top of page

Crate training? Do we? Don't we? And how?

The great crate debate. Do we? Don't we? How do we do it. There has been a lot of posts recently discussing the use of crates. I've popped my top tips and training blueprint below. I hope you find it useful.

Crate training? Yay or nay?

I remember as a kid, going to someone's house and seeing stacks of crates with dogs in them, I think they were cavaliers.  It’s a memory that stuck with me for all these years, clearly had a bigger influence than I realised. I suppose because of this I was anti crate for a long time.  However, I have learned, used properly, and taught properly crates can be a life saver….literally. When I refer to  a crate, I mean any confined area – a den, a pen, a small room, the car, somewhere where they are closed in.  Times change, our attitudes to dogs (I hope) have changed, and our consideration of their needs and welfare should always be our priority.

As with any tool, they should be used safely, properly and effectively.  They should not cause pain or distress and should always have the best interests in the dogs at heart.

I am an advocate for crate TRAINING, and TEACHING the dogs to settle comfortably in a confined area, however for transparency, my dogs only tend to use a crate in the car or on trips away, unless there is a medical reason……such as post surgery or, the big one, IVDD recovery.

For dachshunds, or any breed that in its future may need to be confined for extended periods of time, its best to prepare and hope you never need it, that be completely unprepared and have to deal with a dog who a) is already hacked off at not being able to do its normal thing but is b) completely unprepared for being confined and unable to get to you or anyone else.

Crating an animal does tend to polarise people, and if their experience of crating is like mine was as a child I am not surprised.  However crates taught properly can be like us snuggling into our bed when we want to rest or avoid the drama’s of the world.  Their crate should a safe space. Their den. They should not be sent there for punishment, or if you are cross, but should be a place of safety and warmth.

Photos - within about 2 seconds of me asking for pictures my Barking course graduates threw over 30 images my way. As always, these remain their property and I am grateful to them for sharing for this blog.

Benefits of crate/pen training

  • Gives your dog a place to go when tired, nervous or stressed.

  • Helps to settle dogs into new environments.

  • A safe place for your puppy/dog to go when not supervised.

  • Keeps them safe by preventing destructive chewing.

  • Keeps your dog safe when you’re unable to watch them.

  • Prevents problem behaviors from ever forming.

  • Gives a dog feelings of safety and security.

  • Is a good management tool to use when solving behavior problems.

  • Helps them recover from illness and injury.

  • Safe for car travel

  • Great for using in hotels and camping.

  • Can help to introduce barrier tolerance.

There are many different varieties of crates around, and sometimes you need to see what works, I've included a few through the blog that may work well.

I crate train my dogs at different ages, some of the ones I’ve had since puppies I’ve not started properly until they are 6 months to a year, puppies have enough to deal with, without worrying about that.  (That’s my choice, not a judgement).  Others, I’ve started straight away, it depends on the dog.  Similarly, rescues I go by them, some the crate or pen enables their integration, and others I don’t until later.  Some I contain for safety - especially if there are aggression issues. Dogs I’ve had for IVDD rehab recover and cope so much better when they have had positive experiences of being confined. 

Its important to make sure the space is big enough for them to feel safe and comfortable. Fiona, took this a step too far in the next picture.....I don't think she thought through sharing this with me!! But if its good enough for the dogs......(If you know Fiona....ask her how a) the door got locked b) how she got out!! (Sorry..... not sorry!) HAHAHAHA!

In honesty, I tend to start in the car, I have to crate them in the car (for me, it’s the safest form of travel for any dog) and I try to make it as positive as possible.  I feed their favourite foods in there and safe chews – appropriate for their age.  Initially I just start with being in the crate on the drive and then start driving around the block.  Their first trip is always pretty scary – usually, rescue or puppy, their first experience is leaving a familiar environment of the people and environment they have grown with.  Its important to rebalance this.

I prefer a metal crate in the boot like this:

But if you prefer a material one for the back seat, this looks good:


I do leave a crate up and open even if they aren’t using it, so they can explore it.

I might threat a shoe lace through a kong (I go for the black ones, they are heavier duty and tie it on the inside at the back so they are rewarded for going in and they have to choose between staying in there, or leaving it…..but they can’t take the kong with them.  The freedom of choice is a powerful motivator.

I periodically throw random foods in there, it creates curiosity and the random surprise is always motivating. I like JR Pet products for treats and chews, they're all natural and high value.

Treats and chews:

The pate's can be cut up into tiny pieces or even grated:

The short lasting meaty sticks are great for short periods of training:

The longer lasting chews are fabulous (some are a bit stinky, but the dogs love them!)

Beef tendons and Ostrich are a hit with mine. (Obviously check any restrictions around age etc).

Multi-dog homes:

Just a quick note here, I have a multi dog home, so these ‘random’ sessions aren’t so random, but to the dog they are.  I will usually position the crate somewhere whilst spending a bit of 1-2-1 time with that dog to build confidence and independence, even if I am just cooking or cleaning,

I incorporate the training into my routine – that way, they aren’t watching me for cue’s and learn to adapt whilst I am just doing normal things.  I don’t do these activities with all the others around, I haven’t enough kongs or crates!

