How to Make Your Dog's Crate Appealing

Having trouble teaching your dog to like his create? The Dog Trainer shares some tips to make your dog's crate more appealing.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
2-minute read

Having trouble teaching your dog to like his crate? It's understandable—your dog might associate their crate with punishment or loneliness. You want to instead make the crate a place your dog can relax in. 

Take a deep breath, step back, and think about the places you like to relax in. They’re comfortable. Snacks are available, and so is something to drink. You’re not in solitary confinement, though sometimes you might be by yourself.

To make your dog’s crate appealing, fit it out with a cushy bed—not a thin mat, but something a dog can really lounge on. For housetraining purposes, a crate does need to be small (just big enough to stand up in, turn around in, and stretch out in while lying down). But a housetrained dog’s crate can be as large as you have room for.  Also, make sure the crate’s location is at a comfortable temperature.

Especially in wintertime, look out for drafts near your pup's crate. If it's too cold, they'll never be able to relax.

Put the crate someplace near where you’re spending time anyway. If you’re crating a puppy at night, the crate should be in your bedroom. Hide treats in the crate. When you give your dog a peanut butter stuffed Kong, put the Kong in the crate. Any time your dog pokes his nose in the crate or goes to lie down in it voluntarily, offer him warm attention and toss a few treats his way.

When you get right down to it, a crate is a cage. Nothing to be done about that. But a dog who’s at ease when confined will experience less stress when hospitalized, for instance. Or if you’re staying at a hotel that requires dogs to be crated when you’re not in the room, the crate becomes a familiar, safe hangout for your dog in an unfamiliar place.

Make your dog’s crate a wonderful place to be for them, and it'll become a wonderful experience for your family, as well. 

About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).