Tag Archives: crate training

Crate training is always a good thing

Crate training is just about the best thing you can teach your dog.

We know many people resist the idea. And if you truly hate the concept for daily use – you should still train your dog to be comfortable and not stressed while confined to a crate or cage.

Crate training for safety

Today, as I (Hope) write, I’m sitting in my kitchen at home, waiting while our new hot water heater is installed. After 25 years, the old water heater gave up the ghost on Saturday. Today, Tuesday, it’s taking a few hours to get the new one installed with the new gas and water piping. The installer is in and out of the house – getting his soldering iron, more pipes, the right tools – all the stuff that normally happens during a repair.

And our dogs? Safe and comfy in their crates in another room. Where they always are when we have workers in the house. 

French Bulldog crate training

Are our dogs friendly? Yes, they are! Do they want to see the workers? Yes, they’d love to “help” with the installation. Would they be of help? Absolutely not! 

They’re safely out of the way while the door opens and closes, people are in and out, up and down. I don’t have to worry about them escaping, getting in the way, going into parts of the basement where they don’t belong.

Having your dogs safely out of the work zone is just one of the many reasons we’re fans of crate training. 

Comfy wherever

What if you’re having guests at your home? What if someone is afraid of dogs? Most of your friends probably love dogs as much as you do, but you can’t choose your relatives. What if you’re hosting a family gathering where dogs aren’t welcome? It could happen. 

Eventually all dogs will probably have to be crated – either at the animal hospital, boarding facility, or even a grooming salon. Minimizing stress for our dogs in any of these stressful situations is our goal. If they’re accustomed to being in a crate, if they know they’re in a safe place, their stress should be lessened.

What if you’re visiting out-of-town family? And your dog doesn’t get along with theirs? Or they’re not crazy about letting your dog have full access to their house? Even if you’re staying at a hotel. Many allow dogs these days – but only if they’re confined to crates when you’re not in the room. Even if you just go out to grab some take-out, your dog must be crated.

We’re also big fans of crating our dogs in our vehicles. A friend of ours was t-boned on a major Chicago expressway, going 55 mph. Her vehicle was totaled. She and her dogs, safely crated in the back, were fine. 

Learning to love the crate

What if your dog hates the crate? You can turn that around. It won’t happen overnight, but you can gradually change your dog’s attitude toward the crate.

As a first step, especially if your dog’s a chow hound, feed your dog in the crate. Regular meals, at regular meal time. Don’t make a big deal about it, just place the bowl in the crate and say whatever you normally do when you give your dog his/her meal. Don’t close the crate door – your dog should be free to come and go as normal. 

Give your dog a special treat that he only gets in the crate. When our dogs see their “stuffing toys” come out (we load them with treats and a bit of peanut butter), they all dash for their crates.

Leave the crate out where it’s part of everyday life. If you have a comfy cushion in there, and leave the door open, you may find your dog using it as a great spot to relax, be with the family, but out of the way. Many dogs choose their crates as resting spots. It becomes your dog’s “room.” Dogs even will gather their favorite toys and bones and “hoard” them in their crates.

Don’t shut the door on crate training. Keep your dog accustomed to the crate throughout his/her life. You may not need it for any of these situations, but if you do, it’s peace of mind knowing your dog’s okay in his crate.

Frequently asked questions

My dog’s housebroken – why should I crate him?

You don’t necessarily have to crate your dog regularly, but he should be comfortable in a crate. If he ever needs to be hospitalized, or visit a groomer, he will spend time in a crate or cage. If he’s familiar with being crated, it will minimize anxiety in a stressful situation.

Isn’t it mean to cage your dog?

Not at all! The cage or crate can have a comfy bed inside, and your dog can certainly have a chew toy in it. Many, if not most dogs, enjoy being snuggled in a secure place. There is a theory that, since dogs are descended from wolves, who are den animals, that they actually feel safer in their own “dens.”

Why is a crate better than confining my dog to the kitchen?

Think of all the ways your dog can get in trouble in the kitchen. We personally know someone whose dog jumped up on the stove, accidentally turned it on, and the house burned down. (Firefighters did save the dog.) Think of all the cords your dog can chew on. The cabinets he could figure out how to open. And all the poisons stored under the sink. The kitchen floor may be easy to clean, but the room isn’t a safe place for your dog.

In Defense of Crate Training

I don’t want to argue with you.
Crate train your dog.
I don’t care if he/she is already housebroken.
I don’t care if he/she isn’t destructive while you’re gone.
I don’t care if he/she hates, loathes, and despises the crate.
Do it anyway.

It’s a discussion we often have here in the shop and we hope we’ve given some people reason to reconsider their decisions to discard their dogs’ crates.

