Dogs in the wild go inside dens to take a nap, to rest, or even hide or take shelter from thunderstorms. It is thus important to give them something that simulates a den. A dog crate may not be the den that you have in mind but it sure can provide your pet the kind of sanctuary it needs. However, choosing the best dog crate may not be that easy as many of these are uncannily similar. Not to worry though as we’ve researched the 12 best dog crates in the market today so you can start right away.
Best Dog Crate Buying Guide
Picking the best dog crate for your pooch is crucial to providing it with the best possible den-like experience. Regrettably, if you are not cautious in your selection, you might end up with a mediocre quality product that it would have been much better if you just built the crate yourself. It is for this reason that we came up with this dog crate buying guide to help dog lovers like you to make the right decision when it comes to purchasing one of these items.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Dog Crate
Most of us think of a canine cage as a temporary shelter for our pooches whenever we are away from home or when we do need to travel and we’re bringing them along with us. Regardless of the reason why we need to buy such canine shelters, what is important for us is to understand the different factors to consider when buying a dog crate. Understanding these factors should help you make a better informed decision when choosing a dog crate.
Every pet deserves ample space to move about within a dog kennel. You yourself wouldn’t want to stay in a rather cramped room unless absolutely necessary like those Japanese hotel capsules where the so-called room is actually a hyped-up bunker that looks more like human-sized self-service washing machines. Your pooch deserves substantial space so it can freely move about and rest while you’re away or simply to hide from something that it’s afraid of. That is why the size of a dog crate is a very important consideration.
Here are some guidelines when it comes to the minimum size requirements of a dog crate:
- Length – The length of the cage should be, at the very least, 4 inches plus the length of your pet from the tip of its nose right down to the tip of its outstretched tail. So if you have a pooch that is about 18 inches long, you add 4 inches to this to get 22 inches. This is the minimum length of the cage that you need to get.
- Height – For the height of the cage, it should be 4 inches plus the height of your pooch from the floor surface all the way up to the top of its head while standing on all fours. If your mutt happens to be 14 inches tall from the ground surface all the way to the top of its crown, then you add 4 inches to get 18 inches. If you’re considering on putting beddings and other accessories that might increase the vertical measurements of your pet, then you should also take these into consideration. For instance, if you decide to place a 2-inch thick bedding, the minimum height of the cage you need to aim for should be 20 inches, not 18.
- Width – The width of a dog crate is typically measured within the context of the height and length of the cage. So, if you’re done determining the appropriate length and height of your cage, the width is just a formality. However, do check that it should be at least three-quarters the length of the cage. So if the length of the cage is 22 inches, then a width of 16 to 17 inches should suffice. Remember, this is to help ensure your pooch will be able to turn around in its crate.
There are no standards when it comes to what can be considered the ‘right’ size of dog crate. What is important is for these creatures to be able to move freely inside so they don’t have to experience pain, aches, and other problems secondary to limited mobility.
Getting an extra large dog kennel is not good either especially if you intend to use it for crate training. It’s perfectly okay to buy a larger than usual crate as long as there are divider panels which you can use to make the space for crate training a lot smaller.
- Sturdiness and Durability
You don’t want to live in a flimsy house, do you? The same is true with your pooch especially if it happens to be one that is quite restless inside cages. If it is strong enough, you might end up with a broken cage just a few hours after buying it. As such it is equally important to look at the strength or the sturdiness of the dog crate you want to buy. This is often reflected in the type of materials that are used in the manufacture of the product. Currently there are three types of materials that are often used in the construction of dog crates.
- Plastic Dog Crates – Plastic types of dog crates are ideal for those that live in colder climates because it forms just enough barrier between outside air and the inside of the cage. This helps keep the interior warm while still allowing for ample ventilation through windows and doors on the cage. These are very sturdy, too. However, you have to make sure that it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that may have been used during the manufacturing process. Additionally, exposure to extreme heat can make the surface of the plastic brittle, significantly reducing its structural integrity, strength, and durability.
- Metal or steel wire – Metal dog crates that are constructed primarily of steel or aluminium wires are ideal for those who live in warm to hot climates. The inherent design of a wire dog crate itself allows for more efficient and effective ventilation so this can have a cooling effect on your pet. Because it’s made of metal, these are especially tough and strong. One problem is the risk of getting your pet’s paws stuck in between the rungs of the cage.
- Fabric – These provide exceptional comfort for your pet. These are lightweight, too, and are perfect for traveling. Depending on the type of fabric used, it can also be tough and durable.
While the size, sturdiness, and durability of the dog crate are enough to help you make the right decision on which product to choose, you might want to include the overall design of the cage. Some prefer a very straightforward boxy cage while others would want something fancier. Some would also like it to have a certain degree of modularity so they can create partitions on the crate for more specific purposes. Some would also like the crate to be fully collapsible so that they can easily store this when not needed or easily fold it down onto their truck bed when they go out of town with their mutt.
Dog crates, whether plastic or metal wire, always have metallic poles forming slats in the cage. These fixtures allow the free movement of air in and out of the crate. However, the spacing in between the rods or poles can be a real issue. If the spacing is too wide, there’s a chance that your pooch’s paws might slip right through, causing injury, highlighting one of the potential dangers of metal wire crates. So, it’s ideal to look for crates that have tighter spaced rods to help prevent injuries.
We also mentioned something about plastic cages being constructed of and finished with materials that may not be entirely safe. There’s a chance that your pet might lick on these plastic surfaces and thus, ingest some of these harmful chemicals. It is therefore, imperative that you look for products that are guaranteed not to contain any harmful substance.
