crate training

Crate Training Your Dog

It has been said that you «can’t teach an old dog new tricks», but is this spoken belief really just a fallacy?

Age can trigger a broad scope of things in dogs from health ailments to behavior changes causing you to have to do the unimaginable, crate training a dog well beyond its viewed «training years».

The daunting task ahead can leave you not knowing where to start, especially when dealing with an older dog that is set in its ways.

Our complete step-by-step guide is here to help you when you have to go through the presumed difficult process of «teaching your old dog a new trick». In this case, training your older dog to adjust to its new safe place, its soon-to-be treasured crate.

 

IS IT TIME TO CRATE TRAIN YOUR DOG?

German Shepherd

Determining when it is necessary to implement a crate into your dog’s life can be a tricky task, particularly when you are dealing with an adult dog. As dog’s progress through certain stages of their lives some unforeseen events may start to occur varying from health conditions that may alter their behavior or simply a change in their behavior from factors occurring in your home.

Dogs are creatures of habit and rely on you to provide them their expected daily routine. Any variances in their daily routine can provoke some unexpected reactions that can possibly put your home (especially your furniture) at risk, and let’s be real there is nothing worse than coming home to find your beloved household items destroyed. The aftermath of a confused and spiteful dog can be quite a burden to deal with and that is when crate training might become your best next step in shielding your home.

Soiling accidents in your home can also lead you to the path of crate training your dog. In many instances, mature dogs can begin to develop health conditions where they lose control over their bowel movements, causing quite the pungent odor in your home. Some health conditions in dogs that may lead to this symptom can include a UTI, bladder stones, bladder cancer, kidney failure, urinary incontinence, prostatic disease, pyometra, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus. If you have ever experienced the unpleasant odors that come along with dog accidents in your home then you know how hard it can be to get rid of this smell. There are many products out there that promise to remove the urine odor smell from your furniture and floors but does it really work? The vast majority of pet urine eliminating products lack the capabilities to really remove the odors at the source of the accident, typically they just employ masking agents to cover the odor. When cleaning up pet urine, using a product that removes the pet urine odor rather than just masking it is critical in actually eliminating the odor completely. Companies like OdorKlenz work to actually eliminate the odor at the source rather than mask it like others.

DEVISING YOUR CRATE TRAINING PLAN

Bulldog

Preparation is key when coming up with your plan of attack for crate training your older dog. There are many factors to consider when devising your training plan for your dog and its new crate. Walking step-by-step through the process will make your goal of crate training your dog just a little bit easier.

STEP 1: PICKING THE PERFECT SIZE CRATE

The size of your dog’s crate can be a tremendous factor in the crate training process. Picking the perfect size can be hard though. We are inclined to want to buy a larger size crate to give our dogs ample amount of room, but this is really doing a disservice to your dog. You want the crate to be sized correctly to promote your dog to not make a mess and to help control potential accidents. The ideal size for your dog’s crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down easily. That provides your dog ample amount of room without the risk of them wreaking havoc in their crate.

STEP 2: SELECTING YOUR DOG’S IDEAL CRATE MATERIAL

Choosing the perfect material for your dog’s crate can really make or break how they receive their crate. There are three main crate materials to select from when purchasing a crate for your dog. The most popular crate material for many dog owners is a wire material. This material is favored because they are good for storing with their ability to fold flat as well as their economical price point. They also are very sturdy and more secure for housing your pet. The other two materials to choose from include plastic and fabric crates, which both have their upsides and downsides. A plastic crate tends to be of the bulkier size and can’t be consolidated, which takes up more space in your home. Plastic crates tend to be more useful, however, when used for transporting of your dog, especially for airline travel. Whereas fabric crates are better suited for dogs who are well-trained because of the lack of secureness of this crates material.

STEP 3: GETTING YOUR POOCH FAMILIAR WITH ITS NEW HOME

One of the most difficult steps in crate training your older dog is without a doubt getting them familiar with their new sacred area. Placement of the crate can be an essential part of the process of crate training, by making sure you put it in an area of your home that is comfortable to your dog can help tremendously. Slowly introducing your pet to the crate is the best way to build familiarity with your dog and its crate. You can start by placing a favorite toy or treat in the crate to lure your dog to investigate its new area. Another thing you can do is put your dog’s favorite bed or blanket in to get there smell in their new environment helping them to get more comfortable in their surroundings.

