How to Crate Train a Dog for Potty Training?

A method which many people use to potty train their dogs is the crate training method. Crates for dogs come made with of all sorts of materials and come in many sizes.

Crates can be very useful for many different things including providing your dog with a comfortable spot to sleep, for transportation, and yes, for potty training too.

Today we want to go over a step-by-step tutorial on how to use a crate to potty train a dog. There are quite a few steps involved here, so let’s get to it.

Why Crates for Potty Training?

Before we go through our tutorial, it’s worth noting why crates tend to work quite well for potty training. In your home, the dog crate is like a den for a dog in the wild. Dogs like to have dens, dog houses, and other such things for comfort.

They live in the den, the den is warm, the den provides security from threats and competition. Just like in the wild, a dog is not going to pee or defecate in their den. Dogs are not going to do their business where they sleep, just like you would not pee on your own bed. Therefore, because domesticated dogs will view that crate as a den, they won’t pee in the crate, thus providing a perfect potty training opportunity, a real teachable moment.

Potty Crate Training Your Dog – A Tutorial

If you follow the simple steps which we have outlined below, using a crate to potty train your dog should not be hard at all, and it should be doable in a few short steps.

1. Introduce the Crate

Puppies may not naturally want to go into the crate or feel comfortable with it at first; you need to introduce the puppy to the crate. Just set the crate up in your home and let the puppy explore it. Do not put the roof/lid of the crate on it just yet. This first step is nothing more than a simple introduction so your puppy can get used to it.

2. Make the Crate Seem Friendly

Once the puppy has seen the crate, sniffed around it, and gotten used to it, the next step is to make the crate seem like home. Put a blanket and some toys in the crate, maybe some treats too. This will encourage the puppy to go inside the crate and spend time in there. A bed is a good way to make any place feel like home.

3. Moving Food and Water Closer

Food and water are always great motivators. Therefore, start by feeding your puppy fairly close to the crate. Each mealtime, move the food and water closer to the crate. Eventually, you can then put the food and water inside of the crate. This should encourage the puppy to go inside of the crate, and it will make it feel like home.

4. Put Things in the Crate and Add the Lid

Keep putting more items, toys, and blankets in the crate, anything you can do to encourage the dog to go into the crate. Eventually, once the dog looks comfortable in the crate, put the lid on it. The lid will make the crate feel more like a den, a real home with a protective roof.

5. Try Closing the Crate’s Door

Something you can try doing is to close the door of the crate to see how the puppy reacts. This is something you should do if you plan on keeping the puppy in the crate during the day. It needs to get used to that door being closed.

6. Keep the Crate Close to the Door

If using the crate for potty training purposes, make sure to keep it close to the door. If the puppy has to travel too far from the crate to the outdoors, it might have an accident along the way.

7. From Crate to Outdoors Immediately – REWARD!

Now, what you need to do is to keep the puppy in the crate for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, and then immediately take it outdoors to pee and to do its business. Remember that dogs naturally don’t do their business where they sleep.

However, while they may view their own crate as their home, they might not view the rest of your house as such.

Therefore, taking the puppy from the crate outdoors immediately, without stopping for a break in the rest of the home, is essential if you want the puppy to pee outdoors instead of your home. Once the puppy is outside and does its business, you need to praise and reward it. This will send the message that the puppy has done a good job.

8. Move the Crate Away from the Door

Once your puppy gets the picture that it should not go to the bathroom inside of the crate, only outdoors, you can then start moving the crate further away from the main door.

You may eventually even remove the crate from the equation while keeping the bedding and everything else in place. This should send the message to the puppy that the whole house, not just the crate, is off limits for going to the bathroom.


As you can see, using a crate to potty train your dog, while it will take a few steps and a couple of weeks, should work wonders. Don’t forget that crates can be used for a lot more than just potty training!