Crate training and housebreaking a 6-month-old dog takes a little more time and patience, but it can be done. Older pups may have developed bad habits or experienced trauma. You must gain his trust. Once he is calm, training is easier.
Choose a crate appropriate for your pup's size. Your pup should be able to stand, lie down and turn around in the crate. If your pup is a large breed and will continue to grow, you can buy a crate that will fit him as an adult. Block off the back area, so he can't use it to potty.
Place the crate in a room where there is activity, such as the family room. Fasten the door open. Place a disposable pad or towel on the floor in case he has an accident in the crate. Even though dogs do not like to soil their den, dogs that have been housed in poor conditions may soil the area out of habit.
Introduce your pup to the crate. Let your pup smell a treat and then toss it into the crate near the opening. Once he eats the treat, toss another further into the crate. You want to create pleasurable experiences with the crate.
Feed your pup's meals in the crate. Once he is inside eating, shut the door. Stay by the crate and wait for him to finish eating. Once he has finished eating, open the crate door. The next feeding time, leave the door closed for 5 to 10 minutes after he has finished eating. Do not leave the room.
Create a schedule to take him outside to potty. Once he is comfortable with the crate, keep him confined to it until he has learned potty time is outside. A 6-month-old pup can hold his bladder for at least three to four hours; however, until he is trained, take him outside every two hours.
Take him out of the crate, first thing in the morning. Put on a leash and walk him out the same door and go to the same spot. Use a phrase such as "go potty." Use the same phrase all the time. If he potties, praise him and play for a few minutes. If he doesn't potty, take him back to the crate, wait 10 minutes and take him back outside again. Take him out after every meal and after play.
Remove all food and water two to three hours before bedtime. Take him out just before bed and then put him in the crate. The first week, consider putting the crate in the bedroom.
- Crate training and housebreaking an older pup may take a few weeks or months.
- Keep with the schedule. If you work, find someone to take him out.
- Once he is house-trained and you can trust him not to destroy your home, let him go into the crate voluntarily.
- Don't leave him in the crate for long periods. The crate should be his den, a place he likes to go for comfort and rest.
- Don't scold him if he has an accident. If you catch him, say "no" and take him outside to his spot.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.