Crate Training an Older Dog
Crate training is not an option in my house and that ideal started when I was 18 and living in Wyoming. I had just gotten my first dog, a 9-month old male show Rottweiler and though I had heard of crate training, there was not a crate to be found in my small town.
My dog broke 3 windows, and swallowed 3 batteries before I became a believer. I had the normal reservations at first, not wanting to cage my new dog but mostly crates were simply unavailable to me at that time. Instead of continuing to risk my dog’s life, I ordered a crate from a mail order catalog and I have never turned back.
I have no doubts that, that crate saved my dog’s life and helped him to live to a ripe old age, without it he would have leaped out of another window and gotten hit by a car or he would have ingested something toxic.
Why Crate Training Older Dogs Is Necessary
Crates are essential and they keep dogs safe and content. Crates allow you to travel with your dog and they are fundamental to house breaking an older dog. They also allow us owners to get a break from the constant supervision that comes with having a new dog in the family.
With appropriate and consistent crate training, your dog’s crate will become his home within his home, his safe haven and his happy place.
Crate training an older dog may be slightly more difficult than crate training a puppy, but it still fairly easy if you employ the right tactics. Some dogs have had negative associations with crates in the past, and some simply have never seen a crate but most dogs are crate-able and benefit from crate training.
House Breaking An Older Dog
First select a crate that is an appropriate size. Crates need to be large enough for an adult dog to comfortably stand up, turn around and move freely.
Next, determine which type of crate you would like to utilize. Crates come in all shapes and sizes, from plastic crates that are darker inside to wire crates that allow the dog to see more, even steel or aluminum crates that are impossible to break out of and often used for police and working dogs. Most often I have found that dogs prefer the darker environment of a plastic crate.
Dogs go into their crates to chill out and take naps, and the darker crate is more conducive to leaving the cares of the world behind. Fearful dogs often dislike wire crates because they feel trapped while being visually over stimulated by the outside world.
Next it is time to acclimate your dog to his crate in a positive way. I usually just put half of the crate on the floor or take the door off, while I toss in treats and make it a fun place. Crate games are also critically important to make the new environment fun and favorable for happiness!
Once your dog is feeling great about his crate it is time to get him on a crate training schedule. Dogs prefer predictability, they thrive on a schedule. I always schedule times throughout the day, even when I am home to work on the essentials of crate training and play crate games. The most important aspect about crate training is making and keeping it fun!
Not all older dogs are housebroken, as a matter of fact the majority of dogs in a shelter have not been appropriately house trained. Housebreaking an older dog becomes much easier with the utilization of a crate and good crate training principles.
Adult dogs already have the ability to hold their bladder for longer periods of time than most puppies, so housebreaking an adult dog using crate training can actually be easier than housebreaking a puppy, it is all about teaching them where it is appropriate to urinate and defecate, and utilizing the tools that can help you with the process! Crate training an older dog can be done and you will be glad you did!