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This is the 7th installment in my 8 part series: A guide to crate training (click to see the complete series.)
This article answers the question: How to crate train an older dog.
Maybe you’ve just adopted an adult dog? Or your own has suddenly developed destructive habits later in life?
Or maybe you need to prepare your dog for air travel? Or for boarding while you go on holiday?
Whatever the reason you need your dog to lie calmly in a crate, this article will give you the guidance you need to train them to do so.
Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
The number one concern people with an adult or adopted dog have with starting to use a crate is whether their dogs are too old, and is it too late?
We’ve all heard the saying ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks‘ haven’t we?
Well luckily there’s no truth in this. You can teach an old dog many new tricks, and you can certainly teach them to not only accept but to love spending time in a crate.
I’m not going to lie to you and say it will be easy.
In fact it could be quite difficult depending on your dog’s personality, how resistant they are to a crate and whether they’ve had bad past experiences with being confined before.
But please be assured, it can and even should be done.
The Differences Between Crate Training An Older Dog And A Puppy
When it comes to the methods required there are very few if any differences at all. The only real difference is it will likely take more time.
Of course there will be exceptions, but generally speaking an adult dog will take longer to crate train than a young puppy. The reasons for this are:
- Adult dogs don’t learn as quickly as a young puppy and on top of this, they’re quicker to forget things. So more patience and more repetitions are needed before things really sink in.
- Your average adult dog will resist being crated more than a puppy will. A puppy has no habits or a way of life it’s used to and is learning how to live from anew. Making a crate a part of this is relatively easy. But an adult dog who’s spent perhaps years without ever being in a crate? You’re going to have to completely change life-long habits and introduce new behaviors. They may fight this to begin with.
Adopted Dogs May Be A Special Case – But Not Always Negatively!
Adopted dogs, particularly from rescues, may have had bad experiences with being confined.
Locked away for all hours of the day, feeling abandoned, perhaps abused and having suffered a crate being used as a punishment like a prison.
These dogs may have a very hard time accepting being crated due to these experiences and memories they have. But with patience and dedication, you can turn them around to enjoy it and all the benefits it offers.
On the other side of the coin, some adopted dogs will have already been crate trained and will have a very positive attitude towards and experience of a crate.
In this case, your task just got a lot easier if indeed you need to crate train them at all :-)
So without further ado, let’s get started…
How To Crate Train An Older Dog
Before considering crate training your older dog, it’s best you know exactly why, when and how you should use a crate. The following two articles I’ve written explain just that:
- Why use a dog crate – and is it cruel to crate a dog?
- How to use a dog crate – When and when NOT to crate your dog
If you’ve come straight to this article, I recommend you read those first. But if you’ve done your research, let’s carry on.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you have the right type and size of crate for your dog. Instructions for this can be found in the following article: What size dog crate should you get and which type is best?.
I cannot stress just how important the correct size crate is, because too small and it’s inhumane, too large and it loses the den like feeling of safety and security a dog is looking for.
So please take a few moments to make sure you have this right.
To see a list of some of the best quality, most highly rated crates that we are happy to recommend, please click here. (opens in new window)
Next, you need to know where to place the crate in your home, what to put inside to make it a comfortable and welcoming place and how to get it ready and prepared.
I’ve detailed all this in article that you can read by clicking here: What to put in a dog crate, where to put it and how to get it prepared.
And now we’re ready to begin…
Allow Your Older Dog To Get Used To A Crate At Their Own Pace
It’s vitally important you spend time allowing your dog to get used to a crate at their own pace, in their own time, with no pressure from you.
You should stay away from any methods that promise crate training in a weekend.
These accelerated methods can work OK for a puppy, but they’re not as effective for older dogs where you’re trying to change a way of life, rather than starting with the blank canvas of a puppy keen to learn from you whatever life you wish to show them.
You want your dog feeling comfortable around a crate, hopefully even freely going into and out of it of their own accord before you train them to do so. And I mean for a few days at least, but probably longer.
Never force them to go in. If they’re already scared from past experiences before you adopted, or you force your own adult dog that you’ve never crated before into the crate, it could set your training back weeks!
First of all, have the crate set up in the busy area of your home where you and your family spend most of your time and remove the crate door or fix it so it will never swing shut on your dog.
If it closes unexpectedly, it may startle them and create bad feelings towards the crate.
Now scatter a few treats inside the crate, then let your dog into the room and then just ignore the crate. Do nothing.
Your dog will inspect it and may or may not go in. But you just pay it no attention. Let your dog get used to the idea it’s there, that it’s staying, but that it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Hopefully they will eventually go in and get the treats. If they do, brilliant! Toss a few more treats in while they’re in there.
Or if they grab a treat and dart out, do nothing, just ignore your dog and the crate. Then toss a few more treats in when your dog is out of the room and not looking so they just magically find good things there when they look.
But what if your dog just won’t go in to get the treats, even after days of leaving treats in there and hoping?
My Dog Won’t Go Into The Crate!
There’s a few things you can try to get your dog going into the crate of their own accord:
Take their usual bedding and place it right next to the crate so they spend a lot of time near it. This will increase their familiarity and desensitize them to the crate a little.
Then after a few days move their bedding inside.
Still scatter a few treats inside when the bed is next to the crate, and after the bedding is moved inside. Hopefully they will soon venture in.
If not, up the stakes a little!
Place a Kong Toy inside that’s stuffed with their absolutely favorite food and a couple of their most favorite toys. Sooner or later they’re going to really want what’s in there now!
(To see some examples and read more details about Kong toys, please click here.)
Make it easy for them by placing it just inside so they don’t have to go all the way in. If they go in to get it then come out, that’s all good.
Do the same thing later. And slowly over a couple of days, move the Kong and toys further in so they must venture further in each time to get them.
Finally, if for all your enticing with their favorite things they just won’t go in after a few days of trying, you should take the crate apart and start using just the base tray.
Tempt your dog into the tray by laying a few treats in there. After a couple of days, place their bedding in the tray.
A few days later build up 3 walls and the roof of the crate, leaving one side off and continue getting them to go on to their bedding in the tray by way of placing treats, stuffed Kongs and favorite toys in there.
Finally, put the crate together, minus the door, with their bedding, treats and toys inside. They should be happy to go inside, will eventually get used to it and lose any fear they may have had.
