Your senior dog’s crate is his private sanctuary—a place where your dog can feel safe and secure. It’s never too late for crate training an older dog, especially if your primary purpose is to help your buddy adjust to a new lifestyle. Now that your older buddy is no longer as agile as before, crate training may be the only other option left. So how do you start the crate training process? Here are the steps.
The first part is about introducing your dog to the crate. This should be placed in an area where most members of the family are. Don’t lock your older buddy in it yet. Instead, encourage your buddy to enter it by placing treats. Forcing them in will only be counterproductive.
The second step is letting your dog feed on the crate. This will allow them to associate the crate with something positive, such as eating. Put the food all the way inside the crate. If your dog is anxious and simply not ready to enter, only put it as far back as your dog is ready to reach into. Once your buddy is comfortable, you can close the door in the meantime. Just make sure that you open it at once after your dog eats inside the crate for the first time. For every successful feeding, close the door a little longer until your buddy has settled in.
Third, prolong the crating period of your older buddy inside the crate.
After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home.
Call him over to the crate and give him a treat.
Give him a command to enter, such as “kennel.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.
After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
Sit quietly near the crate for five to ten minutes, and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let him out of the crate.
Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight.
Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks. (Read more here)
Fourth, you can finally put your older buddy in the crate when you leave. At first, do this only when you leave for a short period of time—around 20 minutes or so. Make it a point not to make your departures long and emotional. After this, you can also crate your older dogs at night. Don’t do this all at once, as this might give the impression of social isolation. You might also want to move the crate near to wherever you sleep.
At first, your older buddy might whine or suffer from separation anxiety. This is the entire point of the abovementioned steps. With this, you can be sure that your fur baby don’t associate crating with anxiety and stress.