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13 Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Updated 03/13/2024 – If you are a first time dog owner, you may be wondering what is the best way to crate train a puppy? If so, you’re probably aware of how vital it is to avoid common crate training mistakes.

The crate training process is filled with both challenges and rewards, and getting it right from the start can make a world of difference for you and your new puppy.

Crate training, when done correctly, offers a ton of benefits. It’s not just about giving your new dog their own space; it’s about safety, comfort, and establishing a routine. As a result, many dog owners choose to crate train their puppies.

Moreover, crate training is a cornerstone of effective potty training. Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, so an appropriately sized crate can help your puppy learn to control their bladder and bowels. This aspect of crate training dogs is a huge advantage for maintaining a clean and orderly home.

But let’s address the elephant in the room – most puppies don’t initially like being locked up. It’s a natural reaction. The key is to introduce the crate in a positive light, making it a cozy, safe haven they actually want to spend time in. With patience and consistency, your puppy will start to associate their crate with security and comfort, not confinement.

In this post, we’ll highlight common mistakes people make when crate training their new puppy and provide tips to help you avoid them, setting the stage for a successful training experience.

13 Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make - Title pic with graphic of a puppy in a crate with a blue background

Do you have the puppy blues? Dealing with a new puppy can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Feeling like you made a mistake is normal, but remember, you’re not alone. For insights and personal experiences on how I managed these feelings, read my post on “Puppy Blues: Dealing with Regret”

Please note as a convenience to you we have supplied links to places you can purchase suggested items. In some cases, like at Amazon, we can earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Whenever possible we have offered alternatives to the affiliate links.

Black puppy laying in crate with door open

Common Crate Training Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Crate training a puppy is a popular and effective method for housebreaking and providing a safe space for your dog, but it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are some common crate training mistakes people make:

1. Incorrect Crate Size

It is very important that your dog’s crate is the right size for them not only now, but when they are fully grown.

The general rule of thumb is that the crate should be just big enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s believed that too much space allows the puppy to eliminate in one corner and sleep in another. 

I personally feel that they should have more space than to just turn around. We reused our crate from our previous puppy that was more than twice the size of Bella, but never had an issue with her going in the crate.  This gave her options of where and how she wanted to rest. 

However, since all dogs are different, I suggest you consider getting a crate with an adjustable divider that is roomy enough for your dog to be content when they are an adult.  This will allow you to adjust the size of the crate to fit their needs now and as they grow. 

13 Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make - Black puppy lying in crate with blue towels

2. The crate is not an Inviting Place

One of the most commonly made crate training mistakes is not making sure the crate is a comfortable place to be. Most people buy a hard plastic crate or a metal wire crate. Both of which provide a cold, hard surface to lay down in.  Puppies, on the other hand, want a warm cuddly spot to rest.

Pic by - Bella's crate with bed and old towel with thin blanket on top.
This is Bella’s crate set-up from when she was a puppy

There are a few ways to make the crate an inviting place to sleep:

  • Add a crate pad or dog bed, and an old blanket or towel to the crate.  This provides a soft place to lay and something to snuggle up with.  We prefer to use USA made dog beds due to concerns over toxic chemicals found in many imported pet beds.  You can see our setup from when Bella was puppy in the picture below. It was nothing fancy, but she willing went in to sleep.
  • If you have a cold weather breed like a Bernese Mountain dog or mini Bernedoodle they may prefer something that helps keep them cold. Especially in the warmer months.
  • Place the crate in a spot that is quiet but still central to the rest of the house.  This will allow your puppy to feel a part of the family but give them a quiet place to settle down. We set ours up in a corner of the living room.   
  • Pay attention to heating and cooling vents.  Being too close to a vent can cause a puppy to become too hot or cold while in the crate.
  • Tap into your dog’s natural instinct to find a safe place to sleep, by making the crate feel more like a den. You can do this by placing a thin blanket over the crate to block out light and noise. While using a thin blanket you already own is an inexpensive way of creating a den, if you prefer a more polished look you can also opt for a crate cover. 
  • Consider getting a snuggle puppy.  This is a stuffed dog that has a heart-beat and warmer inside to mimic lying next to another puppy. People who have used it, rave about how well it works.  You can find it at or in stores at Petco and Petsmart  

A word of caution:

All puppies are different, while one might love having a blanket to snuggle up with in the crate another might view it as a chew toy. It is a good idea not to leave your puppy in the crate unattended for any length in time until you know how they will interact with anything that is left in the crate. This includes toys, beds, and the snuggle puppy. All items could be fatal if ingested.

