How to crate train a cockapoo

How to crate train a cockapoo (complete guide)

Crate training your cockapoo can have great benefits, whether your aim is to help toilet train your new puppy or just to give your dog a place that they can call their own. 

Cockapoos do tend to suffer with separation anxiety, which can cause issues especially if your dog is alone during the day. They are also incredibly intelligent and do require a lot of attention and so when anxious, they may find ways to try to relieve their stress, which unfortunately might mean chewing your furniture, scratching at doors or excessive barking. 

Crate training your Cockapoo to avoid these issues will make your dog feel safer when he’s by himself and I’m sure your neighbours will thank you for it too!

Some people frown upon crate training dogs due to the small space that they are confined to; however, dogs feel better in a smaller space while you’re not at home. This is because a dog naturally feels the need to protect you and your home and when you’re not there they feel the pressure of having to look after a whole house by themselves. Giving them a smaller space to protect relieves their stress and is the same to them as them enjoying sitting on the sofa, under the table or on the bed. 

Crates are also an asset when toilet training as dogs actively avoid doing their business in their sleeping area. This means that they will generally wait to be outside so you can be sure that you aren’t going to come home to a mess to clear up. 

That said, if you go about crate training your Cockapoo in the wrong way, it can cause bigger issues for you further down the line. So, where to start? Below, we’ll discuss the best techniques for crate training and hopefully resolve some of those burning questions for you.  

Are cockapoos easy to crate train?

Cockapoo sitting in a dog crate
Ziggy enjoying his crate!

It takes time, dedication and perseverance to crate train any dog, but Cockapoos are generally loving and keen to please you, so as long as you make your actions clear to your dog, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble. 

You need to make sure that the experience is full of praise and reassurance for your dog so that they see this as a positive learning experience. 

The best way to go about this initially is to set the crate up in a room where you’ll be present most of the time, such as your living room. This means that your dog won’t feel lonely or anxious when he’s in the crate as he knows you’re still around. 

Leave the door open and allow your dog to investigate at his leisure. This will give him the idea that it’s his own choice to go in.

You can also encourage your dog to go in by leaving treats inside so he knows that when he goes into the crate he gets something nice. Smaller treats can later be replaced by larger chews to encourage him to stay in there for longer.

You will also need to make sure that your dog doesn’t panic when you close the door. Gradually build up the amount of time that the door is closed whilst he’s in there. Starting with a couple of minutes whilst you are in the room and build up to an hour whilst you’re not in the room. This lets your dog know that, even though the door is shut, you will always come back to open it, so there’s no reason for them to worry. 

Don’t expect your cockapoo to get it on the first day, there will be a couple of months of strict routine; be prepared to take your time with this to ensure that the behaviour sticks. 

It will take a lot of dedication from you, as well as your dog, to get this right, so don’t get too frustrated if things don’t seem to be working initially, keep at it! It will definitely be worth it in the long run. 

What size crate is appropriate for Cockapoos?

Choosing the correct crate size for your Cockapoo is important. The crate acts as your dog’s safe haven within the house so it should be large enough to make them feel comfortable and at ease. They should be able to stand up, sit down, stretch out and turn around with ease whilst the door is closed. You will also need to make sure the crate is well ventilated and in a spot that is airy and not in direct sunlight. 

Although you must leave enough room for your dog to be comfortable, having a crate that’s too large can also create problems. If your dog has too much room, they might not feel safe and secure and you’ll start to have issues when putting your dog in the crate, as they might not enjoy being in there.  

For these reasons, a good crate size that will be appropriate for most Cockapoos is around 36 inches, or 91 cm, such as this highly rated crate from Amazon.  

Think of the ideal size of the crate being your side of the sofa at home. It’s big enough for you to feel comfortable and to move around easily, but it’s not so big that it fills the whole room.

You may find that a 36 inch crate is a little too big for smaller Cockapoo puppies, but you can easily buy a few items to put in the crate to fill it up to make it seem cosy and inviting. 

What should you put in a dog crate?

Your Cockapoo’s crate should be a place that they want to go to at the end of the day, or whilst you’re out at work. You need to make it a positive space for them and ensure that they don’t get bored while they’re in there as this can lead to excessive barking and bad behaviour. 

As an absolute essential, you will need to make sure that your Cockapoo has plenty of warm, cosy bedding. A really good tip for this is to have layers of bedding rather than a single bed.

To do this, you’ll need a cosy fleece base, followed by layers of lovely fleece blankets. This allows you to easily wash the layers in rotation and still allow the scents of the crate to stick around, which will help your cockapoo to carry on associating it with “home”. 

You will also want to make sure that your dog has a combination of chew toys, such as these long lasting puppy chews, and comfort toys, such as this adorable teddy

These toys help to provide a reward for going to the crate voluntarily and should help during your crate training period, whilst also relieving boredom. Make sure you swap and change the toys as often as possible to prevent boredom, and check on them regularly to make sure that they are still safe for your pup. You may also want to consider our run down of interactive puppy toys to provide some variety for your cockapoo. 

You might also want to provide a chewable treat in the crate. This is something to alleviate their hunger if they get peckish but isn’t enough to make them need the toilet and need to hold it until you return. 

If you’re planning to leave your dog in the crate overnight or whilst you’re out at work, you will need to provide fresh water in the crate too.

This should be supplied from a bowl attached to the crate side at an appropriate height for your dog. These bowls can be bought specifically to attach to the side of crates and are pretty cheap on Amazon.

