How to Crate Train a Dog For Safety

Pitbull in a wire crate

It is a good idea to crate-train your dog for times when you are out of the house. This will keep them safe from dangers such as chewing electric wires or getting into poisonous substances. It can also protect your furniture and other belongings from being chewed up.

crate train a Pitbull for peace of mind
chewed vinyl records

We lost eyeglasses, shoes, and even record albums before we decided to get a crate!  Don’t wait until your furball pulls albums off the shelf!

Not For Punishment

Crate training isn’t “punishment” for bad behavior. It’s best to create positive associations with the crate through the use of treats and games. The crate should become a safe place your dog can retreat to. Be patient — crate training can take several weeks.

We all want a well-behaved dog that doesn’t chew things up or go to the bathroom inside the house. A crate can create a safe environment for your dog that teaches them responsibility and independence.

Snoopy standing by his dog’s house.

Some people view crates as bad but remember this is not being “caged up” as punishment. As a den animal, most dogs enjoy being in small, enclosed places. It provides a sense of security and calms anxiety.

When I reach for my car keys our dog now heads straight to her “den” which has become a happy place! I reward her with a couple of Milk Bones and tell her, “I’ll be back.”

How Crate Train a Dog

1. Choose the Right Crate

There are different sizes and styles of crates. An ideal style is durable, comfortable, and flexible with whatever training you’re doing,” For dogs that prefer isolation (rare) an enclosed crate, such as a travel crate, would work well, while wire crates work best for most other dogs.

It is important, not to buy a crate that is too big for your dog. Depending on how big your dog is going to get, you can buy a crate with a divider so you can add space as your puppy grows.

2. Establish a Good Mindset

The more the dog associates with the crate in a relaxed manner, the sooner it will feel comfortable going in there. If you put the dog in the crate when they’re playing, then they’ll want to come back out and continue to play. But if you bring them in it when they’re calm, they will likely view it as a place of rest.

3. Make Your Dog Comfortable

Some people use dog beds or towels to create a comfy environment, but that may not always be the best option as some dogs (like ours) may tear a dog bed apart. We use an old blanket with no stuffing, but if a problem just let them sleep on the crate mat itself. Dogs do not mind hard surfaces.

4. Reward Good behavior

Once again, positive reinforcement rules. Our trick is giving our dog a KONG TOY filled with peanut butter to provide a yummy distraction. This associates the crate with an enjoyable activity.

Crate train a Pitbullk
Puppy in a crate for training.

5. Keep an Eye on the Time

Your dog needs time outside the crate to play, eat, and use the bathroom. Start with short amounts of crate time. Dogs don’t want to soil where they sleep, but if there’s too long of a stretch without a walk, they might end up doing so. Eventually, you can leave her all day while you are at work but be patient (see #8 below).

6. Play Crate Games

Again, your dog should not see the crate as a negative space. Play some games so your pup goes in and out of the open crate at their own will. Try to simply throw a ball in the crate when playing fetch or hide treats inside.

7. Safety First

It is recommended to remove collars or tags when your dog is in the crate. If the tag somehow gets caught in the crate the dog could choke itself.

8. Set Your Dog Up for Success

Once you are ready to give your dog more time inside the crate, do it in small steps. You don’t want to go out to dinner for six hours the first time out. Maybe just go get a cup of coffee and come back. You could also use a camera to determine what your dog is doing while you’re gone. Don’t forget to reward them after you return.

9. Be Patient

Prepare yourself for days, weeks, or even months of training. It took our dog bout 3 weeks to get comfortable with the idea. Hang in there and be consistent. Your dog will eventually look for the reward and you can go to work or play knowing your dog is safe.

Types of Dog Crates

Plastic Dog Crate/Kennel

 This is the crate we use for our Pitbull.

This is the crate we use for our Pitbull. It’s her safe place and comes in many different sizes and styles. Meets most airline cargo specifications for easy and safe travel. 

Wire Dog Crate

Versatile wire dog crates can include double doors and a free divider panel. These highly-rated dog crates come in many sizes and are a great option for all dogs. 

Soft-Side Portable Crates

soft dog crate
Not recommended to crate-train active dogs! Canine Health Hub Site Logo

Soft, foldable dog crates are made with strong steel tubes, and the crate cover is made of high-quality durable fabric. A good crate for smaller dogs but not recommended to crate train a Pitbull.

Good luck with your crate training and finding the perfect crate for your pets!

Originally posted Oct. 24, 2021


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