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How to choose a crate for my dog?

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Outdoor dog kennels and dog runs

How to crate train a dog

Dog crates, also known as dog cages or kennels, are enclosed structures designed to provide a safe and secure space for dogs. Crates can serve various purposes and offer several benefits for both dogs and their owners. As a dog owner, you will be looking to provide the best possible care to your furry friend. One of the most effective ways to provide them with the required level of comfort is choosing the right type of kennel for their stay.There are multiple types of kennels available in the market, including wire folding kennels, plastic kennels, and furniture kennels, to name a few. But the choice will be solely based on the preferences of your dog and the safety concerns.

Below in this brief guide, we are going to share some practical tips that will help you choose the right kennel for your pup.

Here's a guide to understanding dog crates:

Types of Dog Crates

Wire Crates: These are typically made of metal wire and offer good visibility, ventilation, and portability. They are suitable for both home and travel use.

Plastic Crates: Also known as airline-approved crates, these are made of sturdy plastic and are commonly used for air travel. They provide privacy and a cozy den-like environment.

Soft-Sided Crates: Made from fabric materials, these crates are lightweight and portable. They are convenient for travel but may not be suitable for dogs prone to chewing or scratching.

Heavy-Duty Crates: These are constructed with thicker metal bars and are designed for strong or large dogs. They provide extra security and durability.

Benefits of Using Dog Crates

Safe Space: Crates offer a secure and comfortable space where dogs can rest, sleep, or seek refuge when they need a break.

House Training: Crates can aid in house training by teaching dogs to hold their bladder and bowels. Most dogs won't eliminate where they sleep, helping with the house training process.

Travel and Transport: Crates are essential for safe and comfortable travel by car or air. They provide dogs with a familiar and secure environment during transportation.

Management and Control: Crates can help manage dogs' behavior and keep them out of trouble when they can't be supervised. They prevent dogs from chewing on household items or engaging in other undesirable behaviors.

Reduced Anxiety: Many dogs find comfort in the enclosed space of a crate, which can help reduce anxiety in stressful situations or when left alone.

Crate Training

Crate training involves teaching your dog to associate the crate with positive experiences and gradually increasing their comfort and time spent inside. Here's how to crate train your dog:

Introduce Gradually: Start by placing treats, toys, or a comfortable bed inside the crate to encourage your dog to enter voluntarily.

Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and rewards to create a positive association with the crate. Feed your dog meals near the crate or inside it to make it a positive experience.

Gradual Confinement: Close the crate door for short periods while your dog is inside. Gradually increase the time as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Stay Nearby: Initially, stay near the crate when your dog is inside to provide reassurance. Gradually increase the distance over time.

Never Use as Punishment: Never use the crate as a form of punishment. The crate should always be a positive and safe space for your dog.

Sizing and Comfort

Choose a crate that allows your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Avoid a crate that's too large, as dogs may not feel secure in a cavernous space. Provide soft bedding, toys, and familiar scents to make the crate inviting and comfortable.

Safety Considerations

Avoid leaving collars or harnesses on your dog while they are in the crate to prevent accidental entanglement.

Ensure proper ventilation and temperature regulation when using a crate, especially in warmer weather.

Never leave a dog crated for extended periods. Dogs need exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction.

Choosing the Right Crate

Consider your dog's size, breed, age, and specific needs when choosing a crate. Choose a crate that provides enough space without being overly spacious, and select the type that best suits your lifestyle and your dog's preferences.

Whether used for training, travel, or providing a safe haven, dog crates can be valuable tools when used properly and with your dog's comfort and well-being in mind.