It’s now a good idea to plant in your dogs mind the notion that the crate is where ALL the good things come from!
Make The Crate The Only Source Of Things Your Dog Truly Loves
Once your dog is confident enough to go in and out of the crate under no pressure from you (no training yet), you want to make the crate the source of all the things that gets your dog excited.
This means you start feeding your dog their main meals in the crate, scatter treats and put their favorite toys and stuffed Kongs in there to find.
But here’s the hard part: DO NOT give your dog these things from any other place at any other time.
If you do, they will simply wait for another time. They know it’s coming. So no treats, toys or meals outside of the crate.
By making the crate the only source of all things good, the combination of their curiosity, wants and needs will overcome their fears and they will go into the crate to get what they want and need.
After a few occurrences of this, they’ll begin to form an association in their mind between the crate and all the wonderful things they enjoy, then they’ll slowly learn to love it.
You’ll need to keep this up for at least a couple of weeks and maybe more to give it a chance to really sink in.
And now you can begin to train your dog to spend time in the crate and to go there on command.
When All is Said and Done – Crate Train Exactly As You Would A Puppy!
As stated before, the truth of the matter is there’s very little difference between crate training a puppy and an adult dog. It will usually just take more time.
Because an older dog may be scared of a crate, because they learn less quickly and because they’re sometimes slower to learn.
But by following the above, you should have overcome their fears and got them used to a crate before you ever begin any formal crate training sessions.
And once you start crate training, the method to use is exactly the same for an older dog as it is for a puppy.
And as I’ve already written this, please click the following link to find a very detailed guide:
Use the exact same methods and all the hints and tips from that article for your adult dog and you’ll be sure to find success :-)
So That’s How To Crate Train An Older Dog
In summary, take extra special care and time to allow them to get used the crate before any formal training. Then follow the same techniques used to crate train a puppy.
It’s certainly true that crate training a puppy is easier than crate training a dog, but only in the sense you need to take things slower, have more patience and dedicate more time to it.
Other than that, every bit of advice, every book, article and video that you may see or read for crate training a puppy applies just as much to an older dog.
And you will be able to achieve the same levels of success.
This was part 7 in an 8-part series that details everything you need to know about the use of a crate and crate training your puppy. The information applies equally well to dogs of all breeds and not just Labradors.
The Entire series is linked to here:
- Part 1: Crate training – The complete guide (introduction)
- Part 2: Why use a dog crate – and is it cruel to crate a dog?
- Part 3: How to use a dog crate – When and when NOT to crate a dog
- Part 4: A Dog Crate Size and Style Guide: Which do You Need?
- Part 5: What to put in a dog crate, where to put it, how to get it prepared
- Part 6: Crate Training Your Puppy – Whether You Stay at Home or Work Full Time
- Part 7: How to crate train an older dog – Yours or adopted
- Part 8: A List Of Dog Crates Highly Recommended By Labrador Training HQ
I’ve tried to cover literally every question I could imagine on dog crates and crate training in the article series above, but of course it’s hard to cover every question that people may possibly have.
So if there’s anything you need to know but cannot find an answer for above, please feel free to leave your questions in the comments section below and I will happily give all the help I can :-)
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Hi, i recently rescued a silky terrier from a dog breeding farm. She is 6 years old, and is obviously traumatized by her time spent in the farm.
-She is interested in neither treats nor toys. the only “reward” i can give her is rubbing.
-She is also not familiar with her own name.
-any attempt to get near to her would scare her, causing her to shiver with tail tugged in, until i touch her.
any advise on how i should start getting her attention? should i go it step by step, i.e. let her settle in the house before starting the crate training or concurrently?
As she sounds so fearful and lacking confidence, I wouldn’t start any formal training until she’s comfortable with her new surroundings, new family and so on. It’s likely she was very poorly socialized, if socialized at all, and everything she is seeing and experiencing now is likely very overwhelming being so new and unknown to her. How long it takes her confidence to build, and how confident she will eventually become is impossible to know.
I would purchase a crate, remove the door and have it in the room where the two of you spend most of your time. She may already want to use one having spent her life in one, she may even find it a comfort. Although some ex mill dogs can fear and not want to go near crates, it is rare. I’d say it’s worth finding out.
So just have a crate in the room but do no crate training, just let her get used to it being there with no pressure from you, allow here to go in and out if and when she pleases. Leave some food treats in there now and then to encourage her if she chooses not to go in and so on.
I’m sure you’ve already sought out advice specific to your situation so I apologize if I’m teaching to suck eggs, but you should seek out information on specifically caring for an ex-puppy mill dog, how to help them adjust to life outside of that environment and what you can expect.
This article is a very good start: http://bestfriends.org/Resources/Help-For-Specific-Issues-With-Adopted-Puppy-Mill-Dogs/#Contents4
And some further reading:
Good luck…and well done for reaching out and giving her a fresh start and hope for a good life! Bless you :-)
All these poor frightened dogs being forced into crates. Doesn’t it tell you anything? No-one & nothing was born to spend so much of their life in a CRATE.
i have a 12 year sheltie who is recovering from 10/11 months of walking pneumonia. she just spent one month at an emergency hospital so we have to keep her quiet so she can regain her strength and stamina. the problem is that she’s a party girl. loves to socialize at night and is restless, probably because she has what they call in chinese medicine, a kidney yin deficiency.
since she’s been in emergency for so long, she’s now used to being crated again (she was crated as a puppy and we still have her crate. occasionally, she’ll still go in and go to sleep).
we are wondering whether we can crate her for two or three hours at a time especially in the afternoon and evening to teach her it’s time to sleep and rest? overnight, we are reticent about crating her in case we don’t hear her pacing or whining because she has to go. she’s developed kidney problems related to the pneumonia while in emergency. she has some herbal remedies to address the restlessness, kidneys etc. but it’s going to take some time to work.
in the meantime, we are trying to make sure she doesn’t extend herself since she doesn’t know her own limits unlike other dogs.
we are concerned that we might be inconsistent with her, crating her sometimes and not overnight. plse let us know what you think.
many thanks, danielle
As long as she is happy and comfortable in the crate, using it to keep her calm and out of trouble when convalescing after surgery is a recommended and very good use of a crate!
