Published on February 10th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Puppy Proofing for Small Spaces

Materials: Ikea Hol Storage Bench

Description: First things first, I must give full credit to the original version of this in 2008, but who completed the answer for my dog crate situation in 2011.

My partner were awaiting our new arrival (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy), and we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to crate train him. But, as we live in a one bedroom flat, we didn’t want to buy one of the huge metal crates that would look hideous in the corner of our relatively small living room. We thought about all sorts of options, and ended up googling ‘innovative dog crate’ into google and eventually found this fab idea on Ikea hackers.

We bought an Ikea Hol storage unit and when assembling it, we left off the lid and one end. We bought three small bolt locks from our local DIY shop and a piece of timber to reinforce the base. We screwed the locks onto what would become the front of our crate (two at the bottom and one at the top), and nailed the timber width-ways across the bottom of the unit.

Unlike the original hack, we decided not to nail the lid of the unit down so that it didn’t come off, as by keeping it flexible we had not only a lockable crate, but also a puppy pen. 

To avoid the base of the unit becoming soiled/wet/wasting away/chewed, we stapled some spare carpet down, remembering to leave about 1 inch spare by the front of the crate so that the door can lock properly. We then covered this in a cut up plastic bag, which we stapled down on top of the carpet. This stopped the carpet becoming messy and acts as a waterproof layer in case the pup should tip up his water bowl/pee. We chose a strong plastic bag that was thin enough to be able to go over the edges of the base, and underneath so that any other fluid would flow out and not stand a chance of ruining the base. Finally, we lined it with newspaper for house training.

We are ecstatic with the results, and everyone who has seen the result cannot believe this is a dog crate. It fits in perfectly with the rest of our room, and as a result we bought the other smaller Ikea Hol storage unit to go with it.

This now acts as a coffee table/electricity hub which protects the pup from any cables/wires that were previously out on the floor. This was really easy to do by just cutting out a small section of the base before nailing it down when assembling it. It now houses an extension cable with a hairdryer, internet box, laptop charger and many more! We wanted a small lamp on top, and to stop the light from shining down into the box and revealing all the messy cables within, we stapled a square of canvas to the inside lid, which also stops any pens/post it notes from falling through the holes into the box.

Overall, it cost us:

£45 for the large Ikea Hol box
£18.50 for the small Ikea Hol box
£3 for the 3 hinges
£2 for the spare timber

A brilliant solution to our problem, and our pup likes it too – thank you Ikea Hackers!

~ Ruth, Cardiff, Wales

More hacks on IKEAHackers.net

Dead fridge goes Rationell (retrofitting old cabinet)
Floating Bathroom Shelf Made with Kee Klamp and Lack Components

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

36 Responses to Puppy Proofing for Small Spaces

  1. Linda says:

    This is a great hack! Perfect for your living space and the size of your dog. As for the crate debate, I own a Basenji who was previously crate trained and so then I crate trained my mini-dachshund as a puppy. They’re certainly not traumatised!! Crating keeps them safe for transport in my SUV. When they see their crates go anywhere near the front door of my house, they get so excited because it means a trip somewhere. When we all go on overnight visits, camping, or the dogs go to stay with family if I’m away, it’s their home away from home. They put themselves to bed in it! They know the words for bed(as in mine!), cushion and crate and will go to either without any problems. I do wish people would become informed before making comments.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Those cages always make me think: Why didn’t you get a rabbit if you want to put your pet in a cage!” RABBITS ARE NOT TO BE KEPT IN TINY CAGES EITHER! They should be kept inside away from the elements and predators. They need a LARGE cage, if caged at all, and to be let out in a safe area inside to exercise for several hours everyday. They make wonderful house pets for the right person as they are very, easily litter trained. They should be spayed/ nuetered. You should not make off handed comments like the one referenced. And “crating” a dog humanly is not cruel. Do some research so you won’t sound like such an idiot.

  3. Anonymous says:

    everyone who is whining about this doesn’t even have a dog!! you MUST allow your pup to feel safe, and like it or not, a small enclosed area does the trick.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I got to thinking as I read these comments that I was raised with lots of dogs and puppies. There was never any need to ‘crate’ them or shut them away in boxes. They all grew up well behaved and respectful, knew their places etc.

