How to Crate Train a Mastiff Puppy

Medium
1-3 Months
General

Introduction

Bringing home your new Mastiff puppy can be both exciting and a little intimidating. On the one hand, you just can't wait to have fun with your new best friend and teach him all the best things in life. On the other hand, you might be nervous about creating a safe and comfortable place while instilling good behaviors. One of the first skills you should work on is crate-training your Mastiff puppy. 

Crate training your Mastiff will give him a safe place to call his home, give you peace of mind that he won't destroy the house, and help with safe car travel in his new surroundings. Crate training is a sensitive issue and you need to approach it with patience and consistency. You can't expect to stick your dog in a crate, leave for several hours, and have him want to ever be in there again. You have to slowly let him take ownership of the space and learn to love it. Crate training your Mastiff puppy the right way will pay off for the rest of his life.

Defining Tasks

Crate training your Mastiff puppy comes with a few considerations. Remember that your Mastiff is not a Lab, or a Golden retriever, or a herding dog and sometimes needs slightly different training methods from time to time. Never be afraid to think outside the box (or crate) and enlist the help of a professional with Mastiff experience. 

Make sure you get the proper crate for your needs. A wire crate is good for home and allows your puppy to see everything that's going on in the world. A hardshell crate is safer for travel because they can't collapse down, but make sure they have proper ventilation. Another consideration for you is size. Your puppy is tiny, cute, and cuddly now, but in six months he is going to be huge! If you purchase a crate your puppy will grow into, make sure you purchase a divider so he can grow with the crate. Too much room in the crate can be less effective in potty training since the puppy can go the bathroom without messing up his bedding. You can often find second-hand crates and upgrade them as he grows.

Getting Started

The most important item you need to crate train your Mastiff puppy is patience and the second most important item is a sense of humor. Once you show your puppy that the crate is the place to be, he'll be excited to get inside. Here are a few necessary items to have on hand.

  • An appropriately sized crate
  • Some comfy bedding
  • Treats
  • A food bowl
  • His favorite toys
  • A blanket to cover the crate

There are several ways to crate train your Mastiff puppy depending on his personality and your daily routines. Check out the three methods listed below and pick the best one for you and your buddy. If you take your time and listen to your dog, he'll learn to love the crate.

The Food Association Method

Effective
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Step
1
Set up the crate
Set up the crate in a room where the family spends a lot of time. Make it cozy with nice bedding. Make sure the door is tied open.
Step
2
Allow your puppy to explore
Let your puppy in the room and begin to encourage his exploration. When he gets close to the crate toss him a treat. You can even place treats around the crate.
Step
3
Encourage him to go inside
When he's sniffing the opening to the crate, toss a few treats just inside the door. Keep tossing them farther inside.
Step
4
Reward him getting inside
Once he ventures inside the crate, give him a few treats and tell him "good boy!" Start to treat him only for going inside.
Step
5
Give him meals in the crate
Once he's comfortable going inside the crate, start feeding him inside. Close the door while he eats and open it as soon as he is done.
Step
6
Extend crate time
Start leaving the door closed for a few minutes after he is done. Extend crate time very slowly. Never leave him so long that he begins to whine. If he does, wait until he stops before letting him out and try again with less time.
Step
7
Begin leaving the house
Once he can comfortably stay in the crate for 30 minutes, leave the house for about 15 minutes. Come back and let him out right away for a walk.
Step
8
Leave for longer periods
Slowing increase the time you are gone from the house. Whenever you return, take him out for a walk and to relieve himself.
Recommend training method?

The Quiet Time Method

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Step
1
Introduce the crate
Set up the crate in the middle of a quiet room. Add in comfortable bedding and maybe a favorite toy.
Step
2
Bring in your puppy
After a walk and play time, bring your puppy into the room and encourage him to sniff and explore the crate.
Step
3
Entice him inside
Whether he goes in on his own or he is a little reluctant, entice him inside with a stuffed Kong toy, a bone, or a chew toy. Keep the gate open.
Step
4
Make the routine
Turn this into an after-play routine. Bring him in after play time and give him a Kong or a chew toy. Encourage him to lie down and enjoy the treat in the crate.
Step
5
Start closing the door
Start to close the door for a few minutes while you stand by. Make sure to open it before he starts to whine or worry.
Step
6
Close the door for longer
Close the door for longer periods of time. Once you reach 10 minutes, begin leaving for a short amount of time and returning quickly.
Step
7
Leave the house
Once he is staying in the crate for 30 minutes, try leaving the house for up to 15 minutes at a time. Keep your routine of playing first and making sure he has gone to the bathroom. The crate should signify quiet time.
Recommend training method?

The Game Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Prepare the crate
Set up the crate in a family room or other room that your family uses frequently. Fill it with comfy pads or blankets and make it cozy.
Step
2
Play close to the crate
Play with your puppy close to the crate. Give him treats each time he goes near it, or hide treats around it for him to find.
Step
3
Make going into the crate a game
Create a game based on going into the crate. Toss a toy inside and give him praise when he goes in.
Step
4
Play hide and seek
When he is comfortable going into the crate, begin to hide treats in the bedding. Make it fun for him to search and spend time in his crate.
Step
5
Start to close the door
As he's searching, start to close the door for a few seconds. Open the door when he is finished.
Step
6
Keep the door closed
Extend the time the door is closed while he is searching. Slowly extend the time, but don't wait long enough for him to whine.
Step
7
Leave the room
Once he is comfortable with the door closed for five or 10 minutes, start to leave the room for a few seconds. Don't stay too long and always come back and let him out. Slowly extend the time you spend away and the time he is in the crate.
Step
8
Try leaving the house
When he is comfortable staying in the crate for about 30 minutes (with you out of the room for five or 10 of those minutes), start to leave the house. Walk around the block or just stand outside. Slowly you can increase the amount of time you are gone. Always let him out right away to go to the bathroom when you get home.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Mila
Mastiff
5 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Mila
Mastiff
5 Months

