Learning how to crate train an older dog with separation anxiety can be a bit of a challenge. Dogs are pack animals, and as such, do not enjoy being alone. If left alone for long periods of time, they become bored, frustrated, anxious and anxiety.
A lot of older dogs don’t like to be crated because they are generally not used to it. They don’t want to be left alone in a small space. Some older dogs may be afraid of being alone in a crate because they remember when they were puppies they had owners that locked them up in a crate. It can be very traumatizing for your older dog to be left in a crate and alone.
Being alone is scary for most of us, so we need to be sure we are not accidentally reinforcing your dog’s fear and separation anxiety. Do not use soothing cures such as trying to reassure your dog that everything will be okay. This only serves to tell your dog that there is a reason to be afraid.
When purchasing a crate for your dog, it is important that you purchase one that will be of appropriate size for him. It must be specious enough for him to stand up, sit down and comfortably move about. The wire crate looks like a jail and should never be used for any type of confinement. The plastic crate looks more like a home and many people use them. Make the crate welcoming by placing a pillow or a blanket inside, so that he’ll think of it as his own special place.
Once you have the crate set up in the place where you want it, you have to remember to let your dog out on a regular basis. This is to keep him from getting frustrated and thinking that he has to bark to get out.
Leaving your dog inside the crate for too long may result in destruction of the crate. When you let your dog out of the crate, make sure that you praise him and give him a treat.
Have your dog’s favorite toys available in the crate as well so that he will have something that can keep him occupied. Do not ignore your dog’s behavior as it may be simply too late to correct him after. When you have made these changes to your routines, go back and make small gradual changes to the way you interact with your dog.
Getting your dog to relax in his crate and be happy and comfortable in it will take a few days, but it is possible.
When your dog is suffering from anxiety, he may also get confused when placed in a new environment, which is his crate. For example, if he was allowed one day to stay outside and then was locked inside a small crate for the next day, this can cause confusion and distress for your dog. This is when you need to spend more time playing with him while he is in the crate, so that he do not feel lonely.
It is common for older dogs to become “couch potatoes”. They will do whatever it takes to stay in one spot instead of moving around and playing. If you are consistent though, you can work towards having your older dog to live in a safe environment, which is his crate, so that he don’t experience separation anxiety while you are gone.
Try to leave your dog in his crate for a longer periods of time. This way, you can socialize him to the crate and understand more of his reaction to his new home. By leaving him in the crate for different activities that you would typically be doing together, you will be able to crate train your older dog much easier.
Through playing with your dog, this helps to develop trust between you and him, building up his confidence and serves to exercise his body. Crate training older dogs may take some time but with constant and varied interaction, you will certainly be able to crate train him.
Dogs are, by nature, den animals and when they are in one place for an extended period of time, they will come to look forward to sleep in it (crate). They naturally look to this area for shelter and security. And crate provides this type of shelter for dogs.
The key to crate training an older dog is to be patient and consistent. If you don’t want to get bitten or scooped, you have to be consistent. You will need to keep the crate door open and let him know that he is safe and welcome to stay there. If you are inconsistent in crate training him, he may become anxious and begin to bark or whine.
It is vital that you never leave your dog alone in his crate. This is because even though he has learned to trust you after the crate training, he can still develop phobias and keep thinking that he is being abandoned if he is left in his dog cage all day.
You should take him out to do what he will normally do during the day. For example, you can take him out for a stroll, play games with him or read him a book, whichever activity that can give him some attention. By doing this, he will eventually develop a strong and healthier relationship with you.