Using a Dog Crate for Your Older Dog

by Jonni

Can your older dog adjust to a dog crate?

A dog crate is essentially a man-made burrow, which speaks to the dog’s own instinctual need for a small enclosed space in which to sleep and feel safe. Puppies that are raised with a crate seem to enjoy having a space that is theirs alone. Their owners certainly appreciate having a way to keep their puppy or dog from roaming the house at night, thinking up mischief or wetting the carpet.

If you’ve just brought an adult dog home from the Humane Society, he or she may not agree to use a crate without some training. If your dog is already housebroken, you may not feel the need to purchase a crate, or to use one in your home. However, if you intend to take your new dog with you on trips, or if you think you may need to board him at the local kennel, training him now to use the crate can avoid much frustration in the future.

Your newly adopted dog may also have bad habits that require training and attention, and you won’t be able to keep your eye on him 24 hours a day. For instance, if your new lab or retriever begins to chew on your couch, having a crate will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you won’t wake up to a living room full of upholstery fabric and stuffing. Once the new dog gets used to sleeping through the night, you may be able to keep the crate’s door open.

A puppy takes almost automatically to the crate, but your older dog will naturally eye the crate with some suspicion if he’s never been trained to use one before.

A dog crate is for sleeping in, not living in. It is not a replacement for a yard or a dog run, and should never be used as punishment. The dog training method that you use should encourage your pet to see the crate as a safe, comfortable place to take a nap, not a place where he’s trapped and abandoned. Your dog should not be left in a crate for long periods of time, except at night while the family is sleeping.

Which dog crate should you choose? This will depend on the size of your dog, and whether or not it will be used to transport your dog in the car or on a plane. There is a large variety of sizes, materials, and shapes now available. They can be made of wire or hard plastic, or they may be soft-sided, and fold to be easily transported in a car.