Older Dog Crate Training
dog training

Older Dog Crate Training

Dog crate training should ideally start when the dog is still a small puppy, since it is natural for the young pup to stay in its den. It is however possible to gently crate train older dogs as well. Just keep in mind that an older dog might need a little bit more training before it fully accepts the dog crate as its den and stop seeing it as being locked in and alone.

There are many reasons for older dog crate training. Dog owners who take care of older dogs, e.g. from a shelter, never get any chance to crate train it as a puppy. New living circumstance can also make older dog crate training necessary, the dog owner might for instance move from a home with a fenced backyard to a city apartment. It is also quite common for dog owners to realise the benefits of dog crate training quite late, when the dog is 6 month or older.

Many dog owners do not think about crate training while the dog is still a small puppy, because the small puppy is never left alone at home for more than an instance. When they start training their dog to be home alone, they realise that puppy crate training would have been a really good thing to do – but now the dog is already quite old. It is however possible to do older dog crate training and train your dog to be alone simultaneously. The trick is to make the older dog feel really safe and secure in its crate. The crate should be its den, a place where it can retreat and rest. When you start leaving a dog home alone, it typically feels insecure and uncomfortable. A good den can help preventing this feeling and relieve anxiety.

Older dog crate training must be a gradual process and it should not be hastened. If the dog starts associating the dog crate with unpleasant feelings, the dog crate will not help alleviate anxiety when the dog is left alone –  it will in fact worsen it, because the dog will feel abandoned and locked up.

Start the older dog crate training by training the dog to be in the crate while you are at home. Give the dog plenty of positive attention while it is inside it dog crate; it is important very that the older dog does not feel abandoned. Ideally start the older dog crate training by making the dog curious about the dog crate. You can for instance play with the dog and then suddenly toss the toy into the corner of the dog crate. The gate to the dog crate must be opened and you should ideally secure it so that it can not slam shut. If the gate accidentally shuts and make a lot of noise while the dog is in the dog crate, it will scare the dog and most likely also create a feeling of entrapment. 

When your dog enters the crate in search of the toy, you must give your dog a lot of praise and perhaps even a small treat. You should not try to make the dog stay inside the dog crate unless it wants to; leave the door open and do not block the exit in any way. Repeat this exercise several times over the course of a few days. When the dog is more familiar with the dog crate, you can proceed to the next step of older dog crate training. Coax your dog to lie down and rest inside the dog crate. You can for instance use a treat or his favourite chewing bone. Gently shut the door without making a lot of commotion and stay outside the crate where your dog can see you. The next step in older dog crate training involves leaving your dog alone in the room inside the crate. Do not reward barking, whining etcetera by giving your dog attention. Wait until the dog becomes silent, then return and give it a lot of praise and a small treat. You can then gradually increase your dogs’ time alone, from just a few minutes to 15 minutes, 30 minutes and so on.

Dog Crate Training Articles

Adult Dog Crate Training - An article about how to crate train adult dogs.
Puppy Dog Crate Training - An article about how to crate train puppy dogs
Separation Anxiety Dog Crate Training - Information and tips about how to crate train a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety.