Finding the Right Crate for Your Dog
Crates come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The two most common ones are plastic, which are usually used for (air) travel, and metal wire crates, which you will often see in homes. These metal crates are usually collapsible. But what type of crate does your dog need? And should you crate train them at all?
Is crate training cruel?
You might feel like keeping your dog in a crate is cruel, because it looks like you’re locking them up in a prison. It’s important to remember that dogs have a natural denning instinct, and prefer enclosed places for sleeping. That means that in the wild, they search for a den, a place to sleep without becoming someone else’s lunch.
But that doesn’t mean you can keep a dog in a crate all day. Dogs are social animals that require exercise, interaction with other animals and humans, and of course, they need to go to the bathroom as much as any other being.
Choosing Right Size Crate For Dog
When choosing a crate, there are many things you need to take into consideration such as the size of your dog (as an adult as well as a puppy), the purpose of the crate, the material, the size of the room the crate will be in, etc.
For smaller breeds, plastic is often the best option. They are compact enough to use in the car, and they can be opened and used as doggie beds in a pinch. Plastic dog crates also often have more privacy, as there are less holes for your dog to see through. This can also cut down the amount your dog whines as cries as there are fewer distractions for him to see.
One disadvantage of plastic crates is that they may increase the feeling of isolation. Sometimes, dogs need more stimulation and they will whine because they feel more isolated in this type of crate. Plastic also traps more odor than wire does, and over time, it can become a challenge to keep the crate clean.
Wire crates offer an amazing amount of ventilation, which is helpful for dogs with fuller coats in warm climates. This wire construction also allows the dog to see around him, which can comfort him. Depending on the breed and the dog’s personality, it might also make the dog cry and whine because he can’t get to you. Many wire crates fold flat, which makes for easy storage, but they are not approved for air travel.
It’s important to note that some wire crates have gaps between the bars which makes it uncomfortable for small dogs to stand in them. Make sure to always add a thick layer of bedding to the bottom of the crate. Smaller dogs in colder climates would do better in crates with limited airflow so they can retain a little more of their body heat.
The crate as a House training tool
Depending on the reason you want a crate, the type of crate you need might be different. One of the most common uses of the crate is a housetraining tool—or “crate training.” This essentially means you’re giving your dog his own little bedroom for him to sleep and feel safe in.
For this purpose, the crate should be large enough for the dog to lie down in, but not much bigger than that. Usually, dogs don’t soil where they sleep, so any bigger than that might result in you having to cleaning feces on a regular basis.
The crate as a time-out
It’s possible to use the crate as a way to “time-out” your dog without causing your dog to hate his crate. If your dog misbehaves, you can give him a short time-out in his crate, but it’s important to note that the crate itself shouldn’t be the punishment. The punishment is the loss of freedom for that brief moment of time, when the dog wants to be out and socialize.
When you want to use the crate as a time-out, both a metal or plastic crate will suffice. You will have to look closely at the personality of your dog to help you decide if they would do better with a crate that shows them lots of the world around them, or of a crate that is slightly more isolated.
The crate as a management tool
Of course, the crate is also a great way to manage your dog overall. If you’ve ever spoken to a professional trainer, you know that training is often divided in two different components: training and management. Management is when you try to avoid a situation completely, by keeping your dog in his crate for a short time. For example, crating your dog with a toy when the doorbell rings so they will be occupied while you go to the door, is a good way to practice management.
While crating the dog might not teach them the good habits we want to teach them (that happens during training), it’s a good way to manage their behavior while not reinforcing bad behavior either. When you use the crate as a management tool, a metal wire crate would probably be the best option.
In the end, every dog is different and it’s hard to give a definite answer. In some situations, plastic works better than metal, or the other way around. It also depends on your climate, the thickness of their fur and their personality. If anything, you can always ask a friend to borrow their crate and try both types of crates to see which one is the best for your dog.
Dogs can usually stay in their crate overnight or for about half of the day. Always remember that dogs are social animals, and keeping them in their crates too long can make them feel lonely and isolated. Keeping your dog in his crate too long can also cause separation anxiety and stress, which will cause the dog to cry and make a fuss. Of course, you want the best for your new friend, and we hope that this article has provided you with some useful information to find him the best crate possible. Click here for some recommended crates that offer different sizes for your pet.