For adult dogs or older puppies that have not been crate trained previously, set up the crate in the dog’s feeding area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and water in the crate so that the dog enters the crate on their own. Another alternative is to place the crate (or a second crate) in the dog’s sleeping area with their bedding. Once the dog is entering the crate freely, it is time to close the door for very short periods of time. Some dogs might do better if a pen, or confinement area with barricade (child gate).

Using the same training techniques as for ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ training, have the dog enter their crate for short periods of time to obtain food, treats, or chew toys. Once the pet expects treats each time they enter the crate, train the dog to enter the crate on command (eg. “kennel!”), and have the dog remain in the kennel for progressively longer periods of time before the dog is allowed to exit. Give small rewards each time the dog enters the cage at first, and give the dog a favoured chew toy or some food to help make the stay more enjoyable. At first the door can remain open during these training sessions.

When the dog is capable of staying comfortably and quietly in the crate begin to lock the dog in the crate at nighttime. Once the dog sleeps in the crate through the night, try leaving the pet in the crate during the daytime. Try short departures first, and gradually make them longer.

Is crate training practical for all dogs?

An occasional dog may not tolerate crate training, and may continue to show anxiety, or even eliminate when confined. These dogs may adapt better to other types of confinement such as a pen, dog run, small room, or barricaded area. Of course, if the dog is being left alone for longer than they can control (hold in) their elimination, it will be necessary to provide an area much larger than a cage so that the pet has a location on which to eliminate, away from their food and bedding.

Continued anxiety, destruction or vocalization when placed in the crate may indicate separation anxiety. The intervention of a behaviourist may be needed.