Pug dog walking out of crate

3. Lack of Crate Training

The most common mistake people make in crate training is moving too fast. As I mentioned above, most puppies don’t like being in a confined space.  Therefore you need to ease into using a crate. Start crate training as soon as you bring your new puppy home.  You want to make sure you make it a positive experience.

This can be done by leaving the crate open and allowing your puppy to go in and out freely throughout the day.  You may want to consider propping open the crate door to prevent it from moving when they enter or exit the crate as this may scare them. Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make white puppy with brown ears in metal crate

4. Not Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is crucial in all puppy training. To do this, encourage your puppy to go in the crate by placing high value treats and toys in the crate for them to get. 

High value treats include items like

  • Kong stuffed with dog safe peanut butter or other safe lick-able foods that your dog likes
  • Chew stick that they enjoy
  • Small high value training treats

This will help them associate the crate with good things.  Also, whenever you want them to go into the crate give them a treat once they are in the crate.

13 Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make - Puppy sitting on top of wooden crate

5. Forcing Puppy into Crate

Think about it. How you would feel if you were in a new home and someone pushed you into a small closet and closed the door.  Would you feel comfortable in that situation?

Probably not and neither does your puppy.   Once you force your puppy into the crate they will view it as a bad place to be and will not want to go near it, let alone in it.

This is where a lot of patience is needed on your part.   You want to take the process of introducing the crate to your pup very slowly.

It takes time for young puppies to develop a positive association with their crate, but if done right, you will be rewarded with a dog that willingly goes in and out of their crate whenever they need a quiet place to rest.  You will even be able to teach your pup to enter their crate on your command as we did.  

13 Crate Training Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make - Pin with cartoon graphic of puppy in crate
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6. Inconsistent Schedule

Another one of the common crate training mistakes is not having a daily schedule. Consistency is the key to easy puppy training.  Your puppy learns through repetition and cause and effect.  If you make a certain sound and the same thing happens each time, they learn to associate the sound with the action.  

The same thing goes with crate training.  If you set up a schedule that includes rest time in the crate your puppy will start to expect to go to their crate at certain points during the day. 

It is best to schedule crate time a few times a day but make sure it is after they have had some time to burn off their puppy energy, have a full belly and just after they have relieved themselves outside.  This will set them up for a nice quiet nap in their crate.  

7. Not Using the Crate When Home

If you plan to use the crate when you are out it is important to also use the crate when you are home.  This will keep them from associating the crate with your leaving which could lead to separation anxiety.

Pig in wired crate

8. Use the Crate as Punishment

Never use the crate as a form of punishment. You want your puppy to associate the crate with being a comfortable, safe space for them to hang out.  If you force them into the crate when they are not behaving, they will associate the crate with negative attention. In time they will start to refuse to go in the crate.

Of course this begs the question, what do you do with your puppy when they need a time out?  Puppies that start to excessively bite or otherwise misbehave need to be placed in a safe time-out space for them to settle down and understand that such behavior is not acceptable. 

For these times, set up a space in your home that is only used for time outs. Preferable somewhere near where you are.  In our case we set up a space in the corner of the room we were in using a combination of walls, furniture and a baby gate.  A better option would be a stand-alone exercise pen set up near you.  You can find the exercise gate shown below on and at some local pet supply stores.  

