Low Stress Crate Training

Oct 11, 2018

Low Stress Crate Training – Dog Training Poughkeepsie
Jean Kolor, KPA-CT
Family Paws Parent Educator


You bring your new puppy home, he’s happy being held and loved on, playing with you and just plain being with you. He’s left his littermates and now you are all he’s got. If you are lucky your pup came from someone who started him on crate training. If not you put him in the crate and oh my, the noises your puppy makes.

Sudden separation from his mother and littermates plus isolation and confinement are pretty stressful and scary for a young puppy. However, learning to stay calmly and quietly in a crate is an important skill for every puppy. A crate is very useful for the times you are unable to supervise your puppy. It makes house training easier. It is also an important life skill for those times when your grown up pup needs to stay at the vet or if the vet prescribes crate rest.

Dog Training without Anxiety

There is a way to crate train without causing your puppy so much anxiety. Keep the crate in an area of the house where the pup will not be isolated. In addition, have a second crate or move the crate to your bedroom for night time. Place your pup’s familiar bed in the crate to make it a more desirable place to be. This will also reduce any startling noises that might happen when the puppy enters the crate. Keep your puppy’s toys in the crate and throughout the day play around the crate with your pup. Sometimes toss the toy into the crate.

Feed your puppy his meals in his crate. Start with the crate door open. Then close the door but open it before he finishes his meal. The next step with meal time training is to leave the door closed until he is finished and then give him an extra treat before opening the crate door. With all of these exercises you should time the opening of the crate door so that your puppy does not show anxiety. In very small increments increase the amount of time the crate door is left closed. Never go beyond the length of time your puppy is comfortable with.

In addition, sometimes make it easier for your pup by opening the crate door sooner. For instance if you are able to leave the crate door closed for three seconds, the next time maybe open it at one second. Then go up to four seconds and back to 2 seconds. This way the game is not getting progressively harder for the puppy without easy trials in between.

Use of Dog Treats in Crate Training

Hide tasty treats in his crate so that it is fun for him to wander in and check out the crate. Of course if you have other dogs set this scenario up so that the other dogs do not have access. This will help your pup to want to go into the crate and increase his comfort with it. Whenever you are going to give your puppy a treat, give it to him in his crate.

Spend some time teaching your puppy to go into the crate on cue and to exit on cue. You can start by giving your cue to enter the crate. I use Kennel Up for my puppies but other cues work just as well (kennel, crate, bed, go in). Then toss a treat in. Once you pup is reliably going into the crate give your cue but do not toss the treat in until after your puppy enters the crate. You can mark his entrance into the crate with a clicker or a marker word such as Yes. After you have marked his entrance into the crate toss the treat in.

Start Puppy Training!

Now you can start training a release cue that tells the puppy it is okay to leave the crate. Teaching a release cue will also begin to teach your puppy self-control. Your puppy learns to remain calm and not rush out of the crate even with the door open.

Cue your pup to go into the crate, mark the entrance and toss a treat inside the crate. Almost immediately give your release cue (common cues are Free, Break or Get Out) and toss a treat outside of the crate. Phase out the treat when your pup leaves the crate when he hears the release cue. Now you no longer need to toss a treat. Leaving the crate becomes the reward, a life reward.

Once your pup is comfortable with the crate door closed for a couple of minutes you can start to duck out of sight for a second before returning. Gradually build the amount of time out of sight. Remember to make some repetitions easier by being gone for a shorter period. It can be helpful to give your pup a long lasting chew while you practice this exercise.

Exercising your puppy and giving him a potty break before working on crating will help it go much easier. Go at your puppy’s pace. Better to take it slow and create a strong positive association with the crate. If your puppy does start to whine, wait for a couple of seconds of quiet before you let him out. This way your puppy does not learn that putting up a fuss results in the crate door being opened and earning a place in your bed. Stick with the training and you will soon have a puppy who enjoys his crate.

Do you have other Dog Training Issues?

If you need help with crate training or other dog training issues and are in the areas surrounding Poughkeepsie and

Beacon contact First Friend Canine Consulting at or 845-293-3033