8 Must-Have Crate Training Tools for Puppy Crate Training Success

8 Crate Training Tools Every Puppy Owner Needs to Teach A Puppy to Love the Crate

Crate training is a popular and widely-used technique to provide your furry friend with a safe, personal space. It helps develop a balanced lifestyle, creates a welcoming environment for your pet, builds positive habits, and promotes better pet-owner understanding. This article focuses on the essential role of crate training tools in successfully teaching your puppy to love the crate.

Understanding Crate Training

Crate training is a process. It involves gently acclimating your puppy to stay in the crate during specific times. This technique is vital for various reasons, such as travel, grooming appointments, medical appointments, potty training, and providing a safe space for your pet while you are away from home. Misconceptions about crate training often stem from misunderstandings about its purpose or incorrect usage. However, when used appropriately, the crate is a calming retreat for your pet rather than a punishment spot.

A crate creates a welcoming and safe environment for your puppy

This happy puppy loves his crate because he's learned that it's a welcoming and safe space to relax.

8 Essential Crate Training Tools You and Your Pup Will Love

My students always ask me, “What can I do to make my puppy love his crate?” Well, there’s no magic formula. It takes training, time, and the right tools. These are some tools I recommend you have on hand when you are working with your puppy and the crate.

Snuggle Puppy

Besides the crate, this is my #1 recommendation. Puppy parents in our Facebook group are always raving about it! If you don’t believe me, just head into the group and do a quick search for “snuggle puppy.”

Snuggle Puppy crate training tool

The Snuggle Puppy crate training tool offers comfort and helps calm an anxious puppy.

Why is the Snuggle Puppy so great? It is a soft, plush stuffed animal with a “real-feel” mechanical heartbeat that simulates the comforting intimacy and warmth that puppies receive from their littermates and moms. It helps to ease anxiety and promote a sense of calm while adapting to new and stressful situations.

If possible, use it from the first day you get your puppy. You’ll get bonus points if you can rub it on the mama dog or have her sit with it for a while before you bring it home. You can also make it smell like one of your puppy’s favorite humans, further soothing your new pup. I like to use it for all naps and sleeping. Most people leave it in the crate, but if your puppy wants to drag it out and cuddle it outside the crate, this is fine too.

BONUS TIP: If your puppy starts to chew on the Snuggle Puppy, it’s time to remove it from inside the crate and, instead, put it on top of the crate with the heartbeat feature going to prevent chewing hazards while still providing your puppy comfort.


The D A WHAT? The DAP!

DAP is an acronym for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. That’s a lot of crazy complicated words, so let’s break it down. Pheromones are chemicals that are discharged from the body and act like hormones. These chemicals trigger a social response from members of the same species and influence behavior.

Adaptil home diffuser with dog appeasing pheromones

Plug in the Adaptil home diffuser in the same room as puppy's crate for up to 30 days of calming effects from dog appeasing pheromones.

Scientific studies show that dog-appeasing pheromones can reduce separation-induced anxiety, fear in puppies in a new environment, and anxiety and stress during transportation.[1, 2, 3]

What you should know about dog-appeasing pheromones:

  • They’re available in three forms: collar, spray, or plug-in. If you’ve done your homework, you know we don’t want puppies in a collar or harness while inside the crate. So the DAP collars are best for older dogs. The spray is great for the car or other types of transportation. And the plug-in is best used in the same room as the crate.
  • They take the edge off but will not sedate your dog.
  • They DO work, but not instantaneously. It takes a period of exposure (often as little as 20 minutes) for the pheromones to reach a pup’s brain and reduce the anxiety-producing hormones already in an anxious pup’s system. So plug it in as soon as your puppy comes home for the best results.

Our favorite is the Adaptil Home Diffuser Plug-in which lasts up to 30 days.

Calming Music

Does this sound silly? It’s really a thing! Think of it this way: when you walk into a spa for a massage, are they playing classic rock? Loud commercials? Do the employees speak aggressively and at a high volume? No.

