Crate Training A Puppy Guide


What Is Crate Training A Puppy?

Crate Training a Puppy: What You Need to Know First

Crate Training Cautions

Crates should be a tool in your training, so there are things that you should know to avoid before you get started: 

  • Never use the crate as a punishment. If you place your puppy in the crate when he’s done something wrong, then he will just learn to dislike it and fear it instead of viewing it as his safe space.
  • Don’t leave your dog in a crate too long. Imagine being holed up in your bedroom all day with no freedom to use the bathroom, eat, or walk around. Doing the same to your puppy will only result in fear and accidents, which is why you should be sure only to crate your puppy overnight and have a pet sitter come to let him out during the day. 
  • Puppies under four months shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than four to six hours without further training. Puppies have small bladders, and at such a young age, they’re still learning how to hold them and abide by a regular schedule. 
  • Crate training is a gradual experience. The truth is that your puppy won’t immediately love their crate, which means crate training isn’t just going to happen overnight. The crate training process will be slow at times, but the result is entirely worth it. 
  • Separation anxiety can happen. It’s good to become familiar with the signs of separation anxiety. Pacing, barking, crying, frequent accidents, and destructive acts are significant signs of stress in puppies. You can learn more about separation anxiety in the Commonly Asked Questions section below. 

Selecting the Right Crate

There are three types of crates you can select from when shopping for your puppy: 

  • Wire crates are collapsible and allow for a full, 360-degree view and plenty of airflow. Many pup owners often opt to cover the crate partially so that there is still a semblance of privacy. 
  • Plastic crates are ideal for travel and suitable for a pup’s regular den since they’re durable, sturdy, and easy to clean. Plus, they offer plenty of privacy.
  • Soft-sided crates are soft, collapsible, and can be used efficiently for travel since they are made of mesh and fabric. 

No matter which type you choose for your puppy, size is the most crucial factor. The crate should be large enough for your pup to stand up and turn around. For example, chihuahuas can do well in small crates, while larger dogs like labradors require XX-large crates.

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Some breeds continue growing for up to two years, so you’ll want to invest in a crate that will accommodate their adult size from when they’re a puppy. If you’re unsure of how big your dog will get, then try doing some research based on his breed’s genetics. You could also rent crates and change them out for every stage of your pup’s life.

The Four-Step Guide to Puppy Crate Training


Commonly Asked Questions about Puppy Crate Training

Simply knowing the steps to successful crate training doesn’t mean that you’re left without unanswered questions. Crate training is a crucial part of your puppy’s early life, and basic training can affect the way his temperament develops as he matures. Here, you can find helpful answers and sources to your burning questions about crate training. 

Can You Put a Puppy in a Crate Overnight?

You can put your puppy in his crate overnight. Begin by placing his crate near your bed; this doesn’t have to be a permanent location, but your puppy finds comfort in your presence, so being near you will make for an easier transition. 

“Your puppy will fall asleep when you fall asleep because he’s right there next to you,” says dog trainer Dr. Carolyn Lincoln. “He can smell you. If he starts crying you can put your hand next to him.”

While you can crate your puppy overnight, keep in mind that you’ll still need to take it on midnight potty breaks if he’s still under four months old. Most experts agree that by the time your puppy is around that age, he should be able to hold his bladder through the night.  Professional training can help reduce this age.

The key to a successful full-night’s sleep is to establish a routine, like feeding and giving water several hours before bed so that he doesn’t fall asleep on a full bladder.

My Puppy Won’t Stop Soiling in His Crate. What Do I Do?

There are many reasons your puppy may be continuously soiling in his crate. The first step is figuring out why: Does he need more potty breaks? Is the crate too big? Is he feeling anxious? 

If he needs more potty breaks, then it’s time to adjust your puppy’s pottying schedule. Try to keep note of how often he soils his crate and the time between accidents. If he has accidents at night in his crate, then you should take him out for a potty break earlier than your current schedule allows. 

Another reason may be that the crate is too big. Let’s say you have a labrador puppy, so you bought an XXL-crate to accommodate its adult size. But when your XXL-dog is still a small puppy, there’s a lot of extra, unused space. 

Sometimes, puppies will see this unused space as an area to poop and pee because it’s far enough away from their sleeping spot. That’s why many owners end up closing off half of the crate until the puppy’s grown a bit more.

Separation anxiety is a significant contender to consistent soiling in the crate. It’s crucial that you begin recognizing the signs of anxiety and know how to address them.

My Puppy Is Showing Signs of Anxiety. What Do I Do?

Separation anxiety is when your puppy is showing extreme stress from being alone. This usually begins when you leave and ends when you return. Unfortunately, puppies can experience separation anxiety even if they’re in their crate and the same room as you. 

Here are common symptoms of separation anxiety while crate training: 

  • Frequent accidents
  • Barking, crying, and howling
  • Chewing and destroying the bed or crate
  • Pacing often
  • Attempting to escape their crate

Unfortunately, dealing with separation anxiety is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the leading reasons that owners get rid of their dogs. So, what do you do if your puppy is experiencing this type of stress? 

The key to treating separation anxiety in puppies is “to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone,” says the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. You can do so through several changes in your schedule, like: 

  • Taking your dog for a walk before you leave for the day. Getting exercise in will tire out your pup and allow it to feel relaxed during the day. 
  • Feeding your dog before you leave, along with leaving out stimulating toys that are only used for when he’s alone. 
  • Keeping greetings and departures casual. Not making a big deal shows your pup that coming and going is a non-issue. 
  • Consider enrolling your pup in doggy daycare. Your pup can develop relationships with other people (and dogs!) where they can socialize all day long. 
  • Using a calming plug-in. Studies have shown that pheromone plug-ins are beneficial for dogs with separation anxiety and can help them stay calm through stressful situations, like parties or thunderstorms.

Furthermore, crate training can help with separation anxiety. If your pup is experiencing this anxiety and stress while being crated, this may mean that you’re trying the crate training process too quickly, and it’s time to slow down the training or to move a step backward.
“The number one mistake people make with crate training is moving too fast,” says dog behavior specialist Scott Sheaffer

Take a look at the step-by-step guide above and identify where exactly your puppy is having issues. Take time to focus on the prior step or move more slowly on the current one.   You may also reach out to us for help in training your puppy via our Virtual Training University.

Can I Hire Someone to Crate Train My Puppy?

You certainly can hire someone to crate train your puppy! In fact, studies have shown that enrolling in puppy classes can have numerous benefits like natural friendliness toward strangers and better listening when it comes to commands. Programs like the ones at Snowy Pines White Labs offer crate training as well as other important lifestyle and behavioral training, like socialization, travel readiness, basic commands, and leash training. With the option to advance to other types of training basics and techniques, these basic skills are crucial for any puppy to get the hang of.


Crate training your puppy offers a plethora of benefits, like house training, acting as a safe space, enhancing routine, and giving you peace of mind. If you’re ready to begin crate training your puppy, then be sure to take these steps:

  • Slowly introduce your puppy to his new crate with treats
  • Feed your puppy’s dinner near or inside of the crate
  • Practice longer crate times once he’s comfortable sitting inside
  • Crate your puppy when you’re away and asleep 

If you’re adopting soon and need some extra help with crate training your new puppy, then Snowy Pines White Labs has got your back with in-person puppy training classes and other extensive online guides. Utilizing these resources will help make for an easier transition for you and your puppy—guaranteeing years of happiness to come.