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How to Crate Train an Older Dog

Senior Boxer dog in nature

Crate training is the process of teaching your pup to accept a dog crate as a safe location. Being den-dwelling animals, it is an important aspect of a canines’ life. Most dog owners prefer to start crate training at an early age because it’s comparatively easier to train a puppy. Having said that, you may have to crate train an older dog in some unusual situations.  

Is it Possible to Crate Train an Older Dog?

YES, there is absolutely no reason why an older dog cannot be crate trained. Even if he/she has never experienced the confinement of a crate, it CAN be done. It will be a little harder than training a young pup, but it’s definitely possible.

The main problem is that owners become too impatient in crate training their dogs. They try to just lock the pet inside the crate without proper preparation and training. This can be really frightening for a senior dog who has been a member of the same family for years. These negative emotions are what make it difficult to crate train an older dog.

Why is it Difficult to Train Older Dogs?

close up of black and white dog with greying face

The following are a couple of reasons that make it hard to train a senior dog.

  • Older dogs are more dominant, and they have their own free will. Consequently, they don’t appreciate any compulsion from their owner.
  • Older dogs have pre-developed habits, and they prefer to stick with them. As a result, you need to help them unlearn old habits before they can learn new ones.   

Reasons for Crate Training an Older Dog

older dog behind bars

Crate training can be a fantastic way to improve the behavior of adult dogs. Similarly, you can use this training to eliminate destructive behavior from your pup’s personality. In addition to that, a crate is a perfect alternative for keeping your canine in one place for some time. The following are some necessities that can make it compulsory to crate train an older dog.

  • Provide a safe space in stressful situations
  • Easier and safer trips to the veterinarian
  • Safety and preparedness for emergencies and natural disasters
  • Safe transportation and easier travel with your pooch
  • Confinement during illness or while recovering from an injury

How to Crate Train an Adult Dog?

Crate training is a gradual and time-consuming process, and you must keep your patience to get the desired results. An effective procedure to crate train an older dog is described below.

Prepare a Suitable Crate

dog crate on white background

Choose a crate that is big enough for your dog to lie down, stand-up, and turn around without any difficulty. Once you have the crate, you need to find a suitable place for it. Make sure that you think long and hard before finalizing the permanent spot because this will be the home base of your canine. For providing a more comfortable experience, you can place a cozy blanket inside the crate.

The spot of the crate should be selected in the room where your family spends most of its time. This is an effective way of countering separation anxiety while the dog is inside the crate.         

Prepare Yourself

Most owners are emotionally so attached to their dogs that they don’t feel good about keeping their pets in crates. It is crucial for the success of crate training that you are completely confident about this idea.

Dogs are extremely sensitive to our emotions. If we are stressed about crating our pup, he/she will instinctively replicate the depressing emotion. Therefore, cast out any negative feelings, and start the training ONLY when you are mentally prepared.

Prepare Your Dog

brown and white dog sitting next to crate

Vets often recommend giving your dog an adequate amount of exercise before a training session. This is because it allows the canine to stay relaxed while being inside the crate. Similarly, the burning of the excess energy gives him a chance to relieve himself/herself.

Introducing Your Dog to the New Crate

When crate training an older dog, always remember that this process will take some time. If your dog is scared or hesitant to go into the crate, you will have to struggle to train him/her. For this reason, start the training by building a positive association of your dog with the crate.

One of the best ways of doing that is to place some treats near the opening of the crate. Praise your dog when he/she goes near the opening to retrieve the treat. Gradually, start tossing the treats inside the crate and see if your dog feels comfortable or not.

Once you are completely confident, start placing the treats inside the crate. There is no need of closing the door at initial stages as you should allow your pet to settle down.

Training for Longer Crating Periods

brown dow laying on blanket in crate with door open

After an effective introduction to the crate, you can start confining your dog inside it while you are at home. You may have to use a treat or a command to push him/her in, and then gently shut the door.

Start with short intervals (about five minutes or less) and make sure that you stay close by and visible. Keep increasing the time gradually and start leaving the room when your dog seems at ease inside the crate. This will teach him/her that it’s safe in there even when you are not present.

Dealing with Bad Behaviors

At any stage, if your dog seems to panic, stop, let him out, and take a break. Keep patience if you face any setbacks and need to start over from previous steps. If your pup starts barking, distract him/her with a treat and console in a soft voice. NEVER leave your dog in a crate for more than a few hours at a time.

In the case of senior dogs (or puppies), make sure that they shouldn’t remain crated for TOO long. Ideally, the crating time should be reasonably less than they’re able to hold the urge to use the bathroom. For example, if you puppy needs to pee every 2 hours, you shouldn’t crate him/her for more than 1.5 hours.

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