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Your Must-Have Guide To Crate Training Your New Puppy

Dog in crate

Getting a new puppy is super cute, but it's also extremely time-consuming. The first few weeks home with your new fur baby are some of the busiest you'll experience as a pet parent. But some tools and techniques can help immensely, like learning how to crate train a puppy.

Crate training is an excellent way to potty train your puppy. It's all about teaching your pup where and where not to potty. It can even help your dog with bladder control. But your dog needs to consider the crate a secure, cozy den, not a punishment.

Why Should You Crate Train a Puppy?

Many people think you're supposed to crate train dogs because they're den animals. But there's a bit more to this idea. Crating a dog all of the time and claiming it's appropriate because dogs are den animals, isn't exactly accurate. 

This idea is developed more from domesticating dogs to be pets and what's easier for pet owners. Wild dogs don't live their lives in dens, but they use them. Young puppies spend their first few weeks in a den with their mother, who only leaves to get food and water and use the bathroom. 

Dogs don't like to urinate or defecate where they sleep. Therefore, using crate training to help house train your pup certainly makes sense.

But, you shouldn't expect to leave your puppy in their crate all of the time. It's not about keeping them contained, so it's easier. It's about helping them learn and understand where to use the bathroom and other expectations. 

The ultimate goal should not be to keep your dog in a crate. The crate should serve as a comfortable, safe zone for your dog that they can move in and out of freely.

Will Crate Training Cause Separation Anxiety?

Crate training doesn't cause separation anxiety, but it doesn't fix it either. At the very least, all it does is protect your belongings from your dog's destructive behavior. But often at the risk of your dog suffering from self-inflicted injuries as they try to break out of the crate or relieve anxiety.

However, proper crate training during your puppy's early years can help separation anxiety from starting in the first place. But if your canine companion is already dealing with separation anxiety, you need to pursue specific training and desensitizing efforts. In some cases, you'll need professional help from your vet or a behavioral trainer.

How Long Does Crate Training Take?

The exact timeline for crate training your dog depends on their breed, personality, and your consistency and patience. However, you should expect to spend about 6 months for the entire process when crate training a puppy.

If it takes less than this, great, but don't get frustrated if it takes a bit longer. It's also wise to expect some setbacks. The key is to keep going when they happen, don't give up.

Cute puppy

What Do You Need for Crate Training a Puppy?

The success of crate training comes down to three main ingredients: the proper crate, a willing pet parent, and a puppy schedule.

The Right Crate for a Puppy

Make sure that you add the right crate to your puppy checklist. The most vital aspect of the crate is its size. If you get one that’s too big, it won’t prevent your puppy from going potty in it. But if it’s too small, your pup won’t be comfortable.

The crate should allow your dog to stand, sit, lay down comfortably, and turn around fully. If you want to purchase a crate your puppy can grow into, get one with a divider. Your puppy can use one side while they’re small, then as they get bigger, you can simply remove the divider.

Also, assess how your dog reacts to the crate. Some pups like to see out of a wire crate and keep an eye on their surroundings. However, others prefer to feel more enclosed. Or, seeing everything might cause them to be more anxious and bark more. If this applies to your pup, you can purchase a crate cover to give them that secure feeling.

To make their crate feel extra safe and comfy, include a small blanket, towel, or even one of your old shirts with your scent. But, as before, assess your pup’s reaction. What one dog loves, another will find unpleasant. So, try out some different options. Your dog might prefer nothing at all in their crate.

Consistency, Patience, and Positivity

Don’t expect your puppy to get house trained overnight. As mentioned before, it could take up to 6 months to complete the crate training process. But, no matter what, to be successful, you must be patient and keep things positive. And regardless of how many accidents or setbacks your pup experiences, follow through and stay consistent.

Create a Puppy Schedule

Go into crate training with a puppy schedule already prepared. It helps keep you and your furry friend accountable and on track. Plus, it helps your dog learn what to expect, making things easier as time progresses.

A proper schedule also serves as a significant aid in potty training. Plan to give your dog a potty break about 20 minutes after every meal. Then, let them rest in their crate before taking them out and going potty again.

Next, try a fun play session. After the next mealtime, have a training session, followed with another potty break, then back in the crate. The point is the schedule should stick and stay consistent while you’re crate training. 

Always reward your pup when they go back in their crate to help them associate it with something positive. These positive rewards and predictable routines help your puppy realize they won’t be in the crate forever.

A Helpful Checklist to Crate Train Your Puppy

Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist for crate training your puppy.

  • Get the proper size and type of crate for your puppy.
  • Make the crate comfortable for your dog.
  • Set up a consistent puppy schedule.
  • At the beginning of crate training, stay close, keeping the crate in a room you frequent. It shows your pup that being in the crate doesn’t mean they’ll always be alone.
  • When your pup is out of the crate, keep it open. Incorporate the crate into some of your play sessions. For example, toss a ball into the crate, so your pup goes in on their own.
  • Anytime your pup goes into the crate, use positive reinforcement, like praise and rewarding them with a treat. You can also keep a special toy that your dog only gets while in the crate. 
  • Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time your pup stays in the crate without you present. Don’t progress to the next time frame until your dog remains calm consistently. However, remember, this doesn't mean you leave your puppy in the crate for overly lengthy periods.

Tips for Successful Crate Training

During crate training, remember the crate is your puppy’s safe place while you’re potty training them. It’s their place to rest and feel safe. Therefore, keep these tips in mind to keep crate training as effective as possible.

  • If you need to leave your house, leave the crate open and just limit the area your puppy has access to. For example, you can close off a bathroom with a safety gate. Then, inside the bathroom, keep your puppy’s crate but leave the crate’s door open.
  • Never leave your puppy in the crate for long periods. Their bladder is still developing, and they need frequent potty breaks. 
  • Never put your pup in their crate as a form of punishment, which can quickly undo any success you’ve had.
  • If your pup is whimpering to be let out of the crate, don’t oblige. You’ll teach them bad habits. Stick to your schedule.
  • Don’t keep anything in your puppy's crate beyond a soft blanket or crate mat and a puppy-safe toy. Food and water bowls can lead to free-eating which contributes to obesity and makes potty training more difficult. Harnesses and collars should also be removed since they can pose choking hazards if they catch on the crate.

          Accidents Happen, But There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

          Your puppy isn’t trying to make things hard for you on purpose. They’re just young and learning. Stay calm, and just make sure to have some high-quality pet cleaner handy.

          Don’t let accidents frustrate you or make you think the crate training isn’t working. If you stay consistent and positive, properly use the crate, and get the correct size crate, you can expect success. Just remember, it can take up to 6 months to fully house train your pup using the crate training method.


          Ready to start your journey with a new puppy? There are all sorts of resources available in our blog to help you be an awesome pet parent. Having a puppy adds so much joy to your life, but it’s a lot of work. However, the team at Neater Pets is here to make it easier.

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