While you might typically associate crate training with puppies, there are many reasons why you may need to learn how to crate train an older dog.
A dog crate is the safest method of transporting your doggie when you’re driving. If you want to take Rover with you on a flight, a dog crate is a requirement, and the crate must meet airline cargo specifications.
Beyond this, dog crates can come in very handy in an emergency situation. If you need to suddenly evacuate your home after a natural disaster, for instance, a crate provides you with a secure method of transporting your furball. If your dog picks up an unexpected injury, they may find that they can relax and recuperate more effectively inside their own little den.
Today’s guide will help you to get an older dog inside a crate without too much trouble. We’ll also show you what to do if your hound seems resistant to entering the crate.
What Are the Benefits of Crate Training for Older Pups?
Regardless of age, all dogs should learn how to tolerate containment in a crate.
Here are some of the main benefits you will achieve by crate training an older dog:
- Travel: Crate training an older dog simplifies traveling with Rover dog. If you ensure that your dog has a crate that is properly secured to your car, this will keep them safe throughout your road trip. Also, when you reach your destination, a crate offers a cozy and secure place for them to hang out when they are not by your side.
- Housetraining: Perhaps you adopted an older dog from a rescue shelter, and he was never properly potty trained. If so, you might need to give him some extra encouragement through crate training. Your dog will view his crate like a safe space and he will not want to soil the area.
- Visits to the vet and groomer: You will find that animal groomers and veterinarians will often crate dogs before and after they care for them. By crate training an adult dog, this will help make your pup feel more comfortable in these situations, streamlining appointments for everyone.
- Helping your dog to stay calm at home: Your home might not always provide a serene and soothing environment for your furball. Events like house parties or noisy holiday celebrations can easily stress dogs. Training them to use a crate confidently and comfortably will provide them with their own sanctuary within your home.
What Do You Need to Crate Train an Older Dog?
If you feel the time is right to crate train your dog, you’ll need a few basics to get you started.
- A dog crate that is an appropriate size for your dog. A crate should be spacious enough that your pooch can stand, turn, and lie down.
- Lots of appetizing doggie treats.
- Treat-dispensing toy or food bowl that fits neatly in the crate with Rover.
- Doggie bed or crate mat if your pup is resistant to laying down on hard surfaces.
How to Crate Train an Older Dog in Three Easy Steps
While all dogs are unique, you can follow this simple framework to crate train an adult or senior canine.
Step 1: Introduction to the crate
You should help your dog to form positive associations with their new dog crate without rushing them.
Position the crate in an area where you spend lots of time – the living room or the kitchen, for instance.
When it’s time for dinner, put your dog’s food just inside the crate. Leave the crate door open while your doggie eats.
In between mealtimes, try giving your pooch some puzzle toys stuffed with food or some canine chews to snack on inside the crate. Again, leave the crate door open at this stage. If you spot your dog carrying the object away from the crate, gently return the dog and the object to the crate.
Step 2: Desensitization
As soon as you feel that your dog is comfortable eating when he is inside the crate, it’s time to start desensitizing him to the door being closed.
When your dog starts eating his food, close the door. Do not open the door of the crate until he finishes his food, puzzle toy, or chewie.
Next, start increasing the length of time your dog stays inside the crate after he has eaten. This might be an increase of seconds or minutes, depending on the temperament of your hound. You should watch how your dog responds. If they start barking, whining, or showing any other signs of distress, you should dial training back and give him some more time.
Step 3: Additional desensitization
If you find that your dog still struggles after several weeks of crate training, it’s time to ramp up the desensitization training.
Start by throwing a treat into the crate. Encourage your pooch to follow it inside. Next, close the door to the crate and immediately reopen it, allowing your dog to leave the crate. Rinse and repeat.
Gradually increase the time your dog spends inside the crate by a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on the reaction of Rover.
What Can I Do If My Older Dog Will Not Enter His Crate?
Even if you follow the steps above closely, you may still run into challenges when crate training older dogs. If so, consider the following pointers:
- Schedule potty breaks for your dog. Before extending his stay in the crate, give Fido a chance to do his business outside. Take him outside right after releasing him from the crate.
- Avoid crating your dog for extended periods. All dogs need exercise and regular potty breaks. Failing to meet these needs can teach your dog to dislike or even fear crate time. As a guideline, avoid crating adult dogs for longer than four hours at a time.
- Never use a dog crate for the purposes of punishment. You want your dog to view his crate as a den and a sanctuary, not somewhere where they are contained for time-out sessions.
- If nothing seems to work, it is worth consulting a professional, whether a certified dog trainer or a credentialed canine behavior consultant. These professionals might be able to offer advice tailored to the needs and difficulties of your pooch.
1) What should I put inside my dog’s crate?
If you are trying to encourage an older dog to use a crate, you should try to make it as comfortable as possible. The most crucial element is to purchase a crate that is the right size for your furball. As long as he has room to stand, turn, and lay down, he should be happy. For housebroken dogs, slightly larger crates might provide a more comfortable environment still – just make sure you don’t need to move the crate around too often or you might regret choosing an oversized model. Never leave your dog inside the crate for more than three or four hours, unless he is sleeping overnight in the crate. Blankets inside the crate will increases Rover’s comfort further and help him to indulge his natural den instincts.
2) Can my dog have more than one crates?
Yes. It can be worthwhile setting up a permanent dog crate at home and picking up an extra crate that you can use for travel purposes. Opt for a metal or plastic crate for indoor use. If you need to crate an older dog in the yard, make sure you buy one that is weatherproofed. For travel purposes, soft crates can be effective. Collapsible crates will streamline storage and transportation when your dog is not inside. If you have more than one dog, it’s a smart move to provide each of your hounds with their own crate. While it is possible to crate multiple dogs in a single crate, they will be comfier in their own private space.
As you can now see, crate training is not the preserve of puppies. If you have an older dog and you need to take them on a trip or secure then when they are unattended, today’s guide should help you to get them happily inside their new den.
Follow the steps outlined above and you should find it is possible to crate train an older dog without too much frustration. Pack plenty of patience and use lots of positive reinforcement and let us know how you got on in the comments below this article.
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