Everybody has “stuff” – jobs, school, appointments, social commitments, etc. Much as we’d like to, we can’t be with our dogs all day every day. Which means our dogs have the opportunity to get in all kinds of trouble. Which they don’t, because they’re crated.

For the sake of argument, we’ll say that your dog is a perfect angel when you’re not there. He/she never eliminates in the house, never chews anything he/she shouldn’t, doesn’t bark all day, and never, ever puts a foot wrong.

You still need to train your dog to be comfortable in a crate.

Why, you ask? Because there will probably be a time when your dog, for whatever reason, needs to be crated – in the animal hospital, in a boarding facility, at the groomers. And if you ever want to join our community of dog-performance people, your dog will most likely be crated at obedience, rally, and agility trials. If your dog is relaxed, and calm, familiar with a crate, it will make his/her life much easier. And yours.

Crate training can even help with separation anxiety. If you teach your dog to love his/her crate, then it’s a familiar, comfortable place when you’re away.

We’re not saying that crates have to be empty, stark, dark, places. It can be the Taj Mahal of crates, with cushy bedding and comfy, soft towels to lie on. It’s your dog’s “room” and should be a happy place, not a punishment. And it should be the best place (aside from at your side) ever, ever, ever!

The first step is to dig out that crate from storage. Clean it up and put in a nice, soft bed (or whatever cushion your dog likes). Keep it in the active part of the house – not the laundry room, mud room, or basement. It should be where you are. And start “adding value” to the crate. Leave the door open at first, all the time.

Feed your dog in the crate. Every meal. All the time. Especially if your dog loves to eat.
Play with your dog using the crate. Throw in a toy and tell your dog to “get it.”
Stand by the crate, with the door open, armed with a bunch of tasty treats. If your dog goes in the crate, give him/her a treat. And keep giving treats, as long as he/she stays in. As soon as your pup comes out, stop giving treats. Dogs learn quickly. Yours will soon discover that crate can be a wonderful place to be.

French Bulldog crate training

Dog Tips Tuesday – Crate Train for comfort


Some people resist training crate training their dogs. And, if your dog is housebroken and you’re comfortable leaving him/her loose in the house when you’re away, that’s fine.

But there is value in teaching your dog to be comfortable in a crate. If he/she ever needs to be hospitalized, lack of familiarity with a cage would be another source of stress in an already stressful situation.

Likewise, if you board your dog when you go out of town, chances are the boarding facility, whether a veterinarian’s office, a boarding kennel, or even a private home, will use crates to keep the dogs in their care safe – especially at night.

Crates/cages should be big enough for your dog to comfortably stand, turn around, sit, and lie down and one of the easiest ways to get your dog to love his/her crate is to feed all meals inside, with the door open at first.

Dogs are not, by nature, at all claustrophobic. Wild canids are den animals – they like being in a small, secure space.


Pick your dog-training battles

His crate is so comfy that Teddy chooses it to relax.

His crate is so comfy that Teddy chooses it to relax.

I freely admit I’m a crazy dog lady. I may not have a lot of dogs (only two), but when you sum up my life (own a dog-supply shop, belong to a dog training club, take dog training classes twice a week), it’s pretty much all about the dogs.

A couple of weeks ago one of the best agility dog trainers in the world (Susan Garrett – Say Yes! dog training) held a webinar that we eagerly awaited. As it turns out, like most best-laid plans, there were technical difficulties and we couldn’t see it live. We did watch the recorded version the next day and got a lot out of it – even after all these years of training.

The best part, for me, was defining the three ways we deal with puppy “naughtiness,” or bad behavior. We either manage it (control the situation so it can’t happen), redirect it (replacing the shoe in your puppy’s mouth with a chew toy), or fix it.

The behaviors that bother us the most are the ones we deal with. There’s an old saying in dog training that “Every dog is trained to its owner’s level of comfort.” If it’s important to you – you deal with it.

One of the behaviors we’ve chosen to manage, rather than “fix,” is begging at the dinner table. Over the years we’ve just chosen not to deal with it. We also can’t/won’t tolerate begging dogs. So we’ve chosen to feed all of our dogs, in their crates, at the same time we eat. Our dogs are in the dining room with us, enjoying their meals as we have ours. When they’re done (in about three seconds flat), they know they’re not going anywhere until we’ve finished our meal – so they relax and take naps while we eat.

It’s made having guests over for dinner a very simple thing. Is it a bit of a cop-out? Maybe. But I think dog training is a lot like raising children – you have to pick your battles. Do you want your teenager to dye her hair blue? Maybe not – but it’s less permanent than that tattoo she was begging for….