How to Crate Train an Older Dog

I guess the thought of putting a dog in a crate doesn’t sound pleasant or acceptable to most people.  Still, the crate has its function – it is a peaceful and safe oasis where your dog relaxes and takes a nap. The space that is covered and acts as a lair is attractive and comfortable for them. So, if your dog gets used to crate properly – it can function as a heaven place for it.

Of course, a crate is not necessary in all cases, but at the very least it can be useful and practical. Puppies get used to this space more easily, while crate training an older dog can be a challenge.  With a little patience and willpower anything is possible. When is the crate a useful thing? Well, when we want to leave the house for a couple of hours, crates are perfect shelters for our loved four-legged pets. Also, we can occasionally close the dog into a crate when we are having guests who are not feeling safe in their company. The crate is a perfect solution while traveling to the veterinarian or in case of longer travel journeys. This can be a safe space in stressful situations or shelter if your older dog is injured or has some kind of illness.

Sometimes, older dogs aren’t acquainted with crate training because they were not presented to crates all through puppyhood. Some older dogs have separation anxieties and don’t deal with crates well. In the event that your senior isn’t prepared, that is alright!  We’ll tell you the best way to crate train your older dog, so he feels safe and happy there.

  1. Let the dog get to know crate on his own. Put some super comfortable sleeping pad, his favorite toys and, open the door. Give him time to sniff around and get in and out when he wants. Try not to lure him. Just let your dog explore new place freely – his natural instinct and curiosity will surely take him to the desired place.
  2. Another good trick – fill the crate with his favorite treats. The smell of them will help him get used to new place easily. You can stuff the food inside his favorite toys as well.  When you see him coming in and out of it on his own and staying on a comfortable sleeping pad, start closing the door – first for just a few seconds, then gradually extend that time. There you must be wise and make sure that you always open the door before the dog starts scratching it or starts whining, barking, or showing other signs of frustration. When you close the door, be at the end of the crate at first, and then slowly start to get up, make a small circle and come back, go sit on the couch and come back. This is an important part of the habituation process.
  3. Once your dog starts sleeping in the crate, it is a sign of accommodation. Every time he leaves his safe place, give him a little treat. This way, he will develop positive association to his new surroundings. Gradually, you can prolong his time inside the crate, even during the day. Take a closer look at his behavior, if he starts barking or scratching – take him out. You want to listen to his needs, not to put him into prison.
  4. Start associating crate with some name whatever seems convenient to you. So, when your dog heads towards crate, you will associate that entry with the same word. When you are sure that the dog understands what that word means – you will begin to verbalize entering the crate before he decides to enter it.

Hope these tips will be useful to you! Good luck and take care of your loved pet.

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