Wondering how you can crate train an older dog? Check out 3 easy steps that will have even your senior pooch loving his personal space! My oldest dog is 13, going on 2, I swear! He still has the spunk he had when he was younger, the difference is now he’s showing much more gray hair and sometimes his arthritis flares up. Baby has been crate trained for most of his life, I think he’s on his 3rd crate because he likes to chew on them, I blame his half-black lab genetics on it. I’m sure Labrador Retriever owners can understand where I’m coming from.
How to Crate Train an Older Dog
Now crate training an older dog is going to be a little different than training a dog when they are younger, and more stubborn breeds may give you are harder time. Although the experts say that because of their natural denning instincts, it will be the same as training a younger dog. Thus, the ‘experts’ and I must agree to disagree. We searched around and came up with a few ways to help you for when you find yourself in a situation where you need to crate train your older dog be it moving, jobs changing, pet accidents that do happen with older pups, or whatever the reason is, these tips should help make the transition a little easier.
Get the Proper Crate
Crates come in multiple sizes, be sure to get one that your dog will fit in comfortably. To do this, just make sure he or she has enough room to move around, in other words one in which they can sit in, stand in, lie in, and turn around in without touching the sides or top of the crate. Be sure to make it that size only, no bigger because it increases the chance that they will defecate or urinate if they think that they won’t have to lie in it.
As well as sizes, there are different types: wire, or plastic. A plastic crate has a den-like feel to it and is easier to clean since you can just take it apart pretty quick and put it back together just as quick. Wire ones are fine to use as well, since they can be compacted and put away, if needed, but depending on your dog, they may not like them as much. The plastic ones seem to be more popular with people and pets.
Introduction to Their Crate
Many dogs love their crates and they will often go into them at their own free will for a nap, snack, quiet time, or just because. Getting your older dog used the their crate will take some imagination on your part. Making it a game to start off with works great. You want to be sure their interactions with it are positive from the start. Try tossing a treat into the back of it so they go after the treat. Or you could play catch with their favorite toy using the same mindset, let them go get it and bring it back to you from their crate. Also a blanket or something soft for them to lay on is a good idea, especially if they have arthritis flare ups.
Practice the game off and on for a few days, always praise them when they go get their snack or toy, so they know that they’ve done well. Although some dogs are used to where and when to find their food and water dish, it’s okay to try feeding them in their new crate. Showing them that the crate is not a bad thing. If they go in and want to eat inside, it’s fine to shut the door for a few minutes after until they’re done eating and let them know they’re a good dog and the crate is not a punishment. After trying a few of these ideas, they may go into their crate without a problem, knowing that it truly isn’t a bad place.
Limit Crate Times
We may be able to hold our potty times for a while, but not all dogs can so be careful to not crate him any longer than he will need to go to the bathroom. Every living being needs potty breaks so don’t expect him to hold it too long, this can cause serious issues that can become dangerous to their health. Especially in older dogs, they normally have to ‘go out’ sooner than younger and healthier dogs. Be sure to schedule those times for your pup.
Additionally, never ever leave them in their crate all day long when you’re home, they need to exercise, get attention, and spend time with their human families. After all, they are our babies and mistreatment is abusive and neglectful.
Hopefully these few tips will help you with training your older dog, or any of your dogs for their crates. Make it a fun place to be for them, not a punishment by any means. It’s likely, they will enjoy being in their own ‘space’ when approached with the idea.