Crate Training an Old Dog

Posted by Valarie
Feb 8, 2010
I have a 9 year old Yorkie that has never been in a crate. She's been around other dogs her size that we used to own but she is basically afraid of "stranger" dogs. We are going to visit relatives in another state that have a dog about twice her size. We are going to buy a travel crate that we can put her in while there so she won't be constantly harassed by this other dog or the children that will be there. My question is what is the best way to get her used to the crate before we leave so she won't feel like we are punishing her by forcing her into this crate and leaving her?

Posted by KOPsRobyn
Feb 10, 2010
Hi Valarie,

The best way is to introduce her slowly to the crate and always associate it with something pleasant. Start off by putting any blankets that she normally sleeps on or toys that she plays with inside. Leave the crate in the living room so that she can investigate it whenever she wants, but make sure you leave the door open so she doesn’t feel trapped inside. Encourage her to sleep in it at night (still with the door open) by telling her to go inside and ‘sit-stay’, just before you go to bed. If she lies down calmly, you could give her a small treat. Feeding her her meals inside the crate will also help her associate being in the crate with something good. Once she is confident about being in the crate and happily sleeping there, you should shut the door of the crate, but only for short periods of time initially, say 5 minutes. Then you must come back and let her out, praising her and giving her lots of attention and maybe even a treat if she has sat quietly and calmly during that time. If she starts to stress about being inside, you will have to slow down a bit and go back a step. You will find that gradually you will be able to leave her for progressively longer times. If she has been naughty and you want to put her into ‘time-out’, you must never use the crate as the ‘time-out’ zone because you don’t want her to associate it with a negative thing. It may take some time for her to get used to the idea of being confined, but if you are patient and take the introduction process slowly, she should have no problems being in it in the end.

One thing to note is while at your relatives, you may want to put the crate in a quiet place where she won’t get disturbed or harassed by the other dogs. This is because she may feel like she has been cornered and there is no way of escaping if they are barking at her from outside the crate whilst she is inside, which will undo any good work that has been done with getting her to like being in the crate.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!
Posted by kjd
Feb 10, 2010
Hi, Valarie,

One addition to what Robyn said: once she is used to the crate, you may find she escapes to the crate when the other dogs or people start stressing her out. You should tell the children that they are not to bother the dog when she is in her crate -- this is her safe place.

Once your dog is used to the crate, you will wonder why anyone with a dog would want to be without one!