While it may be relatively easy to housebreak young pups with a crate, and teach them how to behave properly, so that they become well-adjusted adult dogs, crate training an adult dog may not be so easy for new owners of a fully grown dog that hasn't been crate trained.
There is the saying that “you can't teach an old dog new tricks.” And this simply stems from the fact that like with us humans, we can be easily trained to behave in a certain fashion when we are toddlers, but as teenagers or adults, not so likely. However, that does not mean that it is impossible, just that it may be more tricky, and may require more patience.
Disadvantages Of Crate Training An Adult Dog
If you have acquired a rescued dog that previously lived with an abusive owner, he may have serious trust issues. As far as a crate goes, maybe with his previous owner he was caged up as a form of abuse, and maybe even abused inside his cage.
So you'll be able to understand if your dog is very hesitant and maybe even trembles or gets aggressive if he is brought anywhere near a crate. You will need to patient with him while you teach him that a crate is a safe place and also his personal space within your home.
He may also not be housebroken and require potty training, and as he is an adult that means bigger deposits!
Assuming that he is not arriving with any medical issues affecting bladder or bowel control that you are already aware of, and providing for, then close supervision will be required if he is being left around flooring and furniture that will be inconvenient to clean.
He may also have a few behavioral issues that need correcting. For example he may have a tendency to roam around at leisure and chew, rip, or destroy furniture and other objects around the home. If he is an aggressive dog or one that can get a bit crazy and difficult to control then you probably want to make sure you have a heavy duty escape proof dog crate to keep your dog secure.
Advantages Of Training An Adult Dog To Use His Crate
While there are some disadvantages and difficulties with crate training an adult dog, he may come with some advantages also.
It is still possible to eliminate your adult dog’s negative habits and replace it with new ones once he accepts you as his new master. Using a dog crate is just as valuable a tool to train your adult dog, and teach him to regard it as his own safe and private den, as it is to do so with a puppy.
And if your dog is destructive, then a crate is also as essential for his own safety, as it is for preserving the condition of your home and furniture.
If your dog has not been housebroken yet, then this should not be too difficult a behavior to correct. An adult dog does not need to go as often as a puppy, and has the ability to hold it in longer until he is allowed to go where he learns that he needs to go. He just needs to learn where it is acceptable to go to relieve himself.
Easy To Find The Right Size Dog Crate
Unlike with puppies, you also benefit from not needing to guess what size crate your dog will need; because unlike puppies who are constantly growing until they reach their adult size, your dog is already an adult. So he is not going to outgrow his cage – unless you get a weak one that he can damage and break!
All you need to do to measure up is get your dog to stand fully and measure him from his normal standing posture with head up to the floor to get the minimum height, and then measure him from tip of nose to his tail to get the minimum length.
The rule of thumb is that your crate must be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around and lie down in. So long as he can comfortably do all three, then the crate is the right size.
You may be wondering if that means you should get a crate larger than that. The answer is no, because if your dog exhibits behavioral issues, it gives him more room to harm himself.
And it would also allow him to relieve himself in one corner of the crate while sleeping in another, thwarting any necessary effort required to housebreak him.
He will not want to make a mess if he has to sleep on it. Additionally if you have to transport your pet for leisure or veterinary reasons, you obviously don't want him sliding and banging around the crate.
An Adult Dog Is Like Puppy Crate Training, But With Caveats
In many ways training an adult dog is the same as puppy crate training, and like a puppy, it is best to gently introduce your dog to a crate.
You will need to be patient with him, and with the use of treats, toys, praise and gradually moving his food bowl from outside to inside the crate – leaving the crate door open while he eats, so he can come out at any time, you'll be able to build up his trust and certainty that the crate will not be used to harm him.
You should also remain beside the crate at the same time, especially when you do introduce closing the door for the same reason.
Once your dog has accepted the crate, a crate training schedule is as useful for training an adult dog as it is for a puppy. Unless your dog has serious difficulties with entering and being left in the crate, you should also find it quicker than with puppies to move towards the maximum crating time, assuming your dog has no problems with bowel or bladder control.
However, do slow down and take a step back with the time you leave your dog in his crate if you notice he suddenly becomes anxious. You may have increased the time of his duration of his time in the cage too quickly, causing distress.
Remember Adult Dogs May Find It More Difficult to Learn New Things
One of the disadvantages of crate training an adult dog is that they have already developed their own personality and behavioral patterns, so you are more coming from a position of learning to work with your dog's personality in order to facilitate changing his behavior, instead of playing a part in shaping it's behavior and personality from scratch as with a pup.
This can even affect the type of crate that you buy for your dog. Some dogs will prefer a crate with a cover to feel a greater sense of safety and privacy when inside the crate. For other dogs, it could be the opposite and they feel very afraid being unable to see what’s going on outside the crate if their previously owner used their crate to mistreat them.
You also need to bear in mind that not all crates are built equal. Especially when it comes to crating large and powerful adult dogs you will need to pay attention to the quality and build of the crate. If your dog tends to get aggressive or you feel or know he would try to break out of a crate, then a cheaper cage can be too weak for his safety and the preservation of your home, you will need to spend a bit more to get the best dog crate for you, your dog and your home that might be trashed if he escapes from his crate,
To avoid any doubt, ensure that you buy an escape proof dog crate to ensure he is securely contained. The Impact Case Collapsible Dog Crate or the ProSelect Empire Dog Crate are both recommended and has strong customer reviews. The Impact case is our favorite with a sturdy design and construction, however it also has a price tag to match. This will keep him and your home safe until he wears himself out and calms down. The use of a dog crate cover and a dog anxiety vest can help with this, as some dogs also react anxiously or aggressively so long as there is visual stimuli.
So remember when crate training an adult dog that your pet will come with a personality that has developed over its life to date, and that may come with behavioral issues, but with persistence and patience, those negative behavioral patterns can be chipped away at and gradually eliminated.
Crate training an adult dog is not really do much different to training to puppy, but you have to remember and allow for the fact that the dog is fully grown, possibly coming with behavioral issues as a result of poor training or negative treatment in their history, that you will need to help them overcome. Also as an adult dog, they may be slower to learn than a puppy.
But they do come with the advantage of being able to control their need to relieve themselves if they are not already housebroken, being eager to please once they learn to accept you as their new master and realize that you are not like any negative owner they may have had in the past, and not requiring the intensive level of attention that a puppy requires.