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Should I crate my puppy?

Q: Our breeder recommends we crate train our new puppy, Barney. Crates seem cruel to me. What do you think?

A: My dogs enjoy their single kennel so much that sometimes they all squeeze in at one time. I see no cruelty, but only advantages:

  • Crating, or indoor kenneling, helps a puppy learn house training quickly and easily, so he makes fewer “mistakes.”
  • The crate also prevents a puppy from chewing on electrical cords, eating toxic plants, gnawing on furniture and raiding the garbage.
  • In a busy household, a crate offers the dog a cozy place to nap—and protection from children and other canines that might trip over a dozing dog.
  • A dog accustomed to a crate at home feels relaxed when confined at a boarding kennel or animal hospital.

Crate Barney when you can’t supervise him. Teach him to enjoy his crate by praising him and giving him a treat when he enters.

Take him outside for exercise and potty breaks before and after crating, after eating and before bedtime. He can control his bladder only one hour longer than his age in months, so don’t crate him longer than four hours at three months of age, six hours at five months, and so on.

Once he’s trustworthy, leave the crate door open so he can use his den whenever he pleases.

Editor’s Note: Dog crate training can be challenging. Here are success tips for crate training your dog at any age.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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