Just as soothing music is helpful for human relaxation, doggy calming music is no different. Studies show that certain notes and tones (bioacoustic or psychoacoustic music) can create a better mood with more peace and harmony in the brain – canine or human.

Doggy calming music sets the mood of the environment, while white noise masks potentially scary or disturbing sounds. Calming music helps your canine companion relax, feel calmer, and tune out some of the environmental stimulation, such as sounds of you and your family in other areas of the house, sounds that signal you’re leaving or returning – like the garage door opening, keys jingling, or a car door shutting – doorbells, sirens, sounds from your neighbors, delivery drivers, the postal carrier, or other dogs barking.

Doggy calming music isn’t hard to find. Search on Spotify or Youtube, and you’ll come up with various options.

BONUS TIP 1: Try to find music free of ads so the pup’s calm music isn’t interrupted suddenly by a human voice that comes out of nowhere.

BONUS TIP 2: Don’t be tempted to turn the volume too high when using calming music. Pups have very sensitive hearing.

Playing music can be part of a routine that the pups associate with relaxation. The more consistent you are, the better Fido will respond.

A Frozen Kong

Kongs are rubber chew toys that provide mental stimulation while nurturing a dog’s natural instincts to chew and lick. Licking and slow distribution of food can help calm and settle a dog.

Kong chew toys for dogs are another important crate training tool

A Border Collie puppy enjoys a Kong chew toy – another of the must-have crate training tools we recommend.

They’re also an effective crate training tool, especially when filled with something yummy (like peanut butter) and left in the crate during the day. A frozen treat-filled Kong creates a positive association with the crate and makes spending time there rewarding for your puppy. Kongs are given during the daytime only. We don’t put toys in the crate at night, especially not food-filled toys.


Another vital tool for successful crate training is keeping the room at a comfortable temperature so the pup is neither too cold nor too hot. Finding the right temperature for your pet may involve trial and error. Because our puppies can’t talk, it’s hard for them to tell us how they are feeling. Just know that they are not as sensitive to temperature as we are, so they won’t get uncomfortable as quickly.

In addition, a dog’s natural body temperature is warmer than ours, so they typically can keep themselves warm without blankets or additional heating elements. But you still want to be aware of the temperature in the room.

If you think it’s too hot, you can use a fan, but point it at the wall, not at the puppy. If you think it’s too cool, often you don’t need to do anything because, like I said, pups run warmer than we do. If your puppy is too cool and you need to provide more warmth, use a heating pad set on low under one corner of the crate – yes, outside the crate – and check on your pup frequently to prevent overheating.

Pay close attention to those details: A heating pad on LOW outside the crate only under one CORNER of the crate, and check on pup frequently to ensure your furry friend isn’t getting too hot.

Proper Space

Make sure puppy’s crate is the right size! Too small, and your pup won’t be able to get comfortable! Too big, and it permits too much movement, activating the digestive system and prompting a potty accident. Wire crates have dividers that you can move as they grow. Plastic crates often have to be purchased anew as the pup grows. Watch your puppy carefully to see if his sleeping style might indicate the need for a different size crate.

Baby Monitor or Pet Camera

Believe it or not, we typically don’t recommend keeping the crate in your bedroom. There are some exceptions to this rule, but the main reasons are… It can be noisy and make it hard for you to sleep. Also, your movements might keep your pup up because puppies love to be close to you and play with you. It’s better if the crate stays in one place, on the same level as the potty door.

A baby monitor or pet camera like this one by Wyze is an essential crate training tool

This pet camera by Wyze is an essential crate training tool that lets you keep an eye on your puppy when you can't be in the same room.

You can use a baby monitor or pet camera to monitor your puppy when you are in a different room. They enable you to keep an eye on your pup without going in and letting him know you are there.

Some pet cameras or baby monitors have an app you can install on your phone that allows you to check in on your furry friend while you are away from home! This might not be so great if you are an over-worried puppy parent, but it can give you peace of mind!

The Right Location

Many people ask me where they should put the crate. And choosing the right location for the crate can make all the difference in the world when training a puppy.

