Before you figure out how to choose a dog crate, you’ll need to determine what you want the crate for. Is it house training? Air travel? Car safety? A safe space when visiting friends or family? Moving day? A retreat when things get too hectic at home?
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Things to think about before you buy
What are you using it for?
- Crate training
- Airline travel
- Car safety
- A den/for quiet time
Where will you keep it?
- Set up in one spot for everyday use
- Mostly in storage
- Out of the way but easily accessible
Ease of cleaning
Does it come apart so cleaning is a breeze, or do you have to basically crawl inside just to wipe it down?
Must it blend into your décor?
How will all this help me decide?
It absolutely will because, for example, if you’ll only be using it once in a great while, something that folds up nice and flat for storage would be an important feature. On the other hand if you need something for flights, the crate you choose will have to conform to the specifications set out by the individual airline. If it will be set up in one location for constant use, making sure it is big enough and easily accessible for your dog are priorities.
Materials to choose from
Crates are made from a variety of materials –
Pros and cons of each
- Best ventilation
- Available with 1 or 2 doors that swing outward or slide up – more flexibility for use in small spaces or corners
- Easy to see your dog
- Your dog can see what’s going on
- Option of covering the crate if your puppy is too distracted
- Divider panels mean you can buy one size and adjust it as your puppy grows
- Removable floor tray for easy cleaning
- Most fold flat for transport or storage
- Carrying handle for portability
- Sturdy and pretty chew proof
- For some dogs the open view can be stressful but, as mentioned, the crate can be covered
- May not offer enough protection against the cold. Again, a cover thrown over should help, as well as putting a pillow on the bottom and a blanket
- Some dogs are talented and can pee or poop through the wire onto your floor
- Can be heavy
- Can be noisy when your dog moves around
- Some escape artists can, well, escape!
My experience with a wire crate
When my dog Jack became paralysed and was recovering from spinal surgery he needed complete rest, so we got him a metal crate. We added a nice comfy bed and blanket for him and he loved it. It was (still is!!) in the living room so he was still part of the family and could see what was going on. He no longer needs it for recovery purposes, but he does love to use it in the evening. I don’t find it noisy when he moves around, he has never peed out of it and there’s no way he could possibly open the two latches. Does that mean this will be your experience? Of course not but I like to share stories from my own life when I can.
- Light and less awkward to move and carry than metal ones
- Top can be removed and the bottom used as a dog bed
- Insulated against cold
- Top turned upside down fits in the bottom so doesn’t take up a lot of storage space
- Harder for dogs to see out so there’s less distractions and less stress
- If you buy an airline approved crate, you can travel with it as well
- Harder for Houdini to escape from
- Wire doors are available to prevent chewing
- Some colour options if that matters
- Indentation around edge of floor allows pee to drain away from where your dog lies (theoretically)
- Easy to take apart for cleaning
- If you’re planning on replacing them as your puppy grows, reasonably priced ones are available, especially if they don’t have to be airline approved
- Not many openings to see through, can be stressful
- Harder to get the smell out of plastic
- Lack of air circulation can cause your puppy to overheat
- Not the prettiest looking thing – if that matters
- Some have thin plastic doors, dangerous if puppies use them for chew toys
- If you have a large crate, it can be awkward making it smaller to fit him meaning he’ll have enough room to pee or poop in the back, and a clean section in the front. You will likely end up buying a few over the course of his lifetime.
When I use plastic
I have never used this type of crate as a training tool, nor would I because I believe a wire crate is best for that purpose. I use plastic for transporting cats to the vet and for air travel with dogs and cats. I make sure the doors are metal for safety during transport.
- Light and easy to carry
- Doesn’t take up storage space
- Can be used for camping or travelling
- Lots of styles, colours and fabrics for the fashion conscious
- Easily damaged
- Not particularly long lasting
- Some dogs can unzip the door
- Not secure since dogs (especially puppies) can easily chew through or rip the fabric
- Difficult to clean
- Shouldn’t be difficult to find one that blends into your décor
- Top can be used as a table, so no extra space needed
- Fine for use as a dog bed or hidey hole
- Not suitable for destructive dogs who can easily damage the material
- Not recommended for house training because material stains, and odours are very difficult to get out
- Can be expensive compared to other options
My recommendation for training
If you are looking for a crate for housetraining purposes, a wire crate is the way to go, for all the “pro” reasons mentioned above.
How to choose a dog crate – conclusion
You’ve read the pros and cons, considered the various factors, thought of your needs and the needs of your puppy. After all that I do hope I have helped you figure out how to choose a dog crate.