 Midwest Homes foldable metal exercise pen
Midwest Home for Pets Exercise Pen

9. Lack of Patience

It takes a lot of patience to properly crate train a puppy. However, if done right you will be rewarded with an adult dog that willingly goes in and out of their crate whenever they need a quiet place to be. You will even be able to teach your pup to enter their crate on your command. 

On the other hand, a lack of patience can result in a puppy that is afraid of their crate. If you push too hard you will make the dog crate an unhappy place.

Remember to never yell at them or bang on the crate if they cry or whine. This will only increase the feeling that the crate is a bad place.   

10. Too Much Crate Time

Crates are not meant to hold your puppy for long periods of time. Dogs are social animals. It’s important to their mental and physical development that they are able to be active while also being close to us. 

white terrier in gray and white plastic crate

In order for them to potty train, bond with their new family and just thrive they need to be with their families.  This means that they should be out of their crates for more time than they are in.   

Puppies that are kept in a crate for long periods of time, even if they are let out to go to the bathroom, will soon learn to hate the crate. Just imagine if you were kept in a tiny room all day. You would soon be going crazy. So will your puppy.

How long can a puppy stay in a crate?

According to the Humane Society of the US  “a puppy can only control their bladder for one hour for every month of age”. This means that a two-month-old puppy needs a potty break at least every two hours.

But they need more than that. They need time to play, train, eat, bond, and be socialized in order to grow up to be a well-adjusted, well-behaved adult dog.  

However, this does not mean you should let your puppy loose in the house.  A young puppy can easily get into trouble when left to their own devices.  Instead give them a safe place in a small room where they can stretch their legs and you are close by or consider an exercise pen near where the family is.  An exercise pen will give your pup more space to play but still provide a safe environment. Just remember to puppy proof your home.

MIni goldenoodle puppy in exercise pen

11. Not Enough Exercise

This leads to my next point. Trying to get a puppy to settle down in the crate will be close to impossible if they are full of energy.  Try to schedule crate time after some mental exercises like training and playtime or a walk. 

Watch your puppy. As they start to get tired their pace will slow down. Some puppies might even decide to take a break by lying down in the middle of the game or walking away. 

This is a great time to lure them into the crate with either a treat or a favorite toy for a short nap.  Just make sure to take them outside to the designated potty area for a bathroom break before placing them in the crate.  

12. Crate in Another Room

Dogs are very social animals.  They need to be with their family at all times.   This includes even when they are in their crate.  

Your puppy will have an easier time settling down if the crate is close to where the family is.  This may mean that you need to have two crates or that you move the crate around with you.  

We kept our crate in our bedroom so she was close to us at night and blocked off space in the kitchen for her to be near us during the daytime when we were not fully watching her.

13. Leaving Their Collar On

So this last one really isn’t a crate training mistake, but it is a mistake people make when using a crate.  You should never leave your puppy or dog alone with their collar on in a crate as it is possible for the collar to get hooked on the crate and become a strangulation hazard. 

How to Respond to Crying

Puppy Crying in the Crate During the day

Gray and white puppy crying in crate

If your puppy is in their crate and they want out, it is common for them to whine or bark. As long as you check on your puppy to know they are ok, and have met their basic needs of potty-time, food, and exercise, it is ok to let them whine.

It’s important that you do not respond to their protests.  This includes taking them out of the crate, scolding them, banging on the crate or talking to them. 

Do your best not to give them any type of attention until they are quiet.  If you give into their demands or give them positive attention they will learn that making a fuss gets them what they want. If you react in a negative way like yelling, they will associate the crate with something bad. 

To encourage the proper behavior you need to wait until they have stopped making a fuss. Only let them out of the crate when they are quiet.  You might only have a very short period of time when they stop crying so be ready to open the crate.

Don’t leave a crying puppy unattended for any length of time, it is important that you check on them to ensure they are ok. 

