How to Train Your Older Dog to Stay in One Room

Easy
2-3 Days
General

Introduction

For the most part, your dog may have the run of the house when you’re around. Lounging up on the furniture or being able to follow you around from room to room can be great if you’re accustomed to being tailed wherever you go, but what happens when you have to step out? For an older dog in particular, who is used to being able to go where he pleases, it may be difficult to figure out how to keep him out of trouble when you’re away at work or school. This issue can arise if you’ve recently moved to a new home or have gotten a new piece of furniture that you’d rather keep out of reach of Fido for cleanliness purposes. 

No matter what the reason is for wanting a confined area for your older dog to stay in for a certain length of time, it’s not too difficult to get both him and you accustomed to using tools to keep him safe and sound while you’re gone.

Defining Tasks

Depending on where you’d like your dog to stay while you’re out, a key thing to remember is that confining him to any area should be temporary only. This can mean while you’re at work or school or away running errands, but don’t expect to keep him shut away for the entirety of the day. Even older dogs need exercise and stimulation and it’s unfair to keep him in an enclosed area for longer than necessary.

Remember that some dogs may struggle with being away from you, which can cause separation anxiety or other behavioral issues. Consulting a behaviorist for more extreme cases may be recommended, but trying each of the methods to see what works best is usually the first step. The sooner you can begin to maintain a routine with your older dog, the better, though age doesn’t really matter. It should only take two to three days for him to realize where you expect him to remain for the time when you’re gone, as long as you’re being consistent and continue to offer opportunities to go out and take breaks.

Getting Started

Depending on the method you use, you may choose to purchase a crate or other items like baby gates or fences. Having a food and water bowl which you can have in your dog’s space is also recommended, while toys and treats can be an added plus. There is no set equipment for each method, but the key is comfort and accessibility. If your dog is hungry, thirsty, or bored, confinement can lead to larger issues. As long as his basic needs are being met, you can continue to use the method of your preference.

The Barrier Method

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Step
1
Close doors
Shut the doors to any rooms that you don’t want your dog to have access to or close the door to the one room that he does have access to once he’s safely inside.
Step
2
Use baby gates
Baby gates can come in handy, especially for older dogs who are not as agile or prone to jumping over them. Place these gates strategically in your home to keep your dog out of certain spaces or in one space.
Step
3
Put away toys
If there are any dog toys or snacks that are in other areas of the home, put them out of sight and away from your dog’s nose. Having these things visible but unreachable may entice him to try to get to them.
Step
4
Prevent escape routes
Use locks and door knobs that are not easy to open. Make sure any gates are high enough to prevent jumping over and that there are no areas your dog can dig through in order to get out.
Step
5
Keep a schedule
Let your dog out regularly in order to keep him from feeling confined for too long. Take outside bathroom breaks every one to two hours as needed and be sure to break up the day with some play time or opportunities to burn some energy.
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The Crate Method

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Step
1
Find the right crate
A properly sized crate for your dog should allow for her to stand up and turn around comfortably. A crate that is too small may cause discomfort or injury while a crate that is too large may invite your dog to use it as a bathroom.
Step
2
Pad the crate
Provide blankets or a pillow to keep the crate warm and comfortable, especially if it’s in a colder area of the home.
Step
3
Offer rewards at first
If your dog is not accustomed to using a crate, encourage her with treats that are placed inside the crate. Make it exciting by offering frequent rewards when she enters the crate and stays in it.
Step
4
Check the locks
Some crates may have faulty locking mechanisms, which can lead to easy escapes. Double check the lock on your crate of choice to be sure that it’s suitable.
Step
5
Avoid using for too long
Keeping your dog away in a crate for too long can cause some behavioral issues and lead to her being destructive or anxious. Crates should be used short term and your dog should be offered plenty of opportunities to get out and stretch.
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The Comfort Method

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Step
1
Designate a room
Find a room in your home that can be specifically for your dog. It can be large or small, depending on the layout of your home, but it should be safe with no access to things that may harm him.
Step
2
Provide a bed
Place your dog’s bed or another spot for him to rest somewhere in the room. If there is ample space to lay down, he may choose to spend most of the time sleeping.
Step
3
Offer water and food if possible
For longer periods of confinement, be sure to provide a bowl for food and water. If necessary, place puppy pads down in case you cannot provide a bathroom break right away.
Step
4
Provide enrichment
Being shut away for longer periods of time without the proper outlets may cause destructive behavior. Puzzle or chew toys are useful for getting rid of boredom. Have plenty of them available for your dog and try to rotate them out from time to time to keep things interesting.
Step
5
Take outside breaks
Staying inside can be boring. Be sure to take trips outdoors for a walk, bathroom break, or play time to break up the day and provide exercise. Even older dogs need an outlet for energy sometime and can benefit from the outdoor air.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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