The Buddy report: Crate training an older dog

We have had our new farm dog Buddy for a few days now and he is fantastic!  While he still shows far too much interest in the barn cats, he is responding to commands (that his previous family claimed that he didn’t know that sneaky little devil), understanding his limits and just generally being a joyous dog.  Until bedtime.  Then the fun really begins.

At this stage in our farm evolution, we have all of the outside service animals (aka dogs and cats) sleeping together in a heated outbuilding that we refer to as the garage (not that we get to park anything in it..sigh.)  In this building, everyone has a safe, soft and warm bed while being protected from the elements.  For this situation to work, we crate the dogs just to ensure that no mayhem ensues at night.  It has worked like a charm for Kya the farm puppy, but Buddy…well.  He ain’t havin it.

Now, I’ve never crated a dog before Kya.  Frankly, I always thought it was a little cruel.  Snickerdoodle, my much beloved Aussie/Catahoula mix used to sleep under the covers of my bed next to my leg.  That was kind of a turn off for some guys during my single days, but I always had my priorities right: 1) dog 2) guys.  Thank goodness Sheldon understood the pecking order!  Anyway, my previous dogs came and go where and when they pleased in my house.  By “came and go”, I unfortunately really mean poop and tear stuff up.  It was a chore that I was constantly managing.  So, when the opportunity came up with Kya, we decided without hesitation that these dogs (and all dogs moving forward) would be crated at night at least in the beginning.


Apparently Buddy’s old family never explored crate training-at least that is what his behavior is showing us.  They were very candid in telling us that they had not worked with him like they should, and frankly it shows.  So much of we are working on is amending Buddy to our training for his safety and the safety of our other animals.  To help introduce him to the crate, we’re trying to make it a positive experience.  He has his bed in there from his old family.  It’s sized right for him so he can stand up and turn around.  We’re putting in Kya right next to him in her crate with lots of very vocal praise so he can see that it’s ok.  When we are putting him in, we’re using praise and treats to make it desirable.  And while he is very much enjoying the treats, he is still hesitant to sleep in there.  I know that it’s just going to take some time.  When I woke up the other morning around 5, I could hear him barking incessantly.  I’m sure all of the other animals are ready to vote him off the island.  But this morning…it’s 6:15 and all I hear is silence.  Either the cats have tied Buddy up and duct taped his mouth…or we have had some improvement.  When the weather gets a bit warmer, the dogs will move to their permanent home in the new barn without the crates, but for now-we’re going to keep at it-we’re in this with him for the long haul!


4 thoughts on “The Buddy report: Crate training an older dog

  1. Keep on keeping on! Lacy still does not go willingly into her crate unless you have a hand on her collar and then tell her to get in. She is like a child. “Mom cant I stay up a little longer? Pleeeeeeease!” Everyone is in bed and she avoids me like the plague. Once I grab her collar, bring her to the door, and start to shut the door, she goes right in. Sleeps pretty good too. One thing that will show you as the alpha dog is to not let them burst out of the crate. When you open it, they must stay there until you say to go out. It’s not that hard to do and helps you from being run over by a dog! Hope your adventures are going well. How old is your dog again? Mine turned out to be a year and a half.

    • Our new dog is about 5 years old, so he is waaaay into the “heck no, I won’t go phase” but I have found that roast beef is his weakness, so we’re trying treats too. Glad to hear that you got such a smart dog, even if she does use it against you!

  2. Treats are a great way to make it work. Something I did while crate training my dogs is I’d get a bone or other chewy-long-lasting snack. And they could only have that treat if they were in their crate lying down. If they left the crate I took the bone away and put it back in the back of their crate. I gave it an associative command (Go Home mean “Get Treats in Crate”) and now my dogs go into their crates when I tell them “go home” whether it’s because I’m mad and busy and need them out of the way or if I have a treat in my hand. They even willingly sleep in their crates at night with the door open. They just go in and sleep.

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