Should You Crate Train Your Dog? Here’s the inside scoop.

March 1st, 2024

upside down happy hound in crate
Every dog owner has their own personal approach to parenting their beloved furry companion. There’s no concrete right or wrong way to make decisions for our pet pal. Often, it’s a learn-as-you-go process, and we have to do what is best for us and them. Providing love, healthy food choices, and a secure environment are the foundational pieces for a happy dog. Sometimes, we are confronted with options and wonder – “Would that be a good direction for my little Fido?” Many pet parents have asked whether crate training is the right choice for their puppy or adult dog.

Our goal is to give you some important information about crate – training so you can make your own informed decision. As with everything, it depends on what you hope to accomplish – maybe you are welcoming a new puppy to your home, or you’ve just adopted a 3-year-old dog, or you could be deciding whether your senior dog should be crated after all these years. Whatever your situation, we aim to highlight why some owners choose to crate train, the benefits, and where to start.
happy hounds on crate


Should I Crate Train?

There are several reasons people decide to crate train, maybe some you haven’t even thought of yet. Puppy or not, you may face some of these challenges or scenarios:

1. Potty –Training: Do you have a puppy that doesn’t yet know the difference between outside and in, or maybe your older dog has trouble controlling their bladder and is starting to have accidents; this can be a valuable way to limit their access to your house and save you money on rug cleaner purchases or new rugs you are replacing.

2. Destructive Behavior: Is your dog chewing up everything in sight? Your favorite shoes, or maybe they are jumping up on your kitchen counters for their next snack. It’s a great way to protect your belongings and your next meal.

3. Stressful Situations: Lots of dogs can suffer from separation anxiety. Being left alone can be their worst nightmare and put them in a state of panic and fear. Even though we often assume dogs love to be social, new visitors to their homes can bring about a lot of concern and anxiety. A crate offers a place of solace.

4. Overexcitement: On the other side of the spectrum, some dogs love to greet guests who walk through the door by jumping on them, extending chaotic, over-the-top “hello’s” that become hard to manage. A place for them to retreat can help keep things calm and relaxed.

5. Going Places: Whether it’s a trip to your favorite destination or heading to the vet. Crates can be used for any transportation need.
Did one of the above points resonate with you and seem to be a persistent problem? Here’s how crate training may benefit in these types of scenarios.
happy hounds snuggling on crate

Crate Benefits

Your Dog’s Special Space
As humans, we all like our favorite place in the house to go to and relax, maybe enjoy some downtime where we can revel in a cup of tea or coffee and keep all the “noise” out for a moment. Your dog is the same way. A comfy place with their favorite chew toy can be the perfect place for them to take some time to chill. Eventually, if they have a positive relationship with their crate, they will even decide to venture there to hang out. It’s their sanctuary that makes them feel protected and safe.

Keeping Calm
Dogs love checking out new visitors who’ve just walked through the front door; it brings excitement to their day. Whether it’s other dogs or their human friends, they may have difficulty controlling all the spontaneous feelings, leading to lots of jumping and nudging. With bigger dogs, this can be a little dangerous, especially if children are involved, so a place for them to go will help them settle down for some calm playtime later.

Reduces Anxiety and Stress
You may have a dog who is innately anxious over many things. Maybe they don’t like anyone coming into their home, loud noises may be startling, or you have had life changes, for example, bringing home a new baby. A crate can give them a place when things get a little too chaotic for them, and it also can help them, over time, get accustomed to and learn how to manage things that once gave them stress. The ability to self-soothe is a big win.

Crates also can act as a tool to prevent separation anxiety. Many dogs feel fearful or scared when you leave and may bark endlessly or pace back and forth. A crate can help them practice being by themselves in a safe place while you are home. As time passes, your dog will build the habit of remaining calm in the crate when you are home, and eventually, they will learn that it isn’t so bad when you leave the house.

Puppy Potty-Training
Puppy behavior can be erratic and rogue! Crates are an excellent tool for house training. For starters, a crate is a great way to keep them safe when you can’t have your eye on them at all times. It also acts as a training tool to avoid potty accidents. Typically, they will not want to make a mess in their “den.” This allows you to help them strengthen their bladder and bowel control.

Safety at Home
Leaving your dog home on their own can lead to some pretty poor choices if left to roam free. Without anyone to help monitor or correct behaviors, they’re bound to throw their own little house party. Those favorite shoes or houseplants could be torn apart. Dogs often have a hard time controlling their impulses. If you feel a little uncertain how your dog will react when left alone for a couple of hours, a crate can give you peace of mind while you are out. Your dog, in the long run, will appreciate some boundaries. Over time, they will build trust towards being left to wander every room in your house.
happy hound in car crate
Makes Travel Easier

Traveling with your dog in a crate is much safer than letting them run around freely in the car. It’s not safe for your furry friend or the driver. Crating your dog during car trips helps them feel secure and comfortable, especially on longer journeys. Plus, if you plan on hopping on a plane, they will need to be familiar with being enclosed in a crate for this type of travel. And if they are not used to it, it can be very scary for them.

Some Simple Steps to Start
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, patience will be your friend. It’s true. It may take some time and sleepless nights to get your furry friend used to a crate. Anywhere from a few days or weeks to even longer. As their pet parent, it’s important to take a little time to set yourself and your dog up for success and have realistic goals. It will take some work and due diligence. We have some key steps to consider to instill good training habits.

Step 1
Exploring The Crate: When purchasing a crate, make sure its size allows for your dog to lay down comfortably, turn around, and sit up without their head hitting the top. Introduce them to their new space by letting them just check it out. Don’t rush to get them inside. Sniffing is their favorite way to learn about something new, so let them take the time to smell all the crevices inside and out.

Step 2
The Lure of Treats: You can use positive associations with the crate by using treats. Place a treat, their food bowl or a chew toy in the back of the crate and let them mosey on in, but leave the door open so they can come back out. You should repeat this for a couple of days to build up their comfort level. Use positive reinforcement so they understand that the crate is a positive behavior and they get rewarded. If you keep their crate accessible and the door open, you may find that they will wander in on their own.
happy hound looking through crate
Step 3
Crate Time: Start with small amounts of time when you begin crate training and then work up to more time. Starting off with long stints can undo the work you did to make them feel comfortable about their crate. They will begin to view it as their safe haven. And to truly make it their own little home away from home, you can keep comfy blankets or soft beds and their favorite toys inside. They will feel right at home!

Crate Training No-No’s

Do not keep dogs in their crates all day or for extended periods of time. And just as importantly, it should never be used as a way to punish your dog.

If you feel inclined to move forward with crate training or learn more, we encourage you to research the detailed steps or contact your vet or a professional dog trainer for extra support. They can help answer any of your questions for a successful outcome.

Everyone’s lifestyle, people and dog personalities are all so different. The decision ultimately rests with pup parents to choose what’s best for their furry pal and their household.