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How to Crate Train an Older Dog

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Crate

  • Dog toys

  • Bedding

  • Old item of your unwashed clothing

  • Enzyme-based cleaner for accidents

There are several advantages to crate training. Once a dog equates a crate with a sense of security, you can transport the crate anywhere, and the dog will feel secure. Also, crate training can be used to help with house-training issues that older dogs may have. Any dog rescued from the racetrack, a laboratory or a puppy mill may not be house-trained.

Choose a proper crate. The Humane Society of the United States recommends a crate large enough for the dog to not only turn around in but also stretch out when lying down on his side. Select one with a door that can be left open.

Place in the crate a cushion or dog bed, dog toys and an old item of clothing you have just worn. The smell will comfort the dog while you are gone. According to the ASPCA, dogs will not want to soil in their dens.

Leave the crate open while you are in the room with the dog. Praise lavishly whenever the dog goes in to investigate. When the dog is settled, shut the door and praise again. Leave the dog alone in the crate for a few minutes and leave the room. Come back and praise. Repeat this over a few days, varying the length of time you are gone.

Begin to leave the dog alone in the crate while you are out of the house or at night when you sleep. Give a special treat only for that time.

Notice your dog's body language. Usually, before a dog has to urinate or defecate, he will sniff the floor and walk around in circles. Take the dog outside immediately when the dog does this, and praise him when he eventually goes.

Clean up any accidents with an enzyme-based cleaner to completely remove any smell of ammonia. It's that smell the dog goes back to to find a place to go.


  • If your dog is still having accidents or suddenly has an accident after a long time, please see the vet. This could be the sign of an illness. Sometimes leaving a radio or television on while you are at work will calm the dog and reduce whining. Feeding meals in the crate can encourage the dog to really like the crate.


  • Never send the dog to the crate as punishment. This will make the dog very reluctant to go back into the crate. Never keep a dog in a crate for more than 10 hours.