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How To Crate Train An Older, Adult or Rescue Dog

Crate training can be a fantastic way to improve the behaviour of adult dogs, whether they are an untrained rescue or simply an unruly hound. You might have recently adopted a rescue dog that hasn’t been properly house trained, or you might be going away on holiday and need something safe for your dog to travel in. You might even want to eliminate destructive behaviour that your dog has recently developed. Whatever your reason, here you can find out how to crate train an older dog.

If you haven't yet read how to choose the correct size dog crate, we've created a page just for that. You will need to use our dog directory to find out the average height or your dog’s breed to help you decide what size crate to buy. Available on our website, we offer two types of dog crate: the Fido Studio Dog Crate, a stationary unit designed like a piece of contemporary furniture, and the Fido Classic, a secure crate that can be used on-the-go, too.

Dog crates not only make training easier, but make taking your pets in the car a safer experience

Introducing An Older Dog To His New Dog Crate - Taking It Slowly

When crate training an older dog, one of the most important things to remember is that this process will take time. If your dog is ever scared, or feels forced to go into his crate, you will really struggle to train him. The key is to try to encourage your pet to have some really positive emotions about being in the crate. You can do this by making sure they have fun in there! Use it as the one place where you reward your dog with treats, and offer him his food inside the crate to make him feel at ease. Make his little ‘den’ comfortable with plenty of soft bedding, and put it in an area of the house that gets a lot of attention. Eventually you will be able to invite your dog into his crate when you want him to calm down after a long walk or just before bedtime.

Introducing Your Dog To His New Crate

Step One

Begin by tempting your older dog into his crate with a delicious treat and lots of praise. Make sure that you fuss him once he is inside so that he feels at ease. If your dog seems scared or anxious, reassure him with a soft voice until he calms down. After only a couple of minutes of being in the crate, invite your dog back outside. It is always best to start with only small intervals as you slowly work up to the end goal of keeping your dog in his crate overnight. When your dog comes out to you, give him lots of praise but don’t give him a treat - treats should only be given when your dog is inside the crate. Repeat step one until your dog is comfortable going in and out of his crate without getting frightened or apprehensive.

Step Two

When you feel that your dog is comfortable enough being inside his crate with the door open you can begin to close it. Invite your dog into his crate and then close the door for 30 seconds. It can be a good idea to give your dog a chew toy or even a large marrow bone. This might encourage them to stay in their crate for longer than you expected. Stay in sight to reassure him that he can get out if he gets frightened, and after the 30 seconds are up (or longer if your dog is preoccupied with a chew toy) open the crate door and invite him into your arms. If your dog gets at all worried whilst he is in his crate try calming him down by talking to him in a soft voice. If this doesn’t help, open the door, invite him out and then go back to step one.

Step Three

Repeat step two whilst gradually increasing how long you leave your dog in his crate for. Always stay with him and praise him when you open the door to invite him out. It may take some time but if you can stick to this routine eventually your dog will learn to love his crate. He may even begin to use his crate on his own accord if you make it a place that he enjoys.

Training An Older Dog To Sleep In A Dog Crate At Night

The best way to get your older dog sleeping in his crate at night is to make him feel as comfortable inside it as possible. Your dog will soon love his new den as long as it’s warm and enjoyable. Place a soft blanket inside and only give treats when your dog is in his crate to reinforce the positive association.

Step One

Before you start crate training it is really important that you exercise your dog. Tire him out by playing with his favourite toys, and make sure that he has used up all of his excess energy. If you invite your dog into his crate to rest and he still has lots of energy, you will find it very difficult to get him to settle.

Step Two

Once your dog has used up all of his energy, tempt him into his crate with a treat. Once he is inside the crate fuss him and give him lots of praise. If your dog is not entirely comfortable yet you don’t need to close the door. Sit with him until he has calmed and settled and then reward him with a treat. If you have tired your dog out enough he was want to have a little snooze. When he falls asleep close the door behind him and watch over him until he wakes up.

Step Three

The next thing to do is to try extending the length of time that your dog is in the crate for. Start with an hour. If you dog wakes up before the hour is up, sit with him until he nods off again. As soon as he falls back asleep quietly close the door and supervise him until he wakes up. If he decides that he doesn’t want to go back to sleep, invite him out of the crate and next time make sure that you have really tired him out before you start.

Step Four

Keep extending how long you keep your dog in his crate for until he can rest quietly for a few hours. Once he is at this stage he should be ready to stay in his crate overnight, but remember- persistence and repetition is key. As long as you make your dog’s experience of being in his crate relaxing and enjoyable, he will soon be confident using it on his own accord.

Watch this video about crate training an older dog!

Crate training an older dog

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