Dog kennel training

How to kennel train a dog:

First, bait the kennel with a very naughty cat.

Next, allow the dog to smell the bait …


If you are going to use a kennel at all with your dog, consistent kennel training is important. Most dogs have at least some anxiety when kenneled.

This was the case recently when my mutt Ace spent the night at a relative’s house who reported that Ace cried, paced and yipped until 2 a.m.

What could possibly cause my “kennel-trained” dog to be so anxious?

kennel trainingDid my dog miss me? Maybe.

But more likely, it’s even simpler:

1. Ace’s routine was off.

2. Ace hadn’t had enough exercise.

I often expect too much out of Ace and take his normally calm behavior for granted. I forget that even a good dog is still a dog.

It’s difficult, if not impossible to calm a dog down if he has not had enough exercise.

Ace is not deprived by any means – he goes biking with me a few days per week, and he goes along on runs. Still, I’d like to commit more focused time to exercising my dog.

My goal is 4 miles per day. Will that always be possible? No. But it’s a goal to shoot for.

A second goal is to reinforce kennel training.

When I say, “Kennel up,” Ace sprints to his kennel and dives in hoping for a treat. But there are times when he believes he doesn’t have to be kenneled.

During a recent trip to my parents’ house I kenneled Ace for about 10 minutes while their dogs were loose. Let’s just say my dog threw a temper tantrum – yipping and whining. When Ace is excited and I kennel him, it does not go well.

Below are some dog kennel training tips I plan to use with my mutt. These tips are intended for dogs that are already “kennel trained” but may have issues being kenneled when they don’t want to be, like when guests visit or when staying in someone else’s house.

Dog kennel training tips

Ace mutt1. Kennel the dog randomly.

Dogs like routines, but it’s good to slowly stretch their limits. Kenneling the dog randomly for even 10 minutes at a time teaches the dog that you are the one who decides when he will go in the kennel. Try this while you are watching TV, while you are doing something “fun” like playing fetch or even right before heading out for a walk.

2. Kennel the dog in different rooms.

This is another way to slowly get the dog used to going in the kennel at any time and anywhere. Dogs are contextual, meaning they need to learn ideas in different contexts. Just because the dog is kennel trained in the laundry room doesn’t mean he is kennel trained in the basement or upstairs or at your mom’s house.

3. Kennel the dog when people visit.

Practice this one with good friends and family members who are also dog owners and understand what you are trying to teach your dog. When people visit, most dogs get very excited. This is the perfect time to practice putting the dog in the kennel.

I don’t believe dogs should be kenneled every time people visit. Dogs should learn to greet people at the door appropriately. But kenneling the dog randomly for 10 minutes when friends are over will help your dog learn to be calm for those rare nights when you really do want to kennel him. Maybe you want him kenneled during Thanksgiving dinner or during a party with your co-workers, for example.

4.  Kennel the dog when he is excited.

This is a tough one for Ace. If he is worked up over something like a ball or another dog, he will bark if I kennel him. This usually happens when we are visiting family members because there are other dogs around and Ace doesn’t want to be away from “the pack.”

I can set up scenarios at home to teach Ace that once he is in the kennel he has to calm down no matter what. It’s easy to get my dog riled up. All it takes is a game of fetch or a game of chasing me around the couch. I will put him in his kennel once he is excited, wait for him to calm down and then let him back out to play some more.

5. Correct excessive barking or crying.

When a dog is first learning to stay in a kennel, it’s best to ignore any crying or barking. This teaches the dog that crying or barking will not result in any kind of attention. But when a kennel-trained dog like Ace barks in his kennel, I will correct him. Ace understands that I disagree with this behavior.

I will ignore a little whining and maybe even a few yips, but if Ace’s barking escalates, I am right there to tell him “no.” I don’t yell, but I let him know I mean it.

6. Make the dog sleep in the kennel.

Ace is used to sleeping on his dog bed at night, so it’s unfair to expect him to sleep in his kennel with no issues when we travel. Guess what that means? One night a week or so, Ace will be sleeping in his kennel.

7. Kennel the dog when you are gone.

If your dog typically has access to the whole house when you are gone, there’s nothing wrong with kenneling him from time to time when you run errands. It’s a good reminder to the dog that sometimes he will be kenneled when you are gone, and it is no big deal.

8. Kennel the dog at a friend’s house.

MeOnce your dog is quiet in the kennel under all circumstances at home, challenge him more by kenneling him at  friend’s house. For example, if you will be visiting a friend for a few hours, walk your dog first, then bring him along and kennel him for a half-hour at the friend’s house. I only recommend this if your friend is also a crazy dog person.

