Dog - Home & Habitat

Select the Right Crate for Your Dog: Wire, Plastic, Wood and More

A man’s home may be his castle, but a dog’s crate is his personal castle—a private place to relax, rest and feel safe. Dogs are den animals, and enjoy having a confined space they can retreat to. A crate can also make housetraining easier and help protect your dog and your home when you’re not there to supervise. Choosing the appropriate crate for your dog is an important part of pet parenthood, so equip yourself with some helpful tips to navigate the array of crates:

There are four basic types of dog crates:

  • Hard plastic: Sturdy and durable for frequent travelers.
  • Soft: Convenient for traveling with small breed dogs or puppies.
  • Decorative: Available in a variety of styles to match your home décor.
  • Wire: Ideal for home use; collapsible for easy transport and storage.

Choose the right size

Just as there are dogs in all shapes and sizes, there are crates to accommodate widely ranging size differences. Choose a comfortable crate that has just enough room for your dog to stand up, turn around, stretch out and lie down.

If you’re selecting a crate for a puppy, think ahead. Instead of choosing a crate that will suit his current size, opt for a crate that will be appropriate when he reaches his full adult size. However, limit the amount of crate space your puppy has access to until he is housetrained. Puppies won’t piddle or leave a pile where they sleep, but if there’s ample space, they will. Choose a crate with a movable divider, or reduce the space available by placing a cardboard box on one side until he grows.

Many crates are sold with suggested weight ranges (“suitable for dogs 30–50 pounds”), but you’ll want to factor in your dog’s unique physical characteristics in addition to his weight. A long-legged Whippet might weigh the same as a plump, short-legged Pembroke Welsh Corgi, but the two breeds will have different needs when it comes to choosing an appropriate crate. As you shop, consider the height and length of the crates in order to choose one that provides the most comfort for your pet.

Aim for comfort

Once you’ve settled on the appropriate size for your pet’s maximum happiness, make the crate inviting and comfortable. Place the crate in your family room and outfit it with a soft blanket, a comfortable bed or a soft crate pad. Your dog will also enjoy having a new toy in his crate, and a crate cover can provide added security.

At home

If you’re choosing a crate that will be a permanent (versus portable) fixture in your home, you might want to select one that is heavy-duty or one that matches your home décor. While many crates are constructed of plastic, you can also wire or wood crates that add upscale elegance to a room and allow ample ventilation and space for your dog to enjoy. In addition to the emotional and mental benefits for your dog, a personal crate can also help to solve behavioral problems like chewing and barking, as well as reduce housetraining time.

On the road

If you need a crate that is travel-worthy (for visits to the veterinarian, trips to the beach, etc.), you’ll want to choose one that is easily portable, such as a pet carrier. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, travel carriers should be ventilated on opposite sides and should still be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around and lie down. And don’t skip the travel carrier even if your dog is well-behaved while riding in the car. A pet carrier that has been correctly anchored in a vehicle is the safest way for your dog to travel by car, so make it a priority to select an appropriate carrier for your pet’s forays into society.

Crate tips

Crates aren’t just for puppies; you can also show your adult the many benefits of having a crate. In addition to providing small, well-defined spaces to retreat to, crates are a helpful when you have company over or when you can’t supervise your dog. Crates help speed up the housetraining process and crates help keep pets safer in the car when traveling.

Having a crate in your home should be a pleasant experience for your dog. It should never be used as a place to punish him or he will come to fear it and refuse to go in. Never place your dog’s crate in a room that no one goes in, such as a spare room or basement. It’s best to put your dog’s crate in the family room or your bedroom, or both.

Puppies under six months of age that are being housetrained should never be kept in their crate longer than three or four hours, as they can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. Adult dogs that are being housetrained may be able to hold it longer than a few hours, but they should also never be kept in their crate longer than a few hours.

Be sure to introduce your puppy or dog to a new crate slowly, and make it a pleasant, rewarding experience.