The Crate Cast- Podcast on Crate Training Your Dog

dog crate

Link to Crate Training Podcast


Hey hey everyone. Sammy the Dog Trainer here on this lovely November afternoon.  Don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend if you’re on the whole cockamamy daylight savings scheme.  Or if you’re like me, all the clocks in your house are wrong anyway, so who cares? Today we’re going to be talking about crate training.

Sometimes I get grief from people about the subject of dog crates.  They don’t like the idea of locking a dog up.  Would you lock your kid up?  Well, I don’t have kids.  And I don’t have them for a reason...just kidding I love kids.  Kids are awesome.  Kids and dogs are kindred spirits I think.  But the answer to that question is you do actually lock your kid up.  What is a crib?  What is a playpen?  Do you let your toddler just wander around wherever they want?  I bet probably not.  A look there goes Johnny wandering out into traffic.  Oh well.  Yeah no.  Don’t think so.

A dog crate functions much the same way.  It provides a measure of safety for your dog when you can’t watch him.  Puppies or dogs who are not housebroken yet get into to things.  They eat things.  They chew stuff up.  Unfortunately sometimes this can be life threatening.  Not only can your puppy develop a blockage in his intestines that could possibly kill him, he could chew on your wiring and burn your house down.  Lovely.
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Ok, Sammy.  That sounds pretty serious.  You bet your chickens it’s serious.  I’m not sure if betting chickens is a phrase…I just made it a phrase.  It’s probably horrible and has something to do with cock fighting.  I do NOT support cock fighting.  Oh Sammy the Dog Trainer supports rooster fighting.  Aaaah!  No I do not.  How do I get myself into these messes?  Anyway, yes crate training is a matter of safety for your dog.

Obviously do not lock your dog up for super long periods of time.  The crate is meant for only when you can’t watch them.  Like at night when you’re sleeping or when you’re not home.  The amount of time you should leave your dog in a crate varies depending on age and circumstance, but the absolute max is 8 hours.  Here at Camp Sammy, the doggo guests are only in the crates for meal times, sleeping if they need it (otherwise they sleep on the couch), or when I am out for a couple hours.  No more than that.  As we speak there are dogs leaping all around me.  It’s kinda awesome.

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My puppy cries in the crate, Sammy.  

It’s really loud.  I hate it.  This is a common problem.  There are some more complex ways around it, but usually it’s the healthiest to let your puppy cry it out and ignore. How do I know if she’s just crying because she doesn’t want to be in the crate or if she has to go out to potty?  If you put her in there and she cries right away, I would ignore her.  If she has been asleep for a bit, wakes up, and then starts crying, take her out.  Once she wakes up, her systems get moving, and she will probably have to pee.  Then after she does her business, reward her, then stick her back in the crate with something tasty to chew on.  I always leave the dogs with something safe to gnaw on in their crates.  The dogs that stay with me know they’re going in the crates when I start saying “let’s find something to chew on.”  They get happy and go to their places because they know what’s coming next is “Go in your home.”  Then cookies and something awesome to gnaw on.

What are some examples of good things for a dog to chew on?  

I like marrow or shin bones.  Those are the cylindrical bones you can get a pet and feed stores, or online.  Check the source of any animal products.  Nylabones are a good product too.  A lot of your local businesses will have goodies to check out.  I just found this awesome local company, Ark Naturals, that makes an extremely effective dental chew.  I met them at a Howloween doggy event and loved that they source all their ingredients in the US.  They’ve since expanded and you can find their products in boutique pet stores all over or online.

Another fun thing I like to do to amuse the doggos in their crates is fill a Kong toy with peanut butter (no salt, plain, no sugar and definitely not sugar free) or yogurt (same things apply here) and freeze it.  Freezing it makes it last longer and it’s a fun treat for your pet.

How do I graduate my dog from the crate?  

