If you have just adopted a senior dog, or maybe you simply want to limit where your pooch goes in your house, it doesn't hurt to crate train them. This can be a good thing for many other reasons, such as an emergency Veterinarian visit where he or she may have to stay overnight, or if you plan to go on vacation and wish to leave them at a kennel, or even if you bring FIDO with you, many pet friendly hotels will want your dog crated for the times you are not there.
There is always good reason to train them. If they have never used a crate before, then allow yourself plenty of time to get them used to it.
Purchase a Crate that is the Right Size for Them
This first step is one of the most important. If you undersize it, your pet will feel trapped and will not be able to lay down comfortably. Make sure it is big enough to house your dog for hours at a time. This will be their second home when you are not around, make sure there is enough room for stretching out, or they may panic and you will never get them in it again.
Make Sure it Has a Base
Don't just use a fenced area on the floor, make sure the crate is one piece and has a floor in it. This keeps the framework strong.
Find an area that your dog stays in most, such as the living area or kitchen or porch or wherever he is most at ease. Set up the crate and then place a favourite blanket inside or toy and a treat at the back of the unit.
Step TWO - Show Him
Show it to him, but don't force him in it. Leave the door wide open and carry on about your business and day. Don't stare at him or make any sudden noises if he goes in. Let him explore. He will explore because dogs are naturally curious. If he gets right in and finds the treat he may bring the treat out to eat as he is still unsure, but don't lose patience.
Leave the crate as part of the room for at least 4-5 days or a week if you can allow the time. He will now be used to seeing it around and realize that some of his favourite things are inside, and may lay in there. Don't close the door just yet.
Step THREE - Feed Dinner in Crate
If you dog is still not that interested in hanging out in there, the next step is to feed him his dinner in bowls towards the back of the crate. I actually began to feed my dogs in their crates after a while. It was a great way to make sure they both ate their own meals and kept the mess to a minimum. I would say "go to your homes" and they would go there and get inside and eat.
Step Four - Something Soft
You could at this point purchase a soft pad for the bottom of the crate, that will entice him to lay down especially if they are used to a doggy bed. A doggy bed might be too bulky in there, so look at purchasing a crate pad instead.
Once your pooch has become quite comfy with this crate in his life, he may already be stretched out on the new comfy pad you purchased, when you see that he is relaxed, pet him in the crate then gently close the door. Don't make a fuss, just do it gently and leave him in there.
Give him 15 minutes in the crate with the door closed, and then simply open it. Keep doing this for longer stretches of time. Once he feels comfy in his new cave, he will get used to the door being closed. Make sure you give him things to do.
Step SIX - Leave the Room and Leave an Interactive Toy
Now try leaving him in the crate in the room alone for at least 15 minutes. Go outside if you can and try to listen. Make sure before you head outside and he has an interactive toy to play with to keep him busy. These are toys with treats or kibble inside that your dog has to work at to get the treat. Many older dogs may not chew on rawhide or bones the same way anymore, but they do like these interactive treats
These toys are perfect for keeping the senior pet busy and engaged. They will have something to do while in the crate. I know my older dog is no longer interested in toys that just lay there, she needs some stimulation. This is a great toy for crate training senior dogs.
Get into the habit of using the crate. Don't ever use it for punishment, just a safe place to be when you want to protect them from their environment, or control their living area. Give it a name they will recognize. I called it their "home". I would say get in your homes, and they would do so.
Give yourself a good few weeks for your older dog to get used to this. Each poochie is obviously different, but if you approach this with a calm and relaxed attitude, so will they. A soft pad for their older bones and some new interactive toys will definitely help with crate training a senior dog. Allow as much time as it takes, they have years of habits under their belts! This is simply something new to add to the routine. Ease in gently.
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