With regard to inconsistency: Ideally dogs thrive with consistency and routine, especially with something like sleeping arrangements either in or out of the crate, but in your case I wouldn’t worry about being inconsistent. You’re doing what’s best for her, and adjusting yours and her behavior and routines to take best care of her which is perfect.
If you asked her to sleep in the crate all night and closed the door, due to her medical condition she may soil in there so it’s NOT the best thing to do. If you were to crate her and she eliminates in the crate, she may lose her desire to keep it clean in future which can cause all sorts of problems. Additionally, dogs are clean animals and it would be so unfair to crate her when you know there’s a chance she may soil in the crate and then have to lay in or near her own waste. Given a choice, no dog would sleep close to their own (or anyone elses) bodily waste.
So my opinion is you’re doing the right thing. Crate her for some periods of the day to help her recuperate, but don’t crate her at night as this would be unfair if she cannot hold her bladder / bowel for the night.
Maybe she’ll get confused, but small price to pay as I think by far you’re doing what’s best :-)
Why not crate-train your kids….or would that be ‘C-R-U-E-L’ ???! A dog is a sentient, living, breathing animal with thoughts & emotions …not ‘goods’! This crate business is a new phenomenon cooked up for the selfish convenience of apartment-dwellers who shouldn’t have animals – especially dogs – in such places. It’s a sin-bin for dogs whose only sin is loving & trusting their owners. As for caging one in his dotage…well, what would you think if someone lost your freedom for many hours for most of the week. It leads to kidney damage too…holding the bladder & drinking less. : ( Use your heart or your brain…either will do!
***DO TWO DOGS NEED TWO CRATES OR IS ONE LARGE CRATE FOR BOTH OK?********
Background: I have two 7 year old Yorkshire terriers. They use to live with my sister and now they are with me. Both dogs have little to no training and several bad habits. They sometimes pee and poop inside the house sometimes they chew on shoes or clothes and they bark when they are left alone.
The crate: I bought a large crate thinking they would be more comfortable and I could fit a blanket and a pee pad for them. I only use the crate when I’m leaving the house most of the time no more than 4 hours.
They do not like going in the crate although I give them treats when they are in the crate. They refuse to go in and when I get home they bark and jump for me to let them out. I bought toys to put in the crate the kind you can put teats inside and sometimes they get possessive although I bought two tows. I’m afraid they will fight over the treats.
I started reading about crate training and the size of the crate but I can’t find any information for crating multiple dogs. Here are the websites I read:
Question: Should I buy two smaller crates or is the big crate ok for both dogs?
Any information would help. Thank you
Keeping two dogs in one crate isn’t recommended because a crate should offer a dog a place to call their own where they can get away from everything. They shouldn’t have to share. But more importantly it can also be unsafe.
One major benefit of a crate is it’s a sanctuary for a dog, the one place in the world they can call their own, a place they can go to when they really do want to be left alone and just relax undisturbed. When very tired, or perhaps feeling a bit under the weather, some dogs much prefer to be left alone and a crate offers this option. If sharing, this option is gone.
But the main reason I advise against two dogs to one crate is the possibility of fighting and there being no escape route.
When dogs are very closely confined, sometimes fights can occur. Little squabbles over personal space, or a favorite toy, or just because they’re tired of being too close for too long with the same animal.
When confined to such a small space, little squabbles that would normally be a minor and completely forgettable event that’s over in 2 seconds out in an open space can escalate into something more as there is no way for either dog to retreat and defuse the situation.
Of course, this is more likely to happen with dogs that either do not know each other well, are territorial or have a history of aggression toward eachother however small or weak that aggression is.
For 2 dogs that have lived together for many years, that you ‘KNOW’ get on very well, that you ‘NEVER’ see fight, the chances of them fighting happening and it escalating to the point of danger is very small indeed. So some people do crate two dogs together, and some dogs do like and prefer it.
But some ‘WILL’ end up fighting and then it’s a massive regret. How many times does it happen? 1 in 1,000? 1 in 5,000? 1 in 20,000? I’ve no idea. But if they are in separate crates then the chances are zero! I’d rather take the zero.
So I would advise a crate each. They benefit more from a place that’s truly their own and there is no risk of them fighting without there being an escape route.
When the crate doors are open, don’t discourage them from going into the same crate. By all means let them go in and sleep and chill out together. There’s nothing wrong in that, it’s entirely up to them…as long as the crate doors are open there is a way out should one need it.
But do not put two dogs in the one crate and secure the door locking them inside. Have a one dog per crate rule if the door is going to be closed. You can put the 2 crates pushed tight side by side so they still have company as a compromise.
That’s my advice…I hope it helps! :-)
My 7 year old toy poodle has become totally blind. She has always been free in the house and slept with me. Now she is afraid of being alone. She no longer is safe with run of the house when we’re away. She’s not crazy about toys or treats. Can she be crate trained and still sleep with me? I like to travel and would love to take her with me but that would require her being crated for certain periods of time without barking and crying. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Hi ‘Scarlett’s Mom’,
I’m so sorry for your little lady, bless her, it can’t be easy.
I’m afraid I don’t have any great advice to give as I’ve never cared for a blind dog and therefore have no experience with them. I would think you can follow normal crate training advice, going at your dogs own pace. But I wouldn’t know how a blind dog would react to being confined suddenly after a lifetime without it and not being able to see what’s going on. She’s 7 years old and it sounds like she’s not been crated before, so changing the habits of a lifetime would likely be challenging anyway (but achievable!)…I just truly don’t know how lack of vision would affect things with levels of confusion, possibly fear and so on.
If I was in your position, I would do a google search to find popular and well used dog forums, join a few and start the same thread in each asking for advice so you have a large number of peoples opinions and hopefully guidance. Progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma are both quite common and lead to blindness, so I’m sure there are many people out there who have been or are in your situation and would be able to give advice speaking from experience…which would be FAR better than me guessing at it.
Sorry I can’t help more :-(
Stressed animals are more likely to fight – and of course, they’re stressed in a crate!
I have a 6 yr old rescue dog- mix breed- who has recently started chewing on our basement door when we leave him. He has always been closed in the basement when we leave and have not had any problems until now. We are trying to crate train him so he will not destroy any more of the door. We also leave him with our son when we travel and he sleeps in the basement overnight, but has recently been scratching the door at night to get up. So we need for him to be comfortable in the crate when left alone and left in the basement overnight. So far he will go into the crate and lay if we are close, but we have not closed the door on him yet.
