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Is Crate Training Important for all dogs? When should you start?

Crate training can feel really emotional for pet parents because none of us like to feel like we are excluding our best friend from everyday life.

This is often one of the most common things I hear when I bring up crate training .

Feelings of guilt, and sadness.

So should you do it? Will it make your dog sad to be all by themselves?

I invite people to think of crate training as a life skill for your dog and the crate itself as a symbol of relaxation and safety to your dog.

Rather than a process by which you exclude your dog from your life, crate training can actually teach your dog lifelong skills that will make their life better and yours!

Your dog doesn't have to be sad in their crate if you introduce it in a way that shows them it's just another avenue for down time, and relaxing.

Crates are a great way to give your dog down time and to help them take a break. Younger dogs, puppies, and anxious dogs often wont choose down time or taking breaks on their own-

it's something you have to show and teach them so they can become more balanced in everyday life.

If you have ever been around a cranky toddler you know that taking breaks, and naps is important. The world is a very stimulating place, especially nowadays where none of us take the time to just be still. And If the busyness of the world affects us, it most certainly impacts how we relate to our dogs. Many dogs, just like us, never get the chance to just be still and to learn that it can feel good to just be.

I personally think this is why meditation and mindfulness practices have become so main stream in recent years. We need tools, more now than ever, that help us remember how to be still, how to enjoy being still, and that connect us more deeply with the present moment. Our dogs are no different and have unfortunately also been affected by our epidemic of "constant busyness!"

Toddlers and puppies alike will convince you they can keep playing, but you will start to notice some pretty obvious signs of irritability when you skip nap or break time!

Crates are a way for your dog to process training, play, and everyday life in a quiet non-stimulating environment so that your dog has the chance to learn new skills more quickly and practice just "hanging out".

This is a huge life skill!

Like way bigger than learning how to sit.


Because crate training teaches your dog how to self soothe, relax, and shift "emotional" gears on their own. Meaning, they can go from playing outside to relaxing inside more fluidly and with less issue the more they practice. This impacts all areas of life.

Think of anything that works your dog up and how long it takes them to relax after.

This is a life skill that crate training can be hugely helpful with.

Crate training also teaches our dogs how to feel safe and be relaxed away from us, so they don't depend on us for these feelings, but can find them on their own.

So how can you crate train your dog in a compassionate way that eliminates feelings of isolation or overwhelm for you or your dog?

  • Get your dog on a crating schedule, and feed them there meals in there if possible.

  • Make sure to start out with short amounts of time then very gradually increase.

  • Make sure to start out with you in the room, then gradually fade yourself from the room, then the area, then the house.

  • You can also work on "free shaping to a crate" to get your dog started going in their crate - there are a ton of videos online if you search this. This is how I always start dogs in a crate, especially dogs that are nervous about crates. There are always ways you can break down training if your dog needs a smaller step to feel successful.

Start today!

Yes it can be easier if you start this from day one with your puppy or dog, but the best time to do anything is always right now. Start small and work your way up.

Once your dog will happily go in their crate and hang out in there quietly with you and then eventually without you, make sure to maintain this by practicing daily crate time even after they don't seem to "need it".

This is an important skill to maintain in case your dog needs to be kenneled for boarding, training, or for medical reasons.

ALL of your dogs' training requires maintenance, just like we do for any skills (physical or mental) that we learn.

I hope this gives you some better feelings around crate training and that it also reminds you to take some time for yourself to just be still.

Happy Training!

Valerie works with dogs of all breeds and temperaments and focuses on teaching dogs to want to make the choices that we want them to without causing conflict. For their sake as well as yours!

She believes in building deep trust and connection with the animals she works with and has found that this is always the final ingredient in a successful partnership.

To find out more about Valerie you can visit her About page at

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