Crate Training Games For Your Dog

Crate Training Games For Your Dog


(video credit: Pam’s Dog Academy in California)

I get a lot of questions about how to improve a dog or puppy’s crate training and it always takes me back to making sure the crate is fun!

I also understand the importance of actually utilizing the crate for safety.

Many dogs die from ingesting things that they should not, or dig or jump out of their yards only to be hit by cars.



In essence, it is absolutely best if you can shape your dog or puppy going into and then learning to stay in his crate.  Making it possible for the dog to earn treats and reward for this behavior and not forcing the dog into the crate. If you’re interested in learning how to do that, you should check out my Hands Off course.

However, I live in the real world.

Although I have had years of my life where I didn’t have to work; there was always a time where it was inappropriate for my dog or puppy to be running loose in the house.

I may have to get puppy supplies, or I may need to crate my puppy on night one so he doesn’t create the bad habit of sleeping outside the crate, injure himself, or eat my flooring or drywall (yes I have seen and have had dogs that do this).

In my opinion, it is all about finding the right balance.

If I always shut my dog in his crate for long periods of time when I am gone, he is undoubtedly going to learn to hate his crate.

At best, he will slowly learn to tolerate it.

If however I spend more time shaping my dog’s fun interaction with his crate and playing games with it, then I can override the more negative times he is forced to stay inside with the happy times he is learning to like his crate!

Shaping Crate Training Using Games

crate training, crate training a puppy

First You Will Need

Things to make the crate inviting

  • A soft bed
  • Some new toys.

You DO NOT have to leave these in the crate when you are not training (this may not be safe, because the dog or puppy may shred or potentially ingest them).  But it certainly makes a crate less scary and more inviting.

High Value Treats

  • Chicken
  • Liver
  • Cheese

Your Clicker

crate training, crate training a puppy

If he chooses to come out he simply is not rewarded


Click and treat for any interaction with the crate from looking at the crate to putting a body part inside.

Remember to work at your dog’s pace and slowly raise the criteria.  If you move too quickly he may become overwhelmed or lose interest.

Yes, crate him for looking at the crate!

Next slowly change the criteria and click and treat him forcrate training, crate training a puppy

  • Putting his full body in the crate
  • Sitting in the crate
  • Laying down in the crate
  • Choosing to stay in the crate

Close door and latch (click and treat)

Close door latch walk away (click and treat)

Release and reward the dog at intermittent times

Be patient

If dog tries to lunge through door, latch and wait.

Only staying inside receives reward.

Reward can come from back of crate to keep dog from wanting to forge through.

For example if my dog wants to race out when I open the door, I simply refuse to reward.  Instead I hold the reward near the end of the crate, while I open the door.  If the dog stays inside he will get a jack pot.crate training, crate training a puppy

crate training, crate training a puppy

Other Crate Training Games

I make “Race to Your Crate” rewarding.

My dogs and I have this game, after I have shaped crate training, where I teach them to race into their crates on command.

At my house, I say “Let’s go to bed!” and we have a race for them to get in their crates.

As mentioned earlier, I don’t often even shut the door. Sometimes I simply throw a treat or toy into their crate and then carry on about my day.

Again in order for the dog to find this behavior rewarding, he must not always be locked in after he plays!

Toy Toss

I also making tossing toys into the crate a game.

My dogs love nothing more than toys and any game that revolves around toys, so by integrating their crate into games, I help to endear their crates to them.

I toss toys inside for them to go and gather, and I also hide toys in their crates so that they can make fun discoveries inside.

In my opinion, there is no better way to help your dog enjoy his crate, than to hide a brand new toy inside!

It is all about finding fun in your dog’s crate training.

crate training, crate training a puppy









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  1. Jess says:

    Thank you for free trading video. I was just about to begin crate training. I am exited to work with my border collie mix as he takes issue with workmen in the house or yard. This will keep him safe and he can watch from the safety of the crate. Thanks again!


  2. Brandy Crane says:

    I have had 100 dogs and never had success with potty training ,I tried the crate training THIS ABSOLUTELY WORKS!!! I AM SO AMAZED!! NOW how can I get him to listen to me, he is absolutely like a wild animal he jumps tears my clothes scratches us in the face, gets on our heads and today he attatcked our neighbors small dog, He just will not listen, Please Help! I know if I potty trained,I can teach him manners.


  3. Maryann says:

    When I’m leaving the house and want to put my Lhasa apso, Lilly, into the crate, I put some peanut butter in a Kong and she runs to the crate and happily gets in. At bedtime I taketwo baby carrots and two mini biscuits to a chair near her crate. She joins me on the chair and when we get down to one carrot and one biscuit, I say “okay” and she jumps down and goes in her crate for the night and I put the goodies in with her.


  4. Brenda Currey says:

    my teacup poodle is very well behaved, the only time I have a problem is when he sees another dog! even if it’s a big dog he starts barking and wants to attack, iv tried many suggestions to stop this, so far nothing has changed, any suggestions?


  5. Bosley says:

    I have a 6 month old Shorkie. He’s chewing just about everything up that comes his way. He has chewy toys and other doggie toys. He’s had 2 prior owners in his short little life. They did crate train him( he stayed in the crate a lot), but that is all they did. My husband says he’s just a puppy. Can you help me?


    Minette Reply:

    he is a puppy, he needs to chew, but he also needs to be monitored… don’t let him out of your sight until you trust him 100%


  6. Jean Cannon says:

    Thank you. I bought your calm dog training before my puppy came. The timing was diabolical because I broke my back 7 weeks before she arrived!
    Thanks for your help. She comes when called, is almost toilet trained in the daytime, although the laundry floor is something else first thing in the morning. She has trading pads with newspaper on top on the floor at night and a patch of artificial lawn outside the laundry door for the daytime. I leave that door open in the day and I am getting a dog flap put into the door shortly because winter is coming on here.
    She has almost stopped crying at night… only barking if she hears me get up. I need the impulse control here I guess.
    Again thanks for making this easier than it might have been. Missy is a delight to make around most of the time now and getting more controlled every day.


  7. I have a collie puppy he gets car sick the vet said he would grow out of it is there anything I can do to help.


    Minette Reply:

    use the search bar at the top of the page, there are several articles on car sickness.


  8. Mary Snoddy says:

    I gave my daughter a German Shepard for a service dog but hasn’t been trained yet. He is just over 1 year old a taking him outside and bringing in is horrible. He pulls me, yanks me a runs and jumps. How do we calm him down while taking him out and bringing him in. PLEASE HELP ME with this I’m 66 yrs old and have bad knees.


  9. Mandy Le Chevalier says:

    I have a 20mth old Jack Russell Jasper. I have problems with the car and when people come and leave the house. He has a crate in the car which he can’t wait to get in he jumps up into the boot and goes straight in his crate good as gold then he starts to bark and bark and doesn’t give up. When we reach our destination I let him out and as he jumps out the boot the barking and aggression is gone. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 5minute journey or an hour he barks constantly the whole time. When someone comes to the door he does the same crazy constant barking when they come in he settles but when they go to leave the barking starts again. He throws himself st the door and barks like mad then once I shut the front door he stops and everything is quiet again. Can u help me. I’m thinking of getting a behaviouralist to come and see him but they are so expensive. I want to try everything myself before I go down that road.


    Minette Reply:

    Behaviorists are often worth their weight in gold because they can work directly with you and your dog


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