Questions about dog behavior and training? Send them to:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Crate-Training An Older Dog

We need help crate training Dali, the 8-year-old beagle we adopted about 3 months ago. The first day we got her, I gave her a bath and put her in our other beagle Ren's wire crate while I took a shower. She was in a panic, chewed on the bars, shoved the bottom tray out. She is normally so laid back! But there are times when it would be convenient to have her crated, such as if my husband and I are both called away for an emergency. During the daytime, we have both dogs in their kennel outside. I have since tried putting Dali in the bathroom where it became apparent that she has some separation anxiety. She shredded the toilet paper, pooed on the floor and spread it everywhere. Any advice?



Dali's problem isn't with the crate; it is, indeed about separation anxiety. That will bother her whether she's crated or whether she's free in the house (or even confined in the bathroom). But if she's crated with separation anxiety, at least she won't be able to destroy your house.

Get her a crate of her own and place it close to Ren's (so they can see each other while in their crates). Put both dogs in their crates, but remain in the room with them. If she seems comfortable with that, start leaving the room for short periods of time. Make no announcement of your departure or return. She will soon figure out that she is in no harm in the crate, and that you always return. This should help her relax not only in the crate, but also when you are away from her.

I'd require her to sleep in the crate at night, in your room. This, too, will help her become comfortable with the crate.

When you do need to leave her crated for an extended period of time, be sure she has an energetic walk (as long as possible and appropriate for her) before you crate her.

If you think she's still likely to chew up a dog bed or pad in her frustration, leave the pad out and simply put an old towel or t-shirt in the crate with her.

Of course the pooping had little to do with housebreaking; she was simply so stressed that she couldn't hold it. I'm betting that stress has already diminished after three months of living with you. Still, she'll be much less likely to poop in her crate than she would if she were left locked in the bathroom. So the crate is still the safest bet.


No comments: