How to choose a dog crate?

Dog crates can be soft-sided, wire, wooden, plastic, and even made of both metal and plastic. How to pick the right one? You have to consider some details

The choice really depends on your dog and your needs. There is a big difference between the dog crate that is meant to limit the environment for a puppy and the one for traveling. Obviously, the stronger and more active your pooch is, the more reliable material you should pick.

This quick guide on dog crate sizes and types will help you take a grasp on which kind will fulfill your puppy’s needs best. In the end, the comfort of the pet is what should be your number one priority.

What material to choose?

Dog crates can be divided into five groups by the material they’re made of. Each type has its pros, cons, and purposes. So before trying to understand what size do you need, start with choosing the kind of a dog crate.

Soft-sided

Such crates look like boxes made of firm and durable material. They are light and relatively cheap. You can just fold it so that it takes little space when not needed. Also, soft-sided carriers are allowed by airlines. It means you can travel with your dog in the cabin instead of worrying about it spending the flight in the luggage compartment.

Even though this option seems so appealing, only a small number of owners can enjoy all the benefits. First of all, a soft-sided crate is just for little dogs. So if your pooch is medium-sized or bigger, this type is not for you.

Also, such carriers are suitable for calm pets. If you have a young puppy that loves chewing and scratching everything it sees, a soft-sided crate won’t last long. And finally, the fabric can be tricky to clean.

So, the soft-sided carrier will be a good choice for small, crate-trained dogs. If it’s not about your pooch, you should look for another option.

Plastic

Such carriers are the most popular. They come in different sizes, and if plastic is high-quality, they are rather durable. A lot of models can be broken down into details to make the crate more convenient to store. And airlines allow them both in cargo and cabin.

Plastic is effortless to clean – just wipe it with a damp cloth, and you’re good to go. Also, solid sides will be calming for a reactive and nervous dog since it will feel protected inside the carrier. And if you want to make it more comfortable for your pup, just put a soft blanket inside.

Even though there are so many pros, a plastic crate has its downsides. First of all, a dog can chew it. Some rather determined puppies managed to chew their way out of the carrier. Also, plastic absorbs some of the smell. So eventually, the cage will get an unpleasant stench if you use it often.

You can never fold a plastic carrier flat, and the breaking down and then assembling processes are time-consuming. And when assembled the crate takes a lot of space.

Metal

These cages are also called wire. They are the best choice for large breeds and active puppies. Most owners of show dogs prefer metal crates because they’re easy to clean and extremely durable. Also, such carriers usually have a rather open design. Therefore, the pet will get enough air to breathe.

Additionally, such cages can fold flat. It makes them convenient to store and transport. So there is no wonder that many people see this kind of crates as the best option.

However, there are certain downsides. First of all, metal is far from light, so you can expect a wire crate to be rather heavy. Also, the dog can see everything that’s going on around the cage. And it is not good for reactive pooches. So you might need to use a cover to keep your pet calm. And remember that metal tends to rust.

Wooden

These crates are extremely rare. Why? Well, because dogs love to chew wooden things. Also, the smell will become your reliable companion with a wooden crate. Still, some owners pick it because of the appealing look. Probably, it’s the only advantage of such an option.

Combo

Another popular option among owners of show dogs – a combo crate. It is made both of plastic and metal. Wire sides won’t allow the active puppy to get out, and the plastic top will serve as a comfortable table for grooming. However, these crates are very heavy and hard to assemble.

What size should you pick?

The answer is quite simple – your pup should be able to stand up in the cage and turn around. So for a large dog, the crate will probably be much bigger than you might assume. If the cage is too small, the animal will feel restrained and uncomfortable there. Then the dog will have bad associations and won’t want to stay inside.

Pros and cons of crates

If you need to transport your dog, you most probably can’t just ignore carriers. So you will have no other option than to teach your puppy to stay in the crate using positive reinforcement. You should remember that the dog must have good associations with the cage.

But what about using crates for the behavior correction? Well, again, the cage must be a safe place for the dog. Otherwise, you will have issues later when you need to use a carrier for transporting. Therefore, you should train the puppy to stay in a crate in the same way you’d teach it to stay in its bed.

Then, if your dog shows an unwanted behavior, you can simply tell it to go in the cage and stay there. It is the best way to teach the pooch good manners without actually punishing it. Also, if the puppy is crate-trained, you can lock it in the cage when you go away so that the young dog doesn’t destroy the house.

So, the pros are as follows:

  • vital for traveling;
  • good for behavior correction;
  • good to create a safe place.

Cons:

  • can be stressful if the dog has bad associations with crates;
  • require some training.

Bottom line

Just like anything in this world, crates are great if you have the right approach to them. In wrong hands, a cage can become a living nightmare for the dog. At the same time, after a proper positive-based training the puppy will see it as a safe and comfortable place to relax in.

So, all you need to do is to choose the proper material based on your dog’s temper, and pick the right size of the cage so that the puppy can feel not restrained being inside. Don’t force the dog to come in the crate. Instead, lure it inside with a treat and show that it is not scary to stay in the cage.

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