Crate Training an Older Dog

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 10/21/21 •  6 min read
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Crate Training an Older Dog

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Most pet parents are very familiar with crate training for puppies. But what about older dogs? Is there ever a time when it’s necessary to crate train an older dog? Is it even possible to crate train an older dog?

These are some of the questions we’ll deal with in this article, as well as crate training tips for older dogs. Let’s get started!

Why Would It Be Necessary to Crate Train an Older Dog?

Crate training has a good reputation with some pet parents, while others view it as a negative way to treat a dog. So, why on earth would it be necessary to crate train an older dog?

There are several reasons you may want to consider or need to crate train an older dog, including:

These are some of the main reasons to crate train an older dog. A crate is usually a very safe place for a dog in these instances. That can include traveling in the car. Dogs in a car, who are not restrained, can be hurtled through the windshield, out a window, etc., in an accident. However, pets have survived accidents in their crates.

We, your dog, may not actually be wary of a crate. It will be something new for him definitely. But he may not share the negative feelings you may have about the crate.

Is it Really Possible to Crate Train an Older Dog?

There’s the old saying that “ you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Is it really true? Many people believe this saying; however, it’s not true. It is possible to teach older dogs new things! While it may take longer to teach an older dog, that’s OK. They’re not young pups anymore, so naturally, you may need to take more time to teach your dog to stay in his crate. However, we guarantee your old dog can still learn new things!

You’ll definitely need to have some patience when crate training your dog. Just stay calm and don’t stress over this process. This way, your dog won’t pick up any negative feelings from you about the crate. Staying calm will help him more easily accept the whole training process, as well as the crate.

What’s more, your older canine companion may really like the idea of having his own space. Some dogs love having a snug place to get cozy. Don’t forget that canines usually do create a den when they have puppies. A crate can be made into your dog’s den if you make it comfortable for him. 

Do You Need a Bed in the Crate?

This question goes back to the fact that dogs feel pretty comfortable in a den. So, it would make sense that the cozier the crate is, the more your dog may like it. Adding a bed, especially for an older dog, will also relieve the achy, sore joints that some senior dogs have.

Before you invest in a bed for the crate, make sure you get a crate that’s the right size for your dog. Your dog should be able to easily stand up, turn around, and lay down without any problem.

In order to find a crate the right size, it’s best to measure your dog. You’ll take your dog’s measurements and then match these to the crate’s dimensions. You’ll need to measure your dog’s length and his height. To measure his length, measure your dog from his nose to his tail. For his height, measure your dog from the top of his head to the ground. For dogs that have erect ears, you’ll need to measure from the top of the dog’s ears to the ground.

Now that you have the measurements add four inches to both the length and height. This will ensure you find a crate that’s has enough space for your dog to lay down and turn around.

How to create Train Your Dog

Now that you have a crate that’s the right size, you’re ready to start training your older dog! Follow the steps below to help your fur baby become used to his crate:

1). Place the crate in an area where you and your family spend a lot of time. Once you’ve chosen the room, then prepare the crate by inserting the bed and bedding to make your dog comfortable.

2). Be sure to get rid of any negative feelings you may have about crates. If you don’t, your dog will pick up on those feelings and resist your training efforts.

3). You may want to consider giving your dog a little exercise before you start the training. This way, he’ll be more tired and relaxed.

4). Begin by making this a positive experience. You can do this by placing your dog’s favorite treats or a favorite toy in the opening of the crate. When your dog goes near the crate entrance to get a toy or eat a treat, then give him lots of praise.

5). Once your canine companion is comfortable being near the crate entrance, try to place his treats/toy inside. When he goes into the crate, praise him but don’t yet close the door. Let him come out if he wants.

6). Over time, your dog may decide to lay down inside the crate. This a good sign! You may then close the door, but only for a few seconds. Then open it and let him out if he wants. This way, your fur baby will see that you will let him out again. Repeat this process and increase the time a few seconds until your dog stays in the create for a few minutes. It’s a good idea to slowly work up to an hour or more. However, never leave your dog in the crate for long hours. He will learn to hate it this way.

At any time during the process, if your dog becomes uncomfortable or stressed, then stop the training. Let him out and take a break. Remember this process will need to be repeated for some time. It will take some dogs longer to accept the crate than others.

Just be patient and keep working with your dog. He will eventually become adjusted to being in the crate!

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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