Crate Training: House Training Puppies & Dogs

Crate training is an old standard for house training puppies and dogs. Crate confinement can be a great tool but dogs are often abused by being left inside it for long periods of time.

Animals should not be confined in the crate for hours on end.

If you work, neighbors or professional pet sitters or dog walkers are idea candidates to assist you in house training if you are using confinement as a strategy.

Confinement training works because most animal do not chose to eliminate in the area they live or sleep in.

You don’t always need a crate, but a crate is a great tool to use because it can be used during travel or if you have to evacuate.

Although young puppies often accept crating right away, in some cases you will want to take a little while to train the behavior. This effort may take a few hours to a few days.

Allow your pup to ago in and out of the crate before closing it for short periods of time.

I prefer to have the initial crate training occur in a rest area such as a bath room or laundry area where a baby gate can keep the pup inside while he or she gets acclimated to the crate.

Crate your pup for short periods of time while you are at home and in the same room. This strategy helps avoid separation anxiety issues later because you acclimatize the puppy to your absence from the room in which he is crated.

You can also encourage crate use by dropping small pieces of kibble inside the crate or by feeding your pup in the crate. This creates a positive association with it and replicated the same eating and sleeping environment of a den.

Use praise when the pup enters the crate. At night place your pup in his crate and shut the door upon retiring.

I like to have the crates nearby or in a central location during the day but sleeping arrangements should be made so the pup is next to your bed in your room. (Not the kids’ rooms.)

What do you need for crate training?

Plastic Molded Crates or Wire Mesh Crates
Plastic dog crates are good for airline travel. You can dismantle the crate by removing the screws. Temporarily remove the top and door and then replace them and secure the pup for short amounts of time.

Wire dog crates are better choices if you have to evacuate the area. They also allow more ventilation. When training, securely faster the crate door so it stays open. If there is a floor pan, keep it from rattling by using a towel between the crate bottom and the floor pan in order to keep it from rattling.

Toys & Chew Items
Place puppy’s favorite toys and chew treats at the far end of the crate away from the door. All items should be large enough and sturdy enough to prevent swallowing. Kong products are a good choice.

A Lixit puppy water bottle dispenser should be attached to the crate if your puppy is to be confined for more than a couple of hours in the crate.

Bedding is optional in a crate and I’d recommend using old towels to start. Some pups will like a soft place to sleep while others won’t use it as bedding and will push it aside or use it as a chew item. If the puppy urinates or chews on the bedding remove it until the pup no longer eliminates in the crate.

Puppies less than 4 months of age have little control over their bladder bowels and extremely young pups less than 9 weeks should not be crated because they eliminate very frequently.

How do I deal with crate training accidents?
If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out or had an accident, do not punish him. Place him elsewhere and wash out the crate with a pet odor neutralizer (such as Nature’s Miracle). Avoid vinegar or ammonia-based products since they may draw your dog back to use the same spot again.

How long can I crate a puppy?
Except for overnight, do not keep any dog crated for more than 6 hours. Use a pet sitting service or other pet professional to help you during house training.

Some standard crate training limits:
Under 9 weeks do not crate at all.
9-10 Weeks of age: 30 to 60 minutes
11-14 Weeks of age: 1 to3 hours
15-16 Weeks of age: 3 to 4 hours
17 Weeks of age & older: 5 to 6 hours

What size crate do you need to crate train?
In general, you want to get a crate that you can use for the lifespan of your dog. Buy for the weight of an adult dog. You can also buy a smaller crate, sell it, and then get a larger one as your dog grows.

Sky Kennel Small (Product #100) for average weight of 6-10 pounds.

Sky Kennel Small-Medium (Product #200) for average weight of 11-20 pounds

Sky Kennel Medium (Product #300) for average weight of 21-40 pounds.

Sky Kennel Large (Product #400) for average weight of 41-65 pounds.

Sky Kennel Very Large (Product #500) for average weight of 67-100 pounds.

Sky Kennel Extra Large (product #700) for average weight of 110 pounds and up.

Other tools to use instead of a crate include baby gates, play pens, and other similar strategies. The idea is to keep the dog in a small confined area since most dogs will not eliminate in their living or sleeping quarters.

However, confinement is just one way to house train a dog. I usually advocate using a variety of techniques for quick success and ease. The exact combination will be determined after you discover why the pet has the house training issues.

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  1. I have a Boston Terrier 10 weeks old, my wife and i live in a condo.I want to know if it’s ok to keep him in a bathroom (overnite only).

  2. Confinement for short periods of time are not a problem. If everyone goes to bed, there is nothing wrong with having the pet confined in a room. However, some pups need to toilet through the night so monitoring food and water and getting into a routine are the best strategies.