. Dogs need social interaction, exercise, and regular potty breaks. One to two hours at a time is best when a pup is first starting out.

Step 9: Crate Your Dog at Night

Crating your dog for bedtime is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, you’ll keep your dog from waking up in the middle of the night and roaming around your home without any supervision. Secondly, crating at night teaches your pup how to control their bladder and bowels. In addition, the crate provides a sense of security for dogs who tend to get anxious which will help them sleep safe and sound throughout the night.

For the first few weeks, place your dog’s crate outside your bedroom or in the hallway adjacent to your bedroom. While this is keeping your pup separate from you, you’re still making them feel close in proximity. If you have a puppy, keeping their crate nearby will allow you to hear them whimper in the middle of the night when they’re ready to relieve themselves.

Step 10. Patience and Consistency

Understand that crate training your dog can take six months or longer. The length of time that it takes really depends on your dog’s age and their previous crate experiences. Puppies that start crate training at a young age will likely learn to associate positivity quicker than a senior dog who’s spent most of their life in a kennel.

The key here is patience, patience, patience. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs aren’t linear learners. They might take two steps forward and then three steps back, only to take two steps forward again. Have patience while your pup figures out how to navigate their crate.

Crate Training Dilemmas

Congrats! You’ve made it through the first ten steps of crate training. We hope that you’ve had a ton of success. While you’ve accomplished quite a bit, we’re certain that you ran into some obstacles along the way. Here’s a list of issues that you might come to find when crate training your canine companion.

Too Much Time in the Crate

There is such a thing as too much time in the crate. Crating your dog for long periods of time can lead to frustration, anger, and anxiety.

For instance, if you’re crating your dog throughout the day due to your long work schedule and then crating them throughout the night to sleep, your dog is being confined for too many hours. Dogs of all ages need physical exercise, mental stimulation, and proper breaks from restricted confinement.

Puppies need more frequent potty breaks and time outside, not to mention a growing pup needs to move around in order to develop properly. Over-crating is cruel, so make sure you are planning your day accordingly.

Refusal To Use the Crate

Some dogs simply hate their crate and refuse to be inside it. And then on the off chance that you get them to enter their crate, there’s a higher risk for destructive behavior like urinating, defecating, chewing on the walls of the crate, so on and so forth. Perhaps your dog had a negative crating experience in their past, or their former owner used crating as a way to punish and scold.

If your dog hates the crate, it’s probably a result of improper training. If this is the case, you’ll need to begin the process of desensitization and counterconditioning. At this point, it’s all about retraining your pet and their crating behavior. You can also nix the crate altogether and offer your pet a confined outdoor space or a dog-proofed room indoors. Whatever you choose is solely up to you as the pet parent.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is common during the process of crate training. Separation anxiety is when your pup experiences extreme stress from the moment you leave your house to the moment you get back home. Crates sometimes add fuel to the fire when it comes to separation anxiety, as pups become more anxious when they feel trapped and confined.

If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, you can also try to engage in the processes of desensitization and counterconditioning. You’ll also want to invest in items that will keep your pet engaged and busy when you’re gone like interactive puzzle toys or treats. Peanut butter and pumpkin pureé are usually winners.

Whimpering and Whining

Many dogs, especially puppies, will whine for your attention when they are left in their crate, especially at night. Whimpering and whining require a judgment call. Your pet is either whining because they want attention and to be let out, or they are whining because they need to relieve themselves.

The trick here is to decipher the whine. If you hear your pup start to whimper, give them a moment to calm down. Usually, if your pup is fine and does not need to go out for a potty break, the whining will subside within a few minutes. That said, if your puppy continues, they may need to go outside.

If you think your pup needs to go out, get up and verbally cue a potty break. If you notice that your dog positively reacts to the verbal cue, then that’s your cue to take them out and let them go to the bathroom. Put them back in their crate after they are done.

Potty Accidents

Accidents are bound to happen when crate training your dog. This is the more challenging part of crate training. Coming home to a soiled crate pad is never fun. We’re certain that your pup doesn’t love it either.

If your dog has an accident in their crate, don’t dramatize the occurrence. This will only add fuel to the fire. Immediately take them outside to their area. If they finish outside or go again while you’re standing there, reward them with a treat.

Don’t punish your dog for having accidents. Most of the time, they’re doing their best. Clean the soiled area thoroughly as we don’t want to motivate your dog to continue going to the bathroom in their crate. If you find that your pet is constantly having accidents, then they need to be let out more frequently.

Conclusion

We’ve reached the end of our step-by-step guide for crate training your dog. Well done. Your dog is well on their way to loving their crate and you’re on the path toward peace of mind.

Sources:

How to Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps | American Kennel Club

Crate training 101| Humane Society

How To Crate Train Your Dog | Paws

Crate Training Your Puppy or Adult Dog: Everything You Need to Know | Preventative Pet

Dog Crating Difficulties | Whole Dog Journal

The Diggs Team

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