Crate Training An Older Dog Doesn't Have To Be Hard

Beautiful Shih Tzu dog sitting on a bench

There may be a time when you may find yourself crate training an older dog.

It may be because you’re moving a great distance and have to confine him for the journey, or perhaps your old dog has begun exhibiting undesirable behaviors and can’t be left unattended when you’re not at home.

Or it simply may be because you want to crate him after surgery to prevent damage during the healing process.

Whatever the reason, crate training an older dog is do-able.

First Step:  Have Patience and Take Your Time

Ideally, you will go slowly with your older dog.

It’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but if you try to force the training, or go too fast, you could cause your dog to panic.

If that happens, the best case scenario is that you’ll have to start all over again, even more slowly.

The worst case is that your dog could injure himself, or be so frightened that you’ll never be able to train him.

Once you break your dog’s trust, it can be difficult to get it back. Sometimes, it’s even impossible.

When Crate Training an Older Dog, Comfort is Important

You really should want to make your dog as comfortable as you can in his crate.

Assuming he’s not prone to chewing, some bedding will make the crate a more pleasant place to be.

A blanket might be too hot for a long-haired dog, so you could be better off with a nice, soft pad.

If your dog is comfortable in the crate, he’ll be more willing to spend time inside it.

Mature Shih Tzu standing tall

Don’t Forget the Treats

Once you’ve selected your bedding and made it nice and comfy, you can begin crate training your dog.

Put a few of his favorite treats in the crate, and leave the door open. If it’s something he really loves, he’ll likely go in and investigate eventually.

Just give him a bit of time.

Once he’s accustomed to taking treats in the crate, you can begin offering regular meals inside it.

You always want to make crate training an adult dog as pleasant as possible.

Your dog should get the idea that good things happen inside his crate.

Never force him inside, and never make him stay inside for too long.

dog gazing up, patiently waiting on his owner

How Long Is Too Long?

That depends on your dog.

As soon as he is comfortable with being in the crate with the door open, you can start closing it for short periods.

Then experiment with leaving the room briefly.

Gradually, you can leave for longer periods, but be very careful not to do too much too soon.

You don’t want to have to go back to square one and start rebuilding his trust all over again. 

Keep in mind that no dog should be left in a crate for any longer than eight hours. 

It could be less if your dog is the sort that needs to empty his bowels and bladder frequently.

Other Options

In most cases, crate training an older dog is achievable. However, if for some reason your dog simply can’t tolerate being crated, there are other options.

For instance, if you’re on a trip, you could consider one of the many pet-restraining devices that are available.

At home, you could use a baby gate to restrict your dog’s access to certain areas of the house.

You should, of course, see your vet for a checkup if the need for crating is due to a sudden change in bathroom habits or destructive behavior.

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› Crating Older Dog

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