Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?: Tips to Crate Training an Older Dog

New tricks for old dogs
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

It has been said that you «can’t teach an old dog new tricks», but is this spoken belief really just a fallacy? Age can trigger a broad scope of things in dogs from health ailments to behavior changes causing you to have to do the unimaginable, crate training a dog well beyond its viewed «training years». The daunting task ahead can leave you not knowing where to start, especially when dealing with an older dog that is set in its ways. Our complete step-by-step guide is here to help you when you have to go through the presumed difficult process of «teaching your old dog a new trick». In this case, training your older dog to adjust to its new safe place, its soon-to-be treasured crate.

Is it Time to Crate Train Your Dog?

German Shepherd

Determining when it is necessary to implement a crate into your dog’s life can be a tricky task, particularly when you are dealing with an adult dog. As dog’s progress through certain stages of their lives some unforeseen events may start to occur varying from health conditions that may alter their behavior or simply a change in their behavior from factors occurring in your home.

Dogs are creatures of habit and rely on you to provide them their expected daily routine. Any variances in their daily routine can provoke some unexpected reactions that can possibly put your home (especially your furniture) at risk, and let’s be real there is nothing worse than coming home to find your beloved household items destroyed. The aftermath of a confused and spiteful dog can be quite a burden to deal with and that is when crate training might become your best next step in shielding your home.

Soiling accidents in your home can also lead you to the path of crate training your dog. In many instances, mature dogs can begin to develop health conditions where they lose control over their bowel movements, causing quite the pungent odor in your home. Some health conditions in dogs that may lead to this symptom can include a UTI, bladder stones, bladder cancer, kidney failure, urinary incontinence, prostatic disease, pyometra, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus. If you have ever experienced the unpleasant odors that come along with dog accidents in your home then you know how hard it can be to get rid of this smell. There are many products out there that promise to remove the urine odor smell from your furniture and floors but does it really work? The vast majority of pet urine eliminating products lack the capabilities to really remove the odors at the source of the accident, typically they just employ masking agents to cover the odor. When cleaning up pet urine, using a product that removes the pet urine odor rather than just masking it is critical in actually eliminating the odor completely. Companies like OdorKlenz work to actually eliminate the odor at the source rather than mask it like others.

Devising Your Crate Training Plan


Preparation is key when coming up with your plan of attack for crate training your older dog. There are many factors to consider when devising your training plan for your dog and its new crate. Walking step-by-step through the process will make your goal of crate training your dog just a little bit easier.

Step 1: Picking the Perfect Size Crate

The size of your dog’s crate can be a tremendous factor in the crate training process. Picking the perfect size can be hard though. We are inclined to want to buy a larger size crate to give our dogs ample amount of room, but this is really doing a disservice to your dog. You want the crate to be sized correctly to promote your dog to not make a mess and to help control potential accidents. The ideal size for your dog’s crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down easily. That provides your dog ample amount of room without the risk of them wreaking havoc in their crate.

Step 2: Selecting Your Dog’s Ideal Crate Material

Choosing the perfect material for your dog’s crate can really make or break how they receive their crate. There are three main crate materials to select from when purchasing a crate for your dog. The most popular crate material for many dog owners is a wire material. This material is favored because they are good for storing with their ability to fold flat as well as their economical price point. They also are very sturdy and more secure for housing your pet. The other two materials to choose from include plastic and fabric crates, which both have their upsides and downsides. A plastic crate tends to be of the bulkier size and can’t be consolidated, which takes up more space in your home. Plastic crates tend to be more useful, however, when used for transporting of your dog, especially for airline travel. Whereas fabric crates are better suited for dogs who are well-trained because of the lack of secureness of this crates material.

Step 3: Getting Your Pooch Familiar with Its New Home

One of the most difficult steps in crate training your older dog is without a doubt getting them familiar with their new sacred area. Placement of the crate can be an essential part of the process of crate training, by making sure you put it in an area of your home that is comfortable to your dog can help tremendously. Slowly introducing your pet to the crate is the best way to build familiarity with your dog and its crate. You can start by placing a favorite toy or treat in the crate to lure your dog to investigate its new area. Another thing you can do is put your dog’s favorite bed or blanket in to get there smell in their new environment helping them to get more comfortable in their surroundings.

Step 4: Setting a Crate Training Schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit like we discussed earlier and having a set training schedule can help them in the crate training process. A good general rule to follow is one hour in the crate for each month of age. For older dogs spending the night in the crate shouldn’t be too difficult. It may be helpful to start them out in your bedroom overnight if that is the area they are used to spending the night. As your dog becomes more familiar and accepting of this crate time, you can gradually transition them into the area that you wish to place their crate in your home.

Step 5: Dealing with the Occasional Pee Accident

Pee accidents can happen even when dealing with an older dog, especially when your dog is confined in a space- such as its crate- overnight. When your dog has a pee accident it can be quite the hassle for you to not only remove the urine smell from the crate but also cleaning the smell from your dog. Sometimes your dog will be stuck in its crate surrounded by urine for some time before you get them out. And let’s be real the smell of dog urine is a strong smell that seeps into whatever it comes into contact with, whether that be the dog’s crate or the dog. Giving your dog and its crate a bath may be in order in some circumstances. Bathing your dog with a natural dog shampoo that works best in removing odors is important when you are working to get rid of the dog urine smell on your pet. As well as making sure to use an effective dog urine neutralizer in your dog’s crate when this kind of accident occurs.

There are several solutions to implement when pee accidents start to happen. Firstly, make sure you are taking your dog out regularly. This may mean you need to start a routine of getting up and taking your dog out 2 to 3 times a night. Also, it may be necessary to remove soft material like blankets and towels from your dogs’ crate. This could be a contributing factor to the pee accidents because most dogs like pottying on soft surfaces rather than hard surfaces. If pee accidents keep persisting you may need to schedule a vet appointment to have your dog checked for medical issues such as a UTI or bladder infection.

Wrap Up

To conclude, crate training your older dog can be accomplished with less effort then you think. Many dog owners have had to go through this process with their dogs’ due to circumstances that require them to take these steps.

By following the steps above, you can easily master crate training your dog. And not only will you be happy with the result but your dog will feel safe and comfortable in the confinement of its crate.

Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?: Tips to Crate Training an Older Dog

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.