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Crate Training 101

How to start

Crate training your dog may take some effort, but in our kennel it has proven to be useful in many situations.

First and the obvious part it will keep the puppy (or a dog) safe when you do not have eyes on him. There are a lot of bad situations a dog can get himself into when alone, a crate or a play pen can be used to limit his access to the house until he learns all the house rules. Crate is also important if you wish to travel with your dog; not only during the car ride, but also for hotel stays.

Basic Info

Not a prison

Crate is NOT a prison for your dog. It should be their happy place. But to achieve that, the owner must be rid of all the negative thoughts when it comes to crate training.

Not a quick fix

Crate training will not happen overnight. It can take months before your dog is fully crate trained. 


They can be collapsible (usually wire), or aluminium / plastic. We (of course) have all types (as expected, I guess).

pros: Cheap. Handy for travel, or dog shows. It is easy to carry around and to set up, and collapse later on.

cons: They are not “fixed”, dogs can get stuck in it if trying to escape. Some dogs even chew the wire. Also, they make funny sounds if the dog moves around (but there are hacks around this). Dogs sometimes dislike them cause they are “open”, so you need to cover them with a blanket to create a “den-like” experience.

pros: Makes a good “house” and “travel” crate. Can be stacked, one on top of another.  Fairly sturdy. Easy to clean. Does not need “extra” decoration to make the dog feel good inside.

cons: Hard to store when not in use. Depending on the price range sometimes made of cheap plastic and easy to break.

pros: Cheap. Fantastic as part time rate on dog shows. It is easy to carry around and to set up, and collapse. They are already den like, so dogs usually like them. 

cons: They are soft, easy to tear. Should be used only for dogs that are already crate trained, and not prone to chewing the crates up. 

pros: The best “travel” crate. Can be stacked, one on top of another.  Very sturdy. Easy to clean. Does not need “extra” decoration to make the dog feel good inside.

cons: Expensive. Hard to store when not in use.

pros: Custom made. Made to measure. They fit your interior perfectly. 

cons: Expensive. Designed only as a permanent household item.

Size wise, the crate must be tall enough so a dog can stand with his head upright. Wide / long enough so a dog can turn without problems.

Introducing the crate

Once you bought the crate, and brought it into your home, it is time to select the best place for it.

Dogs like to be close to their humans, so keep that in mind. But also, the place you choose must be somewhat secluded, so the dog can rest in the crate.

The best choice might be a family room. Install the crate in a corner. If you chose to go with a wire crate, put a blanket over it, and a soft cushion inside. Fill up with dogs toys. Open the gate and leave it open. Let the dog (or a puppy) in the room, but pay no notice to the crate. DO NOT STUFF THE DOG INSIDE! Stay calm and take your time. 

Once the dog starts to take notice of the crate you can encourage him to enter. Drop his favourite toys to the crate, or some food. Make this to be a fun game. Getting the dog to enter the crate can take anything from a few minutes to several days.

Positive association rules

One of the best tricks to make your dog love his crate is giving the dog something to gnaw on, when inside.  It can be a strong rubber toy filled with goodies, or in our house, a nice big raw bone. (Do not leave your dog unattended).

Another thing is to feed your dog his meals inside the crate. The goal is to put the food dish all the way at the back of the crate and to get the dog staying in the crate comfortably. Once you achieve that, you can start closing the door while he eats. Next phase is to keep him in for 1, 2, 3 and more minutes even after he has finished his meal.

After you get our dog to stay calmly in the crate after the meal, you can move on to the next step.

Coditional Crating

Call the dog over to the crate and give him a treat. Choose a command you will use when you wish him to enter the crate. Encourage him to enter the crate using a treat. After the dog enters the crate, praise him, give him another treat, or his favourite toy and close the door. This might be a good time to consider having high value treats and toys you will use only to crate train. 

Repeat this process a few times a day, each time for a few minutes more (if the dog is okay with it). Once you reach 30 min of calm crate time – the dog is ready to stay crated while you pop out to the store. 

While your dog is in the crate, behave the same as you do when he is not. Do not sit by him, pet him, talk to him. Do your household chores as you would normally do. At first, in the same room where the crate is, and later in the rest of the house. 

Crate Training Problems

Often enough, you can read people offering the crate as some kind of magical solution. But, it is not. As all other situations with dogs, crate training too takes time and must be done correctly. Never use a crate as a punishment for your dog. Never leave the dog to sit in it for hours, with nothing to do. A dog can not be crated whole day, then again whole night. You need to address the dogs physical, but also emotional needs. Do not crate puppies for a long period of time, they can not control their bladder for too long (if you need to leave a puppy alone, consider adding a playpen to the crate). 

If your dog whines or cries at night, it may be hard to tell if he’s whining to be let out of the crate, or whether he needs to go out. If a puppy, make sure to take him out just before you go to sleep. You must realise you will need to get up at night until he can hold it till morning. Yelling at the dog and pounding on the crate will never help. 

If the dog whines for several minutes, try to ignore it. If it continues, take him outside

If the whining continues after this, he is asking to be let out of the cage. Do not give in, if you do you will only teach him to cry out loud when he wants something. Put him back and hope for the best. If you took the time to correctly crate train, night should not be the problem, If this continues, go back to basics. 

When to Start?

We start as soon as possible. Our pups see crates as a part of our household, and do not pay much attention to them. We use plastic crates to go to the vets, to go to our weeknd cottage and so on. Crates are simply a part of their life, so when the time comes for a puppy to travel to his new home – crate is not a stressor, but his home away from home. 

When training, or leaving the dog in the crate do not leave food to nibble on, or water to drink. This will only make the process more difficult, as the pups will need to go out after eating and drinking.

Need more info?

If you have a RnR puppy, it is safe to assume your puppy has left our kennel crate trained. But, in case you need info on crating, do not hesitate to contact us. 

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