When it comes to crate training for older dogs the how’s and why’s are often much the same as for puppies. Yet it is not the first thought that comes to mind for many pet owners of older canines.
When most folks think of older dogs their perception may be that the dog has outgrown any unwanted puppy behaviors and should be settled into a more balanced way of life. However, such is not always the case.
Why would your dog need to be crate trained?
There are a variety of reasons a dog of any age should be crate trained.
Containment in hotels or friends homes
Can serve as a doghouse or den
Protection for the dog from dangerous situations or household items
Prevention of damage to items around the house
Reduction of anxiety to a variety of stimuli
House-training – probably the number one reason for most pet owners
For the above reasons and others it is important if not critical for your dog to get accustomed to and comfortable with its crate, and that is the purpose of crate training.
The Concept of Crate Training.
From a dogs point of view, being that they are animals with den instincts, a crate is a good thing. To them it offers comfort, safety, and a sense of security. Therefore, the crate should never, under any circumstances be used as a form of punishment.
Crate training can be a rather speedy process and an easy one as long as you are committed to the training.
So a quick checklist to get you started.
1. Your Crate Location.
Some things to consider when choosing where to put your crate would be:
A quiet corner of a room
A room where family members spend a lot of time
and where the dog can see everyone and not be in total isolation.
A location free of drafts and not to close to heat sources.
Ideally, the crate serves as a safe haven, from which the dog can come and go as it pleases, (so door should be left open) and it can have a comfortable viewpoint of what’s going on around it.
2. Choosing a Crate.
Crates come in a variety of sizes, types and qualities.
The two most common are:
Closed crates – good for travel and some are advertised as being “airline approved”.
Wire Crates – preferred by many trainers for their open and airy feel. A blanket over the wired crate can create the effect of a closed crate if needed. Most wire crates have a removable pan that serves as a floor and makes cleaning easier. Some are collapsible making transport more convenient as well.
The bars of a wire crate should be no more than 2 inches apart and should be well designed, solid, and secure.
An adult dog should be able to sit up in its’ crate without bumping it head on the ceiling. There should also be ample room to stand up and turn around.
3. The Method.
Make the crate inviting by placing a toy or two, a treat and bedding inside. You can also place a water dish and keep it full. Allow your dog to investigate outside the crate for a while. If it enters on its own, give lots of praise. If the dog doesn’t go in, you can use treats to entice him/her to go in. Once it has been in and out a few times, you can close the door for a minute or two while they are inside and gradually increase the time. If you are training for housebreaking then take the dog outside whenever you remove it from the crate to allow and encourage going to potty outside.
Note: if you are going to leave your dog crated for an extended period, it’s always a good idea to remove its collar, they can become caught on part of the crate and cause harm.
Without the proper training some dogs may tend to soil their crate, resulting in a dog that learns to be dirty. Perhaps you have adopted an older dog that was never crate trained or given a dog originally purchased from a pet shop or puppy mill in which case the dog has had a lifetime of unwanted learned behavior. In such instances crate training for older dogs will take extra time and patience to implement.
I hope that you find these crate training ideas and thoughts to be helpful and remember any dog of any age can be easily trained using proper techniques and patience, persistence and lots of praise.