Last night we put him in the open crate in the basement overnight and he was whining to get up in the middle of the night— he usually sleeps in a bed in our bedroom.
We are confused how to proceed since we have 2 goals— for him to stay in the crate when left home alone and for him to sleep overnight in the crate in the basement at my son’s house.
What would you suggest?
Your 2 goals are essentially the same though: For him to remain calm and quiet inside the crate. But from your description, my fear is he suffers from a mild case of separation anxiety, not any fear or dislike of the crate.
You say he will go into the crate and lay down when you are there. This tells me he doesn’t mind the crate and is happy to spend time there. You then say he scratches at the basement door and damages it trying to get out, and whines and cries in the crate at night when left alone. This adds up to a mild case of separation anxiety to me.
The way to find out for sure is to set up a camera and film your dog from a few minute before you are going to leave him alone, then covering the time alone when he is crying, whining, exhibiting destructive behaviors and so on.
If it’s separation anxiety, you will see your dog looking highly stressed, pacing about, giving lots of attention towards windows and doors, barking, whining, trying to escape. Sometimes excessive salivation / drooling can occur, even defecation and urination are common. Film your dog and observe his behavior to be sure.
Please have a read of this article and see if you can identify any of the symptoms listed, then take a read of their hints and tips for treatment of mild separation anxiety: Seperation anxiety, from the ASPCA
Hi! I recently adopted a 2 year old retriever mix and he is just absolutely wonderful. He is very intelligent, learns quickly, happy-go-lucky, sweet dog… until the crate!
I understand I definitely have not helped because when we first got him we tried to crate him right away and, though he stayed initially, it wasn’t long till the whining, barking, chewing, panicking dog appeared and now he is consumed by fear of the crate.
My issue though is I can’t leave him outside the crate for fear of him chewing the door frames when I leave (which he did once when I decided to leave him out of the crate), and so I’ve had to force him in even though I know that is making it 100x worse. And now it is. It is so bad I am worried to leave him when I go to work.
I know crate training with him will take weeks, months maybe, but how can I leave him home without crating him? Because right now my only option is forcing him into the crate which is horrible and neither of us want that anymore.
I need advice, please, do you have any suggestions on how to ease my dogs separation anxiety and fear of the crate without ruining my walls and doors?
It does sound to me like mild to medium levels of separation anxiety. To find out you can film how your dog behaves when you leave them alone, looking for signs of stress such as pacing, panting heavily, lots of attention toward doors and windows trying to escape, destructive behaviors (which you are seeing), salivation, drooling, possible urination and defecation and so on. Video your dog to see how they behave so you can gauge the severity.
As you’ve already said, treating this will likely take weeks or months. Fear and anxiety are very powerful emotions that take patience and dedication over a carefully planned and executed treatment program to overcome.
You absolutely must try to avoid forcing your dog into the crate anymore because each time you do will be increasing their fear and hate of the crate, making things worse instead of better. So, are you able to leave your dog with friends, family or maybe even hire a pet sitter instead of leaving them alone or crating them? While you undergo training to treat the problem it’s highly beneficial to avoid the scenarios leading to fear and anxiety.
If this isn’t possible, you could look into buying and using a heavy duty exercise pen. These provide a bigger enclosed area compared to a crate, but still keep a dog contained. However, they don’t always keep a determined dog contained as there’s no roof to them. But it’s certainly an option worth looking at.
As you’ve already said yourself you need to crate train your dog, slowly, carefully and get them to like the crate. But it sounds like you also need to treat separation anxiety. Please read the following article: Separation anxiety (from the ASPCA)….Also their article on desensitization and counter-conditioning linked to from within the article, which are the techniques used as treatment.
Finally, if the separation anxiety is severe it can be outside the scope of the average person to deal with (it’s an extremely difficult situation) and you may need to hire a professional in your area who can design specific treatment tailored to your exact dog and situation.
So please film your dog to see how severe their anxiety is, thread the articles I linked to to see if the advice can be applied, then take things from there.
Where do you let a puppy sleep through the night while he’s still afraid of his crate if we don’t want to force him in?
I recently adopted an 8 week old maltipoo and he’s extremely clingy. He cries even when I step out if the room and eliminates even when we’d just gone out several times before. The only time I can leave him is when he’s asleep.
I’ve been trying to crate train him but he’s not taking to it – feeding him all his meals there, keeping the door open etc. But he always just comes out and follows me. Even in a larger pen he tries to climb out, chew on the metal and pee and I’m worried he’ll hurt himself. When he’s asleep or is napping, ill gently put him in he crate or pen but he’ll just crawl out. He also doesn’t like any bedding I try and give him. I dont want to force him into it and traumatized him. Any further tips? Where should I let him sleep while we’re working on building up crate time?
Our Susie, now two, was perfectly crate trained since we got her at 8 weeks old. Suddenly one night, she would not go in and hasn’t ever since. No idea why. How can we retrain her?
Can you recall anything that may have happened in or around the crate at the time she started to avoid the crate? Was she forced in? Did another animal use the crate? Loud noises? Anything out of the ordinary?
To retrain her, just go back to the beginning. Crate train her as though she has never been before. Teach her to love the crate as the provider of good things and so on, following the advice in my crate training series. She should progress very quickly.
More signs of abandonment stress & separation anxiety. Find him an owner who can spend more time with him! Dogs are pack animals….they need company!
I have a 6 year old wheaten terrier and she did wonderfully with crate training as a puppy. She has had free roam of the house since she was about 2. Since moving to a new house 2 years ago, she has occasionally urinated in the house during the workday and I always blamed it on not being able to make it home to let her out at lunch. She has now started urinating in the house during the day pretty frequently regardless of exercise, potty breaks, etc, and I have a feeling it has to do with the fact that I am pregnant- currently 7 months along. We decided to reintroduce her crate and she has adapted right back to it with no issues. However, I don’t want to crate her again for the rest of her life. How would you suggest we proceed? My ultimate goal is for her to have free roam of the house again, anytime we are gone. Thanks in advance for any advice!
First of all, a house move is a MASSIVE change for a dog, stressful and can lead to any number of behavior changes so this is quite normal.
