How to Crate Train a Golden Retriever Puppy

Updated on May 6, 2011

Crate Training is the Best Puppy Potty Training Method

Potty training a puppy is one of the biggest concerns for new puppy owners. Golden Retrievers are bright, easily trained dogs, and will learn to use the outdoors for bathroom needs very quickly. Crate training is the fastest, most efficient way to house-break a Golden Retriever puppy.

Puppies, by nature, will not defecate or urinate in their sleeping area. While there is a very rare pup which will defy this rule, nearly every dog will refrain from soiling their bedding area. Crate training is a tool to achieve a potty trained puppy, and is based on the dog's instinctive need to keep their bed area clean.

An appropriately sized crate serves as the puppy's bed, and the dog is placed in the crate when it cannot be supervised by the rest of the family. The puppy will not soil the crate, as long as certain rules are followed (see the section below). When the puppy is taken outside after each period in the crate, he will go to the bathroom in the appropriate location. After a short period of time, the dog learns that the house is not a bathroom, and that the backyard is the appropriate location to do his business!

Puppies should be placed in their crates at night for the first year: after that period of time, accidents are extremely unlikely. Most dogs will potty train in a very short period of time (2-3 weeks) and become reliably house-broken after a month of crate training.

Choosing a Dog Crate

A puppy's crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down. The crate should not be too large, as the dog may designate an area of the crate as a bathroom area. In addition, the crate should not be too small: the dog must be able to turn around comfortably when inside the crate. A Golden Retriever puppy will grow very quickly, so owners must purchase a larger crate as the dog outgrows his "puppy" crate.

Wire crates are superior to wooden crates, as Golden Retriever puppies love to chew! A wooden crate will soon be partially eaten, which could be dangerous to the puppy's digestive system.

Choosing the Right Dog Crate Size

Dog Size
Appropriate Crate Size
Appropriate Crate Length
Up to 12 pounds
Extra Small
18"-22" long
11-25 pounds
26-40 pounds
41-70 pounds
71-90 pounds
91-110 pounds
Extra Large
111-125 pounds
Extra Extra Large

A Puppy and His Crate

A Golden Retriever puppy sits in his crate: puppies have limited bladder control, and cannot be left in crates for extended periods of time.
A Golden Retriever puppy sits in his crate: puppies have limited bladder control, and cannot be left in crates for extended periods of time. | Source

Puppy Potty Training: Introducing the Crate

Golden Retriever puppies are extremely willing to please, and love their owners. Most young puppies will be dismayed at being separated from their owners, and may cry during the night. There are several tips to helping a young Golden Retriever puppy learn to embrace his crate:

  • Feed the puppy in his crate. He will associate his crate with a positive experience.
  • Hide treats in the crate. He will love searching for his treats under an old bath towel.
  • Place his favorite toys in the crate.
  • Praise the puppy when he goes into his crate.

Over time, the puppy will learn to see the crate as a safe haven, and will enjoy sleeping in his "home."

Never use the crate as a punishment.

Introducing a Golden Retriever Puppy to a Crate

House-Breaking a Puppy 101: Some Basic Guidelines

If the Golden Retriever puppy is less than 8 weeks old, it will not have any bladder control. It is impossible to crate train a puppy at this age, so do not begin crate training until a puppy is at least 8 weeks old.

In addition, puppies that are 2-3 months old will have a very limited bladder capacity. They will need frequent outings to go to the bathroom in the great outdoors: if a very young puppy is left in a crate for an extended period of time, it may go to the bathroom inside the crate out of necessity. This will make the rest of crate training ineffective, so ensure the puppy is taken outside at regular intervals. Some puppies will need to go outside in the middle of the night!

Dogs should not be placed in crates for extended periods of time. If the dog owner is gone from the house for long durations, the dog should be placed in a puppy pen with puppy training pads instead of a crate.

