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I’ve chosen to write a crate training guide…NAY, I’m writing the ULTIMATE GUIDE to Crate Training Your Labrador Puppy!
Because my family and I have used a crate with every dog we’ve ever owned and I cannot recommend it enough, for the benefit of both you and your Lab.
I believe crate training your Labrador has so many benefits that every owner should at least be able to make an educated decision whether they want to crate train their Lab, and to then have all the information readily at hand to be able to do so if they desire.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: If you’re looking to purchase your first crate we recommend the Midwest Life Stages Crate. We got one for our first puppy, Linus and 14+ years later we’re using the exact same crate!
A 7 Part Guide To Crate Training
In order to do the subject justice and provide all the information I think you’ll need, I have broken the guide down into 7 distinct articles, each linked to below. Please click the article title to be taken to there:
- Why use a dog crate – and is it cruel to crate a dog?
It most definitely isn’t cruel, there are some overwhelming reasons why crate training your Labrador is hugely beneficial for both you and them. But if you have any fears or have read some people believe it is cruel, this article will dispel that myth and discuss all the possible pros and cons.
- How to use a dog crate – When and when NOT to crate your dog
Though a crate is a very useful tool when used correctly there are times in a dog’s life when they shouldn’t be crated, and even some dogs that should never be crated at all. Learn the times and circumstances when crating should be employed and when it should be avoided.
- What size dog crate should you get and which type is best?
Learn to choose the correct style and size of crate for your dog. This decision is absolutely crucial! Too small it’s inhumane, too large it loses its effectiveness and of course a puppy must have a smaller crate than an adult dog. This article will give you all the info you need to select the right crate.
- What to put in a dog crate, where to put it, how to get it prepared:
In order to use a crate effectively, not only must the crate be the right style and size, but you must buy a few accessories to make it a lovely, welcoming place where your dog looks forward to spending time. This article will discuss what’s needed and why.
- How to crate train a puppy – step by step
This article will teach you the process of crate training your puppy in easy to follow steps. While still a puppy is the ideal age to crate train a dog and you should start as soon as possible.
- How to crate train an older dog – Yours or adopted
Maybe you have an adult dog and hadn’t considered crate training before? Maybe you’ve just adopted? Or maybe you’d never heard of it until now? Well it’s never too late to start! Crate training the older dog is harder than a puppy but it’s far from impossible. This article gives guidance on how to crate train an older dog.
- A List Of Dog Crates Highly Recommended By Labrador Training HQ
A high quality, durable crate of the correct size and type is essential to guarantee safety, comfort and to get the best out of the crate training experience. But with so many styles, types and sizes available, selecting a suitable crate is no easy task. So we at Labrador Training HQ have taken the hard work out of the hunt by putting together a hand picked selection of the best crates available that you can see by reading this article.
A Summary of Benefits to Crate Training Your Labrador
So you don’t have to trawl through the complete guide looking for a summary of the benefits you and your Lab can enjoy from the use of a crate, I thought I would list them here:
- Safety – You can safely confine your dog to keep them out of harms way when you’re unable to supervise them for short periods of time.
- Travel safety – A crate is a very useful tool to confine your dog safely during travel by car or by air and reduces the stress they feel due to being in a comfortable and familiar crate.
- Security – A dog learns to view their crate as a special place all of their own, where no human ventures and they can get away from it all to be alone when they desire. It’s their own little place of security.
- House-training – You can take advantage of a puppy’s innate instincts to keep their ‘den’ nice and clean, doing their best not to soil where they live and sleep. A crate is the one tool that can be used to dramatically speed up the time needed to train your lab to toilet outside and to improve their bladder and bowel control.
- Protecting your possessions – A crate is a useful tool in teaching your puppy to be fixated on chew toys and not your furniture and shoes. By securing them when you cannot supervise them, it prevents them chewing things they shouldn’t and by having chew toys in the crate, it helps them learn what they can and cannot chew.
- Boarding and kennels – If there’s ever a time you need to board your Labrador or place them in quarantine, the ordeal will be far less traumatic for your pet if they’re already accustomed to and comfortable being confined in a crate.
A quick note about boarding and kennels. When our Linus got sick he had to stay in the kennel at the vets office while he recovered.
Thank goodness he was crate trained. When I came in to stay with him he was comfortable in his crate with an IV hanging out of his leg.
