Brown Australian Shepherd sitting in a crate with their toys around them.

Health & Wellness

How to crate train your dog

Consider the space your dog’s very own bedroom

When you’re exhausted or just want a little escape, you may consider your bed a haven. A crate should be to a dog what a comfortable mattress and cozy comforter  is to pet parents. Dogs are natural den animals, meaning they enjoy hunkering down in a quiet, private space. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch's on-staff vet, explains how to make a crate one of your dog’s favorite places. 

How to use a crate

It’s best to use a crate from the first day you welcome your pup home. A crate that’s too small may make your dog feel more anxious — make sure they can fully stand up and easily turn around in it. Also, if it’s too big then they may go to the bathroom in it. When picking out the crate, try bringing your dog along so you can make sure it’s the perfect fit.

After choosing the right crate, there are a couple of things you can do to make it their favorite space: 

  • Have them stay in the crate while you’re home during bedtime and naptime so they can enjoy their space with the comfort of knowing you’re nearby. 
  • Gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the crate to get them used to it.
  • Use lots of praise and give them a treat immediately after they get into the crate (it’ll make them excited about crate time).  
  • Give them their favorite bone or toy to chew on while in the crate (only give this to them while they’re in the crate).

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What not to do

Helping your dog adjust to the crate takes time. Don’t spoil your progress by doing these things: 

  • Keeping your dog in the crate for the majority of the day. A great trick to deciding the amount of hours young puppies can be in their crate is adding the age of the puppy in months plus one. No dog should be crated for more than a few hours. 
  • Use the crate as punishment — this should be their safe haven. 
  • Put the crate in a loud area like a laundry room. Remember, this is a retreat for them so it should be away from anything that could overstimulate them. 
  • If your pup already suffers from anxiety, crate training may not be the best option. Ask your behavioral therapist beforehand for the best solution as they can injure themselves trying to get out. 

When to crate train your dog

You should start crate training as soon as you welcome your pup home. Show them that this is their designated safe space as soon as possible. If they suffer from separation anxiety, talk to their behavioral therapist or vet to decide if crate training could help keep them safe while you’re away. 

Potty training

Crates help with potty training puppies as your dog most likely won’t go to the bathroom in their own space. If you’re using a crate to potty train, be sure to listen if they whine or scratch — they’re probably letting you know they have to go to the bathroom. 

Crates are meant to help your pet feel comfortable. With the help of these quick tips, your best friend will live their best life in and out of the crate. 

Team Fetch

Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Dogs

Crate Training

Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

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