Crate training an older dog is not easy. However, when being a foster family or a rescue dog it is almost necessary
We agreed to foster an older dog for Big Fluffy Dog Rescue. Her name was Hattie. She was a pretty black labrador.
Scared Rescue Dog
The only problem with Hattie was she was extremely scared. When she came to our home she found a little spot in the corner and she almost never left.
We thought that we would have a problem getting her into a cage at night but she was almost happy to go in. The problem we had with crate training an older dog, that was a rescue, was getting them out.
Getting Hattie out of the crate required putting her on the leash. She was such a scared dog that she enjoyed her crate. Over time, she got used to what the leash meant and came out willingly.
The reason we got her a crate was we made a mistake when we first got her and didn’t put her in one. We let her stay in the kitchen which was a huge mistake.
The dishwasher came on and she went thrashing around the kitchen. She tried her best to get out of the window. She pulled down the curtains and scratched up the couch.
We knew then that crate training an older dog was necessary for this scared rescue dog.
Learning About Dog Crates
We’ve never had a crate for any of our dogs before. That may have been a mistake but we’ve never had a dog that was as afraid as Hattie. We have been able to simply let the dogs sleep on the floor at the foot of our bed and they are all very happy with that arrangement.
But we found out when crate training an older dog like Hattie that they actually really like the crate.
With Hattie, we tried to socialize her and get her calm during the day but she would have been happy staying in her crate. Otherwise, she found a spot she was happy with a stayed there almost all day.
We chose a large plastic crate over the metal one. We were afraid she would hurt herself on the metal. It was more expensive but we felt it was necessary. If crating is going to be long term thing there I found this really cool metal crate that looks like furniture. It wouldn’t have worked for Hattie, nor would I purchase it for a rescue dog but I thoought it looked pretty cool.
Tips for Crate Training
As a foster family for rescue dogs, crate training an older dog that you know is scared is almost a necessity. What we did find out about Hattie was that her anxiety would sometimes show while in the crate. The first few nights we would hear her thrashing about and messing up her bed.
Here are a few tips that we learned along the way that helped eas both the dog’s and our transition.
Use a blanket to cover the crate at night. This has the benefit of keeping them from seeing an outside stimulus that could be upsetting. It makes the crate more like a den.
We also used a calming mist. We would spray that in the crate before we put her in. That spray was a miracle. It really helped.
Using a toy that gives the dog something to challenge them and keep them occupied when not sleeping can help. We would fill a Kong and let her work on that. After she got used to the crate we could give some chew toys that seemed to help.
Hattie eventually found her forever home in Minnesota. We kept her for over a month and was sad to see her go. Reports are she enjoys romping around the woods and ponds. She’s still scared inside but she loves being outside.
Crate training an older dog is important if you are fostering a rescue. I doubt your older family dog will all of sudden need to be put in a crate. But if you are helping to foster rescue dogs, particularly scared dogs, then you will want to learn how to crate train them.