Luvk9s Dog Training

Crating can be fun and games

Crates are commonly used to house train puppies and to help manage unwanted behaviors.  But the crate can also be used to play games and in the process, teach your dog to love his crate, tire him out and learn some impulse control in the process.  The games described below were developed by well-known dog trainer Susan Garrett.


Preparing for crate work

A hard plastic or wire crate works best for training. The door should be easy to open and close. Schedule your sessions right before mealtime (so the dog is hungry) and use very high value treats as rewards. High value treats are important; staying in the crate for high value treats must override your dog’s desire to bolt out of the crate.

What does it look like?


To see what the beginner games look like, click on the following links:


Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

To see what some of the advanced tasks look like, click here to go to Susan Garrett's website to view a video as well as purchase online access to the complete DVD titled "Crate games". 


Game one - teaching your dog to love the crate

The goal of this game is to teach your dog that staying in the crate is more rewarding than running out of the crate.

The signal that the game is about to start is you touching the door. The dog must offer a sit before the door opens. If the dog breaks the sit, remove your hand from the door. Once your dog remains in a sit when you touch the door, open the door and quickly reward the dog.

  • To initially teach this game, toss treats into the back of the crate to get your dog to enter the crate. Latch the door shut.
  • If the crate door opens to the left, use your left hand to open the door and your right hand (holding the treat) to reach into the crate. (Do the opposite if the crate door opens to the right.)

  • The objective is to get your dog to sit as far back in the crate as possible. Lure him into a sit by reaching your hand over his nose and pull the treat back over his head.

  • Give your dog the treat, then latch the door shut.

  • Repeat several times until your dog “gets it” and sits on his own (without luring) before the door opens. Do not cue your dog to sit; wait for him to offer it. Take a few breaks and practice until the dog understands that sitting in the back of the crate and remaining seated when the door opens results in him getting a treat.

Game two – adding distractions

The goal is the same; teaching your dog that staying in the (back of the) crate in a sit/stay is more rewarding then bolting out of the crate.

  • This time when you open the door, wait a second or two before reaching in and rewarding the dog. If the dog breaks the sit/stay, simply close and latch the door, step back, pause a few moments and try again until the dog succeeds. 

  • Do about five to ten repetitions. Start to vary the length of time you keep the door open before rewarding with a treat.
  • Next, add movement. Open the door and take one step back. If the dog breaks the sit/stay, close and latch the door and try again. Do not verbally cue the dog to stay or admonish the dog for breaking the stay. Let him figure out on his own what he needs to do.

  • Do several successful repetitions. Now start varying the distance you move away from the crate.

  • Once you’re at this point, you can start using objects as distractions. Have a toy handy but out of sight. Start with a toy that is low value before working up to his high value favorite toy.

  • Touch the door; if the dog breaks the sit/stay, step away.

  • Open the door; if the dog moves, close the door and start over.

  • Reveal the toy; if the dog moves, close the door and start over.

  • Repeat until the dog stays seated when you show him the toy; put the toy aside and reward with several very high value treats and then close the door to play again.

Additional games

There are many more games that you are now able to play once this foundation work is in place.

The “you’re out, you’re in” game encourages the dog to zoom out and back into the crate for a reward. (This is a great way to tire your dog out in a small space.)

The “collar grab” game uses the dog’s opposition reflex (a dog pulled in one direction will automatically pull back in the other direction) to build up the desire to run back into his crate. (This also teaches your dog that having his collar grabbed is fun.)


These games are described and demoed in Susan Garrett's "Crate games" DVD.