Make Comfort a Priority
Your dog will be spending a lot of time in their kennel, so you want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. Consider the type of material, structure, and level of safety before you make a final choice. Here are some additional things you will have to consider:
  • Dog Kennel Size: Make sure the kennel is big enough for your dog to move around in comfortably.
  • Bed: Look for a kennel with a soft and fluffy bed to provide enough comfort.
  • Temperature: The kennel should be climate-controlled so that your dog is comfortable no matter the weather outside.
  • Privacy: Your dog should have some privacy in their kennel. Look for a kennel with partitions or blocks of wood or plastic.
Choose the Right Material
Kennels are available in multiple types of materials, but not all of them will suit your pup's lifestyle. Some materials are more durable than others and can withstand the elements better. While other materials are also more comfortable for your dog, which is important if they are going to be spending a lot of time in their kennel.

For example, plastic dog kennels are the most popular choice for dog owners because they are lightweight and easy to clean. Also, they are relatively affordable and can be bought for a fraction of the price as compared to wooden or metal ones.

Metal kennels, on the other hand, are more durable than plastic ones but can be a little expensive due to their sturdiness. This makes them not as susceptible to damage as plastic kennels. Lastly, wooden kennels are the most expensive types of kennels because of their sleek design and delicate yet durable structure. Whatever material you choose for your dog's kennel, be sure you keep their comfort and lifestyle in mind.

Consider Your Dog's Needs
The choice of the right kennel for your dog will depend on the activities and needs of your dog. Some dogs need more exercise than others, some need more socialization, and some need a quiet place to rest.

If you are not sure what your dog needs, you can ask your veterinarian for advice. There are also many online resources that can help you choose the right kennel for your dog. You can also look at some of the top dog breeds and see what environment can best fit their needs.

Dog crate sizes

How big should a dog's crate be? The crate's size should be big enough for the dog to lay down and stretch out comfortably. The dog should be able to easily turn around in the crate and stand full height without being restricted by the size of the crate. If you have a young puppy that has not reached his full size, get a crate big enough that can accommodate the dog once the puppy is fully grown. If the crate seems too big for the puppy, use a crate separator to allocate the right amount of space for the puppy and increase the amount of space in the crate as the puppy is growing. Getting a crate that is too big for your full grown dog is not a good idea because the dog will be more inclined to use the unused part of his crate as a toilet. A crate separator can help resolve the issue and make the space just right for the dog. Use a crate separator in order to create enough space for your dog to feel comfortable. As the dog is growing, the crate separator can be adjusted in order to accommodate your growing pet.

Crates come in many sizes, from extra small crates that can fit the tiny breeds such as the Chihuahua to extra large crates that can be suitable for giant dog breeds such as the Great Dane.

The size of a dog's crate should provide enough space for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It's important to choose a crate that is appropriate for your dog's size, breed, and specific needs. Here's a general guideline for selecting the right size crate for your dog:

Measure Your Dog:
Measure your dog's height from the floor to the top of their head (when standing), length from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail, and width from shoulder to shoulder. Add a few inches to each measurement to ensure your dog has enough room to move comfortably.

The crate's height should be tall enough to allow your dog to stand up without having to hunch or crouch. When measuring, add 2 to 4 inches to your dog's standing height to determine the minimum height of the crate.

The crate's length should be long enough to accommodate your dog when they're lying down fully stretched out. When measuring, add 4 to 6 inches to your dog's length to determine the minimum length of the crate.

The crate's width should be wide enough to allow your dog to turn around comfortably. When measuring, add 2 to 4 inches to your dog's width to determine the minimum width of the crate.

Choosing the Right Size:
Once you have the minimum dimensions based on your measurements, you can select a crate that closely matches those dimensions. It's better to err on the side of slightly larger than slightly smaller to ensure your dog's comfort.

Puppy Considerations:
For puppies, you can choose a crate that will accommodate their full adult size or opt for an adjustable crate that can be resized as the puppy grows.

Adult Dogs:
For adult dogs, it's important to provide a crate that allows them to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. A crate that is too large might lead to soiling in one corner and sleeping in another, which can hinder potty training efforts.