A happy, well trained Golden Retriever puppy. Fully housebroken by 13 weeks of age.
A happy, well trained Golden Retriever puppy. Fully housebroken by 13 weeks of age. | Source

When to Expect Puppy Bathroom Breaks

  1. A young Golden Retriever puppy will need to urinate when he wakes up, so every puppy should be taken outside immediately after waking from a nap.
  2. Within 30 minutes of eating a meal, most puppies will need to take a potty break. The food in the dog's stomach places pressure on the bowels and bladder.
  3. If a very young puppy (8-11 weeks of age) has gone more than an hour between bathroom breaks, take the puppy outside to an area already marked with the scent of his urine. This will encourage him to go potty. In addition, it is a good idea to use the same command whenever he goes to the bathroom: say "potty" or another appropriate phrase, then reward the puppy when he performs.

A 9 week old Golden Retriever puppy going outside for a bathroom break.
A 9 week old Golden Retriever puppy going outside for a bathroom break. | Source

Other Benefits of Crate Training Dogs

There are many benefits for crate training a young Golden Retriever puppy. Using a crate will cut puppy potty training time in half. In addition, using a crate when the dog is not immediately supervised will prevent the puppy from eating or chewing on anything dangerous. Valuable household furniture and children's toys will be spared from the dog's incessant need to chew! The dog will learn which toys are "his" faster, because he will associate them with his crate. Crates can also be used in the car, keeping the dog safe during road trips. Driving is much safer when a curious puppy is kept from jumping on the driver's lap!

Crate Training a Golden Retriever Video

Questions & Answers


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      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 12 days ago from Western New York

        Some Golden Retrievers are definitely stubborn, Troy! I remember the 4 month age as being a little difficult as all Casey (our Golden) wanted to do was chew at that age! He settled down a lot once he was neutered (we waited until he was a little older to neuter).

      • profile image

        troy 12 days ago

        my golden retriever is 4 months old and is so stubborn like a mule.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 12 months ago from Western New York

        Our golden is now six years old, Kim, and we love him so much. He is the best dog I have ever had - we can leave waffles on the coffee table, go to work, and he won't have touched them! He is an absolutely phenomenal dog!

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 12 months ago from Western New York

        We had the same issue with our Golden (Casey) - he wanted to nip and "play bite" when he was a young puppy. We were very consistent with a firm "NO" when he tried to nip and we did not play any "aggressive" games like tug of war. We withheld attention after bites and would praise appropriate play. It takes time - developmentally, we saw Casey stop chewing/nipping at around the age of five months. We were very consistent, but it still took time. We only used the crate when we weren't immediately with him (to keep him safe and to help with potty training). I hope your puppy has outgrown the nipping by now, Carmel!

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 12 months ago from Western New York

        It is unusual for a puppy to pee in the crate, but they do have a limit on bladder capacity so the length of time he is in the crate should be limited. A puppy of that age can probably hold its bladder for about 4-5 hours, but anything longer than that and he will pee. My Golden is now six years old and he can hold his urine for an 8 hour work day. Another thing to consider is the crate size - if the crate is too big, he may urinate in one area of the crate. If he isn't in the crate for more than 4 hours and the crate is the right size, then it may be stress related. You could try feeding him in his crate (dogs usually won't urinate where they eat) and make sure he has plenty of toys/chew toys in the crate to help alleviate stress. If he has bedding in his crate, try removing it (and vice-versa: if he has no bedding in his crate, try adding bedding). It may take a lot of trial and error to find a trick to help him learn to keep his crate dry!

      • profile image

        Savannah 23 months ago

        Hi I have a question my golden is 5 months old and is house broke but for some reason when I leave he pees in my house I have tried putting him in his crate when I leave but he also pees when I leave I mean he only does this when I leave other than that he has no problems. Do you have any suggestions or advice to help with this by chance?

      • profile image

        Carmel 2 years ago

        My 10 week old golden retriever. She has a few crazy moments during the day. When she's in this mood she nips/bites at my legs ankles and feet. I try to walk away and ignore but she's very quick. I have started trying the naughty corner but she comes back even more determined. The nips/bites are painful abd she's relentless considering trying crate training....... Any other tips?

