Dog Crate and Cage Training

Dog crate - or cage - training can be a relatively easy affair, and any dog of any age can be trained. You will soon find that, once crate trained, your dog will love his new home and will use it as a safe and quiet place of his own.
If possible, you should begin training with a small puppy, and have your puppy sleep and rest in his home. He will soon love the security that the crate brings. A puppy pen can be used in conjunction with the dog cage, and can be an area where the dog can socialise whilst still being in a controlled space. The puppy pen is especially useful whilst your puppy is in the chewing stage.
To begin training, the dog should be actively encouraged to enter the crate, but never force him, and also, never "go over the top" with praise. Just treat it as a natural and obvious place to go.  
Place the dog’s bedding inside the crate, together with a favourite toy, and perhaps a little treat, and leave the crate door open.
Introduce your dog to the dog crate with the minimum of fuss.
Ideally, leave the dog in the room where you have placed the crate or step away and allow exploration. If the dog ignores the cage, place an enticing bone or novelty toy inside and give your dog time and privacy to discover its new ‘den’.
The best period to experiment with the crate is a night time when the dog would be naturally relaxing and ready to rest.
You may also add an item of your old clothing inside the crate (re-scent the item by leaving it in your washing basket for a day) to encourage your dog to explore the unit, and associate it with the loving that you give to it.
Random crating is best to avoid any ‘association’. If your dog is only placed into the crate when exciting events occur (when visitors arrive etc.) it will quickly make an negative association and may become frustrated or distressed.
If your dog shows little sign of entering the dog crate (after several daytime and overnight periods) then it is important that you are firm with the dog and order it to enter. Back your dog into the crate and close the door. Praise the dog, perhaps give it a treat, and then leave the dog alone for a brief period (starting with 3 or 4 mins, working up to 10 / 15 mins) and return. Open the door, praise calmness and allow the dog to exit of its own accord. Repeat this over the day and for the last period of the night.
As with any training - it should be fun for you both. Don't overdo it by long sessions. It is better to have lots of short lessons, and lots of praise and smiles.
The kennel should not be used for punishment as any potential negative association should be avoided. It should be used if you move house, travel, caravan, boat or when taking your dog to other homes or premises so that your dog has a continuity among the change.

Is your dog a bad traveller?

Travel dog crates can help make your pet feel more secure and prevent inappropriate behaviour. The kennel-crates should be covered at the top (purpose made covers are best) and base lined with a favourite blanket or a purpose-sized bed.
The dog crate, or cage,  can also be used to confine your dog overnight or for limited ‘random’ periods whilst the family remains in the house.
Croft kennel-crates are ideal as they are collapsible, and should be chosen to fit into your vehicle. Motoring organisations recommend their use as many dogs are killed each year following auto accidents. In road traffic accidents, where the back of the vehicle opens, the dog can be released onto motorways or busy roads and quickly becomes disorientated. Shaped dog crates are also available to fit many makes of car.
The dog crate must be covered to create the ‘den’ effect, and whilst this can be done with a towel, it is usually better to use a purpose made dog crate cover.

Warnings and Safety Tips

It is important that the owner looks after their dog's safety and care.  
This includes such things as never leaving a dog in a locked car; never allowing your dog to walk off the lead on a public road;safety in the sun, garden etc. It also includes being aware of perhaps less obvious dangers when using some of the products available on this site.
When using mesh / wire products for dogs & puppies.

Do not leave collars on dogs - crate or no crate - in case the disc or buckle get caught.This is equally true of play pens. In general, a dog or puppy should not be left unsupervised whilst wearing a collar - especially one which includes a large buckle or identity disc. Please remember that this advice is given specifically regarding wire products, but it nevertheless holds true in other circumstances - there are many things in a home, garage or garden where your pet can become entangled. Awareness of these will help you as a responsible dog owner.
• Remember that a wire crate and many puppy pens are made of wire mesh and it is possible that your dog may attempt to bite the mesh or push its leg through the wire spacing. If your dog does this, it may get trapped or suffer injury. Please be aware of your responsibility in supervising your dog, especially in early use. Keep your dog relaxed, frequently praise calmness, and be prepared to give special training if necessary.
• Do not allow your dog to stand or play on the mesh top of the dog crate or puppy pen. The product is not designed for this.

 Useful reading:

“Training the Perfect Puppy.” By Andrew de Drisco (click here for more details)

“The Dog Listener”  by Jan Fennell. (Harper Collins)

Family Pet guide series – “Dog”  by Dr. David Sands  (Collins)

Puppy Handbook – The Kennel Club official publication.


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