Choosing to crate train your dog can be a benefit for both of you. Crate training an older dog comes with its own set of challenges, but it’s far from impossible. Keep these tips for how to crate train an older dog in mind.
How to Crate Train an Older Dog - 4 Essential Tips
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Can a Dog Be Too Old to Crate Train?
Contrary to the popular phrase, old dogs can learn new tricks. A dog is never too old to learn something new, and crate training is completely possible for dogs of any age to master. Don’t worry if you adopted your dog at an older age or never got around to crate training them as a puppy. You can still reach crate training success with your older dog.
Tips for Crate Training an Older Dog
An older dog can without a doubt be crate trained. In fact, any prior training they have can be helpful in teaching them a new skill. Your older dog will be most comfortable in a crate when they get the correct training right off the bat.
1. Choose the Right Crate for Your Dog
The first step in crate training is choosing the right crate for your dog. The goal is for the crate to be a useful, comfortable place that your dog will want to return to. Crate should be big enough for your dog to be able to lay down and turn around comfortably, so consider your dog’s size and how much room they’ll need to spread out when choosing a crate.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement is key in crate training an older dog. This strategy is used to encourage your dog to learn new skills, including mastering crate training. It uses a reward as an incentive and a way to communicate to your dog that they’re doing a good job and performing the desired task or behavior. A reward like a treat or extra enthusiastic verbal praise will make your dog more likely to repeat the behavior with ease.
3. Slowly Build Duration
When crate training your dog it’s important to start off with short periods of time, and slowly increase them as your dog becomes more comfortable. Begin by having your dog in the crate for only about five to ten minutes at a time, and try to wait for them to become calm before ending the crate session. Letting them out while barking or crying reinforces that doing those things will get them out of the crate.
4. Add a Verbal Command
Once your dog starts to get the idea of what the crate is for, start adding a verbal command along with showing them to the crate. They’ll start to associate a phrase like “crate” or “kennel” with what they’re supposed to do. Eventually you’ll be able to give only the verbal command, and hopefully your dog will happily head right over to their crate.
How Long Does it Take to Crate Train an Older Dog?
It is true that the younger they begin crate training the better, and adult dogs who have never been crate trained take the longest. Typically, mature dogs can be crate trained within two to three months.
The length of time it takes to crate train an older dog depends on a few different factors. Of course their age is a consideration, but things like what other types of dog training they’ve received in the past and their history are also important.
Rescue dogs may take even longer than other adopted dogs because of possible experiences in shelters or with previous owners. It’s important to be patient and meet your dog where they’re at to make sure crate training is a positive experience.
How to Manage a Dog that is Whining in Their Crate
Your dog whining in their crate may be an inevitable part of crate training at first, but it’s important to try to nip it in the bud. Don’t encourage undesired behavior from your dog by giving them attention or immediately letting them out of their crate. Instead, try to remain calm and avoid eye contact, and wait for your dog to settle for at least a couple of minutes before letting them out of the crate. If your dog is struggling with the increased crate time during training, go back to shorter periods and make sure they can master that first.
Learn Crate Training and More with Pettable Academy
Looking for expert advice to crate train your older dog? Whether you’re crate training a mature dog or a puppy, Pettable Academy’s online dog training courses are designed to help you and your dog reach training success. Our certified trainers work hard to provide you with the best resources for training your dog at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.