Crate training a dog can be a great way to house train them and ensure that they have a safe place to go when you’re not able to supervise them. It’s helpful to start crate training as soon as possible, but is it ever too late to crate train a dog?
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what happens when you crate train a dog later in life and what you can do to make the process easier.
When Is It Too Late to Crate Train a Dog?
Technically, you can crate train your dog at any age. It’s a myth that only young puppies can be successfully crate trained. When done correctly, crate training can provide a safe, comfortable space for your dog to relax in and call its own.
That being said, crate training an older dog can be more challenging than crate training a puppy. Puppies are more likely to accept the crate as their new home because they haven’t had the opportunity to develop strong attachments to their environment yet.
There are also other factors to consider when crate training an older dog. For example, if your dog has developed extreme separation anxiety, crate training may not be the best solution for them.
Can a Dog Be Too Old to Crate Train?
The psychology and temperament of your dog depend more than its age when it comes to crate training. A dog who is already comfortable in small spaces and used to being alone may have an easier time transitioning to a crate than a dog who has always had free roam of the house.
A dog’s health may also affect how well they take to being crated. If your dog has arthritis or another condition that makes it painful for them to lie down, they may not enjoy being in a crate that isn’t prepared properly with bedding and pillows for their comfort.
When in doubt, always consult with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to see if crate training is the right solution for your dog’s needs.
How to Crate Train an Older Dog?
If you’ve decided that crate training is the right choice for your older dog, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
1. Get Your Dog Used to the Crate
The first step to crate training an older dog is to let your pup get used to the crate and to create positive associations with it. This means that every time your dog goes near the crate, it shouldn’t feel forced and should come at it with curiosity.
Put the crate nearby while you’re doing other activities so that your dog can see it and get used to its presence. This could be in the living room, bedroom, or kitchen. Leave it in the area for a few days so that your dog can get used to it before taking the next step.
2. Start to Incentivise your Dog to Enter the Crate
Once your dog is comfortable with the crate’s presence, you can start to incentivize them to enter it. Start by feeding your dog next to the crate for a few days. They may feel uncomfortable at first, but eventually won’t mind it being right next to them.
Once your dog is comfortable with your dog eating next to the crate, you can put the bowl inside the crate. Leave the door open and let your pup come and go and graze on their food.
After this step has gone smoothly, you can start to close the gate while your dog is eating its food inside of the crate. The length of time will depend on your dog’s comfort level, but start with just a few seconds and work your way up from there.
If you have any trouble along the way or your dog seems to be getting stressed, take a step back and give them more time to adjust. Remember that crate training should be a positive experience for your dog!
3. Add Treats to the Crate
In addition to their regular meals, you can start to add treats to the crate to further incentivize your dog to enter. At first, put the treat at the front of the crate so that they have to step inside to get it. Once they’re comfortable with that, you can start putting the treat further back so that they have to go all the way in.
You can also use toys as a treat! If your dog loves to play fetch, put their favorite toy in the crate and let them know that they can go in and get it. This is a great way to make the crate a positive space for your dog.
4. Add Comfortable Bedding to the Crate
Once your dog is used to going in and out of the crate, you can start to add comfortable bedding. This will make it a more inviting space for your dog and help them to see it as a safe place to relax.
Start with something that can create a soft floor in the crate, especially if your dog has arthritis or another condition that affects their joints.
A dog bed is a great option, but you can also use blankets, towels, or pillows. If you’re using more than one layer, make sure that the top layer is easily washable in case of accidents.
You can also add a toy or two to the crate for your dog to play with. This will help to keep them occupied and make the crate a more enjoyable space for them.
5. Keep Increasing Time in the Crate
Once your dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate, you can start to increase the amount of time they spend in it. Start with short periods of time, such as a few minutes, and work your way up from there.
If you’re going to be gone for more than a few hours, make sure to give your dog a potty break before putting it in the crate. You may also want to consider hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to doggy daycare to avoid leaving them in the crate for long periods of time.
A pet camera is a great way to keep an eye on your pup while you’re away and give them some extra attention. This can help to ease any separation anxiety they may be feeling.
6. Discuss Any Issues With Your Vet
If your dog is having trouble adjusting to the crate, or if it seems to be stressed while in it, make sure to discuss this with your veterinarian. They can help you troubleshoot any issues and come up with a plan that will work for both you and your dog.