Crate Training Puppies – 14 Useful Tips

In theory crate training puppies sounds simple.  A quick note: I often use the term crate and kennel interchangeably throughout this article.

Crate Training Theory: Your puppy does not want to poop or pee in the place he sleeps…put him in his crate (make sure it’s not too big or he’ll pee/poop on one side and sleep on the other) and he won’t poop or pee (unless he really has to). I wrote this article on How To Crate Train Your Puppy In 5 Easy Steps. Of course it’s not always easy to crate train your puppy.

Not long ago I received an email asking me for hints on how to get a new puppy from crying, howling, barking in his kennel during the night. I’ve actually received many emails asking me for similar advice.

Today, I compiled a list of all the tricks and hints I’ve tried with my puppies or heard have worked with other puppies. If you’re a regular reader on my blog then you’ll know that two out of my last three puppies did not enjoy the kennel and barked, howled, and cried throughout the night during their early days. If this is your first night at home with your puppy you also might want to take a look at this article: how to handle your puppies first night at home.

Crate Training Puppies – 14 Useful Tips

Every puppy is different. Some have no problems with their kennel while others (as you know) have a difficult time adjusting to the kennel. To answer your questions: yes, you do need to just leave him in the kennel and yes, expect to be woken up 3-4 times a night during the first week or two. Try to do your best to stick with your puppy and be consistent with his training. Every time you take him out of the kennel and reward him for whining by letting him sleep on the bed he’s learning that whining will get him what he wants.

Puppies are difficult to raise. It definitely takes a commitment. It can take a couple days for him to get used to the crate all the way up to a couple months.

Here are some suggestions you can try that might help you:

  1. If he’s crying you should try taking him out to see if he has to go potty. After you take him out bring him straight back to the crate.
  2. Cut off his water and food at least an hour and half before bed time. That way he won’t wake up as many times in the middle of the night.
  3. Try playing with him a lot before bedtime to tire him out.
  4. If it’s a wire crate try enclosing it by putting a sheet over it.
  5. If the crate’s not near your bed try putting it near your bed where he can see you.
  6. Try sleeping on the floor next to the crate.
  7. Feed him all his meals in his crate.
  8. Put some snuggly toys in the crate to keep him company.
  9. During the day when he takes a nap move him to the crate. You can try this with the door open or closed.
  10. Try leaving the door open but lying down across the doorway of the crate as if to nap with him, to make him feel more comfortable in the crate, and at the same time make my body block the doorway.
  11. If he’s in the crate and he’s not crying give him lots of praise.
  12. Try the heart beat toy. I’ve heard of a toy that simulates the mom’s heartbeat that helps the puppy sleep. Try this toy: Petstages Heartbeat Pillow
  13. Try the heated toy. I’ve also heard of a toy that has a thing on the inside that you can warm on the inside and insert in the toy. Makes the puppy feel like he’s with one of his litter mates. Try this toy: Pet Stages Warming Soother
  14. The one that worked for me and Stetson – I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate. The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent tell he stopped). To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.

By the way, if you leave anything in the crate with your puppy make sure he doesn’t start eating or chewing on anything that may be harmful to him.

Try to be consistent with your puppy. Try not to take him out of the crate unless he stops whining even if just for an instant.

One last tip: If you’re lucky enough to pick your puppy out of a litter be sure and bring a plush toy with you and rub it all over his litter mates. Then when you get home and it’s time for bed put the toy in the crate with your puppy. The scent of the litter will make him feel more at home and give him the feeling that he’s sleeping with one of his litter mates.

Best of luck with your puppy. Let me know if any of the above suggestions work for you.

What do you do when crate training puppies?

Comments

  1. justin says

    I just purchased an 8 week old siberian husky and have been having all the fun your articles said i would be(insert sarcasm). You were dead on in the other article on stetson about expect to be up 3-4 times a night and no more than 6 hours of sleep. Im beginning to think ill never sleep thru the night again!! Boy oh boy oh boy does he whine and howl in the crate!!!

    He turned 9 weeks today and has SLIGHTLY progressed with the whining and howling to get out of the crate so maybe what we are doing is working. Any tips you can add as far as when he really needs to relieve himself or if hes just being sneaky to get out of the crate?

    How long in between bathroom breaks age wise should he be going? Please help a very sleep exhausted siberian owner!!!!

    • says

      @Justin sorry for the late response and congratulations on your new puppy. It sounds like you’re new pup is related to Stetson. It can be difficult to know whether you’re puppy is crying because he has to potty or if he just wants out. The times I always take my puppy out are after meal times, after play times, before I put him in his crate, and as soon as he wakes up. Usually any time my puppy wakes up in the middle of the night I will take him outside, have him potty, and bring him directly back to his crate. Here’s how things worked with Stetson:

      1. Take him out to potty
      2. Put him in his crate for bed time
      3. He cries, howls, barks for 10-20 minutes while I talk him to sleep
      4. He sleeps for 2 hours
      5. Wakes up in the middle of the night crying.
      6. I get him to stop crying for a few seconds then let him out of his crate
      7. Take him out to his potty spot and let him potty.
      8. Bring him directly back to his crate
      9. He cries, howls, barks for 10-20 minutes while I talk him to sleep

      That was basically the cycle with Stetson and he did that for approximately 4 weeks. The 2 other puppies I trained as guide dogs only woke up once or twice the first few nights and then everything was fine.

