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Crate Training Your Puppy: 35 Essential Questions with Easy Answers

April 28, 2021
April 28, 2021

Crate training can be difficult, knowing what to do is something that a lot of new puppy parents (or dog parents) struggle with at times. 

Because of this, I want to share some answers with you. I’ve compiled a really long list (feel free to use the table of contents to zip to what you might need!) of questions that puppy parents commonly ask. This blog is meant to complement the others in this series, which can be found here:

The Golden Rules Of Crate Training Your Puppy

Where Is The Best Place To Put Puppy’s Crate

Puppy Toilet Training Do’s & Don’ts 

Crates, also called kennel, dens (or cages usually by people who deem them cruel) are often used to assist with toilet training, the recovery of dogs with on directed rest, as a private space away from all the hustle and bustle of family life – or just as a bed or den. They’re also used for safe travel in vehicles, or on planes! As well as in vets and groomers to keep the animals apart. 

Some new puppy parents are  lucky enough that their puppies even come home crate trained and ready to roll! Others don’t. Which often gives rise to questions that you might have. Here’s my best attempt to answer them… all of them. 

Table Of Contents
  1. 1 – How Do I Crate Train My Puppy?
  2. 2 – Are Puppy Crates Or Crate Training Necessary?
  3. 3 – Can Puppy Sleep In A Crate Overnight?
  4. 4 – Can Puppy Sleep Outside Of A Crate?
  5. 5 – How Long Can Puppy Be In Their Crate?
  6. 6 – Can I Move My Puppy’s Crate Around?
  7. 7 – How Old Does My Puppy Need To Be Before I can Crate Train?
  8. 8 – How Big Should My Puppy’s Crate Be?
  9. 9 – How Do I Move My Puppy’s Crate Out Of My Bedroom?
  10. 10 – When Should I Move My Puppy’s Crate Out Of My Bedroom?
  11. 11 – How Do I Stop My Puppy From Whining In Their Crate?
  12. 12 – What Bedding Should I Use For My Puppy’s Crate?
  13. 13 – What Should I Cover My Puppy’s Crate With?
  14. 14 – What Does A Puppy Crate Need?
  15. 15 – What Should I Put In My Puppy’s Crate Overnight?
  16. 16 – What Do I Do When My Puppy Hates The Crate?
  17. 17 – When Should I Crate My Puppy?
  18. 18 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Cries In the Crate At Night?
  19. Hey, Hooman!
  20. 19 – When Should I Increase The Space In My Puppy’s Crate?
  21. 20 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Pees In The Crate?
  22. 21 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Poops In The Crate
  23. Need Help Toilet Training?
  24. 22 – Where Should I Put My Puppy’s Crate?
  25. 23 – Where Should I Put My Puppy’s Crate At Night?
  26. 24 – Where Can I Buy A Crate For My Puppy?
  27. 25 – Which Puppy Crate Should I Use
  28. 26 – When Should I Use A Crate For My Puppy?
  29. 27 – How Should I Use My Puppy’s Crate?
  30. 28 – Why Should I Use A Crate For My Puppy?
  31. 29 – Why Does My Puppy Lick The Crate?
  32. 30 – Why Is My Puppy Chewing The Crate?
  33. 31 – Is Crate Training Good For Puppies?
  34. 32 – Which Is Better A Crate Or A PlayPen?
  35. 33 – What is a Good Crate Training Schedule?
  36. 34 – My Puppy Is Toilet Trained, But Pees Or Poops In Their Crate When I Leave, What’s Up With That?
  37. 35 – Why Does My Puppy Keeps Chewing or Destroying Their Bed When I Leave?
  38. Any Other Questions? 
  39. A Good Dog Can Be Achieved
  40. Aren’t Puppies Exhausting?

1 – How Do I Crate Train My Puppy?

Briefly, you’re taking advantage of a dogs natural dislike to do their business (pee and poop) where they sleep. This means that if the area they’re resting in is of the correct size, this will encourage puppy to hold their bladder or bowels until they’re taken out by you, straight to the garden or yard where they’ll successfully release all they need to and be praised warmly and treated or rewarded for doing so! 

