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5 Easy Ways To Make A Dog Crate Smaller For A Puppy (2023)

How To Make A Dog Crate Smaller For A Puppy

Many vets and breeders highly recommend crate training for your pooches. 

And crates are especially useful for puppies.

However, most crates are too large for your small pupper.

Well, there’s no need to fret.

I’ve got some simple solutions to that problem.

Keep reading to discover:

  • The size of the dog crate that a puppy should be in.
  • 5 easy ways to make a dog crate smaller for a puppy.
  • If a cardboard crate divider panel is effective in making a dog crate smaller.
  • And much, much, more…

How to make a dog crate smaller for a puppy?

You can make a dog crate smaller for a puppy by putting fillers inside it.  This decreases the interior space of the crate. Another method is to use a crate divider panel. By using a crate divider, it’s easier to make the crate smaller and gradually increase its size as your puppy grows.

5 easy ways to make a dog crate smaller for a puppy

#1: Putting fillers

If a dog crate is too large, housetraining your puppy can be very difficult. 

A simple way to prevent that from happening is by reducing the interior space of the crate. 

And you do this by putting fillers inside. 

You can put a non-porous material as flooring. Then cover it with a blanket, towel, or beddings. 

Other dog parents would also put a dog bed inside.

This will make the ceiling of the crate lower and reduces its height.

It’s especially useful when your pup is jumping inside their crate. 

Just make sure that your flooring is non-absorbent and non-toxic. 


First, it needs to be non-absorbent to repel the doggy waste that seeps through the materials on top. 

Second, the blankets or towels can be pushed aside by your pup. As a result, the flooring is exposed and your little fur baby can chew on it.  

So a non-toxic flooring is a safe option for your pooch. 

Here are some preferred crate flooring options on Amazon:

What type of coverings should you use?

Durable Pet Blankets

For the coverings, it’s better to use durable pet blankets.

Because your pup can get extra chewy when they’re teething. 

Also, ensure that the fabric of your covers is breathable. 

And avoid using knitted blankets that may snag or unravel. This can be a choking hazard for your pup.

PetMD also suggests not to use blankets with tassels, stitches, or fringes.

Since these kinds of materials is tempting your pooch to chew or bite them.

Instead, fur parents suggest putting chew toys in the crate to misdirect your pup’s attention.

You see, if your puppy is bored they can get destructive. 

There’s even a study that explores how boredom can affect the behaviors of animals. 

It says that boredom can encourage behavioral problems in your pooch. 

Examples of these problems are: 

  • Unrolling tissue papers. 
  • Constant barking to get attention.
  • Excessive chewing on furniture and other objects.

So to save your crate beddings, you can offer your puppy a toy to stimulate their minds.

Editor’s pick: 13 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Chews On Blankets + 3 Tips

#2: Blocking the back

AKC says that too much room in your pup’s crate will make them feel that it’s okay to make a mess in one corner. And then happily settle down on the other side. 

To stop this from happening, take away the extra space by placing materials at the back.

However, there are factors you should consider when choosing your blocking materials.

One of which is if your pup can see or pee through the objects you used. 

This can result in your pooch wanting to go to the blocked side.  And they’ll be frustrated and whiny when they can’t. 

Also, using a lightweight material as the blocking object can make it easier to move or carry the dog crate. 

But if you have a light crate, then using a heavier and more durable material is a better choice. 

What’s important is that it can withstand the chewing, scratching, or pulling of your fur baby.

Here are some of the materials many dog parents use:

  • Plexiglass.
  • Wire closet shelves.
  • Empty plastic bottles.
  • Thoroughly cleaned 5-gallon paint buckets.

You can use glue or screws to attach your objects to the crate. 

Or you can also try using a string or a wire to tie it in. 

Warning: Be sure that your pup won’t see the string or wire. Otherwise, they can cut or choke themselves on it.

How to tie the blocking materials to the crate

Step 1: Wrap the string around the item you’ve put in the crate.

Step2: Extend it out of the crate’s holes or wire openings.

Step 3: Run the string through the sides and back of the crate. Then tie it off at the back.

Step 4: Hide the string on the inside from your pup. Do this by stapling the line over to the floor covers in a way the dog can’t see.

Before you change your pupper’s dog crate, ask the professionals first. 

You can talk with your vet, groomer, or pet sitter about reducing the interior space of your pup’s dog crate.  

By doing so, your pet care professional can give you useful tips based on their own experience.

Note: it’s important to know the correct crate measurement for your pup’s size. So that you’ll know how much space you’ll need to block off inside the crate.

How to measure your Fido for a crate

Step 1: Measure the length. 

To do this, make your pooch stand on all fours. 

Then measure the length from the tip of their nose to the base of your doggo’s tail.

Note: It’s important that you stop at the base of your pooch’s tail and not on the tip. Including the tip would make the crate too large.

Step 2: Add 4 in (10.16 cm) and that’s the length of your crate. For puppies, APDT recommends adding 12 in (30.48 cm).

Step 3: Measure the height of your Fido.

For the height, there are doggos that are taller when sitting. 

So make your pooch sit upright. Then take the height measurement from the floor to their head.

If your pooch won’t sit still, you can get their height measurement while standing. 

Step 4: Add 4 in (10.16 cm) to the height measurement. Add 12 in (30.48 cm) if you’re measuring a pupper.

Step 5: Find a crate that has the closest dimensions to your measurement.

