Introducing your dog to the recovery crate: Method 1

This is a nice gradual way to introduce your dog to the recovery crate. However, this method can only be used if:

  • it is easy for your dog to step in and out of the crate and
  • if your vet is happy for your dog to walk around a bit.

If your dog is not safe to step repeatedly in and out of the crate then use Method 2 instead. 

For general advice on introduction to the recovery crate, click here.

Step-by-step guide to method 1

  1. Assemble the crate. Check that the crate floor provides even footing (remove the base of the crate if this is going to wobble when stepped on). Cover the floor of the crate with non-slip matting, and then with plenty of bedding. Put your dog’s favourite toys and a bowl of his or her food inside the crate. 
  2. Optional: Plug in a DAP (Adaptil®)diffuser as close as possible to the crate. Spray the bedding with DAP spray. 
  3. If the room is not carpeted, then place non-slip matting around the entrance to the crate. 
  4. Prop the crate door wide open.
  5. Roll up two towels into long sausage shapes (or use long draught-excluder cushions). Place these on the floor, one on either side of the crate entrance. These should make two sides of an imaginary path leading to the crate entrance, so as to help lead your dog’s eyes towards the crate. 
  6. Pick a time when you expect your dog to be hungry. Put your dog on a harness and lead to give you some control. Walk your dog towards the crate and allow them to sniff at it. 
  7. Put bits of dog kibble just inside the crate entrance and let your dog sniff at and eat these. If your dog is not interested, then try dog treats. Break the treats into tiny bits, as you’ll be using quite a few of them during the crate introduction process. If your dog is still not interested in the food, then take a break and try again before their next meal. If your dog is still not interested at the next attempt, then check that the crate is set up comfortably, and try again the next day. 
  8. Gently roll bits of food further inside the crate. The movement of food may encourage your dog to follow. If your dog chooses to explore the inside of the crate, then allow them to do so on the end of a loose lead. Do not shut the crate door at this stage. 
  9. If your dog either finds the bowl of food and eats it, or chooses to lie down in the crate, then let them do so. Do not shut the crate door at this stage. 
  10. Allow your dog to step out of the crate when they are ready to do so. Later in the day, or during the next day, repeat steps 4 to 8. Keep the crate door propped wide open throughout. 
  11. Fill a Kong® and put this inside the crate. Let your dog chew on this inside the crate. You may need to repeat steps 6 and 7 to encourage your dog to enter the crate before they find the Kong®. 
  12. Once your dog is confident both to eat and to rest a little within the crate, close the crate door gently with your dog inside. It’s best to do this while your dog is eating from a bowl of food, or chewing on a filled Kong®. Open the door again before the dog has finished the food. Over several days, gradually increase the length of time that your dog spends inside the closed crate.


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