Crate Training:
Crate training involves gradually acclimating your dog to the crate. Start with short periods of time and gradually increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable. A properly sized crate can help create a positive association with the crate.

Consider Your Dog's Behavior:
Consider your dog's behavior and preferences. Some dogs prefer a cozy, den-like space, while others may prefer a more open and spacious crate. Remember that the primary goal of a crate is to provide your dog with a safe and comfortable space. If you're uncertain about the appropriate size for your dog's crate, consult your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for guidance based on your dog's specific needs and characteristics.

How to measure a dog for a crate. Dog crate size chart by dog's weight:
X-small crate size 19" by 13"
Appropriate for dogs that weigh less than 10 lbs. Extra small dog crate works best for toy breeds such as the Maltese or Yorkshire Terrier.

Small crate size 24" by 18"
Appropriate for dogs weighing from 11 to 25 lbs. Breeds such as Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Papillon can be comfortable in a small size dog crate.

Medium crate size 30" by 20"
Appropriate for dogs weighing from 26 to 40 lbs.

Large crate size 36" by 23"
Appropriate for dogs weighing from 41 lbs to 70 lbs.

X-large crate size 42" by 28"
Appropriate for dogs weighing from 71 to 90 lbs.

XX-large crate size 48" by 30"
Appropriate for dogs weighing from 91 to 110 lbs.

After you figured out the correct crate size for your dog, it is time to consider different materials that crates are made from. There are different types of dog crates and the materials that are used to create a crate can also be different. Most dog crates are made from wood, metal or plastic. Each crate style has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before you make the final decision.

Wooden dog crates

Wooden crates look attractive and stylish in any home environment. Beautiful wooden crates for dogs may look very elegant, but they also require more craftsmanship and cost more than other types of crates. If price is not an issue, there are many options on today's market for a wooden crate that can serve as a glamorous den for your dog and add style to your home. Visually appealing wooden crates are more appropriate for dogs that passed the teething stage and aren't destructive chewers. Young, teething puppies may chew on wooden crates. Wooden crates aren't as durable as crates made of metal or plastic and large, active dogs can find a way to damage wooden crates. Wooden crates are not recommended for dogs that aren't fully housetrained. In case the dog has an accident in the wooden crate, the wood may accumulate the unpleasant scent of the dog's urine after a while and this is another drawback of using a wooden dog crate. Metal crates are easier to clean and keep fresh as metal does not absorb the scent of the dog's urine as much as a wooden kennel would. Wooden dog crates are usually not foldable and not portable. If you need a crate that the dog can easily travel in, then look for other dog crate options.

Merry Products 3-Door Furniture Style Dog Crate
Merry Products 3-Door Furniture Style Dog Crate
  • Designed for indoor use
  • Includes three doors
  • Double-hinged front doors
  • Removable tray
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Metal dog crates (Wire dog crates)

Metal crates make a popular choice for many dog owners. Metal dog crates are durable and often come with a plastic tray, which makes the wire crate easy to keep clean. Many metal crates are foldable and easy to store and transport. Folding metal crates are easy to assemble. Most dogs aren't interested in chewing their metal kennels and even if they try, the metal can withstand even the most stubborn chewers. Wire dog crates are comfortable for the dog to travel in, but metal crates can be heavier than light plastic crates. Metal crate can easily heat up in warm weather - use a crate cover to keep the metal from getting too hot when using the crate outdoors. Do not leave a metal crate in the sunny area during hot weather. Wire crates are more affordable than wooden dog crates and provide a better air circulation than most other dog crates. A good air flow in a crate is especially important if you live in a warm climate. A stylish crate cover can make the crate look stylish and will provide the dog with a den-like environment that he craves.