      • profile image

        Kim T 2 years ago

        We have a 2 year old golden and she is amazing. It took her two weeks to be potty trained and never destroyed any furniture. She is so smart and funny, so much personality. We laugh everyday being around. I tell people we were very lucky when she decided to adopt us.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 4 years ago from Western New York

        Thank you, Peggy! Casey is such a good dog - we used crate training in his early puppy days, and by 13 weeks he was completely house trained. Now he sleeps right by our bed (he even has his own pillow)! He's two years old now and the best dog!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Came back to say that I am going to pin your adorable dog Casey to my Pinterest board on dogs. He will make a nice addition and hopefully drive more people to reading this excellent hub.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

        They were developed in Scotland, GmaGoldie. Casey is now a year and a half and the best dog in the world (we are biased, of course). We never use the crate anymore as he sleeps in our room, but it was an excellent housebreaking tool!

      • GmaGoldie profile image

        Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


        Oh, I miss my two male golden retrievers - what amazing dogs. Your puppy is gorgeous! Where did goldens originate - Europe?

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        Goodness, I love this dog. I had no idea how much he would become a part of our family. He really is a good boy, lol!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        You think you might be biased? Nahhhhh! Haha!

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        We love our Casey dog! He is such a good dog,and I think crate training helped with a lot of that! It has saved our furniture, our carpets, etc. Now he almost never goes into his crate, because he is so good about leaving things alone! He never chews on anything, never has house accidents, etc. The perfect dog! Of course, I might be a wee bit biased!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Leah,

        Your Casey is adorable!!! Golden Retrievers are wonderful and gentle natured dogs and so pretty. One of our neighbors has one and we love looking at the interactions. We used to have a mixed breed that had at least part golden retriever in him although he was much smaller than a full blooded one.

        As to the crate is an excellent way to not only potty train one's pet but also protect one's furnishings. We learned the hard way but are now believers! After furniture was chewed and wallpaper ripped off of the wall in the kitchen (which could be closed off from the rest of the house) we broke down and purchased a crate for Trudy...a black lab mix that we rescued. Trudy authored her own hub story! :) She learned to LOVE her crate and even after we removed it in later years...if she even THOUGHT that we were leaving the house, she would go to the spot in the kitchen where the crate had been.

        Have fun with your puppy Casey. Voted up and useful. Thanks!

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        Aren't puppies the best? I just love our Casey dog! Casey loves his crate now - he only goes in it for bedtime, or the instances I leave the house for preschool, etc. I'm pretty sure Casey is a genius, too, lol! He knows sit, down, stay, and we're working on roll over. He is completely house trained and has a bit of a naughty streak - he'll grab toys he knows aren't his, then run around the room to show us what he has, haha!

        They do grow so fast - I hope Gabby stays little for as long as possible!!!

      • akirchner profile image

        Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

        Oh how adorable! I'll bet your golden is way easier to train than my malamute, Gabby. She is proving to be a little devil when it comes to crate training but mals are NOT known for their love of confinement. It turns out all 9 of her littermates are giving their owners similar temper tantrums and are all experiencing the same angst over potty training....but it is coming along~!

        I have been working and working with her and one of these days she will be a genius! I just know it....only kidding. It's a great privilege working with puppies in my opinion and just love it when someone else is going through it as well as we me~

        Wishing you much luck and a happy, long life with your Casey. Gabby seems to be growing by leaps and bounds so trying to just enjoy every nanosecond of it!

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        Golden Retrievers are the best! Of course, my opinion is quite biased: our Golden is still very young, but is extremely gentle with my children. One of my boys has some medical issues, and our puppy is so gentle and sweet with him. We have managed to train Casey with "Sit" and "Down," but we're not having much luck with "Stay!" That's the next one on our list, lol!

      • Gary Shorthouse profile image

        Gary Shorthouse 6 years ago from Reading, UK

        Our Golden Retriever is now nearly 12 years old and we dread the prospect of losing him, though he is quite fit and healthy.

        We did not have any potty problems but we also failed abysmally to train him properly at anything else. True to his breed he is a wonderfully friendly dog, but he has a mind of his own and sometimes can be as stubborn as a mule. His name is Harry.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        I hope it helps! We started Casey (our Golden Retriever) with Crate training when he was 9 weeks old - he was fully house-trained within a few weeks. He's very rarely in the crate now - just at bedtime or when I take the kids to school.

      • Hyphenbird profile image

        Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

        I will share this with a friend who has a white Lab who is about 5 months old. Thanks Leah..