    Crating seems to be a fad that’s arisen over the last 10 years or so. Remember, dogs are not wild animals, as pets they live very domesticated lives with their human families. Many of their feral needs have been bred out. Of course dogs are not human, no dog owner could really believe that they are! Generation upon generation of dogs have been successfully raised with dog baskets.

    Remember also that BJ Skinner, the famous/infamous behaviouralist ‘crated’ his baby daughter. He kept her in a plastic box for the first 2 years of her life with only an hour’s ‘out’ time each afternoon. He advocated this inhumane treatment for infants. Nowadays he’d be prosecuted for cruelty.

    Sooner or later this crating fad will die a death and there will be another generation of animal psychs/vets who decry this practice as vehemently as the current day fans now uphold its virtues.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I can’t agree with most of these ‘city slickers’ who think a crate/cage is a bad thing. But then again, that type of non-training is ever a source of amusement to me seeing the dog lead the owner around the park, or the tv show where pet behaviourists train the dog to sleep in a doggy bed so the husband can sleep with his wife. Very funny, but very sad to see that people are so out of touch with animal training.

    The crate is lovely, great idea. I’m sure the puppy will call it home and will sleep in there even when the door is left open. Of course, they need to get out, but for limited times it is great.

    I wonder what kind of reality we are in that people think it is acceptable for a dog to run freely in a house when the owner is away.

    I have had dogs over 30 years and they have all been obedience trained, they have also been trained that certain rooms in the house are off limits. They have also willingly slept in their cage/bed which had an open door throughout the day and was closed at night.

    They have been taught to bark one time if they want to go out and one time if they want back in. You don’t need an animal behaviourist to teach you common sense. Training dogs is a lot easier than training kids because they really do want to do what you ask.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m a former manager at PETA, and an active animal rights activist. Thanks for generalizing and stereotyping all of us “PETA idiots”, Phil…

    Crate training – when done properly – is perfectly humane, and it’s how I potty trained my pups (one of whom is a Cavalier King Charles pup like the one in the article above).

    After my pups got the hang of not peeing/pooping in the house, I didn’t lock ‘em in the crate any more. It only took a few weeks (only 2-3 if I recall correctly) of regularly scheduled walkies to get them to that point. Now my pups hang out in there while I’m at work, but I’ve removed the door – they can come and go as they please.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Take a jigsaw and make those holes 3 times as big at least, so the poor thing can at least see out. And, do NOT leave the puppy there during the day. This should only be for short periods. After 2 weeks, a dog should be ready to be in a house on its own.

  8. CB says:

    I LOVE this idea. Anyone who thinks that a crate is cruel is mistaken. Our dog panics when she is not in her crate while we are gone. It is her home and she has a crate at both of her grandparents houses too! It is also a very effective way of house training. It is a dog’s den. They love it!

  9. Awful lot of trolls in here.

    I’m sure everyone is just BURSTING with facts/opinions on how to train/discipline animals, but this is not the thread for that.

    Comments should only be about the ingenuity of the hack. This is an impressive hack. I really like it, actually. Thanks for sharing, Ruth.

  10. karen.j.cosme says:

    wha’ ?! this is “play nice?” how does one get posts removed? i’m all for free speech, but why allow for nastygrams when what we mainly want is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ feedback on the hack only? wasted reading mostly.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Poor dog.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I study animal biology and behaviour, work with an animal rescue, and at a veterinary clinic:

    A crate is used for puppies when the owners are not at home or asleep. It keeps the puppy safe, it is not a way to trap them or be cruel, and when the owner is home and able to stop the dog from chewing on wires and eating things they might choke on, then the puppy is out.

    Sometimes they are misused and dogs are kept in them for too long, which is cruel and lazy. I agree that it wrong. But if it’s only used when the owner is not around, and not for long periods of time, then it’s safer for the puppy.