STEP 4: SETTING A CRATE TRAINING SCHEDULE

Dogs are creatures of habit like we discussed earlier and having a set training schedule can help them in the crate training process. A good general rule to follow is one hour in the crate for each month of age. For older dogs spending the night in the crate shouldn’t be too difficult. It may be helpful to start them out in your bedroom overnight if that is the area they are used to spending the night. As your dog becomes more familiar and accepting of this crate time, you can gradually transition them into the area that you wish to place their crate in your home.

STEP 5: DEALING WITH THE OCCASIONAL PEE ACCIDENT

Pee accidents can happen even when dealing with an older dog, especially when your dog is confined in a space- such as its crate- overnight. When your dog has a pee accident it can be quite the hassle for you to not only remove the urine smell from the crate but also cleaning the smell from your dog. Sometimes your dog will be stuck in its crate surrounded by urine for some time before you get them out. And let’s be real the smell of dog urine is a strong smell that seeps into whatever it comes into contact with, whether that be the dog’s crate or the dog. Giving your dog and its crate a bath may be in order in some circumstances. Bathing your dog with a natural dog shampoo that works best in removing odors is important when you are working to get rid of the dog urine smell on your pet. As well as making sure to use an effective dog urine neutralizer in your dog’s crate when this kind of accident occurs.

There are several solutions to implement when pee accidents start to happen. Firstly, make sure you are taking your dog out regularly. This may mean you need to start a routine of getting up and taking your dog out 2 to 3 times a night. Also, it may be necessary to remove soft material like blankets and towels from your dogs’ crate. This could be a contributing factor to the pee accidents because most dogs like pottying on soft surfaces rather than hard surfaces. If pee accidents keep persisting you may need to schedule a vet appointment to have your dog checked for medical issues such as a UTI or bladder infection.

WRAP UP

To conclude, crate training your older dog can be accomplished with less effort then you think. Many dog owners have had to go through this process with their dogs’ due to circumstances that require them to take these steps.

By following the steps above, you can easily master crate training your dog. And not only will you be happy with the result but your dog will feel safe and comfortable in the confinement of its crate

licking_dog

WHY DO DOGS LICK THEIR PAWS

It’s normal for dogs to lick their paws occasionally as part of their grooming routine. But when the behaviour becomes obsessive, it can be frustrating for owners. Persistent licking can often signal an underlying health problem. But because there are many reasons your dog could be licking their paws, it can be difficult to diagnose. When incessant paw licking occurs over a long period, the fur often becomes stained a rusty colour. But not only that, persistent licking can cause inflammation, soreness, swelling and even bleeding. Which is why it’s best to see your vet quickly so they can diagnose and treat the problem.

Why dogs lick their paws obsessively

Self-grooming

A little light preening every now and then is perfectly normal. You may notice your dog licks their paws after being outside in the rain, after a meal, or while settling down for a nap. Licking is your dog’s way of keeping themselves clean and is often a daily habit for some pups. The licking is abnormal and can be a cause for concern when it happens for prolonged periods and multiple times in the day. When it’s all your dog does during their waking hours, the licking isn’t just a case of harmless grooming.  

Allergies  

why do dogs lick their paws Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to various substances in the environment. Our pooches can develop allergies to certain foods, grass, floor cleaning products, garden chemicals and more. This can cause irritation to the paws, leading to itchiness, inflammation, swelling and an unhappy pup. Since the possible allergens are endless, identifying the cause can be a long and drawn out process. But it’s important to do the investigation work to put a stop to your dog’s painful symptoms. Treatment: Your first step is to have a chat with your vet. They will likely suggest carrying out blood tests to uncover the substance your dog is allergic to. Because when you identify the cause, you can take steps to avoid the problem or manage their exposure around it. But in the meantime, there are measures you can take to help relieve your dog’s itchiness. Wipe your dog’s paws with a wet wipe  after going for a walk to help keep the area free from possible allergens. Your vet may also prescribe antihistamines as a temporary measure to control your dog’s symptoms.  

Yeast infections

Yeast infections are a result of an overgrowth of fungus on your dog’s skin. The yeast thrives in moist areas that rarely see sunlight. Which is why paws and ears are the most common areas infection occurs. Especially during the winter months when paws are often left damp. Yeast infections usually cause skin irritation, a musty odour and an oily or sticky discharge. It’s important to note, yeast infections are often a secondary infection to an underlying problem. An overgrowth of yeast is often caused by dietary deficiencies, a compromised immune system or an allergy. All dogs need a balanced diet to build a healthy immune system. This means they can fight off an infection before it has a chance to take hold. Treatment: Your vet may suggest changes to your dog’s diet. Either as a way to boost your dog’s nutrient intake, or to help rule out a potential food allergy. If the problem is severe or persistent, they may also suggest running blood tests to help uncover the cause. As some breeds like West Highland Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Shih Tzu’s are more predisposed to developing yeast infections, your vet may also recommend a specific anti-fungal or anti-bacterial diet. These special diets essentially reduce the amount of sugars and carbohydrates which the fungus needs to thrive. Your vet may also suggest washing your dog’s paws with an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoo every couple of days to help fight the infection.  

