The right size crate for the right size dog.

Apr 11, 2004

The Bottom Line Choosing the right crate for your dog is extremely important, get the right crate for the right dog.

My wife gets asked a lot (and so do I), what size crate should I get for my dog? This editorial is in regards to indoor crates, for while you’re at work, asleep etc.

The answer is quite simple. You want a crate that is large enough for the dog to walk into it upright, turn around, and lie down. They should be able to stand upright without squatting.

Doesn’t sound like much does it?

First, let’s take a look back. Dogs are domesticated wolves, and they still have a lot of the wolf instincts in them, one being their “den” (or home). These dens are usually small, either under a tree or in a small cave / hole in the ground. It’s their bedroom, and they like cozy, not luxurious. They don’t need a lot of room because they’ll sleep most of the time while they’re in there.

People also ask, what about “accidents”. Well, we don’t try to have “accidents” in out bedrooms, and neither do dogs, just make sure you walk them before you put them in the crate for the day. This is another point where the “small” size comes in handy. You don’t want your dog doing that in the crate, and the dog doesn’t want to lie in it. If you give them an oversized crate, they’ll have the space to do that, and be able to lie on the other side. To some of them, that would be acceptable, and unless you catch them in the act, it will continue to be acceptable to them.

That’s simple, but it’s a small part of the question.

What kind of crate should we get? That all depends on your usage and the dog.

If the crate is going to be stationary all the time, then I’d suggest one of the hard plastic ones with the metal gate door (such as VariKennel and SkyKennel). These look like large cat carriers without the handle on the top. The advantages are:

- They tend to cost the least.
- They’re solid and therefore, sturdy. You can even use them as a table if they’re secure and the dog isn’t too active inside them). If the dog is very active, these crates will not tear apart like the tent crates.
- They’re safe. If sometime falls on them, the dog won’t get hurt (unless it’s a huge item, obviously).
- They’re secure. They’re dark and feel most like a “den” to the dog.
- Many also have an option for a cedar lining in the bottom so dog hair, dirt, and other ‘contaminants’ will fall below it, and not add extra dirtiness to the dog, plus they can smell nice to us humans.

But, these are large, heavy, and bulky. You don’t want to move them around too much.

What if you’re going to move it around a lot? There is a wide variety of collapsible crates available, but these do cost more. There are primarily two types of collapsible crates, tents and metal cages. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The metal cages:

- Collapse for easy storage and moving
- Are strong for active dogs
- Are strong for protection (fallen objects etc..)
- Are generally less expensive than the tent crates

But, these can also be heavy (as much or more than the plastic crates listed above).

The tent crates:

- Are very lightweight
- Easy to set up and take down for easy storage and mobility.

But, if you have an active dog, they can easily chew though the sides, knock them over, and they offer no protection from fallen objects and tend to be expensive.

Recently, a new crate has arrived at shows, we have one, and we love it (and the puppy gives it four paws up because he loves to sleep on his back in there). It’s made by a company called Noz2Noz and it’s a cross between a tent crate and a metal cage. It’s collapsible, the supports are metal (not plastic or PVC piping like in a lot of tent crates), the sires are strong, and it’s super lightweight. My wife doesn’t even ask me to carry it! :)

What about “extras”? If you’re worried about ventilation, there is a wide variety of battery powered clip on fans you can get, or just head to your local department store and buy an inexpensive oscillating fan. Comfort? Your pup is spending all day in there, make it comfortable for them. Many pet stores sell beds for crates, while these are nice, they tend to be pricey. Many dollar stores sell small sections of rugs, and / or towels. You can also go t many fabric stores and buy inexpensive fabric by the yard to make them a nice impromptu bed. Cheap pillows can also work. You want the ultimate in thrifty? Use old bath towels or blankets (according to the puppy, these are usually the best because they’re ‘broken in’ soft, not rough, and smell like we do, so he’s not so lonely). There are endless possibilities for bedding in the crates to fit all budget and dog types. If your dog is a chewer, I’d suggest going the less expensive route (plus some Grannik’s Bitter Apple). I would highly recommend the old towel part, even after we wash it, it still smells like us to them, and they love us, so they’re thinking of us while they’re in doggie dreamland.

When choosing a crate for your dog, try to look at all the choices that are out there, and make the best one for you and your dog. Don’t skimp back if the dog may hurt itself in the crate, or chew though it. Spend the extra dollar to make your best friend happy.

What do we use? My wife and I have 7 (oh my god, that many???) crates. We have 3 set up perm. In the house, 2 plastic ones for the Belgians, and a tent crate for the collie (which can also be used for overnight trips).. IN her car is a tent crate for the collie and a metal cage crate for the Belgian (both secured). In my car we also keep another metal cage crate for whoever may need it (overnight trips etc.). We also have a Noz2Noz that we use in the bedroom (for the puppy overnight) and for overnight trips.

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Member: Ed Blood
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