Why Use Crates
Crates are safe havens for your dog whether they’re at home looking for a quiet place to take a nap or travelling in your car. Some people think crates are somehow inhumane after observing animals in cages at your local zoo, but nothing can be further from the truth. Our dogs love their crates and, as we have crates in our home, we often find our dogs sleeping in them with the door open when there’s a perfectly soft empty couch nearby. Teaching your dog to love its crate will guarantee you a lifetime free of worries for you and your dog. Crates are also useful tools for housetraining – see House Training 101 article.
Types of Crates
There are three basic types of crates that can be used for different situations – hard crates, soft crates, and wire crates.
- Hard (plastic) crate. Probably the most versatile of all crates, you’ve seen this crate at the airport and it is made of mostly hard plastic and has a metal gate door. You can use this crate for just about any situation. We use them in our home, in the car, and on the plane. If you can only afford to get one crate a hard crate is the type to get.
- Soft crate. This type of crate is generally made out of nylon that surrounds a plastic or metal frame. They are very lightweight and are great when travelling (assuming you also have a hard crate to keep your friend safe). They fold up nicely and make a great crate for hotel rooms or the home.
- Wire crate. These crates are made of metal wire and are good for in-home or dog-show use as it allows for maximum ventilation and interaction. Many wire crates can fold up for easy transport or storage when not in use.
For in-home use, you have the option of purchasing crates that are designed to look like furniture. These are typically more expensive yet blend in well with your home décor.
Now that you’ve decided what type of crate you want based on your needs, you need to determine the right size crate for your dog. In general, your dog should be able to walk upright into the crate, turn around, and lie down comfortably. A rule of thumb for length is about 1 ½ times the length of your dog when it is an adult. If you get a dog as an adult, this is easier to estimate. If you get a puppy, you should ask your breeder or pet store for what size fits the adult size of the puppy’s breed. When the puppy is growing you can block off part of the crate so it doesn’t have room to relieve himself; for wire crates, many come with a movable divider that you can adjust as the puppy grows.
Here are some rough recommendations on crate sizes based on the adult size of the dog. Please keep in mind that individual dogs can vary in size within a breed so you should decide on a crate that is the best fit for your dog:
- Small dogs (11-25 pounds) : 24” long
- Medium dogs (26-40 pounds): 30” long
- Intermediate dogs (41-70 pounds): 36” long
- Large dogs (71-90 pounds): 42” long
- X Large dogs (91-110 pounds): 48” long
We use a couple of different sizes of crates: 36” x 25” x 36” for our female Labradors and 40” x 27” x 30” for our male Labradors. Note: the dimensions may vary between manufacturers.
There are numerous items you can make or purchase to create a comfortable experience for your dog.
- Bedding. We typically always provide our dogs with a crate pad, sometimes adding a cushion for our older dogs. You can also use towels or blankets to provide a soft landing for your dogs.
- Cover. For our wire crates we usually throw a blanket, sheet or towel over the top to give it a more den-like feel. You can also purchase covers that fit exactly and/or reflect the sun when they are outdoors.
- Name Plates. To personalize your crates, you can engrave name plates to remind your dog what his name is – or to remind you if you have a number of dogs.
- Fans. For warmer weather, crate fans are available which circulates air. Some fans come with a cooling system, basically an ice pack configured on the fan to blow cool air into the crate.
Remember that crates can be your best friend for your best friend – keep them safe and comfortable.