How to Prepare a Dog Crate for Your New Puppy

Welcoming a new dog or puppy into your home is an exciting time and you’re going to be doing everything you can to make sure those first few days go really well for everyone. A key step in preparing for your new dog is to correctly set up your dog crate so that everyone gets the maximum benefit from using it. Let’s take a look at what we need to consider and how to prepare a dog crate for your new puppy.

Safety Check

Once you’ve bought the best crate for your puppy (check out our crate recommendations here if you haven’t already) before we do anything we’re going to do a quick safety check of the crate itself.

Ensure that the crate has been put together correctly, is securely fastened and that there are no hazards or sharp edges that could harm the puppy. Remember to remove any labels or tags that came with the crate too.


We’ve written a full guide to locating your dog crate here if you need any guidance about where to put your crate.

Once you’ve chosen your spot be sure to protect your flooring by using a non slip mat underneath the crate.


We took a look at all the bedding options available and we still think that vet bedding is the best way to line your dog crates. It’s warm, comfortable, easy to wash and allows for airflow. It’s literally what veterinarians use to keep their patients comfortable so who are we to argue?

pit puppy on a step

Water Bowl

From a welfare perspective, dogs need access to fresh drinking water at all times, and that includes puppies who you’re trying to toilet train. Withholding water in order to dehydrate a puppy into peeing less is unnecessary and can create health issues.

Depending on the size of your crate there are a couple of options available regarding water bowls.

If you have a larger crate (for larger dogs) you might have enough space to pop a non-spill water bowl in the crate.

If you have a smaller crate then a bowl that clips onto the bars might be a better option.

If you purchased an airline approved crate then it will come with its own specific water container.

loading a dog crate into a plane

Safe Toys

We want the dog crate to become a calm and quiet space for your puppy so we don’t want to include too many exciting or interactive toys on the crate but we can include a few safe and durable chew toys.

Puppies have a natural instinct to chew, and providing appropriate toys can help satisfy this urge and prevent destructive chewing on crate materials or their bedding.

Puppy Pads

As tempting as it is, we don’t want to encourage any peeing or pooping inside the crate. If your crate is located some distance from your yard or garden and your puppy can’t hold it yet until they get outside then placing a pad nearby can be an option but never inside the crate.

Puppies don’t have the physical ability to hold themselves for very long at first which is why we take them out to potty at frequent, regular intervals throughout the day (and night).

As they get older they can hold themselves for longer and we want them to know that they have to hold themselves when they’re in the crate and wait to be let out. Using puppy pads will make this stage of training more difficult as they’ve been allowed to toilet inside the crate, whereas if toileting always happens outside the crate, this will help us moving forward.

Crate Cover

Covering the crate partially can create a sense of security and privacy for the puppy. It can also help in making the crate feel like a den, promoting relaxation. You can either purchase a specific crate cover that slides over your crate top and sides, or you can use a throw or blanket. If you use a blanket, make sure the material can’t be chewed through the bars.

Food Bowls

Make sure you leave room to place the puppy’s food bowl inside the crate during mealtime. This helps the puppy associate the crate with positive things like food.

Cleaning Supplies

Accidents happen! Keep your pet safe cleaning supplies nearby (but out of the puppy’s reach).

Don’t be tempted to clean with a bleach based spray. Bleach smells of ammonia which is the major component of dog pee. So cleaning with bleach makes it smell like another dog has peed there and will encourage further peeing in the same spot from your dog.

Now you should have your crate all set up in a great location with all your supplies nearby and enough room in the crate to allow for feeding at mealtimes. You’re ready for your puppy!

Let’s start crate training! Sign up for your free guide here.

All articles on are written by qualified behaviorist and dog trainer, Cheryl Walker.


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