- Ease of Maintenance
This is something that you really need to consider. While it is true that the dog crate serves as a temporary shelter for your pet, it can easily turn into its home, too. And if it is spending more time inside its ‘home’, then you should be able to keep it spic and span. That is why you also need to consider the ease of cleaning and maintenance.
What Size of Dog Crate Do I Need?
We have already mentioned that the size of dog crate actually depends on the size of your own pooch. It is highly recommended that you measure the length and height of your mutt to get an idea of the minimum size of crate that you need to get.
To get the length of your mutt, you need to place the end of a tape measure on the tip of its nose and stretch the tape measure all the way to the tip of its outstretched tail. Whatever number you arrived at you will need to add 4 inches to it to get the minimum length of the cage.
To obtain the height of your pooch, you need to let it stand on all 4 legs with its head sticking straight up and facing front. Place the tip of the tape measure at a level of the top of its head. Now, stretch the tape measure until it reaches the surface where your pet’s paws are firmly planted. Take the measurement and then add 4 inches. This is the minimum height of the cage that you need to buy.
Benefits of Dog Crates
It is understandable that some dog owners don’t like the idea of having their pets on a cage, even though on a temporary basis. The fact of the matter is that there are many benefits of dog crates. We’ve listed here some of the more popular ones.
- Provides a calm retreat
In the wild, canines are known to retreat to their dens because they know it is the safest place to be. It is their home where no one will bother or disturb them. This is especially true if they are anxious as the den provides them with a calm retreat. In like manner, your pooch can re-learn this behavior, too, if only you will teach or train it early on. As you keep on training it, your pooch will soon understand that the crate is for it to have a more comfortable and more peaceful place to rest in.
- Aids in healing
If your dog is sick or injured, you can always bring it to the vet. Chances are it will still be placed in a crate to help provide a sense of security. This helps prevent unnecessary stress on your pet to allow for the healing process to progress unhindered. If it were to be let out, it can go to areas where it’s not really safe or, worse, it might spread the disease that it has to your other pets.
As cruel as it may look, it is best to keep your pet inside its crate when it is ill or injured to allow for faster healing. Think of it this way. If you’re sick, you almost always go to the hospital where you will be confined to a room so professional health care providers can look after you and make your healing a lot faster. That’s essentially the same thing with the dog crate.
- Reduces anxiety when traveling
Not all dogs like traveling. Just as there are some people who have motion sickness, the feeling can be the same for canines. Additionally, there is this fear and anxiety in them related to the unknown. They don’t know where they are going or what will happen along the way. Putting them in their crate gives them a sense of comfort, a feeling of calm and peace. For them, it doesn’t matter where they are going as long as they are inside their ‘den’.
- Provides security
One of the most important benefits of a dog crate is that it provides your pet a sense of safety and security, just like the way dens do in the wild for their feral cousins. So, even if you leave your home or travel with your pooch, getting a crate will help safeguard this sense of security. In like manner, you will also feel more confident and more secure knowing that your pet is safe and sound inside its crate. Toss in a comfy bedding and some of its toys and it will be a calm, relaxed, and happy mutt.
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How Do I Get My Puppy to Use a Dog Crate?
Experts highly recommend training your dog to love its crate at an early age rather than doing it when it is already a fully grown adult. This is very important as you would want your pooch to understand that the crate is not a tool for punishment. Rather, it is your pooch’s comfortable and happy place where it can rest, hide from whatever is scaring it, and even take a much-needed nap after intense play. Here’s how to get your puppy to use a crate.
- Introduce your pup to the crate.
The very first thing you need to do is to make sure that your puppy won’t feel threatened by the presence of a portable dog kennel. As such, you will need to place the dog crate in your living room or any are in the home where you and your family spend time together. Place your puppy’s bedding and favorite toys inside the crate and leave the door wide open. Now, just let it be. Let your puppy explore the ‘new’ thing inside the house. If it is intuitive enough, it might even go right in even without telling it to. Give it several days for your pup to fully explore every square inch of the crate. Make sure that the door is always wide open. The point is for your puppy to look at the crate as a very ordinary thing that it should not be afraid of.
- Feed your pup inside its crate.
Once you see your pup going in and out of the crate on its own, it’s time to introduce some activities inside the cage. You can start feeding your pup inside the crate but with the door still wide open. You have to do this one step at a time. You need to make your puppy feel that it is okay to eat inside the crate.
After several days, you can start feeding your puppy with the door of the cage closed. First, you give the pup its meal. Once it is eating, gently close the door. By the time it is done with its meal, you can open the door and give it praise.
If your pup whines as soon as you close the door, do not open it immediately. You have to wait until it stops whining before opening the door so as not to give it the idea that whining will lead to an open door. If it whines, it just means you’re too fast in transitioning from feeding with open doors to feeding with closed doors. So, you’ll need to restart and do it at shorter time periods.
- Begin conditioning your pup to stay in the dog crate for longer periods.
This is a very tricky part since it all depends on how well your pup was able to master the skills in the preceding step. Nevertheless, the idea is to get your pup to go inside the dog crate, close the door, and stay with it for about 10 minutes. Now leave it alone, go to another room, and stay out of sight for another 10 minutes. Return to your puppy and simply sit there for about 10 minutes before opening the door and letting your puppy out. Do this several times every day for several days before increasing the length of time that you are ‘away’ from your pup.
The trick in crate training your puppy is to take each step slowly. It also requires absolute patience.
Providing your pet with the most appropriate dog crate involves understanding the different factors you need to consider when buying a crate such as the size, sturdiness and durability, ease of maintenance, safety, and design. Equally important is learning how to train your pup how to use its crate without ever making it feel that the cage is an instrument for punishment. If you can train your puppy well, it will be able to reap all the benefits of a dog crate including calmness, relaxation, security, and safety. The 12 dog crates we’ve listed will also help you start on the right track.