It is safe to say that most adult dogs have already been crate trained. But if, for some reason, you find yourself owning an older dog that hasn’t been crate trained yet, don’t despair. The belief that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” isn’t necessarily true. Though they may require a lot of time and patience, there ARE effective methods for crate training an older dog. Here are some tips and suggestions:

Exercise – It will be to your greatest advantage if you tire your dog out by exercising him outside before letting him enter his crate. The time allotted for exercise will also allow him to go potty before he enters the house. One very important thing to remember is to keep your dog on a leash for the first few days, as he is still adjusting to his new surroundings and may bolt if allowed to roam free.

Start Immediately – Some people think that crate training an older dog (or any dog, for that matter) is mean, but this is actually beneficial both for you and your dog. A crate provides your dog with safe haven where he can feel most comfortable and truly at home. Even when left to their own devices, dogs would naturally gravitate to a secluded, crate-like area and use this as his den. Here’s how to encourage your dog to use his crate:

  • Get the crate ready even before you bring the dog home. Give it an inviting atmosphere by placing a soft pillow, a pad, a towel, and some interesting toys inside.
  • Don’t force your dog to enter the crate immediately. Give him some time to study it and decide that it is safe for him to enter. When he does enter the crate, lavish him with praise and give him a treat.
  • The first time your dog enters the crate, leave the door open and allow him to come out whenever he wants.
  • Repeat this procedure for about five times before closing the door of the crate with your dog inside.

When you finally close the crate door with your dog inside, do not leave his side immediately. He has to understand that being confined is a positive experience and that you are not confining him just so you could abandon him. Stay with your dog for about an hour before leaving. You should also use a loving tone of voice whenever you give the command for your dog to enter his crate.

Above all, always adopt a positive attitude towards crate training an older dog. Take care not to associate the crate with punishment or with any negative experience. After all, the crate is supposed to be your dog’s safe haven, so it should only have positive associations. As with any other aspect of your dog’s training, teaching your dog what to do is always more effective and a lot easier than pointing out what he shouldn’t do. Remember, crate training an older dog may require a lot of time and patience, but it CAN be done.

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