This is pretty brief in it’s nature, so please do go check out How To Successfully Crate Train Your Puppy.

2 – Are Puppy Crates Or Crate Training Necessary?

Now the answer to this depends. I honestly believe it is, yes. Because crates are used in the vets, crates are used in the groomers, by daycares and by dog walkers – they’re also used by Emergency Rescuers and may be needed on a long term basis if your dog injures themselves in such a way that their mobility must be restricted (such as cruciate ligament issues) – consequently I think this is a very good trade off. If your dog is comfortable and happy in a crate you know that these stressful situations will not become more stressful for your dog. 

However, if you prefer, you can crate train them later in life and deal with toilet training with management techiques instead.

Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy Posing in the yard
Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy Posing in the yard – hush! It’s not easy to always have the right pictures, when I don’t you get cute squishy puppies – don’t complain! Hehe

3 – Can Puppy Sleep In A Crate Overnight?

Yes! In fact this is one of the best reasons for crate training your puppy, the overnight stint is one you just cannot monitor because you do (inevitably) need sleep! The benefit of crating overnight is that there is less risk of accidents (and subsequently regressing in your toilet training) and there is no risk of puppy getting a hold of something they shouldn’t whilst they’re not supervised! Even if that thing is a dry wall, skirting board or otherwise. So yes! Yes they can! 

4 – Can Puppy Sleep Outside Of A Crate?

Yep, they entirely can. If you don’t wish to crate train, absolutely. If you are crate training, and you’re going to watch until they stir? Yes, absolutely. But you have to watch them, okay? Because if they’re not in their crate and an accident happens you are to blame, not them. That was your failure to manage…

5 – How Long Can Puppy Be In Their Crate?

This is a wonderful question because it shows you want to be responsible! Here’s my ‘golden ratios’ for day time crate management. 

Puppy AgeRatio of out of crate to in crate
2 Months1:2
3 Months1:2
4 Months1:1
5 Months1:1
6 Months3:2
Table shows an approximate ratio of how long puppy can be out of crate vs in their crate – meaning for example at 2 months, puppy can be in their crate for 2 hours and then out for one (I wouldn’t go over this during the day!) compared to at 5 months when they should be spending equal times in and out of their crate.

Okay, so what this means in words is at two months of age, puppy can spend one hour out of crate and two hours in their crate – this should never be longer than that at this stage because puppies cannot hold their bladder for any longer than this.

As puppy creeps up in age, they can be in there longer – but I really would advise understanding that your puppy is a member of your family, and he or she will never learn to be that and be good at that if you don’t afford them the opportunity to learn how to do so. You must integrate them. That’s why you got a dog after all, right? An adorable, fluffy, loving family member?  

6 – Can I Move My Puppy’s Crate Around?

You can! And I would suggest you do if they will sleep in your bedroom at night and in the family room during the day – keeping this consistent can decrease confusion and increase the likelihood of successfully crate training!  

7 – How Old Does My Puppy Need To Be Before I can Crate Train?

Puppies can be crate trained by your breeder – this does not mean that they will be entirely happy in their crate from their first night at home, alone from their siblings. However, if you breeder provides a blanket from puppy’s mother, and you provide some things that smell of you, and you consider getting a heartbeat toy, you might well manage to overcome this easily enough.
In essence, as soon as puppy is cognisant and aware (so around 5 weeks) you can begin to be really successful with crate training. 

German Shepherd puppy playing with a tunnel, looking for their parent who definitely asked at least one of these questions about crate training.
German Shepherd puppy playing with a tunnel, looking for their parent who definitely asked at least one of these questions about crate training.

8 – How Big Should My Puppy’s Crate Be?

This is the age old question. This honestly depends on how you’re going to use it. If you intend on keeping it as a permanent fixture, then judge off of breed size, parent size, or gen an idea of how big puppy’s going to be and buy something at a comfortable size for their maximum size (This shouldn’t be snug, and should be as big as the space allows for).
If you don’t intend on keeping the crate as a permanent fixture, you may be able to buy a slightly smaller one than their maximum size if training goes well.

