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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.

7 Responses to “Can you crate-train a 3-year old dog? Yes (thankfully) you can.”

  1. Bunny Watson says:

    I think it’s sad that you won’t allow your animals on the furniture. You are making them second class citizens of your house. In my house, we *all* get to sit on chairs and couches, and no one sits on tables. Fair is fair, and it is much easier for them to understand as well!

  2. In my house kids were not allowed to sit on the furniture as my ex-husband was from India and kids are made to sit on the floor on pillows. It is good that your pets have discipline and the pets don’t know the difference from there bed, floor or furniture.

  3. MomOf2 says:

    @Bunny Watson, i agree with your fairness, to an extent, but if the pets are allowed on the furniture and you wanted them treated as 1st class citizens, then do they eat at the table with you as well? Just a thought. =)

  4. Pet Supplies says:

    Dogs are den animals by nature, a crate when used as a positive training device becomes their den. It is not a punishment. Once your puppy is house trained the dog will continue to use the crate as their comfort area of the house. We have many clients who continue to have a crate but do not close their dogs in them. The dog feels safe and comfortable in their crate (den)

  5. Westie Mom says:

    We feel that our dogs are our kids now as we are empty nesters. The boys now have their own lives, and the girls (Onnie and Allie) give us a chance to shower our love on them (the boys get a little miffed when I start snuggling with them. lol). However, the girls have rules and know they have to stay when we tell them and must stay out of the kitchen when I am cooking. I think that it’s up to each family to set their own rules, unless the animal is mistreated.

  6. If you make a crate a happy place for a dog, they will LOVE them. I raise and show Keeshonden all around the country and my puppies start crate training at 4-5 weeks of age. I give my dogs a small puppy biscuit treat each and EVERY time they are crated. My dogs will sit in their crates (I have crates all over my house for the dogs plus in my van) with hopes I see them and treat them! That’s how much a dog should love a crate. Start slow with an older dog, never put them in for hours at the beginning. Put the crate in the room you are ion at first, crate them 5-10 minutes having treated them to go in. Extend the time frame and make sure it’s positive. Also giving a toy to play with or a chewy toy will help them want to be in the crate. Always make it positive and happy!

  7. Dog Training says:

    Great post! Been reading a lot about crate training my dog. Thanks for the info here!

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