An Owner's Guide to Crate Training an Older Dog

Crate training an older dog can be frustrating. Many older dogs associate crates with the pound or have bad habits that are difficult to break. Older dogs forget easily, making the crate training process take much longer than crate training a puppy. However, if you have forged a good relationship with your pet, he or she should be eager to please you.

Crate Training for Dogs Explained

Crate training satisfies the basic instinct for a den in dogs. In the wild, dogs found small, dark, enclosed places to sleep in, and your crate should mimic the feel of the nature. Try hanging towels over the top of the crate in order to provide total darkness.

When you train your dog to rest in a certain place, like a kennel or a crate, you are crate training. The crate should become its place to sleep, and a safe hideaway from the rest of your home when guests are over.

Though a door is necessary at the beginning of your training regimen, as your dog grows accustomed to the space, you should be able to remove the door. This allows your dog to come and go as he or she pleases, making the crate feel more like a home than a prison cell.

Crate Location for Comfort

For older dogs, putting your crate in its feeding area is a safe bet for location. It's a space that he or she already feels comfortable in, and it will be easy to lure your pet in by placing food and water inside.

Alternatively, you can use the space that your dog already sleeps in. Move his or her bedding inside, so that it becomes the most comfortable place to rest. Once your dog becomes accustomed to going into the crate, you can close the door.

Encourage Good Crate Behavior; Ignore Whining

Help your dog associate his or her crate with positive experiences, like playing with a favorite toy or being rewarded with a treat. Toss these objects into the crate, and teach your dog to enter and exit on your command in order to access their reward.

Do this for longer periods of time, keeping your dog inside the crate so it learns to become comfortable in his or her space. Keep the door open during these training periods, so the training doesn't feel like punishment.

Lock the Crate During the Night

When your dog is completely comfortable sitting in its crate, lock the dog in at nighttime. After he or she can sleep through the night in the crate, try using it during daytime. Leave for short periods of time, gradually allowing your dog's tolerance of the crate to increase. Even the most stubborn of dogs will eventually adjust.

Dog Can Whine from Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can result from crate training, particularly in dog breeds that form deep bonds with their owners. Make sure that you don't pay too much attention to your pet when you let them out of their cage, as this can encourage the bad behavior that characterizes separation anxiety, like vomiting and whining.