9. Work on problem areas.

If your dog doesn’t bark in the kennel at all except for when other dogs visit, then that is what you should work on the most. Invite your friends over with their dogs, and tell them what you are working on.

When my dog has an issue with something, like barking in the kennel when he’s excited, it’s easy for me to avoid that situation and not work on it. The problem is, sooner or later that situation is going to come up and Ace will not be successful because I didn’t address the issue.

10. Always reward good behavior.

If the dog is being quiet, let him out of the kennel! Go back to some basics like providing extra goodies in the kennel. If the kennel represents treats, safety and relaxation (like it always should), then your dog will enjoy kennel training and his time spent in the kennel.

Remember, these tips are intended for dogs that are already kennel trained. If your dog is not used to a kennel, stick to the basics and a routine. The above tips are meant to challenge dogs that are already used to a kennel.

Do you use a kennel? Does your dog ever bark in the kennel?

31 thoughts on “Dog kennel training”

  1. I got all of my dogs as well behaved adults, but I would definitely use a kennel if I ever got a puppy or even an adult dog with behavior issues; these are good tips.

  2. Hmmm…my dogs all really like their crates. Because we have a multi-dog household I find them useful in lots of instances. The dogs always eat their breakfast and dinner in their crates. They also sleep in their crates at night. In the car, they travel in their crates and at shows, both obedience and agility…they spend most of the day relaxing in their crates. Even during the days when we’re just hanging out at home, they often nap in the crates with the doors open. I really don’t know what I’d do without crates. LOL

  3. I second what Marie says! Biggie eats all his meals in his crate, and right now he is lying quietly in his crate after he’s finished dinner. Sometimes we let him out right after he’s done, other times we let him just rest there for a while. He knows the “crate” command and often chooses to nap or sleep in there with the door open.

  4. The problem I have is that it is hard to kennel a dog that is 130lbs. We have one that he can barely move in and the cats took it over for their “playhouse”.

    We take Gus to dog daycare when we go places without him so he’s well taken care of there. He goes in the big dog section and it is all open.

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    Marie, I’m sure it helps that you have multiple dogs. The new dogs learn from your other dogs that the crates are good places to be. Do you have crates scattered all over your house or all in one room?

    Biggie, anything for food, right? Ace voluntarily slept in his crate last night with the door open for the first time. I couldn’t believe it!

    Apryl, I totally understand what you mean. And isn’t it funny how the cats like the big-dog kennels? My cats nap in Ace’s kennel with the door open all the time.

  6. I will definitely crate train whether we get a puppy or an adult dog. (This is an IF we ever get a dog! I’m hopeful that someday we will!) I like the consistency that comes with crate training! (Love the picture of your cat in the crate!) 🙂

  7. You asked if we have crates throughout the house, or just in one room. I have 3 of the crates in one room, one in the living room and one in the bedroom.

  8. Great article! So much information on what is such an important topic! I recently bought a dog crate to crate train my 3 year old dog who was tearing my blinds down when I left home for work during the day. He was getting so frantic that he would try and jump out the windows and in the process pull all of my expensive blinds down! It took a while but I can honestly say that buying a crate and teaching my dog to use it was the best investment I ever made. Now everyday when i come home from work he is well behaved and waiting for me in his crate. Thanks again for the great article!

  9. What a well-written article, thanks! My dog sleeps in his kennel, and I also put him in the kennel when he’s barking excessively. Is it bad to use the kennel as a “time-out” place when the dog is misbehaving?

  10. Lindsay Stordahl

    That’s awesome Geoff! I’m glad the kennel is working well for your dog!

    Thanks Carla! 🙂

    Giving a dog a “time out” shouldn’t be used as a punishment because we don’t want our dogs to associate the kennel as a “bad” place. Plus, dogs can’t understand the concept of “If I’m good, I won’t get a time out.” But a time out can be used to help a dog relax, especially if the owner helps the dog calm down before shutting the kennel door. I give my dog time outs all the time when he needs to chill out. You may have noticed that it doesn’t always work to put an excited dog in his kennel. He just ends up barking from inside the kennel, so it’s good to have him lie down, relax and change his state of mind before you close the door.

    That being said, I don’t always take my own advice. Sometimes when I’m mad at Ace I yell “bad dog!” and then put him in his kennel. This is an example of what not to do because then the kennel becomes a bad place and chances are he doesn’t even know why I’m mad.

