How to Crate Train a Rescue Dog? 8 Simple Step-By-Step Guide

Last Updated on July, 2024

If you have recently welcomed a new rescue dog into your home, crate training can be a valuable tool to help them adjust to their new environment and establish a sense of security in their own space. 

Despite the potential challenges due to the past trauma your dog may have endured, with guidance and patience, you can successfully crate train your rescue dog, which may take up to a few days to several weeks 

In this article, we will guide you through understanding the background of rescue dogs, selecting the right crate, step-by-step training, the challenges to be faced, and building a strong bond with your pup. 

So if you are ready to learn how to crate train your dog, keep reading; you’re on the right track! We’ve got you.

Quick Summary

Understanding the background of the rescue dog is important to adjust the training to what they need and be able to handle potential challenges.

Crate training a rescue dog can take a few days to several weeks.

Crate training offers numerous benefits for rescue dogs, such as providing a safe and comfortable space, promoting good behavior and discipline, and preventing destructive actions.

Understanding the Background of Rescue Dogs

a small puppy standing inside a crate

Knowing about their past is important before you start crate training them.

Rescue dogs might have gone through tough times, like, bad treatment or not having much social contact before being rescued. 

By understanding your dog’s life and where they come from, we can be sensitive in the places we must. 

This assists us in adjusting the training to what they need and are scared of, which helps us build trust and confidence in them. 

Also, by being aware of their background, we can prepare for their possible issues, such as feeling scared in a confined space and anxious when left alone in a crate. 

If your puppy is afraid of small spaces, make sure the crate is large enough to liking. 

In training a senior dog, knowing their already developed habits helps create a familiar and comfortable environment to your pet. 

With this knowledge, we can use effective methods to handle these challenges. Understanding their background will make crate training a positive experience for your furry friend.

Pro tip: Reward your young puppy with snacks for good behavior. It helps to develop your bond with them.

Senior dogs often retain their playful spirit, showing age is just a number. Rescue dogs would love a long walk during their difficult times. They often find it exhilarating. 

Preparing for Crate Training

a small dog inside a plastic dog crate

When teaching rescue dogs how to use the dog crate, it’s important to be patient and kind. First, choose the right crate size to make them feel safe and cozy.

Put their favorite toys and treats inside to make it fun for them to explore at their own pace. Gradually introduce the crate to them. Make sure the crate has enough space for them to feel at home. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so taking your time is okay.

Pro tip: Give your pup time to sniff, explore, and get cozy. To successfully crate train a rescue dog, one must possess immense patience, a virtue that helps build confidence in the dog during the training process.

Step-By-Step Crate Training Process

Step 1: Choose the Perfect Crate 

If your dog is given too much space in the crate, they are likelier to pee in it because dogs are den animals.

It’s a dog’s natural instincts to keep its sleeping area clean, as their ancestors would create dens to rest and raise their young puppies. 

When a crate is too large, they may not feel the need to hold their pee in as they have extra space to move away from it.

It’s normal for your dog to be anxious while entering the crate for the first time; new surroundings can make them nervous.

a rescue dog running towards after trained

Step 02: Positive Association 

Place the crate in a quiet, secluded area like your laundry room. It provides a den-like safe space for them to feel secure.

Encourage your dog to go near the crate using goodies, toys, praises, or whatever your dog loves the most. 

 Keep the crate door open, and place a cozy blanket inside to spark their curiosity, and it’s best to encourage them to enter voluntarily for the first time. 

 Step 3: Feeding Inside the Crate 

Gradually move the dog’s food bowl closer to the crate. Feed the dog inside the crate to create a positive experience with the space. 

Step 4: Short Intervals With Crate Door Closed 

Once your dog is comfortable entering the crate, start closing the crate door for short periods while they are inside. Stay near the crate and offer verbal praise when they remain calm with the door closed. 

Step 05: Gradual Alone Time 

Gradually increase your dog’s time in the crate with the door closed, even when you’re not in the room. Start with short intervals and gradually extend the time, ensuring you return before your dog becomes anxious. 

Step 6: Use a Verbal Clue 

Introduce a specific command or cue (e.g., “crate” or “go to crate”) to your dog when you want the pup to enter the crate. Use the verbal cue consistently to help the dog understand the purpose of the crate. 

Step 7: Patience and Consistency 

Be patient and consistent throughout the process, and at any cost, avoid using the crate as a form of punishment for your dog. Always try to make it a positive and safe place.

Step 8: Gradual Freedom 

When your rescue dog is comfortable and relaxed inside the crate, you can gradually allow them more freedom under house supervision.

Pro tip: each pup is unique, so go at their pace and celebrate every small victory. Positive associations with your dog can help make crate time easier than it should be.

How to Crate Train a Rescue Dog When You’re Out?

a dog standing on the ground

After successfully crate-training your dog to stay in its crate for more than 40 minutes, you can leave them home. When you leave and return, stay calm and relaxed, and avoid making a big fuss.