Frisco Fold and Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate
Frisco Fold and Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate
  • Comes with a divider panel
  • Easy to assemble
  • Removable, durable plastic base pan
  • Sturdy dog crate
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Plastic dog crates

Plastic crates are durable and lighter than metal crates. Plastic dog crates are easy to clean. Light plastic dog crates can be convenient during trips but plastic crates often lack good ventilation. Never leave a dog locked in a plastic crate in a sunny area. Limited air circulation in a plastic crate combined with hot weather can result in heat stroke for your pet. There are some other drawbacks to using plastic crates. If your dog is an active chewer, plastic crate is easier to damage by chewing than metal. Some plastic crates are more challenging to assemble in comparison to folding metal crates.

Frisco Plastic Dog Kennel
Frisco Plastic Dog Kennel
  • The ideal crate for any trip with your pet
  • Easy to assemble or take apart for storage
  • Easy to clean
  • This carrier is airline compliant, but it is important to always check with your airline to make sure you understand their guidelines for flying with pets
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Outdoor dog kennels and dog runs

Outdoor dog kennels and dog runs are appropriate for large yards. Dog kennels help to keep the dog safe and secure. Many different styles of outdoor dog kennels are available - kennels that can accommodate more than one dog. Some dog kennels are more versatile and are designed to keep the dog comfortable regardless of the weather.

Dog kennel decks help to keep the dog on a dry surface while in the kennel.

Dog kennel cleaners can keep the kennel smelling fresh and help to remove the harmful bacteria.

A dog kennel shade cover can help to keep the dog comfortable during sunny days.

How to crate train a dog

Dog owners who decide to crate train their dogs do so for many reasons. Here are benefits of crate training:
A crate is useful in travel and can significantly lower the dog's stress level as he is spending time in his familiar environment. Having the dog in a crate during traveling is a safer way to transport your pet. When you are bringing a new dog home, his own crate helps the dog to adjust to the new surroundings and eases the transition to the new family. Potty training a dog is much easier when the dog is crate trained. Dogs do not like to use their den as a toilet and in nature dogs would get out of their den for a bathroom break to keep their sleeping area clean. The same applies to crates - and when the crate is appropriately sized for a dog, there is less of a chance that the dog will use the crate as his toilet. He will try to hold it as long as possible before using the crate as a toilet. Do not expect that the dog will not use the dog crate as a toilet if he is is locked in a crate for hours on end without a chance to use a toilet. Dog's bladder can only hold it for so long before the dog answers the nature's call. Having a dog crate that comes with a plastic pan makes clean up much easier in case of an accident.

Dogs are den-dwelling animals and crates serve as a safe place where the dog can comfortably rest and get away from loud kids to get a good sleep. Many dogs enjoy bringing their toys to hide in the crate. Allow your dog this space and try not to bother him when he chooses to spend some time in the crate.

As you are crate training your dog:
When you just brought a new crate, unpack it, set it up and put some treats inside the crate to ignite the dog's interest to explore the new environment. Leave the crate door completely open and do not rush to close the door as soon as the dog got inside. It is best to wait a few days until the dog is fully comfortable spending time in the crate before you start training him to stay inside with the crate door closed. Sit by the crate and throw some treats inside the crate. Let the dog freely come in and out of the crate for the treats. Do not give the dog treats when he is coming out of the crate as he will associate coming out of the crate with getting a treat. The goal is to make the dog's experience in the crate positive. Do not try to force the dog inside the crate as this will only create fear towards the new object and the dog will be reluctant to get inside the kennel as a result of being forced. During the first few days of crate training, keep the crate's door open and periodically put some treats in the crate so that the dog can learn to walk inside the crate, get a treat and freely come out. Stay neutral as he is coming out of the crate and do not reward or praise his coming out. After a few days, when the dog learned to freely come in the crate and maybe spend some time inside with the door still open, you can start training the dog to stay in the crate for a few seconds with the door closed. Once again, do not force the dog in the crate. Instead, leave some treats in the cage and when the dog is inside the crate, quietly close the crate door. Try to not make too much noise as you are closing the door so that the dog wouldn't get scared of the sound. Wait a few seconds. If the dog is quiet, open the door and let him come out without rewarding him as he is coming out. If the dog starts to whine the second you close the door, do not immediately open the gate. This will only cause the dog to make a connection that his whining gets the door opened. This is not the goal as we don't want to teach the dog to whine the moment he is locked in the crate. If he is whining, you need to wait for that moment when he stops whining and immediately open the gate the second when he is not whining. Do not reward him as he is coming out of the crate. Be patient and do not rush the process. Continue repeating this exercise a few times every day until the dog is comfortable spending time in the crate with the door locked.

