Old Dogs in New Crates
Dogs can benefit from having a crate, no matter their age. Puppies can learn quickly to love their bed and crate. Older dogs need more time to get used to having a home within your home.
Having a dog entails a long term relationship, with the obvious benefits of a pet’s lifetime of love. Sometimes life throws you changes and forces “old dogs” to learn new tricks. Even if you have never thought of the benefits of using a crate, both you and your dog can learn to love them.
Why would I need a dog crate?
There are many situations where a quality dog crate is the solution to a pet owner’s needs. Let’s say your older dog develops destructive habits when left alone. Or maybe you are planning a vacation and need to board your pet. Maybe you want to take the dog with you and train it for air travel. The most common situation is when you rescue or adopt a new pet and need a crate for the new member of the family.
A basic instinct for every dog is to want a den. Since dogs sleep more than 12 hours every day, they are always looking for a small, dark, quiet place to curl up. Working with their inborn instinct, your patience and a plan every old dog can learn to love their crate and bed.
- Soft crates are made of canvas and mesh and used primarily for travel. So are the smaller plastic crates.
- Wire and aluminum crates are the most common crates. All are strong and even the heavy duty versions are lightweight.
The crate has to be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around and then lie down. Your dog should be able to stretch out. You don’t want the space too large but need to fit in their dog bed along with a spot for food and water.
Every crate must become a safe, secure place for your pet to call their own.
- Put a blanket or towel over the crate to make it dark and more inviting for a nap.
- Place the crate where your dog eats. This is already “their space” and introducing the crate into that setting will help it gain acceptance.
- Remove the crate’s door at the beginning of training.
- Place your dog’s food and water inside of the crate, with enough room for your pet to eat comfortably.
- After a few days reattach the door and begin to close it while the dog eats.
- Open it right after it has finished eating.
- After each meal, extend the time the crate’s door is closed.
- If your pet is not showing any stress, fear or anxiety you can slowly extend the time your dog stays inside the crate, while you are home.
- Put your pet’s favorite toys inside the crate.
- Entice your pet to enter and exit the crate with gentle commands, treats and playful behavior.
Make the crate more like a home and never like a prison. Get your dog a good bed and move it into the crate. The orthopedic dog beds are made with memory foam. A solid construction can offer health benefits, preventing skeletal and joint issues. Besides, you want your dog to be more comfortable in their bed than on your furniture.
Every dog is different. Learning to love their crate may take somewhere between two weeks and never, based on the dog’s age, physical condition and life experiences.
Keys to success involve determination, perseverance and empathy. Make every effort to make your crated dog comfortable and secure, not stressed out on separation anxiety.
Slowly increase the hours your pet stays in a crate. Never exceed eight hours. Sleeping through the entire night is desirable but your pet’s bladder and bowels can only stand so much. Nature calls, especially in older dogs due to medications or their medical history.
If you find your dog calls you with a whine or a cry, it is likely that you progressed too quickly and need to slow down the process. First make sure they are not calling you for bathroom break.
If the whining is persistent and emotionally driven, go and reassure them that all is safe and secure. Be sure to have them stay in their crate. Once the whining has stopped, let them out of the crate for a bit. Then coax them back inside with treats or toys.
When you are ready to leave your home and have your pet stay in the crate, make your departure unemotional and quick.
- Call your dog over and praise it.
- Give it a treat when it enters the crate.
When you get home, keep your entrance low key. Be calm to suppress their instinct to be over excited on your return.
Old dogs in new crates is more than possible. With training and proper care, you and your pet will be happier for it.