Cesar Millan’s Crate Training Guide | How to Crate Train Your Dog

Cesar Millan, the renowned dog behaviorist, has become a household name when it comes to canine training and rehabilitation. One of the key techniques that Millan emphasizes in his training methods is crate training. Crate training, when done correctly, can be a highly effective tool in potty training, providing a safe space for dogs, and teaching them boundaries and self-control. Millan advocates for properly using the crate as a positive and comfortable space for dogs, rather than a form of punishment. Through his expertise and unique approach, he’s helped countless dogs and their owners establish a harmonious relationship through successful crate training.

Are Crate Trained Dogs Better Behaved?

Crate training has long been accepted by professional trainers and veterinarians as one of the quickest and least stressful ways to mold desirable behaviors in dogs. This can lead to improved behavior both inside and outside of the crate.

By having designated times for meals, bathroom breaks, playtime, and sleep in the crate, dogs learn to anticipate and adapt to a structured daily schedule. This can lead to better behaved dogs as they learn to control their impulses and understand what’s expected of them.

By being confined to a crate for short periods of time, dogs learn to wait patiently for their owners attention or for a signal to be released from the crate. This can be particularly useful in situations where the dog needs to be calm and controlled, such as when visitors come over or during car rides.

Furthermore, crate training can aid in housebreaking dogs. Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, and by confining them to a crate, owners can establish a routine for bathroom breaks and reinforce proper elimination habits. Over time, dogs can learn to hold their bladder and bowels until they’re let outside, leading to a more well-behaved and housebroken companion.

How to Properly Crate Train a Dog

  • Start by introducing the crate as a positive and safe space for your dog.
  • Choose the right size crate for your dog, ensuring they’ve enough room to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Place the crate in a quiet and calm area of your home, away from excessive noise or foot traffic.
  • Gradually introduce your dog to the crate by leaving the door open and placing treats or toys inside.
  • Encourage your dog to enter the crate on their own and reward them with praise or treats when they do.
  • Once your dog is comfortable entering the crate, start closing the door for short periods of time, gradually increasing the duration.
  • While your dog is in the crate, provide them with a comfortable bed or blanket and toys to keep them entertained.
  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment; it should always be seen as a positive and safe space.
  • Stick to a consistent crate training schedule, gradually increasing the time your dog spends in the crate.
  • When letting your dog out of the crate, do so calmly and avoid any excessive excitement or fuss.
  • With patience and consistency, your dog will learn to view the crate as their den and feel secure spending time inside.

In addition to the benefits, crate training does come with a set of cons that should be considered. One common drawback is the potential for people to rely too heavily on crates, leaving their dogs confined for extended periods of time. This can lead to feelings of isolation and boredom for the dog. Furthermore, crates may worsen existing anxiety issues in some dogs, causing increased distress. It’s also important to ensure that the crate is appropriately sized, as incorrect dimensions can cause discomfort and emotional distress. Additionally, certain medical conditions may be exacerbated by crate confinement. It’s crucial to assemble the crate correctly to prevent any risk of injury to your dog, and proper ventilation is vital to ensure their safety.

What Are the Cons of Crate Training?

One of the cons of crate training is that many people become overreliant on crates and end up leaving their dogs in them for longer periods of time than necessary. While crates can be a useful tool for house training and providing a safe space for a dog, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for exercise and interaction. Dogs need regular exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization, and relying too heavily on a crate can lead to a sedentary and isolated lifestyle for the dog.

While crates can provide a sense of security for many dogs, some dogs may become anxious and stressed when confined in a small space. This can lead to behaviors such as whining, barking, scratching at the crate, and even self-injury in extreme cases. It’s important to carefully observe your dogs behavior and consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist if you suspect that your dog is experiencing anxiety related to crate training.

Incorrect sizing of the crate can cause physical and emotional distress for the dog. A crate that’s too small can make the dog feel cramped and uncomfortable, while a crate that’s too large can undermine the den-like atmosphere that a crate is intended to provide. It’s important to choose a crate that’s the appropriate size for your dogs breed and size and to regularly assess and adjust the crate size as your dog grows.

Incorrect assembly of the crate can also be dangerous to your dog. A poorly assembled crate can have sharp edges, rough surfaces, or weak spots that could potentially injure your dog. It’s essential to carefully read and follow the manufacturers instructions when assembling a crate and regularly inspect the crate for any signs of wear or damage.

Finally, if not properly ventilated, a crate can be very dangerous for a dog. Dogs can quickly overheat in a confined space, especially in hot weather or when exposed to direct sunlight. It’s crucial to ensure that your dogs crate is well-ventilated and placed in a cool, shaded area to prevent heat stroke or dehydration.

Potential Negative Effects on Dogs’ Mental Health and Well-Being

The potential negative effects on dogs’ mental health and well-being can include anxiety, stress, and depression. Dogs are social animals and thrive on companionship and physical activity. Lack of social interaction, mental stimulation, and exercise can lead to behavioral problems and a decline in their overall well-being. It’s important to prioritize their emotional needs and provide them with a structured routine, sufficient exercise, and plenty of opportunities for mental enrichment to ensure their mental health and well-being.


In conclusion, Cesar Millan's approach to crate training goes beyond a mere technique, as it reflects a holistic understanding of dogs and their needs. Recognizing that each dog is an individual and adapting the training process accordingly, Millan empowers pet owners to foster trust, respect, and emotional well-being in their furry companions. Ultimately, his crate training method embodies a compassionate and effective approach that considers both the physical and psychological aspects of a dog's well-being.

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