Choosing the right crate for your dog – the housebreaking bible
Decisions, decisions. You’ve made the wise choice to crate train your dog, but now you have to figure out what kind of crate to buy and how big it should be. Buying the wrong crate can mess up your training program, so here are some guidelines to keep in mind when you’re at the pet store or online purchasing your dog’s crate.
The biggest mistake dog owners make when choosing a crate is getting one that’s way too big. For housebreaking purposes, your dog’s crate should be just big enough for him to stand up, turn around and lie down in. This will help your housebreaking program, since your puppy has a natural tendency to want to avoid soiling his sleeping area. If you get a crate that’s too big, he’ll use one half as a bedroom and the other half as a bathroom. Not good.
There are 5 basic crate types to choose from: wire crates, plastic crates, soft-sided crates, heavy-duty crates and cute crates. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, which we’ll discuss here to help you choose what’s best for you and your dog.
See the “Related Supplies” box at the end of this article for photos of each type of crate and links to buy them online.
PROS: Good for dogs that get hot easily, due to either living in a hot climate or having a heavy coat
With some models, you can buy a divider to section off the crate, so your dog’s area in the crate starts out small and gets bigger as he grows
CONS: Tend to be noisier than plastic crates when your dog moves around, but this can usually be resolved by placing a thick piece of cardboard between the floor tray and the wire bottom of the crate
Some escape-artist dogs find that it’s easier to break out of wire crates
Large sizes can be heavy and difficult to move
Some dogs will pee and poo through the wire onto the floor outside so they’re still in a comfy, clean crate (seriously!)
PROS: Good for dogs who like cozy spaces and tend to sleep in corners or under tables
Can be used for airline travel – if your dog is acclimated to this type of crate, flying with him will be easier
More difficult for escape artists to get out of; if your dog is good at breaking out of crates, you may need to get him a plastic crate that’s one size too big for him to prevent him from escaping
Available in different colors
Top half of crate comes off and can be stacked inside bottom half for storage
CONS: Your puppy might get hot in there, since there isn’t as much air circulation
Some dogs like to be able to see what’s going on around them and may get frustrated that they can’t see out the sides
You may have to break out the hose or climb inside the thing to clean it out if your dog has a tragic diarrhea incident in it
CONS: May be difficult to clean in the event of a major potty accident
Destructive dogs can eat their way out
Clever dogs may figure out how to unzip and open the door panel
PROS: Can contain most destructive or escape-artist dogs
Some are approved for airline travel – if your puppy is acclimated to this type of crate, flying with him will be easier
CONS: Expensive (but worth it if you compare it to the cost of replacing less sturdy crates after your escape artist gets out of them or your destructive dog destroys them!)
Not super attractive… but your dog will sure look tough hangin’ out in one of these things!
PROS: Finished wood or rattan and wire crates look great around the house
Some can be used as furniture to replace an end or side table, so you won’t need extra space in the house for your crate
CONS: Can’t be used for destructive dogs, as they can chew the wood or rattan
If crate has a finished wood floor, it can be damaged if your dog has an accident in his crate
If you’re still unsure as to which kind of crate to buy, don’t let it stop you from getting one. Remember, just about any crate is better than no crate at all!
Another little crate-buying tip for you budget-minded types: Most people use their crates only during the early training period with their dogs. That means you can always find used crates on eBay or in the classifieds – and they’re usually dirt cheap! If you choose to get a secondhand crate, just be sure to clean and disinfect it thoroughly before using it.
Once you’ve got a crate for your dog, you’re ready for the first step of crate training, Acclimating Your Dog to His Crate.