The time your pet spends in the crate should match their bladder time and age, example; 

If your puppy is a three-month-old, Puppies of this age have a smaller bladder.  In this case, you need to start with crate sessions of around 2 – 3 hours and slowly increase the duration as the puppy gets older and can hold their bladder for a long time. 

By doing this, you are ensuring comfort without frustration. 

 Remember, the dog crate is their haven, a happy place, never as a punishment but a grace-filled space.

Pro tip: Training a rescued dog can be exhausting sometimes; remember to always take breaks for yourself too! and best to have a scheduled crating time for them to accommodate the new space.

How to Crate Your Dog Overnight?

When it’s time to crate overnight, you need to remain calm and composed to prevent anxiety or creating a commotion. Pretend for it to be an everyday event.

Ensure the crate is comfortable with soft bedding, making sure it’s the right size for your rescue dog. You can play calming music or use a white noise machine to soothe your pet and mask outside noises that make your dog anxious. 

Take your rescue dog outside for a potty break in the morning and reward them for good behavior at night. 

Pro tip: when crate training an older dog overnight, understanding their existing routines and habits can be beneficial. Older dog may have already established patterns for sleeping, eating and peeing.

By observing and aligning the training with these routines, you can make the process smoother and less stressful for your dog. 

Challenges and Concerns When You Crate Train 

a rescue dog being inside a dog crate

While crate training can benefit dogs, it has its fair share of challenges.

Need for interaction 

Dogs are social animals, and their instincts drive them to seek companionship and interactions with their owners or other dogs, especially adult dogs. Positive associations can help them realize that they do have fellowship.

Social animals thrive on interactions and stimulation, so make sure your dog is not entirely abandoned in the crate. Social dogs are more likely to view crates positively if they receive attention. 

Separation anxiety

Social animals like dogs often form a strong bond with their dog owners. 

To overcome separation anxiety, start by making the crate a positive place. 

Treats, toys, and cozy bedding will turn it into their treasure island. Begin with short crate sessions and gradually increase the duration to reduce separation anxiety. 

Practice short separations, slowly increase the time away, rewarding calm behavior and showing them they’re not alone.

Related articles:

Whines and barks

First, ensure their needs are met before crate time: a walk, food, and playtime galore.

A chew toy can also help prevent the whines and barks of a dog.

Next, provide soothing music or the sound of gentle waves, calming their spirits. As they rest, sprinkle treat, chew toys, and distract them from worries. 

Chewing on bars

Many dogs are known to chew on the bars while crate training. Here are some strategies that might help your dog overcome them. Make sure your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise. 

A tired dog is less likely to engage in destructive behavior.

Pro tip: puppies overcome their fears and insecurities with the love and support of their new families same goes for older dogs.

Maintaining a Positive Crate Experience

Now that your rescue dog is doing well with crate training let’s focus on keeping this a positive experience. 

Establishing a consistent routine will create a sense of security while providing mental and physical stimulation outside the crate will keep those tails wagging. 

Remember, the crate is not a cage; it’s their cozy haven!

Gradual Transition to Unsupervised Freedom

Let’s get to the last stage of dog training: transitioning to unsupervised freedom from crate.

As your dog becomes more comfortable and exhibits positive behavior in the crate, start monitoring its unsupervised behavior and progress.

Keep a watchful eye on their interactions with the surroundings, ensuring they feel secure and confident.

Next, it’s time to embark on supervised freedom outside the crate.

Start by designating a dog-proofed area where they can roam and explore.

Use baby gates or other barriers to establish boundaries while allowing them to exercise their newfound independence.

a rescue dog running towards after trained

Shower them with praise, treats, and belly rubs, creating a joyous atmosphere reinforcing their progress.

How Long Does it Take to Crate Train Your Rescue Dog?

The time it takes to crate-train a rescue dog can vary depending on the dog’s age, temperament, past experience, and training history. 

On average, crate training a rescue dog can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. 

Some rescue dogs may adjust quickly and take to the crate almost immediately, while others may require more time and a gradual introduction to feel more comfortable and secure in their new environment. 

Related article: Should I Leave Water in Dog Crate At Night?


In summary, crate training offers numerous benefits for rescue dogs. 

It provides them a safe and comfortable space, promotes good behavior and discipline, and prevents destructive actions.

But it would be best to have a good quality dog crate when training a rescue dog. In this case, we’ve got you covered with my ultimate list of the best dog crates on the market.

Ultimately, this journey is rewarding for both us and our beloved dogs. Let’s embark on this adventure with excitement and joy!


Yes, it is recommended to crate-train your adopted dog at night in order to ensure a safe and accident-free sleep.

It is likely that your rescue dog is crying in the crate due to anxiety, fear, or discomfort associated with the new environment and confinement.

Yes, crate training a rescue dog can be beneficial if done so in a positive manner and tailored to the individual dog’s needs and comfort level. It is also a good way to provide security and familiarity during travel and vet visits. To ensure successful crate training, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement should be used.

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Stefano Giachetti
Stefano Giachetti is always excited to share his knowledge and love of animals with you through our blog, IPetGuides. And he has always loved animals and has been blessed to have many pets throughout his life. Currently has a Pomeranian Dog Breed.

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