    You wouldn’t leave a baby unattended not in a crib or playpen; it’s a similar idea, it’s just to keep them out of trouble when you can’t. As the dog gets older and is better trained and less likely to eat and chew on everything, the crate gets weaned out, although some dogs prefer to keep there’s and go to it like other dogs go to their beds. I only like them for a short time in the first couple of months of having a puppy.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh for f**k sake. Some common sense PLEASE!!! Is a vet’s or a trainers word always true and just? Is it always an objective truth? I don’t think so. In the US vets surgically remove cats claws so they wont “mess up their owners houses” or cut the vocal cords of dogs so they won’t bother people with barking. Vets even perform plastic surgery on pets, because the owners want and pay for it! Oh, and how many incompetent animal trainers do you think we have out there? And how many stupid animal owners? Just cos someone tells you to do something stupid, or did it themselves, is it a must for you to follow? Common sense people, common sense!!!

    1: Animals are individuals. What sees to go down okay for one individual might seriously damage another.

    2: What do the ethologists say? They are the experts on natural animal behaviour. Most vets have never seen K9′s in the wild, even less studied their natural behaviour.

    3: Trainers most often (there are exceptions of course) do not promote natural behaviour. Their job is to get animals to follow humans needs for one behaviour or another. That may be all well and good, but you as a pet owner, need to know the individual your pet is, and decide weather something is damaging or positive for your pet. Not everything works for everyone! And being closed in to a small space with limited possibilities to move around or see outside is damaging for anyone. That’s why we put people in isolation when we want to punish them hard!!!

    4: If something seems highly inappropriate and discomforting to do to a human, it will be for a pet as well. We are all gregarious animals, and a hell of a lot more similar than some people want to admit. And why is that? Does it perhaps have something to do with how badly we often treat animals, and how we want to get out of feeling guilty about it.

    I’m upset about the crate idea. If you need to enclose your dog for short! periods of time (not hours that is!!!), make a pen they can see out of and move around in. Seriously! Where is the common sense??? Their not a live toy you know! They’re really not!!!

    /Justyna from Sweden

  14. Anonymous says:

    @ Ellery VanDooyeweert
    Cribs I’ve seen are not closed on all 4 sides and as opposed to this hack, do allow for a visual contact. sorry, not the same-.

  15. @Vele

    They do put newborns in tiny jails next to beds… they’re called cribs.

  16. Vele says:

    @ Phil I agree, dogs are not little humans, it’s the other way around. We all are animals.

    How about putting a newborn in a tiny jail next to your bed? Atrocious.

  17. Phil says:

    There are a lot of commenters here who have been brainwashed by the likes of PETA idiots. Crate training is highly advised by most dog psychologists and vets. Stop anthropomorphising animals. Contrary to what some dog owners want to believe, they are *not* ‘little humans’.

  18. Eat 'em says:

    This is insane.

    Dogs/Wolfs are no ‘den animals’, they only use a den to give birth to their puppies. Each and every other day they spend outsite, free, without dens. They don’t use dens to eat in it, they don’t use it to sleep in it…
    If the front door is open, it could be a nice and safe place for the puppy. Thats it.

    To put a dog in that thing for up to 6 hour (even 1 hour is too long) is way against their nature.
    So stop talking about that putting little dogs into these cages is good education or imitating their natural way of life. It is not!
    You should have enough free time to train a dog to get house-trained, if you don’t have that time, don’t buy a puppy.

  19. Maleandro says:

    I’m sorry but this is horrible, not the hack itself but the way you are going to treat the poor puppy.

    Why not just lock it up in a small and dark closet; it would be the same thing more or less.

    And I fully agree with what Eat’em says about dogs and wolfs.

    Why get a dog at all when you don’t seem to be willing to give it the time it needs?

    This is nothing else but pure cruelty against animals, when I was working in an animal shelter we often got dogs in that had been locked up like this but only in a cheaper way.

    Instead of building a little Ikea hack that would match the interior design people used their french balconies, the result were dogs with psychological problems.

  20. Anonymous says:

    And here are some more…

    It never hurts to educate yourself

    about things you are unfamiliar with.

