Effective Puppy Crate Training Schedule

Use the best puppy crate training schedule to teach your puppy to potty in the right place, prevent unwanted chewing and help him relax and rest. Dog crate training is a popular management technique to deal with house training, home destruction and puppy hyper-activity. It is also useful to transport your pet to other places in a safe way. They key to success is to teach your dog to love the crate, this can be done with positive techniques.

What you will learn today:

But, isn’t it cruel to keep your hound confined for so long? That is the question every dog owner has, and it is a very important one. It is great to use a dog crate to help your dog settle down, learn what is proper chewing material and to potty train him.

Done properly, your dog will enjoy its time on the crate because it will become its den, its safe place of rest. However, you must understand that your dog can only stay in the crate for a few hours at a time. The crate must not be used for permanent confinement while you are out working all day long and all night while you sleep. Long confinement periods will turn a perfectly good management tool into an inhumane treatment of your beloved furry friend.

Use the crate wisely, follow the puppy crate training schedule below and your dog will adore it while he learns what he needs to learn.

Steps to Puppy Crate Training the Positive Way!

Before you can start using a puppy crate training schedule, it is imperative that you teach your dog to love its crate, this will prevent constant whining, barking and crying (which will eventually make you let the puppy out of the crate!).

Choose the right place for the crate. If your puppy is very young, I recommend the crate to be in a place where the puppy can still see you move around the house. You can change the placement of the crate later on, so don't worry about it too much.

Dog crate training step 1: Easy and fun to start

Open the door of the crate and toss a treat inside. Keep the door open and let your pooch explore it. Do this several times until your pet goes in an out easily and without hesitation after a treat. Before you move on to the next step, make sure your puppy has no hesitation going in the crate to get the treat.

Time to start training the signals “Go in” and “Out”.

Dog crate training step 2: Teach the signals

Say “Go in!” (you can even point with your hand) and toss a treat inside the crate. As soon as your dog goes inside the crate, praise him with your marker word and toss another treat for him. Immediately afterwards, say “Out” and toss a treat outside the crate, when your pooch goes outside praise and reward again. Repeat several times until your canine friends “gets it”. You will know this because he will start going in and out more easily and without any hesitation.

Expert tips for step 2

  1. Use a super yummy treat! You are trying to create the best experience possible, we want to make sure the dog loves the crate as much as those treats! (so...If he doesn't love the treats, he won't love the crate!).
  2. Practice in short and fun sessions, maybe 6-12 repetitions and stop to play or do something else. Don't let your puppy get bored and wonder away. Even if you have a super eager puppy, it's better to start with short sessions.
  3. During this step we are NOT (I repeat, NOT) working on duration, so your goal is NOT (I repeat, NOT) to keep the puppy longer and longer inside the crate. The goal of step one is to get your puppy to learn the verbal signals. It's a game of in and out, in and out, in and out....
  4. For your puppy to learn the signals "Go in" and "Out" the order in which to you do the exercise is key.
  • FIRST say "Go in" IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS toss the treat inside the crate.
  • FIRST say "Out" IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS toss the treat outside the crate.

Dog crate training step 3: Test the signalss

When you are sure your dog loves the go in and go out game, start delaying tossing a treat inside the crate after the signal “Go in”. The idea is to give the dog a chance to respond to the signal without following a treat. Say “Go in!” and wait for your dog to go inside, as soon as he does praise and reward! Now you are rewarding your dog for going in (after you ask) instead of luring him with a treat... the first step towards success!

The first few times I would wait up to 10 seconds, if your dog doesn’t go in, then practice a few more times letting him follow the treat inside the crate. Do the same for “Out”.

You may have noticed that we haven’t closed the gate up until this point. It is very important to help your hound love his den before closing the door. The training technique above helps your dog associate the crate with good things happening, which makes the crate a good thing in itself.

Dog crate training step 4: Start closing the door

Say “Go in” and as soon as your dog goes in, praise and reward with a treat. Immediately afterwards close the door for 1 second, open it and say “Out!”. Praise your dog for going out (no more treats for this skill, going out is the reward). Repeat several times, until your dog is comfortable with you closing the door.

Expert tip for step 4

We are still NOT (I repeat, NOT) teaching your puppy to stay longer and longer inside the crate. So, the whole repetition should last less than 5 seconds in total:

  • You say, "Go in"
  • Wait for the puppy to go in
  • Puppy goes in
  • You toss a treat inside the crate and close the door
  • Immediately open the door
  • Say "Out"
  • Puppy goes out
  • Start over

Dog crate training step 5: Slowly extend the time the door is closed

Ok, now we will work on duration!

Repeat step 3 but slowly increasing the time the door is closed. The first few minutes will be the most challenging, you must go as slowly as necessary to prevent whining. How you do this? The slower your work, the faster your puppy learns (I promise!). Here is an example for 3 sessions of 12 repetitions (then break for play or petting time).