At night

I know from personal experience some puppies will not stop crying at night. For tips on what to do if your puppy cries in their crate at night please read our post: Puppy Crying in the Crate at Night? How to Make it Stop

How to Crate Train a Puppy

Hopefully we have provided you with useful tips that will help you crate train your puppy. To discover more tips and tricks on how to crate train a puppy please read our post How to Crate Train a Puppy – 5 Simple Steps. Also check out our post on Potty Training Mistakes – What you need to know BEFORE you get a Puppy.

Thank you for stopping by Crate Training Mistakes.

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Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Hi, It's been 10 years since I last crate trained. I am worried we may be creating a bad behavior overnight. If the puppy cries we wait until he is quiet then take him out and every time he eliminates. Should we not be doing this?



Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Hi Kelly,

If your puppy is eliminating every time they cry at night than I don't think you are creating a bad behavior. Young puppies can only hold it for a short amount of time. Its better that they tell you and you respond rather than learning that you won't respond and they go in their crate or the house.

We brought home our puppy when she was 9 weeks old, so a little older than when most puppies go to new homes. In the beginning she only slept 6 hours at night and woke up once to go out. She was sleeping in the kitchen with my husband at the time so it wasn't a matter of her just wanting to get out of the crate. She was also basically house trained in less than 2 weeks with just a couple of accidents after that.

Also after a week of sleeping in the kitchen she started to sleep in her crate next to our bed. She just needed time to get used to her new home.

Best of luck Bonnie

David G Marx

Monday 2nd of November 2020

any thoughts about a 10 week old who is teething and when excited bites us.....we are aware that she means no harm but it still hurts


Monday 2nd of November 2020


Yes it does.

Puppy biting can be caused by an array of issues. Teething is what comes to mind most often, so having toys or chews she can chew on is important.

If she is biting when excited she may be overtired. Make sure you have a good exercise and sleep/nap schedule. Puppies should have quiet time in a safe place a couple times during the day to rest and unwind. Make sure to give her some exercise and time to potty before quiet time.

Also it been my experience that retrieving breeds tend to use their mouths to communicate. They need to be taught that grabbing you with their mouth is not acceptable. You can do this by putting them in their safe place for a few minutes when they start to bit.

For more ideas on how to handle puppy biting check out our post on How to Stop a Puppy from Biting

Good luck!



Friday 30th of October 2020

Enjoyed reading your comments about crate training. I will be getting a puppy in 4 weeks and this article has been helpful.


Friday 30th of October 2020

Hi Helen,

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It's always nice to hear that I have helped in someway.

Congratulations on your new puppy!



Saturday 5th of September 2020

My border collie puppy got used to his crate so easily. The first time we put him in a smaller crate inside the bigger crate but he hated it at night and was screaming so I took him out and put him on my bed until i decided to go to sleep officially. And i noticed how he would burrow under my pillows. So i designed his bigger crate like how my bed was set up and i let him enter it himself and sniff around. I then gently closed the door and he whimpered slightly so I played some puppy sleep music outside his crate and he didn’t make a single noise all night. And now he goes in there when he wants to sleep. And i occasionally play sleep music for him. I hope this helps anyone from my personal experience !


Saturday 5th of September 2020

Hi Claire,

Thank you for sharing your solution. You have confirmed by belief that it's not the crate that they dislike but the coldness of it. I am sure your story will help a lot of people.

Thanks again,


Charlotte Miller

Monday 6th of July 2020

Thanks for your advice I will be trying it on my new puppy My dos that I have had in the past have never been like the new puppy that I’ve got. He is so hard headed. I think he has separation anxiety!


Monday 6th of July 2020


All puppies are different. Our most recent rescue was also hard to crate train. I think it was because she was a rescue from Georgia. She probably spent time in a cage at the first shelter she was in and again on the trip up north. Plus all the times she was handed off from one person to another on her journey to us probably had her feeling insecure. But now she sleeps in the crate whenever she wants to be left alone. LOL.

In comparison our previous pup had no issues sleeping in her crate.

Good luck and just remember to be patient with her. It’s all new to her. It will take time but once they know they are safe with you they will get used to it. I have another post about Puppies Crying in their Crate at Night that may be helpful.