Does your dog love her crate? If she doesn’t, don’t worry… she’ll let you know.
Make your dog’s crate her sanctuary, and she’ll be less likely to have separation anxiety and potty issues.
Make it her prison, and you’ll hear about it all night long. “Awooooo! Arf arf arf!!”
If you want your dog to sleep peacefully in her crate through the night and when you’re not home, you’ll need to make sure she loves her crate, and condition her to go into “relax mode” when she steps inside.
This post is sponsored by Carlson Pet. I was compensated and received the pictured crate in exchange for a feature – though I only collaborate with brands that I love and recommend! Thanks for your support.
The Perfect Crate Setup
Many crates come with a removable barrier. Some puppies will pee on one side of the crate, then sleep on the dry side.
I’ve personally had crates like this, and never found the barrier useful.
Though Matilda was a tiny puppy, dwarfed by a crate that was very similar to the one pictured in this post, I feel she had a better time adjusting to her crate because it was roomy. She loves to stretch out. Since I’m a stay-at-home freelance writer, I never left her alone in the crate long enough for her to have an accident inside.
All puppies are different. Some might be more likely to pee in their crate than Matilda. I feel that if the puppy does not get desperate inside it, it’s unlikely that they will pee in it, even if it’s large.
You can make the crate less roomy while cozying it up by filling it with pillows, toys or a bed. However, the soft surfaces may cause your puppy to pee inside it, or they may shred the pillows.
The truth is, there is no perfect crate setup. Some puppies do well in an empty crate, while others can handle bedding without being destructive. Some like having a blanket draped over to block drafts.
The only thing you should NEVER put in a crate? A puppy pad. Once the puppy sees the crate as their bathroom, it’ll be difficult to change that.
There’s a crate that’s sectioned off so you can place a pad inside, but I’m personally not a fan. I wouldn’t want to sleep next to a smelly pad. Even so, many puppies are successfully trained with that system, so it just goes to show that there’s many ways to raise a happy, potty-trained puppy.
Why Most Puppies Hate Their Crate
Many people approach crate training the wrong way, or worse, don’t train their puppies to enjoy them at all. The crate becomes a convenient containing system, or even a puppy prison – not a private sanctuary where your puppy will be safe from chewing on cords, household cleaners and other dangerous items.
As often as possible, the door to the crate should be open. Practice locking your puppy in the crate in very short, pleasant sessions.
This means that you shouldn’t lock your puppy up at night until they are crate trained. Most people do this on the puppy’s first night home, then wonder why their puppy screams and cries all night.
Young puppies spend the first few weeks of their lives constantly snuggled up with their mother and siblings. Being left alone in the dark, locked in a crate, is the scariest thing that could happen to them.
It’s tough to crate train and potty train your puppy at the same time. I understand why most people lock up their puppy too long, too early – their schedule does not allow them to always attend the pup, or they can’t seem to turn around without their puppy having an accident. You will have to prioritize. It’s better for your puppy to have a few accidents now, than to have them never learn to be calm in a crate.
That’s why pet gates are so important. They give your puppy a safe place to play and relax without having accidents or destructive chewing. You can choose if you want to keep a puppy pad in your gated area. For small puppies like Chihuahuas, especially in the winter, it can be incredibly difficult to take them out 10 times a day. It’s better to have puppy pads for a while than to get your puppy into a habit of having accidents. You can always transition off puppy pads later, or train your dog to go outside and use pads.
Should You Feed Your Puppy In Her Crate?
Placing your dog’s food bowls inside their crate during mealtime is practical for a few reasons.
For one thing, it can help prevent accidents in the crate. Most animals do not relieve themselves where they eat. If your puppy has been peeing or pooping in their crate, spray it down with an enzyme cleaner to make sure there’s no trace of the scent lingering. Place the bowl in the crate during meals, then remove it so your puppy will have plenty of room to relax inside with that full puppy belly.
Many people continue to feed their dog in the crate for the dog’s entire life. If you have multiple dogs, it’s normal for them to growl or even become aggressive if they are not given enough space at mealtimes. That’s just how dogs communicate, but it can result in a potentially fatal fight. Feed your dogs in separate crates, and they won’t feel the need to be protective.
Raw feeders often feed meals in crates to contain the mess. It’s easy to remove the bottom tray and disinfect it after each meal.
I like to give Matilda raw chicken feet as a snack to clean her teeth. She’s a princess, so she’ll only eat them if I chop the toes off for her. Rather than letting her drag raw chicken toes around the house, I let her chomp away in her crate, with no worries of Cow bullying her out of her snack.
Leave the water bowl out of the crate. It’ll just create puddles.
Play Crate Games
When playing hide and seek with your puppy, ask her to “stay” in the crate while you hide. After a few turns, she’ll run to the crate for the next round!
I taught Matilda to open the crate with her paw by leaving a treat inside and closing (not locking) the door. She quickly figured out how to open it, and I imagine it did wonders for her self-confidence. She’s such a show-off!
Tuck Her In
The average puppy doesn’t take long to tire out. A few minutes of tug ensures that your puppy will be tired enough to settle into the crate.
Sit in front of the open door and cover her with a blanket. Talk softly to her while you stroke her back.
After a day of playing, getting treats and taking short breaks inside her crate, with any luck, your puppy will be ready to sleep soundly through the night.