  21. Iz bakinog ormara says:

    Poor little thing. Makes me sad to see him in such a tiny space.
    We don’t have a big apartment either, but our cat roams freely. there’s no place prohibited for him, only the kitchen as it’s full of hasards. He often awakes us in the middle of the night, but I can’t imagine to close him in another room. Please consider if this (which I sincerely doubt) is the best thing for this little creature.

  22. Anonymous says:

    To all of you calling this hack down shame on you!

    You have no clue how dogs are to be trained and must have stressed out, nippy little dogs.
    Canids are known to dig themselves dens in the wild, for security and to raise families in them. These dens are usually large enough to fit one adult and maybe a litter.
    So before you guys start in on this…do your research.
    Cats are different too btw they prefer to live above ground….
    And have you seen what plastic atrocities they sell at the petstore for you to throw fluffy in? You can’t sit there and tell me those are any safer!

  23. Anonymous says:

    It is ridiculous. Train your dog but don`t jail him.

  24. Ulrike says:

    The “cage” looks a little small until you realize the puppy is a little spaniel, not a big working breed. It’s actually larger than necessary!

    Sure, it would be wrong to leave him in there for hours at a time during the day, but for brief periods (~half hour per month of age, maxing out at 6 hours), plus nap time, and bed time, it’s perfect.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I know nothing about dogs, but I believe Phil and Feather on a wire. It can’t be bad for the dog to be ‘jailed’ during the night, if you give him plenty of time to roam around during the day.

    Moreover, I don’t think the dog might think this crate is worse than a wire crate. There is even a chance he will prefer this one. It is much more cosy-looking in my opinion.

    Good hack!

  26. Anonymous says:


    Crate training is recommended by many professionals for house training. It is far from cruel. In fact, it is kind, in that it shortens the house training period and the frustration that comes with it. Of course, you have to do it correctly — not leaving the dog in the crate for long periods, providing plenty of “family” and play time, not using the crate for punishment (“go to your room!”), etc.

    Using a crate correctly is a far cry from “jail.”

  27. Brilliant idea.
    I too used to think the cage idea was not wonderful but time and time again, I’ve seen how good it is for dogs, particularly when they are in a new environment.
    The dog rescues recommend them when rehousing dogs.

  28. Anonymous says:

    the wire cages are nice as they don’t feel so enclosed for the dog, while still feeling secure and like their home.
    but this is too dark and small.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Don’t like. Poor little dog. That’s just wrong – sorry.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Those cages always make me think: Why didn’t you get a rabbit if you want to put your pet in a cage!

  31. Phil says:

    Doh! I wish I’d thought of that! We had an ugly looking crate for our dog when she was a puppy. That would have fit so much nicer in with the decor!

    @Donna If you love your dog then you will show them discipline. Crate training is far from ‘jailing’ a dog. Dogs are not humans and as such they don’t think like humans. This is exactly the kind of thing that Cesar Milan recommends for puppy training as does my best friend who is a vet.

    You have to realise that dogs are den animals. As a puppy they would be largely kept in the den by their mother – hence why dogs naturally don’t want to go to the loo in their beds. Dogs love to have a den when they grow up hence why many people keep ‘crates’ around with the door open for them to go in.

    We stopped using a crate a long time ago after our dog became toilet trained but we’ve now given her a soft house-like thing for her to go in and she absolutely loves it. Before this she had an open top bed but would cover herself up with things to make it more den-like.

    @Anonymous This is exactly the right size for a puppy, if anything it’s a little large. It’s obviously not going to be kept in there all day long, just when the puppy is left to be unattended so that it has its nice den to sleep in and isn’t tempted to roam around the house and pee where it wants setting back toilet training by weeks.

  32. Anonymous says:

    It’s too small for a dog. If you don’t have the room in your house, you shouldn’t take in a dog.
    Though the traditional dogbenches may not really fit in your valued interior design, at least the dog will get more sunlight during the day than in this crate.

  33. Donna says:

    it looks like a jail and if you love your dog you don’t lock up your pet like this

  34. Anonymous says:

    it looks like jail and if you love your dog you don’t lock up you like this

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