These are just some of the benefits you and your Labrador can enjoy if you take the time and trouble to crate train your dog. I’m sure you’ll agree that this all sounds pretty good?
Is Crate Training Always Successful?
Sadly not. Dogs are individuals and come with their own likes and dislikes. So although a crate can be used to benefit the vast majority of dogs, there will always be a select few that just will not enjoy or accept being crated.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We get all of our puppies a Calmeroos Puppy Toy with Heartbeat and Heat Pack for their first nights home. It helped our last 3 puppies (Charlie, Doni, and Downey) get used to their crate in only a few nights. WARNING: The Calmeroos Puppy is a plush toy so if you have a destructive dog be sure to not leave them with the Calmeroos Puppy unsupervised.
This is particularly true for the occasional adopted dog for which their background is unknown.
Dogs up for adoption may have had bad and traumatic experiences with crates earlier on in their lives, where owners used a crate as a form of punishment or misused a crate amounting to imprisonment.
There are also dogs that will happily use a crate until the door is locked or they’re left alone, and will then go ballistic and do everything in their power to try to escape the crate, causing themselves distress and possibly even physical harm.
Obviously in these cases, a crate should not be used.
These cases though are the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of dogs learn to love and enjoy spending time in their crate.
Should Everybody Crate Train Their Lab?
I believe everybody should at least educate themselves on the subject and give it a go.
When a crate’s used correctly the benefits are huge, and only in the hands of people who crate inhumanely, for extended periods, for punishment and imprisonment is there any downside to it.
But you’re not that type of person and will never use it as a tool for punishment!
If you have any worries or fears about using a crate, please read the rest of this guide to see if it’s for you. Hopefully your mind will be put at rest and you’ll at least give it a go.
And please note that worldwide, countless hundreds of thousands of owners, trainers, breeders, working dog owners, agility and show competitors and even the ‘Humane society of the united states’ condone the use of a crate!
But if after trying to use a crate following the strategy in this guide, your dog doesn’t take to it, shows fear, anxiety or violently tries to chew his way out of a crate, (all of this is rare!) do not ever force them to because this is when it’s inhumane!
You just might be one of the rare cases where using a crate doesn’t suit your Lab and sometimes this needs to be accepted.
Crating doesn’t work for every single dog, but for the vast majority it does. And when it does work it’s an extremely useful tool for safety and security, benefiting the lives of both you and your Lab.
The process needs to be approached with the knowledge of what you’re trying to achieve and how a crate should be used for the benefit of your dog and not as a form of punishment or imprisonment.
By soaking up the knowledge in this guide and following the steps I outline for crate training, you and your Lab can enjoy the rewards that using a crate provides.
Your Lab will be happier, safer, more secure, less likely to engage in destructive behavior and from these facts you can enjoy a greater peace of mind that you are doing the very best for your dog.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: Earlier we recommended the Midwest Life Stages Crate. One of our favorite features is the crate comes with a divider that allows you to adjust the size of your crate as your puppy grows.
Feedback, Questions and Comments
If you’ve any feedback or questions to ask, go ahead and leave them in the comments section below. I will always try my best to respond to every one of them.
Click here for part 2 of ‘Crate training – The complete guide‘: Why use a dog crate-and is it cruel to crate a dog?
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Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
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We Like: Bones & Chews Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
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We Like: Crazy Dog Train Me Treats - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
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We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.
Hey! I have a 2 month pitbull (not a lab but still) and I really want her to like the crate more. I need more tips on how to crate train my pup. P.S. I put her in the garage. Should I move her into my room or keep her in the living room.
Hi Lukas. The article above links to 6 or 7 further articles on crate training that forms the complete guide. Have you read all the articles? There’s lots of tips and advice in there that should see you right if you follow the advice and crate train your dog with patience and dedication. Read the whole guide and put it into action, then if you have any problems by all means come back and ask for any help if you need it. Good luck!
Hi… am going to bring home a lab puppy in two weeks time by then it would be 7 weeks old, at present the pup is with the mother and the breeder has started with royalcanin . Once i bring him home what kind of food i should feed him?? Same royal canin or eggs and meats along?
It’s best to stick to the same food the breeder is feeding at first because a change of food almost always leads to an upset tummy and your puppy will be going through enough without this change also.