First of all, I would have a routine check up and discussion with your vet to rule out any medical problems, because if there is an underlying medical issue then no amount of training or work on your part will work, so get this ruled out first.
Then I would actually go back to basics with her. limit her to a smaller part of the home at first until she has shown she can be trusted – no mistakes for at least a few weeks before gradually widening the area she is allowed into when alone.
The idea is she should want to keep her living area clean, all dogs do. But you need to teach her that her living area is the whole house. This starts with just one small place, perhaps a single room. Or if that’s too big, a play pen. When she’s proven she sees that as her den, her living area and a place she has to keep clean, you can widen the area slightly until she sees that the same way. Gradually, over time, keep extending it and she should see the whole home as a place to keep clean.
Right now…and this is of course just guess work on my part…she may just see the house as not part of her den, not her living area and game to be used as a toilet.
Also, please make sure you clean your house THOROUGHLY, so there’s not a single trace of urine to be found as this will encourage her to use the spot again. See my article here for advice on this: https://www.labradortraininghq.com/labrador-training/how-to-remove-pet-stains-and-odors/
I would buy a black light / UV light torch to properly check for urine spots if I were in your position, then use an enzymatic cleaner. For as long as there is even the smallest bit of urine you’ve missed, there is a massive encouragement for her to toilet there again. And the truth is, you may have spent hours cleaning a room meticulously and no human would ever detect any scent while a dog still can.
So to sum up:
All the best,
How do I correctly crate train our Shi tzu yorkie at night when she’s used to free reign of the house at night. We discovered she pees in the house at night. We’ve tried unsuccessfully to crate her at night keeping us awake for nights on end with barking or whining till we give up.
The advice I give is basically all above and the articles linked to from there (how to house train a puppy for the full, step-by-step to follow.)
Older dogs can be harder to crate train. After all, it’s changing a lifetime of habit rather than teaching something to a puppy who doesn’t have a norm yet.
I would say the important part of your message is where you say ’till we give up’ You mustn’t! She has then learnt that being incessant gets a result, a painful lesson for you for her to learn and that might now take some undoing.
Are you also crating her during the day? You should follow a proper crate training program, introducing the crate slowly, at her pace, and progressing when she’s ready. If you simply force her in at night, and at night alone, then she isn’t being trained to like it, more coerced into it against her will and wishes. So follow my crate training guide for the puppy, working on it over weeks, progressing slowly until she learns to love the crate. Sometimes, with older dogs especially, the process can seem painfully slow.
Also, have you had her checked medically to make sure she’s OK if she’s suddenly wee-ing in the home?
…so she can lie in her own pee all night? Take her to the toilet later & get up earlier. Get the vet to check her in case it’s a physical problem.
My husband and I just rescued a 1 year old lab, and her foster mom that she was with for 2 weeks said she is terrified of a crate when left alone. I would bet she just didn’t have the time she needed to get used to the crate before she was left alone in it during those 2 weeks, as her, her mom, and her sister were found wandering for who knows how long before they were rescued.
She hasn’t had a single accident in the home for the 4 days we’ve had her, and wakes me up 2-3 times per night to take her out. She sleeps on a dog bed next to our bed at night, but I’m curious if crate training her would help her learn how to hold it over night since my husband is home with her all day and can let her out whenever she needs to go. We are going to work on bell training her to use during the day, but what would you recommend we do during the time period it takes for her to get used to her crate at night? Should we allow her to just keep sleeping on the dog bed and taking her out the 2-3 times she wakes us up?
A 1 year old Lab should absolutely be able to hold their bladder for 7 hours or more at night, without any doubt, so getting up 2 to 3 times just isn’t right…and must be draining for you?!
I would crate train her, yes, as myself and my family do and have done with all our dogs. This will help her to last through the night as a dog will not soil where they sleep.
However, I must ask – When you take her to toilet at night, is she actually going to toilet? Or wandering around, sniffing, exploring etc.? She may just be waking you up to go out because she enjoys that, you allow it and she’s gotten used to it. But she should sleep when you do and allow you to decide when to get up and go out. 3 toilet visits over night is unusual and if she really does need to go that often it’s worth speaking to your vet to make sure there’s no minor infection or other issue that is making her pee more often than she otherwise should.
So get her checked out by a vet, stop taking her out 3 times at night, it should be unnecessary, and yes I would crate train her if she were mine. But you’ve said she is terrified of the crate so I would take things verrrrry slowly, and it might be worth letting her stay on the bed at night a while longer until you’ve made progress with crate training over time.
Good luck and all the best!
Hi, is 8 months considered as a puppy ? or an older dog?
i have an 8 months lab mix, which i have since he was 1 month. up until now he was outside in the garden. he is not house trained, and doesnt know much about living indoors with us.
should i apply this method of crate training ? or would the puppy method work ?
Yes, 8 months is still a puppy. Should you use the approach in this article on the approach for a puppy? They are one and the same! Please read the above article again, it should all make sense and you will find it links to the ‘crate training a puppy’ article for the main method to follow.
Essentially the tactics are identical, there’s just a few caveats and things to consider with an older dog described above. Please read the two articles again, I hope they make sense but if anything is unclear or you need further advice, please feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to help.
All the best!
By all means…terrify her :P Don’t get advice on how to stretch the time. Like kids, some have smaller bladders & can’t hold it as long as others. Ask the vet.
Hello – We recently adopted a pit bull rescue, and had to begin crating her the day after we brought her home because we work. The first two days was for 3 hours and she was VERY unhappy and barked the whole time, and developed sores on her nose from digging. So we stepped back and began researching training techniques. We began crating her for 20 minutes at a time while we’re home and she’s great! We feed her by her crate all the time. We always put a favorite treat and toy in there. But when we leave the house she goes insane! Every article I’ve read said it can take a long time to train a dog, especially if they’ve had bad experience with crates in the past, but she MUST be crated when we go to work, so what do we do?
It could be a case of mild separation anxiety? Could you set up a camera to record her behavior while you’re out, to see how she behaves and then consult a professional for advice? Separation anxiety is hard to treat if severe, if mild there are a few things you can do. Google around you will find lots of advice for it s there’s loads been written. But if it’s severe to the point where she is harming herself trying to scratch, claw and bite her way out to escape, then professional help will be needed. Hopefully it’s not that severe and only recording her and seeing will tell.
