Differences Between Crate Training Olders Dogs and Puppies

Crate training puppies is not much different than crate training older dogs; however, it may require more diligence, patience and a touch of "tough love" since the process can take days or even weeks. The secret to success is making crate training pleasant and to take slow, deliberate steps in attaining that goal. Progress can be measured with a mixture of successes and failures.

Puppy Crate Training

Since a dog usually will not soil his "den", a crate can be used for housebreaking. Being confined to a crate for short periods of time and then sent outside to eliminate will teach your puppy to relieve himself outdoors only. Ensure that all experiences with the crate are good ones.

Start with these steps:

  • At first, allow the puppy to explore his new "den"
  • Do not close the door after him until he is comfortable entering and existing the crate on his own
  • Coax him into the crate by using food and his toys and even a blanket
  • Praise him every time he enters the crate on his own
  • Confine him in the crate for short periods of time with someone nearby
  • Never punish him by using the crate
  • Do not disturb him while he is in the crate so that he feels that the crate is his sanctuary
  • Do not react immediately if he begins to whine to be let out
  • Only let him out after whining if he seems to need to go outside to eliminate and do not make it play time but strictly a bathroom visit

Crate Training Older Dogs

Crate training older dogs apply the same principles and rules as those for crate training puppies; however, it may take longer since a dog has already developed a set pattern in his life.

  • Start by positioning the crate in a high traffic area of the house
  • Make the crate inviting by including a blanket and toys inside
  • Start by feeding the dog near the crate and progressively move the food to the inside of the crate praising the dog each time he approaches the crate and enters it, especially on his own
  • Keep the door open at first so that he can come and go at will
  • Move the food to the back of the crate and always praise your dog for entering it
  • Do not confine your dog until he seems comfortable with the crate, entering it on his own
  • Confine him to the crate for a brief time with someone present so that he feels secure
  • Leave the room for short periods of time so that he learns to be alone in the crate
  • Increase the confinement time in short periods of time until he is able to be confined for up to 4 hours and no longer since he can only control his bladder and bowels for that length of time
  • Do not let him out of the crate when he whines unless he needs to go outdoors for elimination

This process may take days or weeks with periods of successes and setbacks so be patient.