I would suggest, however that you consider keeping the crate (provided you have place to store it, because they are pretty unwieldy!) as you may one day need it for veterinary reasons – and I promise you your insurance won’t cover the cost of it. 

9 – How Do I Move My Puppy’s Crate Out Of My Bedroom?

This one is a slow process, once puppy is comfortable in their crate, it begins to become “Well it is cumbersome in our bedroom” (I don’t care how big your room is, crates can be clunky!), so you want to move them back to the family room, kitchen or similar. Wherever you want them to end up, you have two choices.

1 – inch the crate away from your bedroom. Every second night you  experience success at a new distance, move it back a foot or so. Over a gradual amount of time you’ll build up to puppy being in the desired location.
2 – move the crate and move where you sleep for a few nights. This may be quicker over all, but it also means a further commitment to a nights discomfort or so. After a few nights, let puppy drift off to sleepy land and you can sneak off to bed. 

You may wish to get a puppy camera  though! These can be really useful when you’re in different rooms to learn when things are a need vs a want. 

Teenage labrador puppy snoozing on the sofa, because his parents decided they could un-crate train him because he was starting to show he was responsible!
Teenage labrador puppy snoozing on the sofa, because his parents decided they could un-crate train him because he was starting to show he was responsible!

10 – When Should I Move My Puppy’s Crate Out Of My Bedroom?

This one is entirely up to you, I waited until I knew that Indie could go overnight without needing me – as it felt like an easier way to transition if he was sleeping through the night – but it is honestly up to you, some people never have puppy sleep in their room – others never move them out. 

11 – How Do I Stop My Puppy From Whining In Their Crate?

First, you have to make their crate their wonderful little cozy home of glory. How do you do that? Well, you follow the steps set out in How To Successfully Crate Train Your Puppy. You make sure that it’s well located Then you make sure you adhere to The Golden Rules Of Crate Training Your Puppy and Puppy Toilet Training Do’s & Don’ts – then you’re going to have to look a little deeper. Are you satisfying your puppy’s needs? Do they really need a nap, or is it time for them to be up and awake? 

12 – What Bedding Should I Use For My Puppy’s Crate?

This depends on what your puppy prefers, some pups like a thing to lean on and a bed with bolsters can be a great idea, some get overheated and will move all of the stuff aside to sleep on the cooler crate tray. Personally, I like to put in a mattress style bed (something nice and supportive) and a lighter blanket. I’m a big fan of letting woofs make their own decisions, and this combo is something that mainly allows that to happen.

The only thing I will emphasise to only ever get fitted crate covers, because loose blankets through the bars can (and often will) be pulled through the bars and can represent a choking hazard or strangulation risk. It’s not pleasant, so just do the little bit of extra investment, it looks much prettier anyway! 

Yawn! Little Labrador puppy is getting sleepy, where do you think she'll sleep? Right there perhaps? Or in her crate?
Yawn! Little Labrador puppy is getting sleepy, where do you think she’ll sleep? Right there perhaps? Or in her crate?

13 – What Should I Cover My Puppy’s Crate With?

A crate cover. Please avoid a blanket. Please. Puppies can pull these through (or part of them through) the bars, and create a noose for themselves, it’s not nice, it’s not pretty. Don’t risk it.

Not to mention that the way it pulls, puppy could actually ingest some of it. So, a properly fitted crate cover, made of a medium weight natural fabric would be perfect. Make sure it’s wipeable or cleanable, and you’ll be good to go. 

14 – What Does A Puppy Crate Need?

Puppy crates need a bed, and a puppy. Provided you’re sticking to the golden rules of crate training, puppy crates do not need to be equipped with a water bowl, or food bowl because puppy should not need to be in there for any length of time that would make this a necessity.

I would, however, put in a cuddly toy, and you may consider a heartbeat toy to help puppy settle. You may also wish to include the blanket your breeder may have given you that the litter and their mother slept on, and you may wish to include a dirty old t-shirt that smells like you, or the family. These things will help puppy relax.

