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DOG / training & behavior

Crate Expectations: Crate Training Your Dog

Steps to help dogs learn to love their own space


Crate training is an essential skill for dogs. If you have a new puppy that’s not yet housebroken, keeping them in a crate at night, or for brief periods during the day when you’re away from home will help prevent accidents around the house.

Crating can even be a good idea for adult dogs at mealtimes or when you have guests; that's when even the most delightful dogs can make themselves a nuisance.

When you crate your dog properly, it is never a punishment. Your goal is to help your pet understand that the crate is a pleasant, cozy hangout and not doggie jail.

Start by selecting the right crate. A PetSmart associate or your veterinarian can help you choose the proper size and material. Don’t forget a mat and a blanket to help make your dog at home.

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Crate meets dog. Dog meets crate.

Start crate training slowly. You want your dog to enjoy the crate, so put some treats or toys in there. (It’s also a great idea to have a super-special toy that’s only for use inside the crate.) Encourage your dog to go in after them, but don’t force the issue.

Keep this up for a few days or until your pet cheerfully enters the crate without coaxing.

Once that happens, try closing the crate door for a few seconds and stay close by. Work your way up to five minutes — again, don’t push it - Some dogs take to their crates right away; others need a few days. If your dog seems anxious when you shut the crate door, be right there to let them out. Then try again later.

Get your dog settled in

As your dog gets more comfortable spending time in the closed crate, try leaving the room for a few minutes. When you let them out, play it cool; don’t go overboard with attention. Otherwise your dog may learn to get anxious inside the crate, waiting to get out and get that love and praise.

Once your dog crates calmly in a room - alone for 30 minutes, you can try an overnight stay. Puppies should be crated in your bedroom for housetraining purposes. When they’re grown, they can be a few rooms away, but not too far or they’ll feel a little left out.

Crate your dog for a brief period every day, too. This way, if there’s ever a time you actually need to crate your pup, it won’t be a big deal.

Is your dog having trouble?

If your dog doesn’t seem to be taking to the crate, get advice from a pro like your vet or a PetSmart Accredited Pet Trainer.

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