  • Session 1: 3 seconds, 5 seconds, 1 second, 7 secs, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, 6 seconds, 4 seconds, 7 seconds, 3 seconds, 8 seconds, 8 seconds.
  • Session 2: 5 seconds, 8 seconds, 3 seconds, 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 6 seconds, 15 seconds, 12 seconds, 17 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds.
  • Session 3: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 8 seconds, 18 seconds, 12 seconds, 20 seconds, 11 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 8 seconds, 27 seconds, 30 seconds.

NOTE: this is just an example, if your puppy is struggling then repeat shorter sessions more often.

Looks like a lot of work? Trust me...it's worth the effort, in one week you will have a puppy that happily goes into the crate and stays up to 30 min to 1 hour! The first few minutes are the most challenging, once you are up to 5 minutes, you will be able to make minute jumps, instead of second jumps.

Expert tips for step 5

  1. Once you have reached 10-15 minutes, you can start giving your puppy a stuffed Kong or chew toy so he can keep enjoying the time inside the crate. As soon as you open the door and ask him to go out, take the Kong and toys away. This is very important for your dog to understand that those special toys are only available when he is confined inside the crate.
  2. During this step we are NOT working (I repeat NOT working) on you being out of sight. So, I recommend you stay near the crate, maybe on a chair or table where your puppy can see you do something else. You can even do it while cooking, as long as your puppy can see you and you are fairly close by.

Dog crate training step 6: Staying in the crate with you out of sight

You may have noticed that we are teaching every aspect of going inside the crate separately. That's the best way to teach a dog anything. If you try to lump together closing the door, duration and you being away, your puppy will most likely fail and start whining.

I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and I have worked with dogs for almost 20 years now, trust me: The slower you go, the faster your puppy learns!

To complete the training, we need to teach the puppy to stay inside the crate and be OK even if you go out of sight. BONUS: This may prevent separation anxiety later on!

Start leaving the room in very short periods and extending them progressively. There is no need to use extra food rewards during this step. The idea is that while your puppy is on the crate for 30 minutes, you will leave the room and come back many times until your puppy gets used to you doing this. I will give you here examples of 3 different sessions (done during a 30 min practice).

  • Session 1: Leave the room for 1 second (in and out of the room, NO DELAYS and DO NOT CLOSE a door behind you) at random intervals during the 30 min practice for a total of 30 times. Example: At min 2, min 5, min 5:30, min 6, min 6:15, min 10, min, min 12, min 12:10, min 12:50, etc.

You must repeta session 1 (which is just you leaving for 1 seconds many times) until you notice your puppy doesn't care anymore. The first few times you get up and leave the room your puppy may become alert or even bark or whine, you go back in, sit down and continue doing what you were doing (if you are doing nothing, pretend to do something like reading a book or working on your computer). After many repetitions you may notice that your puppy may looks at you, but he is no longer alert or slightly anxious... you MUST SEE this change in behavior before moving on to the next step.

For some puppies, maybe they will be OK doing Session 1 only one time. Other puppies may need to repeat it more times throughout a few days to feel comfortable. Just read your puppy and act accordingly.

  • Session 2: Leave the room for 1-5 seconds at random intervals during the 30 min practice. Example: At min 2 leave for 2 seconds, at min 3 leave for 4 seconds, at min 3:30 leave for 1 second, etc.

Again, you cannot move to session 3 unless you notice your puppy is no longer alert waiting for you to come back in. The idea is to create this random pattern of you coming in and out so many times that the puppy will get bored you doing this!

  • Next sessions: Increase the time you leave progressively. For example: Session 3 leave for 1-10 seconds, session 4 leave for 10-30 seconds, etc. Work this way until you are able to leave for 30 min to 1 hour or even more.

Again, after you have achieved 5 minutes out of sight, you will be able to do minute jumps instead of seconds and your puppy will learn faster and faster.

Now create a puppy crate training schedule!

Done! Now you have a dog that can go in and out of the crate on command and best of all…loves to be inside it! If you have a young puppy, these step shouldn’t take you more than a few days at most a few weeks. For older or shy dogs, it might take a little longer.

Now it’s time to use the crate to prevent potty training accidents and teach your dog to chew only on his toys with the puppy crate training schedule.

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Puppy Crate Training Schedule

Puppies do very well when you set up a routine because they learn to anticipate what is coming, which helps them reduce their anxiety. It’s the same with us, humans. We feel better when we know what is coming next. A puppy crate training schedule is a great thing because it gives you a specific pattern of actions to follow every day. Done correctly you can have a potty trained dog in just about a week (but it can take longer too!).

