Crate Training the Older Dog

If you are adopting or just recently adopted a dog that is approximately a year old or older, it is probable that you have very little information about their life before your paths crossed.

The less importance you place on their past life and the more you focus on your relationship with each other, the better. Dogs have the ability to adapt relatively quickly to new environments as long as you are providing consistency and structure in their lives. Creating structure in a dog’s life involves giving the dog expected outcomes to the way they interact with their environment.

Crate training helps dog owners provide consistency and structure by managing the dog’s environment. This process is done in order to create a well-balanced dog that exhibits exemplary house manners in the future.

Unfortunately, many newly adopted dogs dislike being confined in the crate initially. This discontent with being crated is usually due to past negative experiences many rescued dogs had to endure.

If your dog was previously a stray, their first experience with the crate or kennel run at the shelter was probably quite shocking.

If your dog was an owner surrender dog, then you can imagine how upset the dog must have been with being confined in the shelter while their previous owner walked out of the building.

Your new dog begins their new life when you bring them home and begin bonding with them. Dogs need love and companionship, but they also need structure in their lives.

Crate training a newly adopted dog helps give the dog structure and should begin right away. If the dog is over one year in age, there is a good chance that you may not have to crate them when you leave the home in the near future. However, you really have no way of knowing how they would act inside the home without supervision and this is where a crate becomes very useful.

Many rescue dogs have been through a lot before you decided to bring them into your home. It is very common that your new dog will become distressed initially when being confined. Depending on the level of anxiety your dog exhibits when they are confined, you may find it helpful to sleep close to them the first few nights while you begin crate training during the day.

It is crucial that you begin the crate training process while you are home so that you can supervise how your dog acts when they are confined. Barking and whining is fairly normal behavior, and you should not attempt to rescue them from the crate immediately if you witness this behavior.

Most dogs will calm down within 30 minutes as long as they have been appropriately exercised before the crating period. You must strive to teach your dog how to cope with being separated and you must resist the urge to pull them out of the crate for barking and whining. The last thing that you want to teach your dog is that barking causes you to instantly let them out of the crate. The action of letting the dog out of the crate for barking actually reinforces barking.

Your goal is to teach the dog that sometimes they will simply need to be confined temporarily and show them that the crate is good place to be. Make sure that you are feeding all initial meals in the crate for at least the first two weeks.

When training older dogs to accept being crated, you need to give them a little time and patience. One of the most common mistakes I see owners make is they put their dog in the crate a few times only to witness barking and whining so they stop crating all together. Of all the dogs I have crate trained, almost every one of them become acclimated to the crate within 3 weeks.

You have to stick with the program. Don’t let the dog out for barking and whining in the crate, practice building positive associations to the crate, and desensitize your dog to leaving the home.

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Published on July 23, 2017

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