a brown and white dog inside of a cage, crate training adult dog

The Comprehensive Guide to Crate Training Adult Dogs: Solutions for Success

Embracing the Challenge of Crate Training Adult Dogs

The phrase ‘crate training adult dog’ often brings to mind the daunting task of teaching an older canine an entirely new routine. Once the territory of puppies, crate training has emerged as a valuable tool for adult dogs as well, offering benefits from ensuring safe travel to providing a personal space for your pooch.

Older dogs can come with ingrained habits, which may either align with or resist the structure of crate training. Unlike their younger counterparts, adult dogs have well-established patterns. This means crate training may indeed present varied challenges—but it’s also an opportunity to reinforce trust and enhance your dog’s sense of security.

Understanding the Adult Dog Psych

Training a mature dog to accept a crate involves being mindful of their past experiences and current cognitive stage. Adult dogs may associate crates with negative experiences or have never encountered one, necessitating a gradual and patient approach. To crate train an adult dog successfully, you must be sensitive to their history and individual personality.

Dr. Alex Schechter, DVM suggests that adapting to an adult dog’s learning curve requires acknowledging their matured cognitive abilities and prior conditioning—elements that aren’t as fixed in puppies.

short-coated beige puppy, crate training adult dog

Choosing the Right Crate and Location

Selecting a suitable crate is the first crucial step. It should accommodate your dog’s size and provide comfort. Moreover, crates with ample coverage might offer security for anxious pets, while a lower entry point can be a boon for older dogs with physical limitations.

The crate’s placement within your home is just as important. Experts agree that it should be in a quiet but not isolated area where they can still feel like part of the family, like a corner of the living room.

Constructing Positive Associations

The linchpin of successful crate training is associating the crate with positivity. High-value treats play a central role in this, especially during the introduction phase. It encourages voluntary exploration and adds an element of surprise and delight when the dog discovers a favorite chew or new toy inside the crate.

pug lying on pet bed, crate training adult dog

Integrating Meals and Short Stints

When treats have paved the way for comfort, transitioning to mealtime within the crate can solidify the association between the crate and pleasant experiences. Brief periods with the door closed followed by a return to open-door times helps to extend the sense of security to times when they are alone in their crate.

Gradual Incremental Crating Time

Creating a pace that mirrors your dog’s comfort level is vital. Slowly increasing the length of time spent in the crate, while providing mental stimulation through toys or treats, will make for a more adaptable and happy dog. If your pet reacts nervously when you leave the room, reducing the time alone and then gradually lengthening it can help them get used to short absences.

Overcoming Setbacks

Challenges such as excessive whining or barking often signal that the training pace may need adjusting. Disregard the misstep and reinforce the crate’s positive aspects. For dogs with negative past crate experiences, introducing familiar comforts and engaging toys can redefine the space as safe.

For dogs resistant to traditional crates, alternative safe spaces such as exercise pens or dog-proofed rooms may work better. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that not all dogs will adapt to crates despite the best efforts.

When to Seek Professional Help

Persistent issues may require the intervention of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can offer tailored advice and techniques for your situation.

However, it’s essential to recognize that for some dogs, particularly those with separation anxiety or confinement phobia, crates may not be a viable option. In such cases, other forms of confinement that allow for more freedom may be more suitable.

yellow labrador retriever lying on floor, crate training adult dog

Implementing Adjustments for Senior Canines

If you’re crate training a senior dog, it’s crucial to consider their comfort and possible health-related limitations. With the likelihood of arthritis or other mobility issues, ensuring the crate is easy to access and outfitted with supportive bedding can make a significant difference.


Patience, consistency, and adaptability are the hallmarks of successful crate training for an adult dog. Whether you’re training for travel, acclimating a new family member, or providing a safe space for your dog, proper technique and understanding of your dog’s unique needs can make the process a positive experience for both of you.

Remember, while a crate can serve as a secure haven, it’s not a panacea for all behavioral issues. Each dog is an individual, and their training should reflect their personal needs and capabilities.