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Hi, I've just joined the forums and I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to best crate-train an older blind dog.

About a week ago now we adopted a 10 year old Jack Russell, Monty, who has very limited (almost non-existent) eyesight. He is an absolute sweetheart, but we are having real trouble with leaving him. His prior history doesn't help. He used to live with an old lady who was suffering with Parkinsons. I think they had a very close bond, and he was rarely by himself, slept in her bed, etc. A couple of months ago she had to go to hospital and has subsequently had to into care. The family paid for him to go into kennels, hoping that it would be temporary, but now it doesn't look like his owner will be able to take him back. The little guy didn't cope at all well in kennels, developed a skin condition, and also a bad case of colitis, and eventually the kennels rang the owner's daughter to ask her to collect him because they were concerned for the dog's well-being. Since she couldn't keep him herself a colleague of hers (and me) took him in. I think she was hoping to keep him but she lives by herself and found that he just isn't independent enough to stay by himself for hours while she is at work. It was at that point that she contacted us, because she thought our set-up might be better for him. We have a big brood of three boys and my husband works from home too, so it's a busy household, which she thought might suit Monty better.

I think in a way she is right, and he adores the kids, and even our cats (he used to live with a cat), but due to both how he's lived all his life, and due to his recent kennel experiences, he is very insecure and anxious when he has to be by himself. The first night he was locked into the kitchen for less than an hour (we naively thought he could sleep in there...) and he fear-pooped all over the place, then paddled in it (presumably because he can't see the poo). I've slept in the lounge with him ever since, which is OK short-term but obviously not something that I want to do for the coming years!!

We've made some progress - he now doesn't sleep on the same sofa as me but settles on the other one, and last night he only checked once that I was still there, but the fact remains that if he discovers that I'm gone (like this morning for example, when I went upstairs for my morning coffee), he gets scared and starts whining initially, but it then builds up until he howls and barks. He is normally a very quiet and not very vocal dog, so I think these sounds signal real distress...

We don't want him upstairs because of a number of reasons:
1) it's not safe - our stairs are wood and slippery, and he has already managed to fall down a few steps. I don't want to encourage him to go up and down and injure himself.
2) my husband doesn't like the idea
3) it doesn't really solve anything because it still leaves us unable to leave the house without him and he may soil the upstairs if we try

We'd like to crate-train him so he can sleep in the crate and also stay in there if I have to leave the house without him. I also think it would really help him to know he has a place that's just his because right now the only place he settles is the sofa and I can't persuade him at all to take an interest in any of his dog beds.

Is there anyone who can offer some advice on how to crate-train a very anxious older blind dog to take to a crate? So far we've fed him his meals in there and I also give him treats in there. He is not scared of the crate and doesn't freak if I close the door for a few minutes but if it's longer than that he starts whining. My feeling is that he just doesn't see the point of the crate so he never attempts to settle in there even though he has a bed in there that looks comfy enough that I'm tempted to crawl in there!

Thanks.
 
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