Make it cozy, warm, and a lovely space to be. I like using heat pads, with any that chew wires, you're best getting one like this which is microwavable. But for chewers I'd use with a lot of caution!

Where there is a comfy bed….and often a heat pad, the others will be drawn to this space.  That helps the newbie, and I often find 4 squeezed in a pile up with someone hanging out of the end… chance of closing the door, but its all good.

Its important to build in 1-2-1 crate time (and generally) if you have multiple dogs, one of the bigger issues around rivalry is they become too dependent on each other, and, when you spend 24/7 with one person (think about lockdown) you do get fed up of them always in your space!  Making that time for short periods of individual time is an important part of multiple dog ownership.  (If you already have dogs that are over-bonded, and when reintroduced there is some conflict, I urge you to get some support now as this can escalate.) 


Crate training blue print

I say blue print as this is a skeleton plan.  You need to adapt it according to your dogs needs, please don’t rush steps.  Please don’t leave them to cry it out, this can ‘poison’ the crate.  If your dog already has an aversion to the crate, you’ll need to spend longer changing the way they feel about it.  You may find a pen like this is more suitable (  These give the feeling of more space, and I personally find them easier on my back.  But some dogs can clamber out or jump over, so be aware.  I’d also suggest not having a crate in the pen – I have had a few dogs that jump on the top of the crate and then out of the pen.  They may have little legs, but they are resourceful!

1)Put the crate somewhere safe where the family spends a lot of time.  A familiar room.  Crate training needs to happen throughout the day when you are home with your puppy, not just at bedtimes, but at any time.  I have several crates so I can spot train in any room, but that’s not always possible, so use a room which makes training easier for you too.

2) Make the crate a den, cover it over (some might pull the cover through the bars), put a nice bed in there (watch out for chewers of soft beds), I like vet bedding, easy to wash and generally dachshund proof. Put a small bowl of water in there and a few safe toys. You can make your cage your toy box – in that it’s the best place to be.  A great tip is to rotate your toys weekly so they never become boring. Do not at any point withdraw water from your puppies.  For brief training sessions, you don’t need the bowl, but I always like to set it up for real life.

3)  Sit near the crate and encourage them to explore, using treats to encourage him or her to explore and settle in there.  It is worth trying to fix the door so it doesn’t rattle or hit the dog as he explores.  Lots of gentle praise for going in the crate with extra treats when he goes all the way in. Don’t force it, just be patient. 

You can do this for a few minutes here and there throughout the day.  But it won’t happen straight away.  When he is going in the crate you can say “go to bed” but only when he is in the process of going in. 

4) Feed their meals in there – Initially don’t lock the door, but gradually build closing the door, the sound of the latch.

5) Once this is going well, start locking it briefly, and gradually build up the times.  Doing it at various times, not just meal times.  After 5 successful repetitions at one length of time, systematically build up the time……but stay close.

6) Then repeat step 5, but start moving around more, not quietly, they need to be aware of you coming and going – but staying in sight.  Gradually introduce disappearing out of site and immediately returning.

7) Then start building the length of time you are out of sight. Consider whether you will be shutting the door to the room they are in, and build that in too.  If he starts to whine then you may have done it to quickly so go back a step and reinforce those basics.  Its really important they don’t panic, so make sure you don’t rush this step.

8)You can start adding in cue’s – “in your crate” but also teach them to come out too.    

9) Building time. When you can comfortably leave them in the crate for 30 minutes and they are completely relaxed you can build up the time during the day or at night. Crates should not be used for extended periods of time. Think about how uncomfortable you get on a plane when you can’t move around freely.

10) Practice using the crate in different rooms and environments, but take it back a few steps to help them understand.  Dachshunds can get very stuck into routines, and just because they will happily go in the crate in the living room, doesn’t mean they understand the crate ‘rules’ in a hotel.  Practice makes perfect.

Crate training will also help for car journeys (it is an offence for a dog to be unrestrained in a car and can invalidate your insurance), also if your dog is unwell and not crate trained this can make them less settled and can cause them distress - the last thing you want when they are meant to be resting!  The most recommended treatment for IVDD is extended periods of cage rest.  This can be weeks at a time. Even after neutering, they recommend resting them. And, for trips to the vets where they have to stay – by helping them be comfortable in a confined space you make it easier for them to cope in that setting too.

Crate or pen training can be brilliant for human and dog alike, if it is taught properly and used in the right way. I've tried to include some affiliate links to give you an idea of what might help, but as always please do your own research. Some of the products I have used and others I haven't, but they are there to get you started.

I hope you've found this blog helpful, and enjoyed the wonderful pictures of dachshunds who are crate happy thanks to their wonderful pawrents making it a safe place for them.

NEED HELP? Book a 30 minute or 1 hour zoom session to work on your crate training issue. BOOK HERE | Perfectly Polite Dachshunds





231 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page