Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Treat a Crate Like a Car Seat


Treat a Crate Like a Car SeatA crate for your puppy is like a car seat for your child; both ensure the safety of beings who cannot ensure their own.

Whether or not you or your child “likes” car seats is irrelevant. The job they do trumps such concern. And the calm acceptance of car seats by the children I see in passing cars tells me that their parents’ calm, non-negotiable approach to them transferred to the kids. Car seats are not, as my Mom used to say to me, up for discussion.

A crate for your puppy performs the same sort of safety role. They keep them safe when you cannot. People who put their pups into their crates with the same sort of kind but clear inevitability as they do buckling their children into the car seat generally have dogs who accept them as most kids accept being buckled in.

There are, of course, exceptions. There always are. But in my 25+ years helping people with dogs, those exceptions are rare.

The dogs who protest the most are frequently loved by people who are not as pragmatic. Their doubt and apology is clear to the pup who quickly becomes doubtful themselves. Dogs read us expertly.

The good news about that is that often a change in the person can transfer quickly to the dog. Accept the crate as a part of the modern deal, think of putting your pup in their crate like buckling your child into their car seat, and the pup’s behavior may start to change. Almost immediately.


  1. My husband and I recently obtained a six month old female Mini Australian Shepherd. When we got her, her previous owner had her caged most of the time (8+ hours a day, 8+ hours at night) and he didn’t make an effort to potty train her. She often went potty in her crate, and he “wouldn’t have time to clean it up.”
    We’ve had her for three weeks now and she doesn’t have any house accidents now; however, she still goes potty when she’s put in her crate. At first she would poop when left alone, so we got a divider to make the space smaller. Now, she pees every time she’s crated, whether we’re gone for 2 hours or 20 minutes.
    I have no idea how to fix this problem. Please help!

  2. My puppy never has an accident in his nighttime crate, which is in my bedroom. However no matter how long he is in his daytime crate he always pees. He never poops. But now he pees through the gate onto the carpet. How can I stop this?

    • Hi, Lori – Don’t know what the story is there. I assume he goes outside readily. If he’s hiking his leg, maybe time to neuter him. This can happen for all sorts of reasons. We can do a cybersession to sort it out. – Sarah

  3. My puppy wants to pee outside but still has accidents in the house but wants to come in the house to poop how do I help this. I also want to know is it okay if puppies sleep in their kennel at night I have her sleeping with me right now and it’s not going well.

    • Yes, kennel/crate at night is fine. For the pooping, keep the puppy on a short leash with you inside so you’ll see when she’s restless and get her outside. Good luck!

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