  11. Pingback: THAT MUTT: A Dog Blog » Using time-outs for dog training

  12. Great post with good info. I saw that you mentioned randomly crating them if they have access to the whole house. When do you think it is a good time to let your dog have the freedom of access to all or most of the house? We have a pup that just turned one and had great success with crate training, but I am a little uneasy of giving her the full access when we aren’t home. Once a month back she managed to get out of her crate though (husband didn’t latch it all the way) and the worst damage was some poo and pee…but nothing chewed up amazingly.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would start with leaving her out for 10 minutes or so while you go out to get the mail, gas up your car, simple errands like that. Then progress to a half-hour or hour or two while you go to lunch or dinner. Then try a half-day and come home during lunch and kennel her. Then do full days a few times a week. If at any point she is “naughty,” then you know she’s not quite ready for full freedom and go back to the previous step. Do not rush it. And if she is still not mature enough for this, don’t worry about it. She may be ready in six months or a year. And there’s nothing wrong with kenneling a dog all the time when you’re gone. It’s much better than stressing out about what’s being damaged. It’s hard to enjoy a night out or a day at work when you’re constantly worrying about the dog. A crated dog will not get into any trouble.

  14. I have to Keenel my Shepard all day while I’m at work which is 10 hrs a day(to long) but I don’t want to just turn him loose in the back yard for fear of injury or digging out, he is only 4 months and lots of puppy in him, he has begain to chase his tail and I know it’s from being Kenneled to long, I have knowone that can come let him out during the day. Any suggestions?


  15. You’re right, he’s better off in his kennel than loose in the yard or in your house.

    If you can, I would hire a pet sitter or dog walker to come check on him during the day. I am a dog walker, and I do that type of thing for people all the time. If that isn’t an option, then make sure he is getting some good exercise in the morning and in the evenings. I recommend a 60-minute walk in the morning and probably another walk in the evening.

    1. Lindsay, my eight-year-old daughter wants a dog badly but we are gone 9 hours a day for work and school. I am considering getting an older dog that can stay in a crate during the day. We would walk and play with the dog upon returning. Then we could spend time relaxing with the dog and let it sleep in my daughter’s room. Does this sound like a doable plan or just a dream?

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Yes, lots of people work normal hours and still have dogs. I think you are making a responsible choice by considering getting an adult dog that is already potty trained.

  16. we have recently got a 13 wk old labrador bitch pup and she uses a crate day and night in the day the doors are left open when she eats her food and she can go in and out as she pleases then every morning+afternoon we have 1-2hrs where we shut the door and leave her on her own and pretend no one is in to try and train her to be on her own but she whines and whines its awful im scared neighbours will complain but at night she goes in at 1opm and we dont hear her till 5am anybody have any ideas to stop the whining

  17. Lindsay Stordahl

    Maybe she whines because she can see you and she just wants to be out with you. I think you are doing the right thing by teaching her she has to be in there at times, even when you are home. Have you tried throwing a blanket over her kennel? I’m sure you’ve tried all the usual techniques such as leaving a radio on near her, giving her Kong toys with peanut butter and so on. The main thing is to just keep ignoring the barking. Going to her and scolding her is usually enough of a “reward” for a dog to keep on whining and barking because it means you will return. If you do feel you have to return to scold her, I would walk up to her cage and without looking at her or speaking to her, squirt her with a water bottle. Most labs won’t really care about being squirted in the face with water, but it would be worth a shot.

    You may find a few ideas in the posts I’ve written about separation anxiety and stopping a dog from crying all day:

  18. My new dog will sleep in our other dogs kennel butwon’t sleep in a second hand kennel we got even though we put her soft bed in it …..any ideas ?

  19. How do you feel about using a kennel as punishment? The dog goes into an area of the house they are not supposed to, so they get kenneled. Or perhaps they are not listening very well that day, so they go into the kennel for most of the day. The dog does not want to go to the kennel and it is absolutely bare.

  20. I am fostering a lab mix that was returned due to separation anxiety and destructiveness. This is a new problem for me. He does follow me everywhere. I have to crawl in the crate to get him in and i give a kong with biscuits and peanut butter, frozen. He doesn’t seem really food motivated except peanut butter and people food. So maybe ill try your suggestion of raw hamburger in a kong. should I freeze it? I’ve been doing this for 3 days with good results. unfortunately i go back to work tomorrow and the soonest my dog sitter can come over will be a 6-7 hour wait for him. Im saying a prayer. I should mention I have a great dane also, my own, who is acting jealous, guarding out of character. So I keep them separate for safety while I’m not home. Any more suggestions, Im all ears…thank you.

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