Dog crates - dog in crate
Jerry Shep - German Shepherd and dog play expert
The cleverest member of the dogspeaking team talks about Dog Crates

Dog Crates and dog crate training

Hi, it’s Jerry here to talk to you about dog crates.

I can make it quite clear that all the dogspeaking team don’t like dog crates in the home. There is not a lot you can do with a crate that you can’t do with an indoor dog house and a dog pen.  

We DO NOT like dog crates in your home. We know that we will never change some minds so the best we can do is try to show you how these small cages can best be used. We’d like to suggest some that are better than others but it would be better if you look at an indoor dog house with some pet barriers.

Dogs, like humans, are social animals which means we like company and we like to live in groups. In the wild, we would seek out safe, sheltered dens to live in, again, just like early humans. It’s funny that our wish for security in a den with other members of a pack now shows clearly to some that we like the security of being locked in a small cage on our own! It doesn’t add up.

Did you know keeping your dog in a crate is illegal in some countries

Putting dogs in crates is popular in the USA because it can be convenient but, its illegal in some other countries. I’ll not say much more about  crating but maybe you could read “Crating Dogs” for some more information.

Important information before you buy a dog crate

We do not believe there are dogs that are better trained because they used a crate. If you agree with this statement, then DO NOT buy a crate unless you really need one for travel purposes or because of an injury.

At their best, training crates can: –

  • Be a useful secure and comfortable travel during transport.
  • Provide an OPEN safe-haven where a dog may feel safe and secure. -Note OPEN! In fact, if you decide to introduce a dog to a crate. Tie the door open so that it doesn’t swing shut by accident and frighten your puppy.
  • Be used as a training aid for house training.
dog crates and dog crate training - little dog in crate

Crates should never be used as a “sin bin” or a place for punishment for bad behaviour!

Once you have a crate, its often too tempting for you humans to close us in too soon. A crate must be placed in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time and again, please fix the door of the crate open, so that it cannot swing shut and frightened your dog or puppy or cause anxiety by being “locked-in”.

Introduce your dog to a crate slowly – be patient!

First thing to do is put some treats or a favorite toy inside the crate and give your dog time to explore. Let the pup or dog do this in its own time don’t force the issue.

Let your pup decide when to enter the crate

If the pup doesn’t start exploring on their own after a while, call them over to the crate in a happy voice and maybe throw some treats. Don’t throw them in the crate at first but near to the crate. Gradually move them closer until you throw a couple in the crate itself.  

When your dog or puppy is taking treats from inside the crate, keep throwing treats inside now and again until they are happy to walk inside the crate.

Do Crates and dog crate training can take time and patience – don’t rush it!

dog crates and dog crate training -

With crate training the two most important points are: –

  • Keep it all positive­; a dog should always think of the crate as a ‘good place’. 
  • You need lots of patience. Crate training takes quite a long time and it’s done in small steps. One of the biggest problems with dog crates is that you humans just go too fast for us dogs to keep up and we end up hating the crate.

These stages below can take a few days and you should not spend any more than 3 or 4 minutes at any time in each exercise.

Steps 1-5 - take it slowly and be prepared to go back

  1. Slowly and gradually over a period of a few weeks take these steps.
  2. Put your dog’s feeding bowl in the crate and let him feed there for a few days.
  3. When the dog is comfortable eating, try closing over the door when he is eating. Open it immediately after he finishes his food
  4. Each time he is fed, try leaving the door closed for a minute, then 2, then 3 and gradually build up the time with the door close.
  5. Sometimes your dog might show some distress like whining or barking to be let out. A good dog might just start panting or cowering in fright. YOU HAVE MOVED TOO FAST. Go back to step 2 or 3 and try again slowly.

Steps 6-11 - getting there

6. Things are looking better now, so move slowly in short sessions to build up to 10 minutes in the crate.

7.  Your dog should now think the crate is a safe place to be with comfy bedding, toys and food and occasionally just go there on his own.

8.  All this has been done with you being in the room. It’s now time to try leaving the room for a short time. Before you leave, give your dog a Kong or a Qwizl stuffed with a favorite treat. Start off with 5 minutes and build up from there.

9.  Important – if you don’t want to train us to bark to get out, wait until we are quiet before you open the door. We may be excited to see you and want out, that’s why we will bark. If you open the door while we bark, we might think that it is our barking that is making you open the door! Wait for a short period of silence BEFORE you let us out.

10.  This next bit is why we don’t like crates. Steps 1-9 might have been perfect but then you get it all wrong and sometimes it might be by accident! NEVER shut your dog in the crate all day. A maximum of 3 hours is almost OK for a large dog with good bladder control but probably less for smaller dogs.

11. Don’t screw up all your hard work to get to this stage by making us hate the crate! A crate should be a safe place that your dog chooses to enter because it’s safe, peaceful, quiet and secure. Don’t make it a nasty cage to be locked up in. Unfortunately, we know this happens too often.

Dog crates and dog crate training summary

Dog crates for household use are BANNED in some countries. There is a place for dog crates if we must fly long distances or if we are injured and we need to be kept in a confined area to recover.

Crates are particularly popular in the USA. Many dog trainers think they are a good training aid. We DO NOT know of any dog that has been better trained with the use of a crate. There are many millions of dogs who are trained to incredibly high standards WITHOUT using a crate.

Using a crate ‘properly’ (if there is such a thing) is a long process that requires a lot of time and patience. Even if you like the idea we’d have to ask – why not use an indoor kennel and some dog gates?

Dog crates are essential for some forms of travel and soft crates can be good for car travel safety. You may have little choice but to train a dog to a crate for some travel purposes.

Two dogs in a cage -

Final note - some extracts from dog training 'experts' on the web

“These are extracts from a web page from an experienced trainer who loves dog crate training. These are some of the phrases he uses to encourage humans to continue with dog crate training. We think these phrases alone amount to animal cruelty. I hope you never find this website!

“You’re excited about your new puppy, but it’s been five hours and he’s still crying in the crate”

Dogs that cry in the crate are exhausting to deal with, and many of the solutions out there feel useless.”

lots of dogs cry or bark in the crate.”

I expect dogs to cry in the crate for their first few nights”

normal for dogs to cry when they’re first put in a crate”

Dogs with severe separation anxiety often will dig at the crate, bite the crate”

” Teach Your Dog That Crying Gets them Potty Breaks”

Your dog will quickly learn that crying in the crate doesn’t get affection, comfort…”

These are just a few examples of statement by this trainer. Do you really think this is acceptable?


Finally, we highly recommend the article “Dog Crates a step by step guide” if you really want a crate for your dog – see below in further reading.

Dog Crates and dog crate training further reading

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” ―M.K. Clinton (author, The Returns)

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Read all about it on this link.

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  • Our Number 1 recommendation by far is the hammock dog seat cover.
  • Back seat covers can very very good too if you don’t like the idea of a hammock
  • Front seat covers should not be necessary for most of you as we dogs should not be sitting in the front unless it’s absolutely necessary – (it is against the law in some places, so check!).
  • Cargo dog covers for the back of station wagons and SUV’s can be great but it’s NOT the only protection we need – these are to protect your car, not us dogs, so make sure we are still secured firmly in case of accident.

Car door covers don’t do us dogs much good but they are very good at protecting your doors from dirt and slobbers.

The right equipment can make car journeys so much more safe and fun for all the family pack so have a good look and be prepared! Read more by clicking here.