Remember that if you leave the water on the floor, it’s likely to be knocked over, leaving your dog without water and also wet and uncomfortable until you return home. 

Getting your Cockapoo used to the crate

Dog crate in fireplace opening
Putting your crate up before your puppy arrives helps other pets to get familiar with it too!

Time in the crate should be enjoyable for your Cockapoo and should be something that they are completely comfortable with. To make the crate part of your dog’s normal daily routine, start by playing with your cockapoo near the crate to get them used to the sight and smell of it.

They will also learn that it’s not something to be scared of as your behaviour around it should be normal and relaxed and they’ll follow your lead.

If your Cockapoo still seems a little unsure, try feeding them next to or inside the crate to start with, to make it part of a positive experience for them. Every time your dog enters the crate voluntarily, you should praise them to show that this is the behaviour that you are looking for.

Eventually, your dog should enter the crate without prompting as they feel that it’s both a comfortable and accepted part of the home and also the right thing to do.

It should go without saying, but you should make sure to never use the crate as a form of punishment. This applies to physically using the crate as a place to send your pup if he’s been naughty, but also to scolding your pup near the crate.

Basically, as with all things in dog training, keep things positive and make sure that all interactions near or in the crate are always calm and happy.

If your cockapoo feels like he’s upset you, they may retreat to the crate by choice if they feel that this is the safest place to be, which is a good thing as it means they have “bonded” with the crate.

If this happens, though, don’t ever shut the door of the crate while they’re feeling this way.

This is because the crate has to be somewhere that they feel they go voluntarily. If you shut them away when they feel they’ve been bad, your cockapoo may start to feel that they’ve behaved badly whenever you put them in the crate and this can lead to anxiety or depression if it’s a regular thing. 

Creating a night-time crate training routine

If you’ve trained your Cockapoo correctly and given him all the exercise that he needs throughout the day, creating a night-time crate routine shouldn’t be too difficult.

If your dog sees the crate as a welcoming, quiet place where he can relax he might even go there himself in the evening after a long tiring walk. Dogs also sense the atmosphere in the room so it’s likely that, as you start to wind down to go to bed, so will your dog.

Getting your cockapoo to want to stay in the crate for a longer period of time than they usually would do during the day might be difficult if they become anxious without company.

If your dog starts to whine excessively throughout the night, it might be worth moving the crate into an area where they can see you, such as the bedroom. If they know you’re close, it’ll be easier for them to settle as they know you’re safe.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend your life moving the crate into different rooms, you might try setting an alarm part way through the night to visit your dog in the kitchen for a few days.

It’ll be hard for those few nights, but it’ll reassure him that you’ll still always come back to open the crate like you do in the day-time and hopefully get rid of that anxiety.

In all cases, please ensure that your dog has been out to the toilet just before you shut him in the crate for the night.

You don’t want to wake up to an accident in the morning and you don’t want your dog have to hold it all night to avoid soiling the bed!

How long can Cockapoos be left alone for in a crate?

Cockapoos suffer heavily from separation anxiety if left alone with no companion for long periods of time. This can be managed if dealt with when your dog is a puppy to ensure that it’s not a problem later in life.

The thing you need to remember is to make sure that going into the crate is a positive experience for your dog. If they see their crate as just a nice place to sleep, then you’ll easily be able to leave them alone in there for 3-4 hours without any problems.

Your cockapoo will most likely sleep for the majority of the time and they should get used to the fact that you’ll come back, so won’t feel anxious.

Remember that your Cockapoo will need to be let out of the crate at 4-hour intervals during the day to go outside to the toilet.

Once you get into this 3-4 hour routine, your dog will typically wait until you let them out to go to the toilet as they don’t want to be in a position where they go in the corner of the crate and then have to sit in it.

If you do leave them in longer than this during the day, this is likely to cause little accidents, which can quickly turn in to a bad habit. So, try to stick to the routine as much as you can.

When should you stop crate training your Cockapoo?

Using a crate for your Cockapoo can be a lifelong responsibility. However, this is normally because your dog will want to use the crate rather than by your own choice.

Depending on how strictly you enforce the crate when your Cockapoo is a puppy, they may be attached to it and might be upset if you remove it.

Having a crate throughout your dog’s life isn’t a bad thing either. You might not choose to use it all time, and will likely be able to stop enforcing crate training completely once your dog matures, but a crate is always useful for travelling or staying in strange places so having it will make your life easier.

You can stop crate training a cockapoo when you’re confident that your Cockapoo is mature enough to be left alone in the house without a crate. Generally, this is when cockapoos are about 18 months or older.

That said, you will need to monitor your cockapoo’s behaviour when you do this and phase things out gradually.

A really useful tip we were told when we started the switch over from dog crate to dog bed, was to leave the crate in place and put a new dog bed next to it. Then, gradually remove the bedding from the crate over the course of a few days.

This way, your pooch will still have his safe space, but will start to opt for the comfort of the new bed over time.

Another thing to remember is that all dogs feel comfortable having a smaller area to protect  

whilst you’re out of the house. When you start the switch over, don’t give them the run of the house immediately. Consider confining them to the kitchen first, then slowly widening the area as your dog becomes more relaxed. 

Your cockapoo’s behaviour may change during the switch over from the crate, and you may find that things toilet training need to be revisited. If this happens, it may be worth temporarily putting the crate back into action to break any bad habits from developing. 

If you do this, use the crate for a minimum of a month before restarting the switch over. This gives enough time to break any habits, and allow you to start again on the journey to becoming a “no crate household!”

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