Animal Care

How To Crate Train An Older Dog

Ricky Kambray
Ricky Kambray

How to crate train an older dog? Perhaps your dog was rescued and needed to be correctly housetrained. Alternatively, you may have to move across the country and crate your dog for the trip. Or maybe the dog has recently started acting out destructively when you’re not home. 

So you may need to train your older dog to remain quiet and peaceful inside its crate.

Sadly, if you don’t do it properly, this could hurt your dog. You don’t want your dog to worry about the crate and get injured.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss the process of crate training an older dog.

Creating a Comfortable and Safe Dog Crate

A dog crate with bed,pillow, some toys and food bowl

An older dog will adapt to its crate more readily if it is comfortable. First, ensure your dog can stand up, lay down, and turn around without feeling trapped in the kennel you’ve picked.

As long as you intend to move the crate around sparingly and your dog is housebroken, there’s no harm in getting an extra-large cage for maximum comfort.

A dog should never be locked to a crate for longer than three hours without a break, except for overnight sleep. If you put a comfortable dog bed or soft blankets inside, your dog will be more likely to cuddle up and sleep inside the crate.

Instead, cover the entire crate with a blanket to filter off extra light because dogs naturally want to sleep in an excellent, dark spot.


How to Crate Train an Older Dog?

One of the essential things to understand while training an older dog to use a crate is that it will take time. You will find it challenging to train your dog if it feels forced into the box or terrified. When crate training an adult dog, the objective is to attempt to make your pet feel good about being in the crate.

Now, let’s dive into our main topic, How to crate train an older dog?

Few dogs are in cages next to each other


Step 1

Helping your older dog create positive associations at their own pace can help you start introducing them to the crate.

  1. Put the crate in the kitchen, living room, or another common gathering place for the family.
  2. Put the food inside the crate for meals and leave the door open while your dog eats.
  3. Give your dog chew toys or stuffed food puzzle toys between meals so that they can eat them inside the crate with the door open. Return the item carefully to the crate if they take it somewhere else.

Step 2

You can start desensitising your dog to the closed door after they are comfortable eating inside the crate.

  1. When your dog eats, shut the door; open the door when the food is finished.
  2. As soon as they have finished their breakfast, chew toy, or puzzle toy, start gradually lengthening the time you keep the door closed. The dog will determine how much you raise each day. At first, some will be able to endure an increase of 5–10 seconds every day. Some might feel at ease increasing one or more minutes at a time.
  3. Keep an eye out for your dog’s reaction. You ask for too much too soon if they start to complain, bark, or exhibit other symptoms of unhappiness. Back off and move more slowly.

Step 3

Add some more desensitisation training if your dog struggles after a few weeks.

  1. Encourage your dog to follow you into the crate by throwing a reward for him. Immediately after closing the door for a brief period, open it once more to let your dog out of the crate. Repeat.
  2. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by throwing a reward inside. Allow your dog to leave the crate after closing the door for five seconds. Repeat.
  3. Continually extend your duration by five or ten-second intervals. Increase the size of each increment as you progress. For example, you can extend the next training session by at least two minutes for a dog who can safely spend 10 minutes in the crate.

Even if an older dog has never experienced a crate, there is no reason why it cannot be trained to use one. Without preparation or training, no dog—whether a puppy, adolescent, adult, or senior—will feel secure in a crate.

For dogs, confinement can be frightening, especially for puppies that have grown up in the same home for a long time. If you suddenly use a crate without gently desensitising your dog to the environment, it may feel like they are being punished.

To learn more about how to crate-train your older dog, take a look at these seven simple steps.

Can a Dog Have Multiple Crates?

It’s okay for a dog to have multiple crates. Setting up two crates—one in the house and one in the car—can make your life easier because you won’t have to move a single kennel from one location to another.

For example, a collapsible metal or nylon box or a lightweight plastic crate with a handle are suitable portable solutions for travel, even if your home crate should be built of solid metal or plastic.

A dog is inside a carrier

Generally speaking, if you have multiple dogs, each one should have a unique crate. However, if you have a bonded pair or a nursing dog, you can create them together if the crate has enough room for both dogs to feel comfortable.

The Advantages of Crate Training for Older Dogs

Every dog should get used to living in a crate, despite their age. The following are some advantages of crate training older dogs:

A woman is trying to reach a dog standing other side of a fence


  • Travel

Travelling with your dog is made much simpler by crate training. When you’re driving, keeping your dog in a crate secured to your car ensures their safety.

Also, a crate provides a safe and comfortable place for them when they can’t be with you at your destination, whether it be a hotel, vacation rental, or friend’s house.

  • Veterinarian and Barber Visits

Professionals who care for animals, such as veterinarians and groomers, often crate pets before and after providing care.

However, since your dog will be at ease in certain circumstances thanks to crate training, you and your adult dog will enjoy your appointment more.

  • Ensuring Your Dog’s Peace at Home

Your home isn’t always a calm, peaceful place for your dog. Your dog may become stressed by house parties and holidays like Halloween. When you train an older dog to use a crate, you ensure they always have a safe place to go, no matter what happens.

A large cage carrying two dogs in an open trunk of a car


So there you have it! Now you know how to crate-train an older dog. Your older dog will benefit from the time you invest in crate training.

After all, thorough crate training makes housetraining and travelling much simpler for older dogs and helps them feel safe and at ease in various situations. 

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

How long does it take to crate train an older dog?

According to wag walking, it can take some dogs, especially older and rescue dogs, months to become used to being crated. Therefore, you should begin crate training with the expectation that it will take at least two months.

How do I get my dog to stop crying in his crate?

Work more on crate desensitisation games to create a positive connection with the crate if you want to stop your dog from crying in his crate.

Should you cover a dog crate with a blanket?

No. Never cover your dog’s crate entirely with a blanket, as this can prevent airflow. 

Should I put a dog bed in the crate?

Yes. Your dog would be much happier if the crate had a bed inside so your dog wouldn’t have to lie on hard plastic unless your dog spends very little time there.

What if my dog still won’t use their crate?

Give your dog rewards to stimulate further exploration if they don’t use the crate. Use your marker word immediately to let your dog know that going into their crate is the recommended habit whenever you notice them doing it. Then give them a treat inside the crate.

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Ricky Kambray

Hey this is Ricky Kambray an award-winning first-aid trainer with over 20 years of healthcare and teaching expertise. Highly certified general nurse regularly appears in the press discussing accident prevention and first aid advice.