Cairn Terrier Crate Training For A Behaved House Dog

Picture taken from

Picture taken from

Good day and welcome back!

This is Sharda with another Cairn Terrier newsletter.

Today, we will be discussing Cairn Terrier crate training that will help  both you and your puppy!


Usually very high on the list of training priorities for a Cairn Terrier puppy or a dog is the issue of house training.

Teaching your Cairn Terrier to avoid eliminating in the house is important for several reasons – the most obvious of which is the odor and mess that a non-house broken dog will make.

In addition, there are health concerns for the humans, dog and other animals if there is fecal material in the same area that food is prepared or consumed.

Often dogs will eat their own waste, so keeping the animal away from this material is also important to prevent bad and unsafe habits from forming.


One of the most successful ways to train a Cairn Terrier puppy is to use the crate training method.

The crate is seen by the dog as a safe area or den that he or she can use to sleep in, or just to spend time.

There are several benefits to crate training your puppy that will continue to be useful as your Cairn Terrier dog matures.

A crate provides an excellent environment for transporting your Cairn Terrier, a comfortable yet confined place when you are not at home, a method to control challenging behaviours such as digging and chewing, as well as a tool for scheduling toileting, sleeping and other activities.

It is important to allow your Cairn Terrier puppy to adjust to the crate and to learn that the crate is a good place to be, not a punishment.

  • Start by placing the crate on the floor, and place inside some dog treats and toys.
  • Close the door, and let the puppy sniff around the crate. The puppy will soon realize the treats are on the inside, and will whine or scratch to get into the crate.
  • Praise the dog for wanting in, and open the door. Leave the door open, but don’t praise the dog for coming out. The puppy needs to learn that inside is better than outside.
  • To get the puppy to go back into the crate have a few more treats and toss them towards the back of the crate.
  • Positively reward the puppy for walking in and eating them.
  • Gradually begin to close the door behind the puppy. If the puppy does start to whine or bark make sure that you do not let him or her out until there is quiet, or you will be reinforcing the whining behaviour.
  • Always have a treat or two inside the crate, and start saying “Crate” to alert the puppy to go in for a treat.
  • Never force the Cairn Terrier puppy into the crate or it will start to be seen as a punishment.
  • Increase the time in the crate but do not exceed thirty minutes to avoid any accidents or stress on the puppy.

Cairn Terrier puppies can sleep in the crate, but should be taken outside if they cry or whine and need to toilet.

If they are whining or crying for attention, do not take them out, or it will cause this behaviour to increase.

Crate training can also be used when you leave the house. Once the puppy is comfortable in the crate, they will be happy to remain in there while you are away.

Avoid any excessive amounts of time in the crate, as this can make housetraining more difficult.

Watch for any signs of separation anxiety while you are gone, and address these with a trainer to correct this situation as early as possible.

Soiling the crate, excessive drooling or panting, or frantic behaviour when you return may be signs that the Cairn Terrier puppy has some separation anxiety.

The crate can also be used to housetrain your Cairn Terrier.

This method is based on the premise that the natural tendency of the puppy or dog is to avoid soiling its own area or den.

The key factors involve being able to confine your puppy to the crate for short periods of time, so that the puppy is able to hold their urine or feces.

Remember that Cairn Terrier puppies have very small bladders, and that their control is not as good as a more mature dog.

After a short period of confinement, the puppy must be taken immediately to the area that it is to use to relieve itself.

Once the Cairn Terrier puppy does urinate or defecate in the selected area, it should be immediately praised for the positive behaviour.

If your Cairn Terrier is kept in the crate for longer than the time it can control its bladder, it will begin to mess in the crate.

This creates a bad habit and will seriously affect the ability of the puppy to learn to eliminate only when outside or in a designated area.

To start the crate training process, take the puppy out of the crate every hour and allow them access to the outside area. As soon as the puppy does urinate or defecate, provide immediate praise and attention. If the puppy does not do anything, return them to the crate and try again the next hour.

Keep a journal of when the Cairn Terrier puppy eats and when it needs to go to the bathroom.

You should be able to see a pattern develop. Allow the puppy to have free run of the area until about an hour before they usually need to urinate.

At this time put the puppy in the crate to prevent any accidents. At the appropriate time take the puppy out, and if the mission is successful, provide rewards and let the puppy have free run again.

If the puppy doesn’t go to the bathroom, return him to the crate and try again in 5-10 minutes or so.

Watch for any changes in food or water intake that might indicate that the puppy will need to go outside more often.

As the Cairn Terrier puppy gets older and has better control of bowels and bladder, the time between crating will increase.

Usually in two to three weeks after starting crate training the puppy will be basically housetrained.

Be aware that mistakes and accidents will happen, despite the best scheduling and planning. Try to clean up the mess as quickly as possible.

Avoid punishing the dog as this will lead to anxiety and more accidents. Make sure to reward and praise the dog for the next successful outing, instead.

I hope that you learned a lot from today’s Cairn Terrier newsletter.

All the best and take care

Sharda Baker