Training Your Dog to be Comfortable in His Crate

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SAFETY NOTE: This article is part of a series of articles on crate training. Before starting any of the training outlined below, make sure to read the introductory crate acclimation article. There you’ll learn about setting up the crate properly to avoid startling your dog and read the safety notes to ensure that your training goes safely and successfully.

Method #1: If Your Dog Is a Young Puppy or a Lazy, Relaxed Kinda Guy

This method works well with young puppies that tend to take lots of heavy-duty naps or adult dogs that aren’t very active and like to get lots of beauty rest.

Make your puppy’s crate nice and cozy and be sure there are no other dog beds, blankets or other comfy spots for him to settle down on in the room. Leave the crate door propped open with a heavy object. Hang out with him near the crate, supervising him closely. What we’re counting on here is that your dog will look for a safe, comfortable place to have a little siesta and wander into his crate to fall asleep. If he doesn’t, wait until he’s sleeping, then lift him into his crate and place him in there for his nap. If he wants to get out, don’t fight him. Just try a few more times, and if you don’t have success, try another of the training methods.

Once he’s totally knocked out in there, you can gently close and latch the door. Stay close enough to the crate that you’ll notice when he wakes up. As soon as you see that he’s up, go over and let him out (and take him for a post-nap potty trip, of course). If you leave him in there too long, he may be upset when he wakes up and discovers he’s closed in the crate, so we want to get him out quickly.

When you successfully introduce your dog to his crate using this method, things should go pretty smoothly when he’s sleepy. To get him to the point where you can put him in the crate when he’s full of energy, you should give him something good to chew on in the crate so he’s busy and happy in there. This should be something other than his normal chew items… something of extra high value that he only gets when he’s in his crate. You’ll make your puppy very happy with a safe chew bone like a pig ear from the pet store or a raw marrow bone from the butcher. A hollow rubber toy filled with something yummy is another good choice. Most dogs go crazy for a hollow toy stuffed with canned dog food… if you freeze it before giving it to him, it’ll keep him busy for a nice, long time! If you worry that the canned food may give our boy a bit of an upset tummy, mixing plain, boiled white rice with the canned food will help to prevent diarrhea.

Gradually leave your dog in the crate for longer periods as he becomes comfortable. If you find that he engages in bratty behaviors like barking or trying to dig his way out of the crate, you may need to correct these behaviors before leaving him unattended in his crate.

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Midwest Life Stages Crate

This is a good all-purpose crate that’s an especially good choice for young puppies, since it comes with a divider that allows you to expand the crate as your puppy grows so it’s always just the right size.

Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel Crate

These sturdy Vari-Kennel plastic crates are a great choice for dogs that like a cozy place to hang out. You can use them for travel, too, so they’re perfect for pups who want to join you when you go on vacation!

Pig Ear Chews

Okay, I admit it… pig ears kinda gross me out. Still have to recommend them, though, since every dog I’ve ever met totally disagrees with me. They REALLY love ’em!

KONG Hollow Toy

Dogs love these durable Kong toys… and they love them even more when you fill them with canned dog food, peanut butter or KONG Stuff’N !

Bacon-Flavored Hollow Toy

This hollow bacon-flavored Dura-Chew toy will make your dog very happy… especially if you fill it with something yummy like peanut butter or KONG Stuff’N ! Yum!!

KONG Stuff’N

Kong Stuff’N is a quick, easy option for filling your dog’s hollow toys with deliciousness! Available in multiple flavors for dogs who like variety!

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