In the mean time, if you cannot crate her while you’re out to work, the only options you have are to seal her into a very well dog-proofed room while you’re out (everything she could possibly damage, or that could lead to her harming herself removed from the room) or to have a dog sitter take care of her instead of leaving her alone. Obviously not long term, because hopefully the crate training will go well and in time she will be comfortable and happy in her own company.
Good luck and all the best!
Hi there My dog is one, and gets into to much of a mess when I’m gone I didn’t crate train him at first since I was hoping this would eventually stop.
I’ve been told mixed things though, do I have put him in his crate at night if he is fine at night?
It’s completely up to you whether you crate him at night or not, but it is a preference of mine until I can completely trust them not to misbehave in the house while I’m sleeping. Sleeping him in the crate at night will strengthen familiarity of the crate and him seeing as his little den, a place to relax and sleep at other times. So it can have benefits toward him accepting and enjoying the crate during the day more.
However, I know some owners confine their dogs to a single room at night, some who sleep their dogs in a dog bed in their bedroom…some who even allow their dogs to sleep on the same bed they do! (I’m no fan of this!)
It really is up to you.
All the best!
Hi I need some help! I have 3 dogs 2 are older an 11 yr old female golden and a 10 year old female Lab. Neither need crates because they are free roaming since age 6 months without any bad behavior. Then I have a 5 year old male neutered Lagotto Romagnolo. He’s the problem child. He’s developing some anxiety, separation anxiety and bad behaviors like jumping up on the bed a million times a night waking me up all night. Destructively pawing at doors, refusing to come in when called at times, and not respecting human personal space. I’ve taken him o vet everything checked out, so I called a dog training and we are starting training soon. The trainer insists I crate train him and do so at night and while I’m gone. He recommends they all be, but I know I’ll have serious problems with it with him I can’t imagine doing all 3!
My question is, can I realistically crate him and not the other two? Eventually slowly over time as you describe getting him into liking the crate then eventually moving it in a specified room. I can then lock them all into that room at night and when I leave. Him in his crate and the 2 girls free in the room with pet beds. Do you think that would work? Or cause issues between the dogs? They get along now so I don’t want any problems. I can hardly bear the thought of forcing my old girls into crates….
I can see where in long run a crate will be good for him and his anxious mind, but the girls show none of this and I don’t think really “need” a crate, but your expertise would be much appreciated .
To be perfectly honest, I really don’t know how it would affect the dogs if one is crated and the other two aren’t. Would the single one feel persecuted? Left out? It might make him feel singled out and like he’s being punished if he sees his 2 other friends free and able to roam when he cannot.
But Teresa, I honestly don’t know so I’m sorry, but I can’t give advice. I try to help where I can but as I’ve never been in the position where I’ve had to crate one dog and not another, I’ve no experience of it and I don’t want to give advice if there’s a chance I could be wrong.
I would advice speaking to a professional dog trainer if you can? They may have experience with this.
All the best!
Hello! I recently adopted a 1 year old Cane Corso mix. We confined him to only the upstairs which is a huge open loft. We noticed that he was scratching at the door frame and even figured out how to open the bedroom door. We then decided to give him free roam of the house because once he was out of the upstairs, he wasn’t destructive of anything else and liked laying on his favorite sofa that was downstairs. Unfortunately we have two cats that like to engage him in a game of chase and when one cat ran out his cat door, the dog tried to run through it as well and plowed through the whole cat door contraption allowing him to get outside. We can no longer give him free roam of the house in fear of the cat chase happening again. While we are slowly introducing him to the crate (I expect this process to take weeks) is it okay to more securely lock him upstairs (we put a pad lock on the door) until he is comfortable enough to stay in the crate while we are gone?
Also, should the dog immediately be let outside everytime he exists his crate even if it’s only for 2-3 hours? He is already house trained.
It’s fine to more securely lock him upstairs, sure. However, I would refrain from a padlock just in case the worst happens and there’s a house fire, you wouldn’t be able to free him. I know the risk is vanishingly small, but I’d prefer you used a bolt style lock that slides (like the inside of many loos) or some other latch arrangement. Something you can easily open in a hurry.
Should you always take your dog outside after 2 or 3 hours in a crate? not necessarily, no. At 1 year old he will have full bladder control so it’s not necessary. You should have learnt (or quickly will do) a routine of when and how often he needs to go, just stick to those times.
All the best!
My one year old cocker spaniel Billy is a very good boy when we are at home,but although he shows no signs of seperation anxiety when we leave him he can be very destructive. At home this is rarely an issue as the utility room is now free of anything he canchew (including flooring!!) However this is very resrtrictive when it comes to travelling or staying with people over night. We regularly stay. With family and have to let him sleep with us toavoid problems in their house. he is used to being shut in a small room so I don’t thing a crate would pose a problem for him but would hate for him to be frightened, could we crate him while we are away for nights, but leave him with his room at home?
Reluctant to crate at home as we leave him for too long while we are at work and like to leave him with space.
Thanks in advance
There should – or could – be no problem with that. Just make sure to crate train him, get used to a crate, and use it occasionally at home anyway, just to keep him happy in there.
Consider the fact that any dogs that go to a vet, or boarding kennels while a family travels away, they have to go into crates at these times. So it’s no unusual for a dog to not be crated at home but to be so now and then. You crate training him carefully so he’s happy in one though will be doing him a massive favor, getting him prepared.
All the best!
I have two 7 1/2yr old dogs-a Maltese and a Maltipoo. We have never potty trained them properly so of course they sometimes pee in the house. Sometimes they pee in the house immediately after we’ve walked them. We would like to teach them to not pee in the house but don’t know where to start. Can you please give us some advice on how to go about potty training them? And do you recommend crating them?
The complete house training series linked to above contains all the advice you would need (I hope.) I added to it over the last couple of years every time I received a new question, so I’m sure if you read the whole thing and put it into action you will see results.
Best of luck!
We recently adopted a 2 yr old schnauzer. She’s super sweet, good with the kids, barks when people drive up. WE LOVE HER! But when it comes to kennel time she has some issues:/ we take her out to potty often, but she still messes in her kennel. And lets not even talk about the crying she does at night while we are sleeping. Ive even woke up in the middle of the night to take her outside. She just walks around, pretty much waiting for me to go back in. Any suggestions?