Oh! And maybe a safe chew? So that if they wake in the middle of the night, there’s something appropriate to chew on that might buy you five more minutes of sleep.  

15 – What Should I Put In My Puppy’s Crate Overnight?

When the mission is to help puppy sleep for longer periods of time, I avoid putting in water or food, I would advise against puppy pads too, by the way. But considering things like 

  • A heartbeat toy
  • A blanket from mother & littermates
  • A tshirt that smells of you or a family member.
  • A safe chew!

All of these may come in handy and encourage puppy to settle nicely. 

two kids and their mastiff puppy, there's something enchanting about a wrinky puppy, don't you think?!
two kids and their mastiff puppy, there’s something enchanting about a wrinky puppy, don’t you think?!

16 – What Do I Do When My Puppy Hates The Crate?

Try upping the ante on your crate training, try and craft a positive association, and let puppy do things at their own pace – also ensure the placement of your puppy’s crate is correct. You could always opt to bring them closer, or move closer to puppy also.

It’s often the case that puppy hates their crate because they feel confined. It’s important they know we will listen to their panic and their fears, so make sure to support them. 

It may also be that the crate is too small or that the crate is not comfortable. 

17 – When Should I Crate My Puppy?

Ideally your breeder should have started this process, but you can start from day one, or as an adult. Crate training is something all dogs should have to be:

  • So puppy might be relaxed on visits to the groomer
  • So puppy can be relaxed on stays within the vets
  • So puppy will be equipped for accidents where a vet might recommend to restrict movement.
  • So puppy can be transported responsibly and safely in a car, or pet professionals vehicle.
  • So puppy can be transported over seas, in a plane if necessary
  • Or in case of natural disaster when the only way emergency services will transport them is within a crate (absolutely imperative if you live in flood zones, forest fire areas or hurricane zones etc).

18 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Cries In the Crate At Night?

This depends on whether you can fathom the cause of the crying. For example, around 4 months of age is when the teething phase actually hits, and puppies are known to be a lot more whiney at this stage of development because they’re in pain. Totally understandable. 

On this instance, you may wish to go tend to puppy’s needs. 

However, I would strongly suggest that you figure the reasons for crying out, and if you don’t know? Take them out to the bathroom and pop them back in their crate to settle down. This will make it so that you can (hopefully!) feel like puppy is asking you to get up for a reason.

If, however, they’re getting into too much of a routine, and you actually are certain that puppy can go longer than they are for a bathroom break. You can practice a time creep. Move the normal routine time by five or ten minutes. And as puppy night after night begins to settle you can begin to keep moving it back by short periods every night and slowly, you’ll get your sleeping routine back.

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19 – When Should I Increase The Space In My Puppy’s Crate?

When toilet training, it’s sometimes a good option to restrict the space within the crate so that puppy can’t have an accident in one part and then sleep in the other – the crate should still be a comfortable size.

Puppy should have space to move, turn, sit, lay down and stretch out – this should always be the case. If puppy is growing (which they do at an alarming rate!) shift the divider back so that puppy has a little more room. This could also be a reason your pup dislikes their crate! 

20 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Pees In The Crate?

Clean it up ASAP. Give the tray a rinse down, dry it off, and pop it back (This is why in our puppy starter checklist we recommend you keep an abundance of paper towels!). Don’t let puppy sit it in, and whatever you do, don’t believe the old myth that rubbing their nose in it will make them stop. It doesn’t. It’s just gross! 

Check that puppy doesn’t have any more in the tank to a visit outside (yes, even if it’s cold) and settle puppy back down for their sleep.

Take it as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourself if you missed any cues or signals from your puppy that might have meant they needed to go outside, is there a pattern building? How long was it since their last toilet trip? Was it reasonable that they needed to go at this stage and how can you prevent it in the future?

Are your expectations too high? Did you leap the amount of time between toilet breaks too quickly for puppy’s developing insides? Maybe review your routine and take it back a step and decrease the increments between their previous success and this minor failure.