      Hopefully your Siberian Husky is doing better today then he was doing last week. We bring our puppies home at around 7 weeks of age and like I said after a few nights with 2 out of 3 puppies they were sleeping throughout the night. I hope this all helps. Best of luck with your new puppy!

  2. says

    Great tip on the toy and the litter mates. I wouldn’t consider Chester and Gretel “crate trained” as we only put them in it when we are gone during the day. They aren’t fond of it but they tolerate it. To Get Gretel to be ok I put a Kong with treats in the crate right before we walk out the door. She is super food motivated and by the time she is done we are gone and she is fine.

    • says

      Hi Jessica,

      We heard the tip on the toys and litter mates right before we brought home our first guide dog puppy, Stetson. At least you have a good system for using your crates with Chester and Gretel.

      Take care,
      Colby

  3. Norma says

    Hello Colby, I wrote to you before and you so helped me. I have the 2 three yr old Peekapoo dogs, I have only had them a month now.
    They are potty trained but when I bring them in i give them a treat for being good girls. But They don’t eat hardly any dog food, I have tried different brands and even a can dog food but they just look/smell it and don’t eat it. Any ideas on what I should do for this? Do dogs need vitamins? They are sweet lovable dogs. I don’t know if they were crate trained before, at 3 yrs old can they be trained to stay in the crate? Thank you for your help wonderful site you have to help all us new dog owners!Norma

    • says

      Hi Norma,

      My dog Linus is not real big on eating too. I would check with your vet to see what kind of food your pups might be more likely to eat. I don’t know if you want to go this far, but I have friends who cook up food for their pups meals everyday. They do have vitamins for dogs, but again this is something you should discuss with your vet.

      You can crate train older dogs if you’d like it would be pretty much the same as crate training a puppy. Here’s are article on crate training puppies: http://puppyinraining.com/crate-training-puppies/

      Good luck with training!
      Colby

  4. Sylvia Zareva says

    Dear Colby,

    Thank you for all the great information, which my husband and I turn to frequently for advice as we try to get adjusted to our new labrador pup, Chicha.

    We brought her home two days ago, at just over 8 weeks old, and so far she is proving to be a very mild-tempered little girl. She is showing almost no signs of separation anxiety and we want to do the “right things” to make sure she stays a happy, composed dog.

    We live in an apartment and are committed to crate-training, and it’s lucky she seems to like her crate so far. She takes all her naps there during the day. She doesn’t seem to mind being crated at night either, but she seems to have a super immature bladder and needs to be let out almost every 1 1/2 to 2 hours to wee or do number two. After two draining nights (literally, my husband and I are like zombies and we have a toddler to take care of as well), we are wondering if we shouldn’t give those potty pads a try for a couple of weeks until her bladder control gets better, meaning letting her toilet inside during the night and making sure she doesn’t have any accidents during the day.

    My question is: will it be more difficult to crate-train after she’s had free rein of the kitchen at night for so long?

    Thank you so much!

    • says

      Congratulations on your new puppy! If you’re planning on crate training your puppy I would consider continuing forward using the crate. Will it be more difficult to crate train her after she’s had free rein of the kitchen? It might because over time she will be comfortable sleeping in the kitchen. However, you will still be able to crate train her even if you decide to let her sleep in the kitchen for a period of time.

      In my experience most puppies take between a few days and a week to get used to sleeping through the night in their crate. Your puppy may just be going through this adjustment period. We’ve also had puppies who’ve had bladder infections and had to go out very frequently.

      Good luck with your training!

  5. Ashley says

    Hello, I just brought home my Siberian husky puppy on Sunday and he is about 9 weeks old and absolutely hates his crate. What I starred to do last night was leaving his crate open and every time he left it, I pointed and said “bed” then he went back in. This worked for a while, but then he wouldn’t go back in. He ended up falling asleep on the couch and I moved him into the crate, leaving the door open.every time I catch him trying to sleep I move him to his crate. I guess my question is will this work eventually? I am currently sleeping on the couch until he can atleast stay in his cage while sleeping even if it’s with the door open (were still working on potty training) It’s only been a few days but I’m about I tear my hair out.
    I have another problem, I have to crate him while I’m away from the apartment, I have tried giving him treats, before leaving but no matter what I have tried he destroys his cage. I try to come back home every 2 hours ( I’m lucky enough to live beside work) but it just seems like he cries more when I bring him back inside after coming home and letting him out. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Ashley,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! You should try and associate as many positive things with the crate as possible like meal time, favorite toys, treats, etc. Also, do not associate anything negative with the crate. Each puppy I’ve raised has been different and has taken anywhere from a few days to about a month to get used to the crate.

      Also, you might consider crating your puppy less during the day. When are puppies are as young as 9 weeks we try not to use the crate more than 2 hours during the day. One thing you might try is getting a friend, family member, neighbor, or pet sitter to help out during the day.

      Good luck with your training!
      Colby

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