Foreign bodies

why do dogs lick their paws It’s a good idea to check your dog’s paws regularly for anything that may be lodged in the pads or between the toes. Grass seed is a common culprit for paw irritation during the summer months. The seed can find its way into the skin and cause a painful abscess. Splinters, thorns and glass can also pose a risk to paws on walks. So if your dog suddenly starts licking obsessively, checking for anything stuck in the paws should be your first port of call. Treatment: You may be able to remove the foreign body yourself. If after removal there’s no open wound, clean the area and keep an eye on it. If the area is bleeding, it’s inflamed or you can’t see anything obvious, always seek help from your vet.  

Impacted anal glands

All dogs have two anal glands that are designed to release a unique scent when they poop. These glands should naturally release every time your pooch goes to the toilet. But if your dog often has soft, loose stool, they can fail to empty. When that happens, this stinky fluid builds up inside the anal gland and becomes impacted. This can be uncomfortable for dogs. And while some dogs try to relieve the discomfort by licking the area or scooting their butt along the floor, paw licking can be another symptom. Treatment: The best treatment is to have your dog’s anal glands emptied by a professional. Either your groomer or vet will be able to do this for you. If this is in fact the cause of your dog’s paw licking, you should see symptoms ease in the next day or so.  

Boredom

why do dogs lick their paws Most dogs were bred for specific jobs to work alongside their fellow man. But with many dogs left home alone all day, our pooches can become frustrated and bored. When this happens, it can lead to destructive behaviours and outlets like paw licking or chewing. In this case the problem is behavioural and has developed into an obsessive habit. Dogs thrive best when they’re given both mental and physical stimulation every day. And the best treatment is to use distraction by filling their day with other activities. Treatment: Give your dog an outlet for their boredom. Ensure they’re regularly exercised for at least 30 minutes a day. Don’t leave your dog home alone or locked in a crate for long periods. Provide mental stimulation in the form of brain games, training sessions and meeting new dogs and people.  

Anxiety

Anxious paw licking is another behavioural issue dogs can develop. For anxious dogs, paw licking can become a coping mechanism. It can become a self-soothing habit and a way for them to relax in certain situations. Anxiety can be caused by numerous factors, including separation anxiety, moving home, meeting new people or a new baby. If your dog’s anxious licking isn’t accompanied by redness, inflammation or swelling, this is usually nothing to worry about. But if it becomes compulsive, the licking can be harmful to their skin, creating painful hotspots on the paws. Treatment: The first step is to find out what’s causing your dog’s anxiety, and a behaviourist can help with this. They will analyse your dog’s behaviour to uncover your dog’s specific ‘triggers.’ From there the behaviourist will suggest ways to help relax your dog, and may also suggest ways to help your pooch cope around the trigger through counter conditioning.  

Fleas and ticks

why do dogs lick their paws Fleas and ticks can cause itchiness and irritation to your dog’s skin. And if your dog is allergic to these pesky parasites, the reaction can be even more severe. Treatment: The best method is prevention. Keep your dog up-to-date with their flea and tick medication to keep the critters at bay. There are plenty of over-the-counter medications you can buy from your local pet store, but medications bought through your vet are usually more effective. There are also natural alternatives you can use if you’re worried about the chemicals in these products. Your best bet is to speak with your vet about your options. When getting rid of fleas, it’s also important to treat your home in the process. Vacuum your carpets and upholstery regularly and take the bag outside to prevent reinfection occurring. Wash all your bedding and dog’s bedding. There are also chemical treatments you can buy. But be sure to stay safe and keep all pets away when treating the area.  

Bone or joint conditions

In some cases, the pain could be going on at a deeper level. A fracture, torn ligament or joint problems like arthritis can all cause paw licking. If the incessant paw licking is accompanied by limping, it’s time to see a vet. Treatment: Your vet will likely conduct a physical exam to assess where the pain is coming from. They may also perform an X-ray to help identify if there are any fractures or broken bones in the legs or paws.