The following chart will help you remember how long can puppies hold their bladders depending on their age. You can't expect a three months old puppy to stay inside his crate for 4 hours without any accidents! Also, keep in mind that pups will potty after eating, after a play session and after a nap. Keep this is mind when working on your puppy crate training schedule.

IMPORTANT: Your puppy is unique, the following is just a way to understand that puppies need to potty more often. It is possible that your puppy potties more or less often and that is OK, just follow your own puppies schedule by paying attention at how often he pees.

how to potty train a puppy

You will notice that a puppy crate training schedule has certain key parameters. Play time for 15-20 minutes, feeding time for 30 minutes and crate time for 1-2 hours. Follow the schedule as is, but use your human instincts too. If you think your puppy needs to play longer, do it. If you think your pooch wants to go potty, take him outside immediately. Remember, you puppy is unique.

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Puppy crate training schedule

Remember to be patient. If your dog is not successful, then try to make things easier for him. If you follow the steps outlined above and the puppy crate training schedule, your dog will be just fine and potty trained in a few weeks (but it's OK if your puppy takes longer!).

As your pup grows, you can start adjusting the time he spends inside the crate and also the amount of times you repeat the crate training schedule. For example, a very young puppy may need to potty every 2-3 hours, but a 6 months old puppy will need to potty every 4-6 hours, so you can adjust the cycles of the schedule.

If you follow the training program for 2 to 4 months, you will have a 6-8 month old dog that no longer potties inside the house and only plays with his own chew toys. At this point, you can start letting you puppy roam around the house (supervised) more and more time, leave the gate of the crate always open in case your dog wants to rest inside the crate.

Eventually, your dog can live freely with you inside the house and only use the crate for rest time, a safe space (for when guests are home) and for travel or other needed occasion.

Never leave a puppy inside a crate longer than 3 hours.

Find the Best Dog Crate

Before starting on a puppy crate training schedule, you need to get the right crate. With hundreds of them available, it can be a daunting task. Follow the tips below to find the right one for you and your pet.

What size should a dog crate be?

The crate should be big enough for your dog to fit standing and be able to turn around. Nothing more. If bigger, your dog could start using part of it as a toilet - a big no-no. If you have a puppy that will grow and do not want to buy two crates, cover part of the bigger crate with a box to prevent the puppy from using the extra-space for potty.

Measure your dog standing up from hears to toes (height) and nose to tail (length), add a couple of inches to each measurement and buy the size crate closer to those measurements!

What is the best dog crate material?

The answer to that questions depends on what do you want your crate for, and your dog’s size and destructive power. 

  • Fabric dog crates are lightweight and very easy to fold, making them an excellent choice for travel. Your dog must be fully crate trained and still be supervised at all times because a dog could break out of it very easily. If you are going camping, to a doggy event or on a trip, this is a great choice. However, I do not recommend crates made out of fabric for potty-training and daily unsupervised confinement.

One of the best travel crates in the market, the EliteField can be folded for transport and has 3 doors which can be usefull for training dog sports.

  • Wire dog crates are a very popular choice because they can be very secure, most can be folded for storage or travel and they tend to be cheaper than plastic ones. You can also find non-collapsible wire crates that are sturdier and prevent clever dogs from escaping.

The Midwest Homes Crate is one of the most popular to potty train your dog. This crate can be folded for transportation and has 2 doors to allow you to place it at different angles. It includes a divider that is important to make the crate smaller then bigger as your puppy grows.

A play pen is also a popular option to keep your puppy confined to a smaller area. The BestPet Dog Playpen is a good option and can be assembled in different ways.

Keep in mind that if the area is too big, he may go potty inside!

  • Plastic dog crates are favored because they are very strong and tough, they also block more of the view, creating a safe and secure area for your dog. Plastic dog crates are also good for your pet when traveling on an airplane.

Petmate is a good brand, the dog crates are very sturdy and durable. They are not easy to transport because it's a two part crate but if your dog chews on everything, this is a good option.

  • Decorative dog crates are available to match your furniture and create and aesthetic home environment. They are more expensive, but worth the money if you are thinking your dog will be using his crate long-term.

Decorative crates are more expensive but look great in your home! It's important to teach your puppy to love this place so he will also use it to rest in the future. The IchbinGo Dog Crate Furniture look beautiful and look great!

Some IchbingGo crates come with wheels to make them easy to move around the house. These a great feature. However, once the crate is in place make sure to lock the wheels to prevent your puppy to get scared to go inside if it moves.

Learn more about raising a puppy!

Puppy Clicker Training: Learn how to clicker train your puppy! It's fun, its easy...its useful!

Bite inhibition: Is your puppy chewing everything...including you! This article will teach you everything you need to know about teaching your puppy to use its mouth properly.

Prevent Leash Pulling: Teach your puppy to walk nicely on a leash NOW! Don't wait until it's too late.