The answer to that is slowly.  If you take my online course (hint hint…shameless self-promotion.  Check it out on or search Practical, Easy Dog Training for the Real World on Udemy), you will know about the gradual steps necessary to train our dogs.  For the crate, the same applies.  Work your way up in unsupervised time.  Don’t just leave your dog for the whole day and expect miracles.  Try a half hour and work up from there.  Don’t give your dog run of the whole house.  A favorite thing for not quite housebroken dogs to do is run into a back room with nice fluffy carpet and pee or poo.  Restrict their space privileges and work up in space allowance.  Another thing you can try is a doggy playpen.  Don’t buy one of those fabric kiddy playpens.  Unless you want the amusement of watching your dog rip holes in it.  Then by all means, get a kiddy play pen.  I have some listed on my site if you’re interested.  I like the heavy-duty steel ones that I can add or subtract panels to change the shape as I need to.  Just a word of warning, these are not for climber dogs.  Climber dogs can get their paws stuck in the pens and it can hurt them.  So judge your individual dog to see if they need a pen with a lid on it or if they are not going to try escape by climbing out.  Each dog is different.  Hence the Camp Sammy mantra of tailoring the training to your dog.

Is it okay to put a bed in the crate?  

Yes absolutely, especially if your dog doesn’t tear it up and eat it or pee all over it.  If she does, then you will need to look at other options.  Or contact me for an online or telephone consult.  I like those fluffy blankets you get at Walmart for 15 to 20 bucks because I can throw them in the laundry and sanitize them easily and dogs tend not to be tempted to destroy them as quickly as traditional dog beds.  Obviously if you have a more senior dog, the orthopedic and fancier dog beds are better for their joints, but hopefully by then they won’t be destroying things…hopefully.  If not, reach out to me and I will see what I can do to coach you.
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Now if your dog is doing things like gnawing on the crate and destroying it to break free, you have a whole other set of issues on your hands.  This is dangerous separation anxiety and will need some expert coaching and some other specialized tools to get you through it.  To avoid these situations in the future, crate train your dogs when you first get them.  At some point in your dog’s life, they will have to be in a crate, whether it be at the vet’s or boarding or traveling or whatever.  Help them out by training them early!

From my professional experience, dogs who are properly crate trained tend to be more balanced and happier.  It gives them a safe place to go and decompress.  Being a dog, in my estimation, is probably exhausting.  Their senses are so heightened, with their hearing and sense of smell.  They are constantly bombarded with stimulus all around them.  The crate provides them a nice, safe place to go to decompress from all that.  I like to put a blanket over the crate to make it den-like.  Just on three sides…not all four.  Oops Fluffy, you’re in the dark.  No, leave a side or two open.  This mimics a natural den environment that a dog might encounter in the wild.  Try feeding your dog their meals in their crate to help perpetuate this idea.  Dogs eat when they are safe.  Momma dog or their packmates who care for the puppies would come into the den and regurgitate meals for them to snack on in the den.  So by feeding your dog in their crate, you are telling your dog this is a nice safe place.  You can relax here.  I feed the dogs in crates here at Camp Sammy so they aren’t eating each other’s food and tussling over stuff as well.  Win win.  Most dogs who are properly crate trained love their crates and voluntarily go in there when the door is left open for naps and whatnot.

So to summarize, no crates are not evil.  We crate our kids too, it’s just not called a crate because then child services would be called and that’s not good for anybody.  No, we use kiddy playpens and cribs and strollers and those crazy bouncy chair thingies…don’t know what those are called.  But it’s the same idea.  It contains your kid so they can’t get into too much mischief and burn your house down.  Don’t let your dog burn your house down.  Give them a nice safe place to decompress.  A crate should be big enough for your dog to fully stand up and circle.  So with that in mind, go shopping.  Use my affiliate links…ah more shameless promoting.  Speaking of which, if you enjoyed today’s podcast and would like one more please support this podcast by clicking the support button on my page or by going to and supporting Sammy the Dog Trainer.  When you support this podcast you get to pick a topic you want to know about.  If you want to support but can’t find the buttons, give me a shout out at or look us up on Facebook at Camp Sammy Tamp Dog Training or on our website at

Cheers and happy November y’all!
-Sammy the Dog Trainer


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