21 – What Should I Do When My Puppy Poops In The Crate

Much like above? Don’t punish them. 

If a mistake has happened, take a moment, clean it up, (poo bags are really useful here!) bag it, tie it, and drop it in the bin. Clean it up, take puppy out to the bathroom (incase the job isn’t finished!) and let puppy get back to their nights sleep. 

Consider the consistency of the poop too. Is it loose, soft and formless? Is it more akin to liquid than solid (these are fun to clean off of crate trays, I know, this is what hoses are for!) if so, your puppy might have a bought of diarrhea, which is something that means all bets are off for the day or night, take them out as often as possible to get them to go outdoors and not in their bed.

Ensure they’re drinking plenty of fluids like water, goats milk (not pasturised cows milk!) or bone broth to ensure they’re not getting dehydrated. And if they’re starting to look wobbly? A vet could be your best bet.

It could also be that you may have left your puppy in their crate too long if it’s day time, so maybe its time to play, train, go for a walk, or resume your normal routine and maybe review how long they’re crate time should be.

Border Collie puppy learning toilet training a slightly different way... but hey! If that's what you want?

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22 – Where Should I Put My Puppy’s Crate?

This one is a big question! And it’s one I’ve answered over in Where Is The Best Place For Puppy’s Crate? Hopefully that will answer your questions! 

23 – Where Should I Put My Puppy’s Crate At Night?

Where Is The Best Place For Puppy’s Crate? Should help you assess your options for puppy! 

24 – Where Can I Buy A Crate For My Puppy?

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are a few options! A crate for home can be found on Amazon, or even facebook marketplace if you’re happy to go second hand (just make sure to give it a thorough scrub and sanitise!) a crate for your vehicle can be custom made in places like Barjo, or premade in places like Gunner, you may even want to consider a plastic crate for transport, or a custom wooden one if flying and puppy is going in the hold, or a fabric one, if puppy is lucky enough to go in the cabin and is small enough to get away as hand luggage. Get’s a little complicated, doesn’t it? 

Generally, I’d think you’re looking for one you can use in the home, so I’m a big fan of the Midwest iCrate 

25 – Which Puppy Crate Should I Use

This depends on it’s use! Here’s a few recommendations for each sort of crate (these are a work in progress! So please feel free to let me know!)

Fabric CrateJESPET Soft Dog Crate 
Wire CrateMidwest iCrate 
Heavy Duty CrateSmonter Heavy Duty Crate 
Impact CrateGunner (link pending)
Plastic Crate( Looking For Recommendations! )
Wooden Crate( Looking For Recommendations! )
Furniture Crate( Looking For Recommendations! )
Rebarkable Recommends! These are affilliate links, but I’ve either tried it, or know people I trust who have! So they’re good to go. And rest assured, you’re not being charged extra – I just get a little for introducing you to these wonderful products – because let’s face it none of mine are fitting in a fabric crate!
(Our affiliate disclosure can be found here)

26 – When Should I Use A Crate For My Puppy?

Easiest way I can do this as a list: 

  • When toilet training
  • When you cannot watch puppy for a short amount of time
  • For puppy’s naps
  • For puppy’s safe space
  • For puppy’s desensitisation towards veterinary stay
  • For emergency procedures
  • Upon veterinary advance
  • As a space away from family or a busy household (such as within a day care environment or home board)
  • To contain a puppy for transport (be this in a car, or other vehicle)
  • For emergency responders
A quick demonstration of how to get your pup to love their crate! Featuring our own girl, Shelby! She’s a cutie huh? Give us a subscribe and a follow and a like or whatever! We appreciate the love!

27 – How Should I Use My Puppy’s Crate?

A wonderful subject to look into! And the best thing I can do is to refer you to our Golden Rules of Crate Training which very much runs you through how it should and shouldn’t be used.

28 – Why Should I Use A Crate For My Puppy?

This one is a fun one. But, if you don’t want to use a crate for toilet training – that is entirely up to you! Management is entirely feasible for this! However, I believe it’s prudent to include the training as a part of your puppy’s life. Why? Because a crate will likely be something they need to be in at some point in their life. 

29 – Why Does My Puppy Lick The Crate?

Licking is soothing for puppy, so this may be puppy looking for a way to relax themselves. It also might be the case that puppy can find treat remnants on the crate. It may also be an attention seeking behaviour if you tend to engage with them which can act as a reinforcer. If it’s doing no harm? I would simply let puppy do it. 

30 – Why Is My Puppy Chewing The Crate?

This might be for a few reasons! 

1 – An attention seeking behaviour in some instances 
2 – it can be a sign of distress. 
3 – Depending on their age, they also may be teething! 

cute bully puppy in their crate and ready for some Z's! Napping time is here, and golden rules were definitely followed
cute bully puppy in their crate and ready for some Z’s! Napping time is here, and golden rules were definitely followed

31 – Is Crate Training Good For Puppies?

It most certainly can be! It’s something that a lot of puppies can find incredibly reassuring. Others, can find it stressful. It’s all about what you and puppy find are the best for you. 

32 – Which Is Better A Crate Or A PlayPen?

Good question! My answer comes in three parts.

The first is whilst you’re toilet training? I would limit to a crate.

Between this stage and freedom, I actually advocate a mix of both! A play pen attached to a crate can give puppy some freedom to move around and some amount of responsibility – whilst keeping them out of danger!

Then, in theory they’re toilet training and responsible and then you can start un-crate training them and getting them to be a responsible family member day and night!
So, the short answer? It depends on puppy’s development.

33 – What is a Good Crate Training Schedule?

This one would be a great idea to balance this in accordance to your puppy’s ability to hold their bladder and your needs day to day. (This will become a post at some point soon!)

34 – My Puppy Is Toilet Trained, But Pees Or Poops In Their Crate When I Leave, What’s Up With That?

This can be symptomatic of Seperation Anxiety. If you suspect this might be the case, the first thing I would recommend is to grab a camera (you can improvise with a laptop or phone!) and watch to see other things that might be associated with Seperation Anxiety, such as stress, whining, chewing their bed or similar. 

puppy in a bed that seems to have been destroyed...
puppy in a bed that seems to have been destroyed… whilst it may have exploded spontaneously (and puppy is lucky to be alive!) this could also be separation anxiety.

35 – Why Does My Puppy Keeps Chewing or Destroying Their Bed When I Leave?

This can be symptomatic of Seperation Anxiety. If you suspect this might be the case, the first thing I would recommend is to grab a camera (you can improvise with a laptop or phone!) and watch to see other things that might be associated with Seperation Anxiety, such as stress, whining or barking, shaking or similar. 

Any Other Questions? 

No? Well good! I’m hoping this gives you a little more insight into your puppy’s needs, and how best to satisfy them. This phase of learning comes (normally!) when puppy just gets home – so, it does tend to become a little bit perplexing. 

If you are struggling, remember that the puppy blues is real and sometimes the best thing you can do is involve a professional (whether that’s a therapist, a samaritan or a dog trainer or walker). This might be a great plan for you. 

A Good Dog Can Be Achieved

Puppyhood is wonderful, and stressful, but the good news is, is that you can have a good dog if you put the work in. 

If you need guidance on that? Our pupdates are fantastically suited for you. They’ll give you development information that is critical to your success, and information on expectations you can hold at your puppy’s age, and guide you through how to get the best out of them as they develop, grow and change. That information comes to you every week, and sets you and puppy up for success for the rest of your lives together. 

I’m making it easier for you. Take the easier path. 

small jack russell terrier sleeping on his parents chest on the sofa, napping together is great, but it doesn't mean you can't crate train!

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2 Comments

  1. Karen Rhodes

    Wow, what a really informative blog! I think you have covered everything.
    Thanks so much, I’ll definitely be sharing.

    Reply
    • Ali Smith

      Ah, thanks Karen! I’m hoping it helps a lot of people!

      Reply

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