Can you crate-train a 3-year old dog? Yes (thankfully) you can.
As I blogged a few days ago, we adopted a 3-year old yellow lab last week. Her family had not crate-trained her, while my husband and I firmly believe in it and have witnessed how beneficial it is for dogs, first hand. Our 13-year old dog has been in a crate since day 1 – initially he would go in the crate during the day while we were at work, at night, and any time we left the house. Now he can be trusted to roam the house freely when we are out, yet most of the time he chooses to relax in his crate on his own. Why? It is his personal space, where he feels safe.
We weren’t sure as to how to go about getting our new dog, Chloe, into a crate as she had never been in one before. Her owners kindly gave us her bed so we placed it in the crate, so she would have something familiar with her. We also made sure the crate we bought was the right size for her – big enough so she can stand up and turn around – but no larger. The first day we had some practice runs where we would say “Chloe, kennel” (which is what we have always said as a command for our old dog Biko to go in his crate), take a dog treat and put it in the crate. Of course she made a bee line for the treat. We praised her and got her to sit and eventually lie down in the crate. We did not shut the door, however, and we let her come out right away.
This “Chloe, kennel,” throwing the treat into the crate and falling all over ourselves went on for quite a bit (my girls took over), until we could say “Chloe, kennel” and she went in, treat or not. Lavish praise of course continued. It literally took one evening to crate train her. That night, her first night with us, she slept like a baby in her crate – not a peep was heard. Even though I was up all night worrying about her.
At least this obedience training went well as she has some other behaviors that need to be corrected – she eats food from the counter (this weekend she put down a burrito and a container of Greek yogurt), and gets on furniture (not allowed in our house), as I found her snuggling in our bed one evening. More adventures with Chloe to come.