Is your dog a rescue? Maybe your dog was never correctly house trained. Perhaps you have to drive a long distance, and he needs to be in a crate for the trip. Maybe your dog has suddenly started showing destructive behavior while you’re away from home. There are many reasons why an adult dog may need to be trained to sit quietly and calmly in a crate.
But because adult dogs are more “set in their ways” than puppies, crate training can be a stressful and even harmful task if not done correctly. So how do you go about crate training an adult dog successfully?
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Get Them Ready
To begin, you’ll want to make sure he is drained of any extra pent-up energy. Play at the park or take a long walk before starting the training. Also, make sure he has done his “business” as you won’t want to stop the training for a potty break.
As noted earlier, older dogs have formed habits, whether good or bad, over many years. If a dog hasn’t spent time in a crate, he’ll probably be resistant and fight against it more than a puppy would. Be patient and, with time, your dog will accept his crate with the right training.
Use High-Value Rewards
For more difficult types of training, it’s important to use what we call “high-value” treats. These are treats that your dog 1) finds extra delicious and loves and 2) they are treats that he doesn’t normally get…only during training or on special occasions. For older dogs, softer treats are the best. Treat Me Soft Chicken Jerky is an ideal, all-natural treat to use when training an older dog.
Make the Crate Comfortable
You’ll notice that your dog will often try to find a comfortable place to rest. They usually prefer the bed, couch, or a piled up blanket rather than just a bare floor. One of the most important things you can do is make the crate a comfortable resting place. Place his favorite blankets and pillows in his crate and leave the door open so he can come and go as he wishes. This will get him used to the crate as a place to rest comfortably, rather than a place of confinement.
Close the Door
When you begin the actual training, only shut the door for a brief time. As he’s still comfortable during the first few moments, give him a treat. This will be a pleasing, yet temporary distraction. Start with intervals of five minutes or less, making sure you stay nearby and visible. As he stays calm the entire time, give him a treat and praise him. Eventually, work towards longer periods of time and leave the room. It’s a good idea once you get to this stage to give him his favorite toy as well so he’ll have something to occupy his time.
Over time your dog will understand the idea that even though you’re out of sight, he’s still safe and will eventually get to leave his crate. With a right attitude and patience, your dog will eventually come to accept his crate. And with a lot of dogs, it can even become a favorite place to sleep or just hang out.