You can see more advice in our article here: Feeding Your Labrador Puppy: What, How Much, How Often?
All the best!
I have a lab who is 8 now, and she was crate trained as a puppy. We don’t even need a crate anymore because it worked so well! Thanks for this great article!
I share similar experience. After around 2 1/2 or 3 years old, my dogs have always been able to be trusted around the house not to destroy things as they didn’t develop bad habits while a pup due to careful supervision and crating. So we’ve always let them have full run of the house once they can be trusted – which is great for them and us :-)
Thanks for stopping by!
Hi – I had no problems getting my puppy (now 15 weeks) to accept going into the crate – and even napping in there with the door open or shut, while I sat nearby. He also sleeps there overnight without too much fuss now (although goes frantic doing a mad little dance to be let out in the morning). However, he won’t allow me to lock him in during the day, whether he wants a nap or not, without going nuts. I’ve tried doing it gradually but as soon as he realises I’m moving away he starts fussing, so I don’t get the opportunity to return to him before he does this. The basic issue is he won’t let me leave him alone at all! He follows me from room to room and hates me leaving him with another family member and going out, so it’s not the crate itself. I need to be able to leave him home alone occasionally – please help!
It’s quite common for a puppy, especially a lab puppy, to follow you around the house. I mean, even my adult labs do that! haha.
In all seriousness though, it’s one of those things you have to persevere at. Google the term ‘train dog to accept time alone’ and read the top few articles (sorry, I’ve not got this covered on the site yet and it needs a long article, too long to write here) try to take the best bits from a few, the bits that sound like they apply to you most.
This is something I think you really should put time and effort into (I’m not saying you already aren’t!) as it could evolve into separation anxiety later in your pups life.
Hi I have recently got a jack Russell/pug puppy who is 9 weeks old , I am having so much trouble getting him to sleep in the crate at night in the kitchen with door closed, do NOT want him in the lounge or our bedroom at night. He howls so loud constantly only having small breaks in between, he will also poo and wee every where, I have only had him a week and never had a dog before. Need advice!
Have you been through the whole guide above? There’s lots of useful advice in there that should tell you all you need to know.
I have a 7 year old Shi–Tuz. Moved to a different climate. Cries and wines all nite. Can I crate hom?
Yes you can crate him. He is reacting to his new environment and may also need a little attention from you to show that all is okay.
We just brought home an 8 week old lab yesterday.
Is it normal for them to cry all night in crate? I’m sure
I made a mistake by bringing her to my bed :(
My question is should I just put her in crate and let her cry all night until she gets used to it? Thanks for any help!
I have a dog blog just about to launch, and would love to use your article on crate training. I think it’s the best one on this subject I have ever read. I too have a lab, but my blog is for all dogs and I think my readers could benefit from your article. Please let me know if this would be acceptable to you, I will of course show you as the author and back link it to your site. Again a very well written and detailed article. Lee
hi!! what size of crate for a lab pup which i can use for few months or a year? thanks
I have a lab puppy who is 7 weeks old. My husband and I both work second shift and I want to make sure she can’t get into any thing that could possibly harm her and to help with the housebreaking process. When is the best time to start crate training and would I have to purchase a smaller crate to start with and buy a larger one as she grows? Or could I begin with a larger crate to suit her as an adult? I’m new to this but I really do think we could all benefit from crate training my sweet girl.
We just brought home our new 8 week old puppy on Friday. He goes in and out of crate no problem when treats are placed and he even napped in there a few times (but by us putting him in there after he has fallen asleep elsewhere). However, at night he does not want to be in there, although he stays asleep in there for a bit after placing him in, but he wakes up soon after and wants out. We are very good with keeping him busy all day and night so he is plenty tired. Yes, I let him out last night after excessive whining and crying, and when I let him out he came right over to the couch where I was sleeping and fell asleep instantly on the floor and got a good 6 hours sleep. Would it be helpful to put the crate close to the couch where I’m temporarily sleeping through this process?
Great info and guidance on how, when and when not to crate your dog. I especially liked the article on crating older dogs as I have found that to be quite a challenge on a couple of occasions. Your pointers are very helpful.
Bringing home an 8.5 week old doodle puppy in 2 weeks. I read through the guide and you mention training taking a couple of days. What’s the best way to handle the first nights until she’s more comfortable in the crate? Thank you!