How to kennel/crate train a puppy

How to kennel/crate train a puppy


It takes time for a puppy’s bladder to grow… Young pups stop wherever they are and go. You see how often when their Mom stops cleaning it up. Their bladders get bigger as they grow… But an 8 week old pup may still do it every hour (or less).

Most dogs won’t go on their bed. They will hold it. Their kennel will become their bed. This holding stretches their bladder out a bit at a time.


For 50 years of my life I did not kennel train. Now that I am rescuing, the sheer numbers of dogs in my home (up to 40 – yes in my house) have made me learn and appreciate the benefits of kennelling. Consistent kennelling shortens training time.

My favourite benefit is greatly reducing the “mad” times which is stressful for both you and the pup and increasing the “happy to see each other times.” Coming home or waking up to nothing destroyed and no messes are happy wonderful experiences. Verses coming home or waking to chewed up stuff (from boredom) and accidents, causing unhappy interactions.

Kennelling prevents accidents and doesn’t allow the pup to develop a habit of going in the wrong place. And it shows your pup exactly where you “want” it to go.

Kennelled dogs are able to travel with less anxiety – in their safe place.


The kennel should be just big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. You should think of it as a bed, a place to curl up and rest. A kennel that is too big allows them to make a mistake on one end, and still sleep on the other side.

You can put a small blanket or towel for comfort, unless they shred it. It is OK to kennel dogs without bedding.

Place a sheet over the whole kennel, blocking all view – so they do not have visual stimulation. This is an important part – and tells the puppy to settle down now, no matter what noises it is hearing. Don’t change the sound level or activity level in the environment. The puppy will learn the usual happenings.

Many dogs will cry, possibly for an extended period in the beginning. There can be god awful cries that sound like the puppy is perishing. Often this is much harder on the human than it actually is on the puppy. You should completely ignore this. Any interaction including telling the puppy to be quiet will make it worse. They get louder and cry longer when they know their crying is causing a reaction. If it’s too much, move the kennel to a room where you can close the door. If you have a basement – you will not hear much. The garage is fine if weather permits. Anywhere that is not too hot or too cold for the pup. All dogs will settle down with time. And cry less each time they are kennelled, if they receive no reaction. Consistency is key.


Walk to the dog and leash it – then lead it to the kennel. “Every time” you put the dog in the kennel, say; “Kennel Up.” Some will walk straight in the first couple times. Then you may have to “make” your pup go in. And after a few times, you may have to chase them down to catch them, cause the gig is up. If you are consistent, (not giving in sometimes) most dogs go in simply on command to “Kennel Up” after just a few days.


The time period that the pup is in the kennel is determined by the age of the dog. The time period increases as their bladder grows. My general guidelines:

8 Weeks = 2 Hours… 9 Weeks = 3 Hours… 10 Weeks = 4 Hours… Etc…


When the time period is up, open the kennel door – immediately leash the pup and jog quickly to the door and out to the exact spot you want the pup to go. If the pup doesn’t make it to the door, for a few days you may want to carry it immediately outside instead – until control increases a bit.

Once at the “go” spot, stay there until the pup does its business. Then praise the pup and unleash it. It can now stay out and play for ½ hour… Then back in the kennel. This time out can increase 15 minutes each week.

Some folks have trouble in the beginning with only getting interaction with their pup for ½ hour at a time. Then nothing for 2 hours. But pups often interact in a similar pattern normally. Play for awhile – then rest. I have extended it occasionally by taking the pup back outside to go again, after the half hour, then letting it play another half hour again before kennelling. When weather permits, the pup can spend hours outdoors with you – then kennelled again upon going back in the house. It slows down the training a bit as the bladder only gets trained when they have to hold it.


Try 8 hours the first time. With the environment quiet and no activities – the pup may settle down, sleep and make it through the whole night. If the pup messes in the kennel you may want to take puppy out once in the middle of the night for a few nights. Just out to go – and back in the kennel.


Dogs have a nose 100 times more powerful than ours. Traces of urine that are still detectable can trigger dogs to go in that same place.

Any accidents should be cleaned up completely. A damp rag won’t do it. Pick up the majority of the mess… I use small towels to pick up urine. Then use hot soapy water with a bit of bleach to clean the area. Then dry the area. Don’t use ammonia based cleaners which smell very much like urine to the dog.

I run the YARN Nursery, which means I take care of the puppies. These are only my methods and observations from rescuing many pups.


There is the odd puppy that will continue crying when kennelled for a week or two. If you’ve tried kennel house training – and you just can’t take it, you can try regular house training. It will take longer. There will be accidents.

You will want to leash your puppy and take it outside on a regular basis – no more than two hours apart. If your puppy is not making it through 2 hours without a mistake – take it out every hour for the first couple of days.

Take the puppy out “every single time” the puppy wakes up for sure. Take it out after the puppy eats… And after a busy play session. Stay outside with the pup until they go. As soon as they go, praise puppy using a happy voice. Now you can let the puppy play with abandon – for two hours or so.

When mistakes happen, clean up the area very well, to avoid “trigger” mistakes. (they smell it there – so they go there)

Puppy’s develop a habit of going in the same place… If they have made a mistake in the same spot a few times – you will want to watch that area to catch them.

Just before the puppy makes a mistake, they usually start searching while sniffing the ground… When they stop and do a spin in the same spot, they are about to poop. Hustle that puppy out the door as soon as possible. You may want to pick it up and carry it out – just to get it outside in time.

If you choose to reprimand your puppy – only do it when you have actually caught the puppy in the act. They forget very quickly – so reprimanding them 5 minutes later will just confuse the pup.

Pups need to learn the path to the door – so don’t continue carrying them outside every time. They need to see all the things they will normally pass “on their eye level.” Carrying them – they only see the things they need to pass that are up on your eye level – which doesn’t show them how to get their on their own.

I would still strongly recommend kennelling your pup during the night and definitely anytime the puppy is left home alone (when you don’t have to hear it) to avoid mistakes and possible chewing of various household items. Puppies need things to chew on to help their teeth develop. And they get bored very quickly when they are left on their own, and will chew whatever they find.

If you ever intend to travel with your dog, it will definitely be a plus to have your pup already comfortable in their kennel.

– Cheryl @ Yukon Animal Rescue Network – YARN Nursery.

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