Crate training | dog spending time alone

Is crate training necessary for a puppy?

Benefits of crate training, and how to crate train your dog for a beginner

Most first-time dog owners hesitate to use a dog crate. However, most dog trainers don't imagine their lives without using one. Does it mean that dog trainers don't love their dogs and thus put them in the crates? Or maybe dog owners are missing on something?

There are several reasons to use a crate (and some not to). Our team advises you to use a crate, especially with a young puppy. And here are the reasons why.

Imagine having a baby and leaving him or her to sleep. Where would your baby sleep? Always in your lap? In your bed? On the ground? What happens when your baby wakes up? Crawls around? What if your child eats something off the ground? What if…?

People have no problem putting their children in cribs. However, somehow, we have a problem placing our dogs in crates as they resemble a jail. Well, if you train your pup properly, that shouldn't be a problem.

The crate itself has no meaning to our pups until they have their very first contact with it. Although crates are made of metal and they do look like a place of imprisonment, it's not the way our dogs think about them. If taught properly, a crate is a safe place. Just like our room is a safe place for us.

A crate is used mostly to keep our dogs safe. While being crated, they cannot chew cables, swallow a sock found under a bed, they are not encouraged to run around and urinate and defecate on the furniture. A crate helps both to provide a safe space for our pets as this way there is no possibility to injure themselves. Also, at the same time, a crate works as a prevention of unwanted habits, such as chewing furniture or sleeping on a bed. It's like leaving a child in her room to play safely – with toys inside and with all cables hidden and sockets covered.

Dogs love crates because they feel safe inside. Nobody can come inside, and nobody can disturb their rest time. A crate is a safe place to leave her toys, a chewy bone, and her favorite blanket. It's like having a private room which is possible to carry around and take on a trip to a hotel or while visiting friends. Also, a crate is a good place to relax during dog shows or any other dog sports competition. Imagine always being able to sleep in your bed – that's the opportunity a crate gives to our dog.

The main problem is that most people start wrong with the crate training. They simply put their pups in a crate and hope they cope up with it somehow. Then their puppies start whining and trying to escape. In a week, a puppy hates her crate, and the owner thinks that there's no way of using this box of torture again.

Using a crate helps in so many ways while raising a puppy, so you should give it a try. Use it from the very first day of your pup in her new home. At first, simply put her food and toys inside, so she's encouraged to go in and sniff around. Don't close the door yet. Let her go there on her own. If she hesitates, give her more time and place something tasty inside.

When your pup falls asleep, take her to a crate. Little by little she'll understand that being crated is relaxing.

Give her something to sniff or chew and place her in a crate. Close the door for a second, walk around the room and open it again. Your pup should not even notice that the door is closed. Step by step you will be able to increase the time of the doors being closed. Sometimes close her in the gate and walk around your room, sometimes go out through the door. Occasionally simply stay in the same room, and sometimes go through your exterior door. The main idea of getting used your pup to the crate is that she doesn't associate being crated with you leaving her alone. This is the way it's useful to vary the schedule of her being crated and you leaving her alone. 

Most owners wonder how much time their pups should stay in a crate. There's no strict rule about that, but we usually recommend leaving a pup alone depending on her age in months. If your pup is 3 months old, then she should be able to stay crated for 3-4 hours in a row. If she's 4 months old, 4-5 hours is a maximum. In general, we try not to leave our adult dogs crated for more than 8 hours in a row and not more than 4 hours speaking about puppies. Make sure to exercise your pup (and later, an adult dog) enough. A crate shouldn't become an excuse for walking your dog. It's only a tool to teach her how to stay alone calmly and not to chew everything around.

When the teething period is finished (around 6 months of age), a crate might be not necessary as your pup won't have a temptation to chew everything she finds around. However, most dogs by that age already love their crates and choose to sleep inside even if the doors are open, so many owners decide to keep a crate. Also, it's a safe spot for a dog to relax if you have people coming over, especially if there are young children around.

To make crate training easier for new dog parents, we’ve made a 28-Day training program 'Crate Time, Pup’ that you can follow at home. It guides you step-by-step throughout the process so even a beginner dog parent could successfully complete it. Become a member at Wiglo to get instant access to ‘Crate Time, Pup’ training program, as well as other 10+ programs (over 200 daily lessons in total) for improving dog behavior one day at a time.