Crate training can be a very valuable tool for a dog at any age. It can take time for your dog to become comfortable with their crate but once they do, you and your dog will see many benefits with this new space.
If you’re looking to get started with crate training or interested to learn more, here is our introductory guide including the benefits of crate training, what to look for in a crate and how to get started.
What are the benefits of crate training?
1. It provides a retreat space for your dog
A crate provides a safe space for your dog which they can retreat to when they are tired, stressed or overwhelmed. Once your dog gets used to their crate, they will regard it as a secure environment where they can relax or enjoy some alone time. Make sure to include comfortable bedding in the crate, some safe toys and a water bowl.
2. It can reduce your dog’s stress in certain situations
Throughout your dog’s life, they will need to be transported to different places such as the kennels, groomers or vets and confined for other reasons such as after surgery or when injured. Crate training your dog allows you to safely transport or keep your dog in a space they feel comfortable in and as a result, reducing their stress in uncertain and unfamiliar situations.
3. It keeps your dog safe when you’re not around
Crate training can keep your pup out of trouble inside the house and prevent injuries when they are alone. If used outside, most importantly, it prevents interactions with wildlife for the safety of both your dog and other animals. In Australia, we have many types of wildlife visiting our backyards, including snakes, cane toads and koalas.
4. It can help with toilet training for puppies
Dogs don’t like to go to the toilet in their own space, so using a crate reinforces the idea of waiting until they are taken outside or to their designated toilet area. It is very important to make sure you are frequently giving your pup the opportunity to visit their toilet area if using a crate. Find out more about toilet training here.
Selecting a crate
You can purchase a crate from most pet stores. There are a few things to consider when buying one:
- Quality: the crate should be good quality and sturdy.
- Size: a crate should be large enough for your dog to perform all movements – standing up, lying down, stretching and turning around.
- Your dog’s age: if you have a puppy, consider getting a larger crate to prepare for when they are fully grown or purchase a new one when needed.
How to start?
There are two important things to keep in mind when crate training: the crate should be seen as a positive experience and the training should be done in a series of small steps.
Here are a few tips to get started with crate training your dog:
- Start with your crate inside, where the dog can see you. Make sure it’s a nice comfy spot, with bedding that your dog will like. Let your dog explore the crate at their own leisure. Start by keeping the door wide open and drop some treats or your dog’s favourite toy inside the crate. Make sure to talk to your dog in a happy tone when encouraging them to go into the crate.
- Start feeding your dog their meals inside the crate to create a positive association with them being in there.
- As your dog gets more comfortable with the crate each day and there are no signs of fear or anxiety, start to increase the time they spend in there while you’re home.
- Once your feel your dog is comfortable, start closing the door and leaving them in there for longer periods. It’s important to remember that according to RSPCA, dogs should not be left in their crate for more than 4 hours during the day.
When starting to crate your dog overnight, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or in a nearby hallway. Once your dog is comfortable sleeping through the night being near you, gradually start to move the crate to your ideal location. Your dog will start to understand the routine and become comfortable in their crate.
Expert dog trainer Ryan Tate takes you through some of his tips on how to crate train your dog.
Crate training can be very beneficial for a dog at any age – it provides a retreat space for your dog when they need it, can reduce stress when moving around, ensures your dog’s safety both inside and outside the home, and can be a valuable tool with puppy training.
Leave It promotes that dogs should be crate trained for their safety and the safety of our native wildlife.
Updated February 2023