Here’s what you should consider when choosing a location for your pup’s crate.

  • It’s best if the crate remains in the same location. Your puppy’s crate is his bedroom. Imagine how confusing it would be if your bedroom kept moving all over the place!
  • Locating the crate on the same floor as the potty door makes getting your puppy from the crate to the potty spot easier, with fewer accidents.
  • Placing it on an easy-to-clean floor, even if that means putting a piece of linoleum on top of carpet or hardwood floors, makes accident clean-up faster and easier.
  • Having the crate in an active area of the house is OK. After all, puppy needs to learn that the crate means resting and relaxing, even if something is happening nearby. But tucking the crate away in a corner may help your puppy adjust faster.
  • You must evaluate what’s best for your situation and adjust to suit your needs.

Here’s My Short “Nope” List

I must mention a few things about crate training tools that I do NOT recommend.

Crate Bedding

No bedding in the crate! Bedding can quickly become a chewing hazard for an anxious puppy whose natural instincts for self-soothing are licking and chewing. And it’s just one more thing you’ll have to clean frequently while potty training. So for these reasons, I recommend against using any kind of bedding in the crate until past the chewing and potty training stages. For most dogs, this is usually beyond the 1-year mark. Some dogs may never be able to have bedding in their crates.

Food and Water

You’d think that having access to food and water while you are gone is a good thing, but in fact, it’s not good to have it in the crate. Spills, playing with it, AND keeping the bladder and bowels active are all consequences we want to avoid.

The only exception is a Kong chew toy filled with a tasty treat. But the Kong should only be in the crate during the daytime when you are home and able to check on your pup periodically.

A View

Pointing the crate at a window so “the puppy can look out and not be bored” is NOT good. Puppies are social animals. So when puppies see another animal or a person approaching, they get excited and may become frantic to get out of the crate to investigate whether it’s a friend or foe. Pointing the crate at a window can increase crate anxiety – the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish. Remember, the whole point of the crate is to keep your puppy safe and calm whenever you cannot supervise them directly.

Stuffed Toys, Rope Toys, and Squeaky Toys

Nope, nope and nopety nope. Puppies can accidentally ingest these toys, posing the risk of choking or blocking the digestive tract, and you’d be shocked at how expensive a vet visit is to have those items surgically removed!

A Crate Mate

Puppies or a puppy and an adult dog should never share a crate. The limited room inside a crate could result in resource guarding over the space and lead to serious injuries to one or both pets if a territory fight ensues. I hear this from puppy owners all the time, “Oh… my two dogs are fine sharing a crate.” It’s fine until it’s not. We don’t have time for the true story about a student’s dog that lost both its eyes because it was in a crate with another dog. That's for another day. Just believe me on this one!

Mistakes to Avoid in Crate Training

Common mistakes in crate training include using the crate as a punishment, incorrect crate size, and inconsistency in training. These missteps can make the crate a negative experience for your pet, which we should always avoid.

Tips for Success in Crate Training

I can’t stress it enough: you cannot make your pup love his crate with tools alone. Crate training is a process that requires the right tools, consistent training, a positive environment, and effective use of rewards. Your puppy will be more successful when you always associate the crate with pleasant experiences, such as crate training games, fun activities, playing in and around the crate, treats, or restful sleep. And patience is essential, as it may take time for your pet to adapt to using a crate.


Crate training is beneficial for both pets and pet owners when done correctly. And the right tools make a world of difference. Armed with the proper crate, a Snuggle Puppy, Adaptil dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP), calming music, a Kong chew toy, the right room temperature, adequate space, a baby monitor or pet camera, and the right location for your crate, you're well on your way to a positive association with the crate and a successful crate training experience.

If you’d like to learn more about crate training games and other fun activities that will help you build a strong bond with your furry friend, check out our online program – 30 Days to Puppy Perfection. Together, we can help your puppy learn to LOVE the crate!

Michele Lennon with her dream dogs

About the trainer

Michele Lennon

After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help. The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants. Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.