How to Get a Dog to Use a Dog House

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I grew up with indoor dogs, so we never had a dog house in our yard.

I did occasionally see them used at my friend’s houses, but I didn’t think anything of them.

Now they’ve become a trend, so even indoor dogs get their own little houses.

I definitely think they can be way more cute than the traditional wire cage, and potentially even more comfortable for larger dogs since they can be made to specific dimensions.

The problem is that if I brought a dog house home, I doubt Maggie would know how to use it.

She’d probably prefer her crate that she’s always used, so it made me wonder how to train a dog to use a dog house.

Here’s exactly how you can make that happen with your own pup, whether they love to live outside or prefer the pampered couch life.

How to Get a Puppy to Use a Dog House

Training your puppy to use their dog house from a young age is always ideal.

You can apply some crate training techniques to make the dog house their home.

Method 1: Entice With Treats

How to use dog treats to get puppy to use dog house
To be fair, good treats are indispensable for all sorts of puppy training shenanigans…

Use treats to your advantage, especially since your puppy will be so new to the way they taste.

Step 1: Put some treats in your pocket and go sit by the dog house to get your puppy interested in it. Every time they approach or sniff the dog house, reward them with a treat.

That trains them to recognize the dog house as a fun place to be.

Step 2: Once they get used to being near or in it, train them to sit and lie down inside the dog house.

They’ll be introduced to the idea of hanging out inside of it, while also being trained for the traditional sit and lie down commands.

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It’s easy two-in-one training that puppies catch onto very quickly.

Method 2: Use Their Toys

I tried to train Maggie to understand basic commands with treats when she was little but she quickly figured out that they were in my pocket and wouldn’t do anything except jump up to sniff and bark at them.

Using her favorite toys to train her would have been much more effective.

How to use toys to train puppy use shelter dog house crate
…as are your puppy’s favorite toys!

Step 1: She had a crinkly cowboy hat that she adored, so I could have started her training by putting it at the entrance.

Do this with your puppy so they love walking up to the dog house.

Step 2: After they get used to being around their dog house, throw their favorite toy inside so they have to run into it.

With time, they’ll check the dog house for toys without you even being there, making it a fun place for them to be.

How to Get an Adult Dog to Use Their Dog House

I would be more skeptical about training an adult dog to suddenly start using a dog house, but it’s actually not that difficult.

Here are three ways you can train any adult dog to love their new dog house.

Method 1: Decorate With Familiar Things

Adult dogs already know what their favorite things are.

Use those things to make their dog house a more welcoming place to spend their time.

Step 1: Put their favorite bedding inside, along with their favorite toys.

Step 2: Put a towel or some clothing that has your scent on it in their house.

This will make them feel safer and cut down on anxiety because they can still smell their favorite person (you!).

Step 3: Repeat.Adult dog new dog house training tips tricks help

Don’t be discouraged if they just pull everything out at first.

Keep putting their favorite things in the dog house and they’ll eventually want to spend time in it.

The training period with this method will be different with each dog, depending on how much they love being with their belongings.

If it takes longer than a week, stick with it! It’s an easy way to make the dog house more familiar for your dog.

Method 2: Feed Them in the Dog House

Every dog loves when it’s finally meal time, so why not associate that love with their dog house?

Step 1: Start by putting your dog’s food bowl just outside the entrance to their dog house.

Do this for at least a week, so they see the dog house and recognize it with the same excitement that they do for meals.

Step 2: After a week, start putting their food bowl in the back of the dog house.

They’ll go inside and eat there.

It teaches them that their dog house is a happy place to be. They may even learn to run inside it before you ever set their bowl down!

Step 3: Gradually taper off feeding them in their house.

Once you see that they start going in the dog house without their food bribe, start feeding them in their regular spot every three days or so and gradually increase that.

If they stop using their house during this time, scale the dog house feeding back up until you can start to wean them off again.

Method 3: Move Its Location

How to trick adult dog into loving doghouse good location safe shelter
A lightweight doghouse such as this one is easy to move, unlike a more permanent (and more stable) shelter

Where is your dog used to spending their time?

Don’t kick them out all at once for their dog house! Instead, use that location of the house to train them to use it.

Step 1: Consider where your dog spends the most time.

Is it on the couch? By the back door? Maybe they love a particular spot in your yard.

Put the dog house in (or at least near) their favorite spot so they naturally hang out by it.

Step 2: After giving this some time, gradually start moving the dog house closer to where you want it to be permanently located.

Your dog should follow it, but take your time with this step.

Suddenly moving it from your back porch to the back fence will be disorienting for your dog.


After reading about how to train both puppies and adults, I don’t feel like it’s impossible to get a dog to use a dog house.

In fact, there are many adorable versions of both indoor and outdoor dog houses I might start looking into.

They’re a great way to give your dog a safe space to relax, get out of the sun, and even have some quiet time.

Try using one of these training methods with your dog so they can enjoy the benefits of having a dog house, too.

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