Hello. I am having issues with my 5 month old Mastiff. She has seperation anxiety when leaving the house but is already good with her cage and sleeps in it at night. Also her listening habits...
I find myself getting frustrated and wanting to give up..but no that I cant. Can i have some advise?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
689 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, I highly suggest you join a puppy class or basic obedience class or a dog club that offers classes in your area. Having others that you meet with regularly with puppies, an instructor you can ask for guidance from while practicing training and learning, and being able to see the other puppies and how they act might help you feel less discouraged and lost. Five to seven months is one of the most difficult ages for dogs because there is so much they are still learning, they are less mature and have less self-control, and they are very curious about everything around them. She probably doesn't listen because she does not understand how to do what you want her to do. If you do not already crate her when you leave the house, then start. Puppies that age cannot be left unsupervised and unconfined. It can cause a lot of issues. When you crate her and leave her alone, give her a food stuffed chew-toy. Check out the article that I have linked below for additional ideas on how to help her adjust to being in the crate while you are gone, and for ideas on stuffing a Kong with her dog food in a more interesting way. You can also use other hollow chew toys, like hollow white cow long-bones. Whatever you use make sure that it won't splinter or break pieces off Specifically, give her a food-stuffed chew-toy in the crate and practice crating her for a least an hour during the day, while you are home but in a different room or section of the house. She needs to practice being by herself and not being able to always follow you around, even when you are home. It's wonderful that you have been working on crate training though. Keep up the good work! https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Murphy
Bullmastiff
15 Weeks
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Question
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Murphy
Bullmastiff
15 Weeks

I just got a puppy and he is constantly whining and barking in the evening when he is crated. We were advised not to comfort him during this time if not he will relate comforting when he whines as a norm. Any suggestions to make him more relaxed in the crate?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question about Murphy. I assume you mean in the evening when it is bedtime? Is he okay in the crate when you are out (as far as you know?). I would try the Food Association Method shown on this page; it is a gradual way to get Murphy to accept the crate without it being a drastic thing for him. If Murphy is crated in another room at bedtime, you can try having his crate in your room. Sometimes the closeness settles a dog down. Then, once he is used to the routine, you can gradually move the crate out of the room (only move the crate inches per night) until it is back where you want it. This guide also has excellent tips such as hiding treats in the crate so that Murphy ventures in on his own now and then and finds out it is a fun place to be: https://wagwalking.com/training/crate-train-a-beagle-puppy. As for calming him at night, remember that his bladder is not yet mature and he may need to go outside for a pee in the middle of the night. If he is desperate to pee in the morning, that may be part of the problem and a middle of the night pee break could solve the issue. There are more tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/crate-train-golden-retriever-at-night and here:https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-puppy-to-not-cry-at-night. You can also try dog appeasing pheromones. These are released into the room via an infuser and work well to calm dogs. Good luck!

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Question
Winston
English Mastiff
2 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Winston
English Mastiff
2 Months

Hi there! My new puppy is such a good boy, but he cries every time he goes in the crate. We have been trying to ignore him but it’s hard to differentiate if he’s crying because he needs to go potty or if he’s crying because he just wants to have fun outside the crate. How can I fix this? Last time, he went in his crate after we took him outside and he was crying so we ignored him and did not realize that he was crying because he needed to potty so badly. He sadly ended up going in the crate. Do you have any advice? We need it badly!

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like you have dual issues. So let's start with some potty training. That will coincide with crate training. Puppies can typically hold their bladders for one hour per month of age, and they typically have to go #2 about 20 minutes after eating or consuming a bone or a fair amount of treats. So starting him on a regimented schedule of sorts will really help. Morning: Potty time, reward him for going potty outside. This can be done with lots of treats and/or praise. Breakfast, then out to potty again after about 20 minutes. Do some form of exercise with him whether it's a walk or fetch (although he probably doesn't know it yet) or just running around. Kennel time. Give him something exciting that he only gets in the kennel. Right now because we are working on potty training also, any treat based toy isn't a great idea. So some other form of chewy toy would work just fine. You know his bladder and bowels are empty, he has been exercised a bit, so you can knowingly leave him in there for at least an hour and a half while you're getting this schedule going. Try your best to ignore him completely. He is safe. He is fed, and had lots of attention. When the time is up, take him outside immediately and praise him if he goes potty. He will likely go, but if not, don't go back in until he has if this is feasible. You will want to repeat this schedule and slowly increase the amount of time he is left in the kennel until he gets it. It may seem a little hopeless or like a lot of work right now. But relief is in sight! He WILL get the associations. It may take until he is 4 months old, but he will get it. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
Oakley
Mastiff X Boxer
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oakley
Mastiff X Boxer
12 Weeks

We are struggling to introduce his crate to him, he’s happy to go inside and wander in and stay in there for up to 10-15 minutes especially with his Kong but overnight is not working, any suggestions?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Question
Rambo
English Mastiff
1 Week
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rambo
English Mastiff
1 Week

I am just looking to start my pup off right. he is only 8 days old. I'm researching to provide the best care for my little man. I pick him up November 15th.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! The best thing you can do for your new puppy is to start off with positive reinforcement based training techniques. And as much socialization as possible! THAT is more important than commands. You can always teach commands. But a properly socialized dog will give you nearly zero behavioral issues. Get him used to being handles for the times he may need a groomer or to go to the vet. Touch his paws, rub his ears, brush his teeth, brush his fur. Expose him to water, loud noises, different environments. And while doing all of this, provide him with treats and make it fun. As he gets his vaccines, expose him to people of all ages, and as many dogs as you can.

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