We have an eleven year old yorkie, he is our granddog love him to pieces. He is peeing everywhere especially when we have visitors. He also jumps up on furniture and scratches until he makes holes in fabric. I need help!,,,
I have 9 year old yorkie. Same problem: Peeing everywhere! But not when we have visitors. He does when he is alone. By the way, did you solve this issue? or anyone can help?
My dog is 12 and we moved into an apt feom a house about a year ago… he has never veen crate trained but has been in his ceate the odd time and as long as we were right beside it was ok… but now he needs to be crated when i go to work.. when i get home as soon as he knows its me he just starts spazzin.. whinnig and digging at the cage. And doesnt stop.. or he stops for like 30 secs then starts again… i was told he has seperation anxiety… any suggestion how to get him to.stay calm.when i get home so he can b let out. When my boyfriend tells him to lay down and be quiet he does 99% of ths time… any help would be great.. im getting so frustrated on what to do.. tia
My 13 year old mixed breed has suddenly started whining at night. She has been crate trained since she was a puppy and has always loved her crate. One night she started crying as soon as she went in her crate and it has increasingly gotten worse. One night she tore her bed to pieces. Nothing in her life has changed. Some nights are better than others. For a few weeks, she didn’t want to get in her crate. I did not force her in and she would go in on her own but just not with the ease and comfort of before. This has improved and she will go to her crate when I tell her it’s time for bed. Some nights she whines all night ( like last night) and other nights she starts whining around the time for me to get up. Any suggestions?
I have a 2 year old lab male who we adopted from another family when he was about 1 year old. He has had issues with separation anxiety before- chewing and digging at the floor. We had tried putting him in a crate before but he broke out of it. After some time and an anti anxiety shirt, he soon became comfortable and we were able to leave him when we needed to go to work or out.
We recently moved and our neighbor has alerted us that he is now barking and howling when we leave (we didn’t even know he could howl, we’ve never heard him do it before). We left a video on for a time when we left him for about 40 minutes and he was pacing and whining constantly then he barked and howled for about 1 minute after 20 minutes of being left alone, it was so sad to see him that upset. After that he seemed to calm down and laid by the front door but continued to whine a bit. I know moving can be stressful and scary but I was able to spend a whole week at home with him before we needed to leave him alone. I have spoken with multiple behaviorists and done tons of research but his separation anxiety has yet to diminish. I have been advised by a behaviorist to try to crate train him so we can leave him and he will be comfortable there while we are gone but I am fearful he will breakout and hurt himself or continue to bark/howl and be upset. His anti-anxiety shirt doesn’t seem to help anymore and he wont eat any Kong or special treat we leave for him.
Do you recommend crate training him or something else? Also, if you have any advice or products you recommend that may help, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I have a 2.5 year old female Great Dane. We also have a 4 year old male German Shorthaired Pointer, who we had when we got our Great Dane. Our Great Dane did really well with potty training early and out-grew the crate we had for her shortly after she’d gotten the hang of potty training. She has been free roaming the house since that point. We had zero accidents for over a year and then slowly but surely the “accidents” in the house have gotten worse and worse to the point that when my husband and I returned from work the other day she had had 6 “accidents” in the house. Every day there is at least 1 mess to clean up when we get home. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy about a week ago and I’m wondering if that has something to do with the increase in messes? We’ve found that she also attempts to pee or poop (or does it) when we are simply out of the room or asleep at night. She has almost completely stopped “telling us” if she needs to go outside. Any help you can give would be much appreciated!!
You should first speak to a vet, to see if the epilepsy – and indeed anything else – could be contributing. Some health issues certainly can cause changes in behavior such as this. If not, then I would suggest reading through our house training guide for advice.
I rescued a 9 month old American Pitbull terrier. I am in the process of crate training her, it has been successful, in despite of only having her for 3 months. She comfortably goes in her crate. The most challenging part is that she is afraid of other people so it is difficult for me to walk her. She constantly pulls the opposite direction. However, my biggest problem is that my sister just moved in with me and she has a 12 years old Bichon frise who has never been trained. He suffers from major anxiety and is unable to be crated/left alone. Due to our busy work schedule, both dogs will be left alone for a long period of time. My questions is, is it possible to crate train a 12 years old Bichon frise? Yesterday in the morning, we put her bichon in the crate with a treat for 20 minutes. We also covered the crate with a blanket just enough so he could look around. He paced back and forth and barked loudly. We did it again in the afternoon for 40 minutes. We stepped out the house to see what he would do and he barked for 20 minutes. When we came back inside the house, he stopped barking but was pacing. We left him in for an additional 20 minutes. In addition to this, when my American terrier/pitbull comes near him in a playful manner, he barks at her. To sum it all up, I have 3 challenges. First my terrier pitbull pulls when I am walking her. Secondly, my sister’s dog is not trained and finally, the two dogs can not be near each other. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time!
I would say you are well on your way to crate training your sister’s Bichon. In time when he stops the barking give him a treat while in the crate so he doesn’t feel like he is being punished. Try placing his favorite toy in the crate.
There are no pull leashes, try getting one for walking your terrier Pitbull. This is another form of training as some dogs do pull on their leashes.
It will take some time but the pups will get used to each other. Ensure there are no objects that they can chew on , but toys. When you’re at home put a treat and the Bichon’s toy in the crate and give him the opportunity to enter the crate voluntary.
I have a 4 year old labrador. He has never learned properly to poop and pee outside, and sometimes he does it inside (maybe once or twice a month), but recently he started doing it more, almost once a week, and I don’t know what to do. The vet tells me the dog is fine, and maybe it’s anxiety, but I made no changes recently.
So my question is: will crate training help the dog to not do his stuff inside? Any advice to do so?
Crate training will teach him to use his crate to do his stuff. If you could time these moments you can put himoutside till he is done. This way he gets used to doing it outside.
We have adopted a 9 month old puppy that was a stray. He doesn’t mind the kennel but we have to leave him in there for 8-9 hours a day until he can be trusted in the house all day un-attended. He continues to have accidents in his crate. Do you have suggestions?
Your Pup needs potty training. Because of his extended stay and familiarity with the kennel he will go there when he needs to. Try taking him out on the leash after meals to go potty as a start. You will need to potty train him to let him loose in the house.
