Dogs are den animals.  In the wild they seek out caves or other sheltered lairs.  They feel more secure in enclosed areas. If you have a housedog there are still good reasons to crate-train them — what if your dog is hurt and needs vet-prescribed crate rest? What if you have contractors coming in and out and want to make sure the dog doesn’t escape? Crates are a good thing. Don’t think of them as cages. They are personal, mobil dens.


This 12yo loves his crate so much, he crawled into a tiny little travel crate just for the chance to go to one more show!

Go to your local pet supply store (or online) and purchase a crate, either plastic or wire.  (I prefer wire.  You can cover it when you don’t want him to see out, and uncover it so he can see that you’re there.)  Get it large enough so that he will be able to stand up and turn around when he is full grown or stretch out flat.  This will be his own personal den.

Fold a blanket or towel in the bottom of the crate for bedding. Make sure it’s washable; there will be accidents.  Put a soft toy and a chew toy in the crate for comfort.  If you choose a wire crate, cover it with a sheet or light blanket, leaving the door uncovered.  It is best to keep the crate in the same room with you, at least at first, so Puppy will know you’re there.  He’ll feel more secure and you’ll be able to hear him when he needs to go out.

Nu the 50# Siberian stuffed himself into a 24″ puppy crate, the smaller the better

What makes this method work is that a dog doesn’t like to soil his den.  YOU have to help him avoid that.

The way you do that is to take him out to potty when he cries. Remember, a nine-week-old puppy has a bladder capacity of about two tablespoons.  If you ignore him when he asks to go out, YOU are creating accidents, and defeating the purpose of the crate.


At first Puppy is not going to be very happy about the crate unless he had one at the breeder’s house.  A good way to get him to go into the crate is to toss a cookie or other treat in, say the one word command (I use “crate”) you’re going to use, and hope he goes in.  If he doesn’t, GENTLY push him in, close the door, and walk out of the room.  Never yell at Puppy when putting him in his crate.  You don’t want him to connect it with unpleasantness.  NEVER use the crate for punishment.

3m Faith sacks out in her crate when she’s tired.

If he cries when you leave him (probably), let him cry for a few minutes, then stick your head in the room and, in a stern voice, (no yelling) say “No!”  Leave again.  Try for longer and longer intervals, until he gives up.

This is where the patience comes in.

He will sound pitiful.  You will feel like a big meany.  Poor Puppy!  If he wins this encounter, you will never be able to convince him that you are in charge.  Be firm.  He must be aware that this is not negotiable.

After Puppy has been in the crate for half an hour or so, unless he’s asleep (not likely the first few times) take him out to the spot you have chosen for his toilet, and give him the one word command you will use for his business for the rest of his life.  It is wise to use a word that won’t embarrass you in public.  I use “Potty”.  Stay with him until he goes.  Give him ten minutes or so if necessary.  After he goes, PRAISE him.  (Praise is done in a happy, “up” voice.) Let him know that he has pleased you.  If he doesn’t go, put him back in the crate and start the whole process over.

Eating stimulates Puppy’s digestive system.  Translated: When he eats, he’s going to poop soon.

Shark Dog snoozing in her crate.

After each meal let Puppy socialize for a while.  Play with him (gently), pet him, talk to him.  When he starts sniffing the ground, take him to his toilet.  Stay with him until he goes, then PRAISE him.


When you see Puppy squat in the house, pick him up immediately (yes, in mid pee-pee or poop) and, saying “No!” (Don’t yell), run him out to his toilet.  After he finishes, PRAISE him. For this and other accidents, such as vomiting, Nature’s Miracle removes both stains and odor.  DO NOT use ammonia.  He’ll return to that spot.

If you come into a room and find a puddle or a pile, clean it up quietly.  There is no point in showing it to Puppy and chastising him.  He will have no idea why you’re mad, and it only confuses him.

Tom and Jazz hate their crates so much…

When you’re not socializing or playing with Puppy, or feeding him, put him in the crate with a toy.  Would you leave a baby loose on the floor?

He will have accidents.  Just clean them up and continue with the training regimen.  After a few days, depending on the puppy, he will cry when he needs to go out.  Move fast!  He doesn’t have much time, and at this point, accidents are your fault.

7w Summer’s first crate.

For the first few weeks Puppy will need to go out one or two times during the night.  You’ll lose a little sleep, but it’s worth it.  A good idea is to withhold food and water for a couple hours before bedtime.  If you have to leave him for a few hours, take him potty just before you leave, and don’t feed him just before you leave.

This method is almost foolproof if you follow it faithfully.

Be patient, be kind, be consistent.  It pays off in love.

Spread the word. Share this post!