Always walk the dog and let the dog potty before you place him in the crate for the night.

After the dog spent some time in the crate, always let him use a potty immediately after he comes out of the crate. He waited long enough for a bathroom break and he may be anxious to use the potty as soon as he possibly can. Do not punish the dog if he immediately urinated after you took him out of the crate. He probably waited too long for a bathroom break. Next time immediately take the dog outside right away after you let him out of the crate, so that he can relieve himself immediately in the designated toilet area.

If you are planning to lock the dog in the crate at night, leave the crate by your bed for the first few nights, and even though the dog may whine for a while during the first few days, he will learn to understand that the crate is a safe area where he can sleep and rest at night. Once the dog is comfortable spending the night in the crate, you can move the create to the area where the dog will be sleeping at night regularly. Do not open the gate at night as the dog is whining - you may calm the dog by saying something calming to him, but opening the gate as he is whining will send him a message that if he whines long enough, he can get you to open the door.

If the crate will be used as the dog's sleeping area, encourage your pet to sleep there by placing the kennel in the area where the dog normally sleeps. The best area for the dog's crate is a quiet area, preferably where the dog can still watch his family but at the same time he is in an area where he can comfortably sleep. There should not be any drafts. If you have a crate bed, place it inside the crate. Some dogs may be allergic to synthetic bedding. It is best to use a waterproof dog bed with a washable, removable cover. Washable covers are much easier to keep clean.

Do not use the crate as punishment tool. If the crate is used as a way to punish the dog, he will associate the kennel with being punished. This creates a negative association that is not beneficial for crate training. The dog will naturally feel bad about being left in the crate after being punished and it will be more difficult to help the dog feel safe and secure in his crate down the road.

Do not keep the dog confined in the crate for hours on end. A kennel should only have enough space for the dog to comfortably stretch out, turn around and stand up full height. If the crate is too big, the dog may be more inclined to start using his crate as his toilet. The limited space in a crate does not allow for the dog to exercise, and often there's no food or water in the crate. Leaving the dog in a crate longer than a couple of hours every day is not a kind thing to do to your pet. Arrange for someone to take the dog for a walk, to feed him and to give him water when you are not around.

Crate training is not supposed to be cruel when done properly. Any dog needs a place where he can feel safe and secure and the purpose of the crate is to provide the dog with an environment where the dog can rest comfortably, hide his toys, and get away from the household chaos whenever he needs some alone time. Yes, even dogs can appreciate some alone time in a comfortable area in addition to other benefits that a crate provides. When used in a responsible manner, a crate is a useful tool that benefits the dog by keeping him out of trouble at night or whenever the owner is not around. A responsible dog owner will not crate the dog without walking the dog first to tire him out and let him potty before placing the dog in the crate to rest. A good dog owner will not keep the dog confined in the crate for hours on end. Some dogs are initially not comfortable spending time in the locked crate and it is the dog owner's job to make the crate training a positive experience. Once crate trained, many dogs seek out their crate whenever they need to rest, get away from the loud kids or chew on their favorite toy. It may take a few days before the dog is completely comfortable being locked in the kennel, but the benefits of having his own den-like environment outweigh the initial discomfort in many ways. If you travel frequently and like to bring your dog along, transporting the dog in a crate makes the trip much safer and more comfortable for the dog and a lot easier for the owner.

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