I recently adopted a lab. He doesn’t have a problem going in the crate. But if he doesn’t want to be in there he pees. All over the place. How do I stop it? I have 2 dogs and they get along great. But to get them to that point one was crated when I when to work and they switched when I came home for lunch. But we had an incident that the lab was climbing and eating a bunch of stuff he shouldn’t and got really sick. I’ve tried everything. Beds, toys, treats…he pees all over it. I really need help any suggestions are appreciated.
Assuming no medical condition is present, you may be in need of some behavior modification training for your dog. When your dog pees in the house do not react verbally or physically, calmly invite the dog outside and then clean up the puddle. Your dog is reacting in fear and reminding yourself that he cannot control his response; helps you to avoid getting angry and minimizes the possibility that you may inadvertently send body language signals that tell your dog you are upset and as a result trigger more submissive urination. Try engaging your vet or a behavior specialist.
Hello, thank you for this series. I have a few questions. We have a one year old dachshund who slept in bed with us from the time he was 12 weeks until 24 weeks. After that we started crating him at night as we moved in with my family while waiting to close on a home. He did very well in his crate there and was not alone as my family’s dogs were crated also. We recently moved and he whines and scratches at his crate and sounds extremely distressed whenever we put him in there to sleep. We have tried him in our room, other rooms, with and without a blanket covering the crate, and with chew toys and nothing seems to help. Any suggestions?
They don’t “represent” any professional knowledge. Again, as a grad student when I publish manuscripts I’m representing the school, my department, and my work, thus it’s professional knowledge. This is STILL JUST a blog. No need for the person to write professional.
We have a 6 year old Chihuahua mix, 12.5lb rescue that we have had for a little over a week. She spent 2 days coming up from Georgia to the Northeast. She is great sweet and used to go in the crate nightly for the foster after being coerced by a treat. Now she will not go in, unless we place her in after she falls asleep. She was sleeping on an ottoman with her doggy bed on it. The crate is near there on the floor. I also slept beside her since she was still scared from the trip and did not know us well.
I started trying to put her in crate the last few days, treats do not tempt her to go in by herself. Do we need to start at square one again for crate training for nightly use? She has gone in a few times on her own, maybe once a day but not for long.
We have closed our bedroom doors so we can have a safe place to sleep since my wife had allergic reactions when the dog first arrived. She is better than the 1st day with the dog. Now if I go to bed, the dog barks until I come down and I think even if we let her roam at night, she might scratch at the bedroom doors. We are hopeful my wifes allergies will settle down and would like our little dog to eventual sleep in her crate overnight without barking and wanting us to be there.
Thanks for any suggestions . . .
I have similar problem to Dan w/ 6 year old chi, but mine is a 10 year old shih tzu, blind, rescue.
She has slept in bed w me for most of first year, but hubby complains she is disturbing his sleep (mine too) trying to crate train her for nights in living room w three other older small male dogs, but tho I can sometimes get her to go in, or will move her while sleeping, if i leave the room (or are not close enough) she wakes up and barks and barks and barks!! so much for sleeping! Help!
Hello! We have a 5-month-old Schnoodle. He has done great on all fronts (including crate training), but has been waking up when the birds start singing outside for the past couple of weeks (which is currently in the 0430 time frame). I have been waiting a few minutes until he calms down, then silently taking him out and putting him back into his crate, where he typically goes back to sleep without objection until sunrise. I have read that dogs responding to noises and light may do well with a sound machine and/or crate cover. Are these tactics you would recommend, or not recommend? Thanks for your amazing site – we have learned all of our training techniques from you, and Tiger is a dream dog under this instruction!
Hello. Recently just adopted a 6 year old Weimaraner and she’s having a hard time with her crate. She’s escaped it 3 times and I understand all the tips here but what are we supposed to do in the mean time, I can’t not go to work for weeks until she learns to Love the crate…..
I’m not sure if you’ll respond to this as it’s been a few years since this was posted.
I have a ten year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Indie who I’ve crate trained in the past. He goes into his crate on his own, will lay down in it occasionally, but does not like to be closed in. As soon as the door is closed and locked, he will start to bark, and will bark incessantly. I do my absolute best not to let him out until he’s quiet. He also barks when I leave. Is there a way to re-crate train him so he’s quiet in his crate? I’d like to leave him out while I’m at work during the day, but he likes to get into things and will eat whatever he can get his paws on.
Any suggestions would be helpful!
Have a 14-year-old rat terrier she has just started to be crying because she’s peeing in the house we have to leave her to go to work in the crate and she will P poop in her crate while we’re gone what can I do
It sounds like your dog may be having some anxiety in her crate. Leaving your dog in the crate for long periods of time during the day can sometimes lead to behavior problems. You might look into getting a friend, family member, neighbor, or pet sitter to come to your house and play with your dog during the day. Another option would be to look into a local doggy daycare.
we have a 7 year old lab. never minded getting into a crate to go to a farm we have. 1 hour away. which he loves because he can run. now he refuses to get into the crate in the truck as we are going to the farm and coming home from the farm is the same. he just plants his feet and has to be litteraly picked up and put in the crate. what could have changed this behavior?
I hope you see this comment as I know it’s been a few years since this was posted.
I have a 3 year old yorkie. He slept in bed with us up until 5 months ago when we brought home our first baby. He didn’t adjust to her well at first so we couldn’t have him in the bedroom where he baby was sleeping. We started crating him at night. Up until then he was familiar with the crate only when we left the house. It was a rough start, having to let him cry and cry and bark all night for nights on end. Then he would go in the crate on his own and sleep through the night … SOMETIMES. It’s very frustrating. We got to the point where he would go in the crate on his own time, we figured he finally started to enjoy his space. At the very least, he would go in when we told him ‘okay, night night, go in your crate’. He does well for a few weeks and then randomly will give us a hard time about going in .. or, will go in fine but then bark and cry at 2-3am on and off until we get up in the morning. It’s exhausting. Just when we think he finally got the hang of it for sure he takes a step backwards. We have been very consistent so we don’t understand his inconsistent behavior. His crate is covered, he has his favorite bed and blankets inside. I have a dog plugged in to the closest wall, I have an essential oil diffuser going with calming lavender sleep blend, I put on soothing dog music. I feel like we have tried everything… Some nights it works.. Some it doesn’t! Is there something you would recommend us trying? We have an infant who sleeps through the night and a dog waking us up hours on end :(