This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer policy
Are you getting a new puppy or adopting a dog? Are you looking to crate train your existing dog, but you’re not sure how to set up a crate the right way?
Getting your dog used to a crate can help foster a sense of security, give your dog a safe space and of course, keep those curious paws AWAY from your furniture when they’re unsupervised.
Crates can look a little uninviting, but with the right setup, you can create an inviting, secure, and comfortable space for your dog to call its own.
This will give you some added peace of mind, and encourage your dog to become independent and more confident when left alone.
Not sure where to start? Stick with us to learn how to set up a dog crate, the right way!
Positioning The Crate
Before you even think about what to put in the crate, you’ll need to choose a safe, comfortable, and secure location.
It’s important to remember that dogs are social creatures, and you’ll want the crate to feel like a reward, not a punishment!
Although you want your dog to have a space to call its own, you shouldn’t isolate it from the rest of the family. Instead, place your dog’s crate in a quieter location where they can still see and hear other members of the family.
If you spend most of your time in your living area, position the crate in a corner where your dog will still feel like an active member of the family.
Make sure the crate is placed away from drafty windows, direct sunlight, or a burning fireplace. The corner should be warm, dry, and comfortable.
Advice Or Puppies
If you’re setting up a crate for a puppy rather than an older dog, it’s a good idea to start off using the crate in your bedroom.
Although this isn’t mandatory, it’s good for the first few days when your puppy is settling in its new home.
If your new puppy is left crated in a room on its own, especially at night, this may lead it to feel lonely and abandoned. This can cause your puppy to cry and become frightened.
Crating your puppy with you for the first few nights may help it settle quicker.
What To Put In A Dog Crate
Now you know where to position your crate, what do you put in it to make it a more inviting space?
Bedding, Blankets, And Towels
To make your dog crate comfortable, you’ll need to fill it with bedding, blankets, and towels. If your dog or puppy is destructive, it may be best to stick to crate mats.
Many reputable pet stores stock their own crate bedding, which is designed to fit the shape of the crate with a little excess material for your dog to make themselves comfortable.
These blankets can also be kept, washed, and reused in other areas of the home. For example, if you have a traditional dog bed, you can use the blankets here or place them on a sofa or other furnishings.
If your dog or puppy comes inside muddy after a boisterous play date or rainy walk, you can also place towels on top of the blankets so they can dry themselves off.
Towels can also double up as comfy bedding if you’re running low on blankets.
A Crate Mat
A crate mat offers a middle ground between traditional bedding and blankets. Most crate mats are made to fit the exact size of the base of the crate.
If your dog is destructive or a chewer, you can opt for a mat that’s not stuffed or a traditional ‘vet bed’ style mat.
Now your crate is comfortable and secure, you need to think about making this an enjoyable, fun space for your dog to spend time in.
To make the crate a more exciting place, give your dog a versatile selection of toys to share its space with.
Whether your dog is being crate trained for a few hours a day or needs to be on crate rest after an operation or injury, toys can provide some necessary mental and physical stimulation to keep your dog busy.
Toys can include anything from Kongs, puzzles, snuffle mats, and chewing toys and balls.
Remember, though, while your dog is crated, you will not be able to watch it closely. Toys with detachable or loose parts may not be suitable for use without supervision and can easily become choking hazards.
We recommend filling up a kong or snuffle mat with high-value treats such as cheese or chicken for mental stimulation and a worthwhile reward.
This will help your dog to associate the crate with enjoyment.
Puppy Training Pads
If you’re setting up a crate for a puppy, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for any toilet accidents. Puppies may frequently struggle to make it outside for the toilet, especially at night time.
Contrary to popular belief, toilet training aids will NOT teach your dog to soil the crate.
As long as you continue to toilet train your puppy during the day, they will learn where is (and isn’t appropriate) to do their business.
However, training pads will make any accidents easier to clean up and help make the crate more pleasant for your puppy to spend time in.
Food And Drink Bowls
If you’re only crate training your puppy or dog for short periods a day, placing food and water bowls inside the crate may not be the best option.
However, if you’re planning to train for more extended periods, giving your dog or puppy regular access to food and fresh water will provide them with less reason to want to leave the crate.
This can make the training process much easier for you and your dog.
If you want to minimize the risk of spillage or mess, some pet stores manufacture food and drink bowls specially designed to attach to the crate.
These will reduce mess and prevent your dog from becoming stressed in the event of a spillage.
These specially designed food and drink bowls will be best suited to metal or plastic crates. If you’re using a fabric crate, it’s best to avoid bowls altogether.
Regular spillages can become difficult to clean up, especially when placing wet food in the crate. This can be messy, smelly, and harder to clean.
Things To Avoid
Now you have everything you need to make your dog’s crate a cozy, safe haven, let’s take a quick look at things you should avoid placing in a crate.
- Collars: If you’re training a puppy, avoid putting them in the crate with their collar on. The buckles and clips on their collars can easily become caught in the metal bars, which can be extremely dangerous.
- External Cords: Avoid placing your dog’s crate near any cords or wires that can be pulled inside or chewed on. This could cause choking or electrocution, which can be fatal.
- Heating Pads: Although some owners are tempted to use heating pads in cooler weather, we advise against this. If the heating pad becomes too warm, your dog won’t be able to escape the heat or get comfortable. Instead, these could be left outside the crate, or you could add in an extra blanket that the dog can move around if it needs to.
- Plush Toys: If your dog isn’t a big chewer, plush toys can be safe. However, if your dog or puppy likes to destroy their toys, you should avoid placing plush toys inside the crate. Unfortunately, regular chewing can cause the stuffing to leak out. This presents a serious choking risk to your dog.
Crate training has so many benefits.
From making it easier to travel to reducing separation anxiety, there are so many reasons why thousands of owners choose to crate train.
However, to improve your chances of success at crate training, you should always aim to make the crate as fun and comfortable as possible for your dog or puppy.
We hope we’ve shown you that this doesn’t have to be difficult, and with the right resources, your dog or puppy can learn to love their crate in no time!