Petco also created this table to help you choose the right crate for your pooch:

Crate SizeLength of CrateWeightExample of Appropriate Breeds
XS19” (48.26 cm)<20 lbs. (9.07 kg)Chihuahua, Maltese, Pomeranian
S24” (60.96 cm)20-30 lbs. (9.07-13.6 kg)Jack Russell Terrier, Miniature Poodle
M30” (76.2 cm)30-40 lbs. (13.6 -18.14 kg)Cocker Spaniel, French Bulldog, Pit Bull Terrier
L36” (91.44 cm)40-70 lbs. (18.14 – 31.75 kg)Beagle, Bulldog, English Setter
XL42” (106.68 cm)70-90 lbs. (31.75 – 40.82 kg)Lab, Golden Retriever, Boxer
2XL48” (121.92 cm)90 lbs. (40.82 kg) + Great Dane, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog

Reading tip: 17 Best Behaved Small Dogs (Easy Low-Maintenance Breeds)

#3: Use the detachable crate dividers

Many dog crates come with a crate panel divider.

As the name implies, it’s used to divide the interior of a dog crate into smaller parts.

It’s a more convenient way of making a dog crate smaller for a puppy.

Usually, this divider is made out of the same materials used for the crate’s walls. 

And it’ll have hooks on the 3 sides. While the fourth side of the panel is used to line against the crate tray. 

Technically, a newly bought crate comes with an assembly guide. 

And it contains the crate assembly process. As well as the instructions on how to attach its divider.

But if you lost the assembly guide or you don’t have any in the first place, don’t worry. 

There’s a general way to install a crate panel divider.

How to install a crate panel divider

Step 1: Finish assembling the dog crate.

Step 2: Slide in the divider through the crate door. You might need to find an angle that’ll make the divider go through the door.

Step 3: Attach the hooks on both sides of the divider to the walls of the crate. 

Step 4: Locate the hooks on the top of the divider. Attach them to the crate ceiling.

Step 5: After that’s done, you can now adjust the space inside the crate to the right fit for your pup.

Also, here’s a video demonstration on how to assemble a dog crate with a detachable divider:

#4: Make your own crate divider

Not all dog crates have a detachable crate panel divider. In fact, crates that have this contraption are far more expensive. 

And not everyone can afford to buy it. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own crate divider.

All you need are some basic materials and a little creativity.

How to make your own puppy crate divider

Step 1: Choose the main material for your crate divider. You can use either cardboard or plywood. 

Each of the materials has its own advantage and disadvantages. 

I prepared a table to help you decide which material you’ll use.

Crate Divider MaterialProsCons
Cardboard– Affordable.
– Readily available.
– Easy to cut and replace.
– Not sturdy.
– Not suitable for long-term use.
Plywood– Durable.
– Long-lasting.
– Expensive.
– Needs specific tools for cutting.

In addition, it’s better to avoid using a cardboard box that has a lot of colored printing. 

Since research says that the ink from these boxes contains a harmful chemical.

The same is true for treated or heavily painted plywoods. It also has some toxic chemicals.

Step 2: With a tape measure, take note of the height and width of the inside part of the dog crate. 

You can round off the numbers to come up with standardized measurements.

Step 3: Subtract 0.5 in (1.27 cm) from the measurement you took. Then using a marker or pencil, outline the new dimensions on the panel material.

By making the size of the divider a couple of inches smaller, it would be easier to slide it inside the crate.

Step 4: Cut out the outline that you made. If you use cardboard, then you can cut it with scissors or a box cutter. 

For plywood, you need to use a saw to cut your panel divider.

Step 5: Smooth down and reinforce the edges of your panel material. 

You can use duct tape or pre-cut foam cardboard corners around each side of the cardboard.

As for the plywood, you need to sand the edges of the wood with high-grit sandpaper. 

Doing so can prevent your pup from getting splinters. 

Step 6: Punch a hole in each corner of the panel divider. 

Be sure to place the holes about 0.5 in -1 in (1.27-2.5cm) from the corner edges.

Also, use an electric drill or a nail and hammer combo for the plywood divider. 

These holes are for tying the dividers in place.

Step 7: Slide in the divider through the crate door. You might need to tilt the divider on its side for it to go through the opening.

Move it along the crate until you get the right size for your puppy.

Use the crate size measurement method discussed earlier.

Also, make sure that there are no big gaps between the divider and the crate. 

Your pup’s tail, snout, or paw can get caught if there are any gaps.

Step 8: Secure the divider with zipper ties in each hole. 

Be sure to tie each of the corners tightly so it wouldn’t budge. You can also test if it’s sturdy by applying a little pressure on it. 

Furthermore, cut off the sharp ends of the zip ties. If this isn’t possible, just make sure that the sharp end is facing outside the crate.

Putting a divider in the middle of crate training can be stressful for your pup. 

So make sure that you’ll be around for a few hours when you introduce the panel divider to your pooch for the first time. 

This way, you can respond immediately if your puppy starts to get anxious.

Moreover, VCA says that putting chew toys, treats, and bedding in the crate can also help them adjust.

Read Next: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Suddenly Hates The Crate + 11 Tips

#5: Take the crate back to the store

If you’re dealing with a newly bought crate, then the simplest way to make it smaller is by exchanging it in the store.

So before you make any modifications to your dog crate, check the store return policy first. 

Many stores allow returns of their products as long as it’s within a certain time frame.

However, if you already drilled some holes in the crate, it would be harder to return it to the store. 

How big of a crate should a puppy be in?

A puppy should be in a crate large enough that he can stand up comfortably and turn around.

But it should not be too big that they can run or jump around inside. 

Depending on the breed, this can range from extra small to medium size crates. 

For accuracy, you can follow the proper way of measuring a dog’s crate size discussed in this article.