All About Crating
Dog crating can be a difficult idea for dog owners. Based on appearances alone, crating can seem almost cruel. However, professional dog trainers and veterinarians do recommend crating for certain dogs and in certain scenarios, such as for potty and behavioral training.
To decide whether or not crating is for you and your dog, you first have to asses your dog’s situation. If you have a mature, well adjusted dog who exhibits no signs of aggression or misbehavior, then crating may not be necessary. If you have an aggressive juvenile dog, a dog in need of potty training or behavioral training, or a dog who is ill and takes several trips out of the home to the veterinarian’s office, then crating may be a good idea.
Crating Pros and Cons
- Crates are a great way to help housebreak your dog. Dogs are den animals, and do not soil the areas in which they spend most of their resting time. Therefore, a dog in a crate will not soil her crate, and will learn over time how to respond to trips outside for exercising.
- Crates keep younger aggressive dogs from chewing up household items such as furniture and fabrics. Note that crating for behavioral issues should only be used in conjunction with professional training.
- Crating can be a great way to socialize younger, more active dogs while keeping them confined, such as during visits to your home by other people that may not be familiar to your dog.
- If a dog is comfortable with her crate, she may continue to use it as a bed or resting area even after “mandatory” crate time is unnecessary.
- Crate training and crating in general may not be appropriate for some dogs. Consult your veterinarian to find out whether crating is an option for your dog.
- Dogs may develop anxiety when crated and begin to act out.
- Stronger dogs may be able to break out of weaker crates, causing injury.
- Dogs that have come from shelters or clinics in which they spent most of their time confined in a crate may respond poorly to crating in your home.
- Crates require frequent cleanings as hair and items build up.
For younger dogs and puppies, crates should never be used as a punishment. Crates should be made to be confined play pens for puppies. Do not let a puppy regard a crate as a “prison,” as this will only harm the dog’s behavioral patterns later in life.
Crates should be located in high traffic or activity areas in the home, so your dog still feels like she is “part of the action” and socializing with you or your family.
Always use a crate that is size appropriate for your dog. Your dog should be able to sprawl out for sleeping and lounging as well as have ample room to romp in her crate. Your dog should also be able to comfortably stand in the crate, so height as well as length should be considered before purchasing a crate.
When crated, dogs appreciate having familiar items and toys to enjoy. Allow your dog to treat her crate as a den – this is a natural instinct for all dogs, and you may be happy to find the crate serves as a more appropriate bedding area for your dog than on a couch or dog bed.
Crates should never be stored in basements or utility rooms unless there is a high degree of traffic and activity in these spaces. Dogs will suffer from being left alone in a crate. Choose a sitting or family room instead, as your dog will benefit from your company.
Types of crates
Dog crates typically vary by size and material. Size should be measured both by your dog’s length and height – your dog should have room to sprawl out and sleep as well as comfortably stand within the crate. Materials used in dog crate construction include metal wire, solid metal, molded plastic, and wood. Any crate you purchase for your dog should be mostly porous, allowing your dog a view of her surroundings and regular air flow.
Metal wire crates
Wire metal crates are common for many types and sizes of dogs. These crates are typically collapsible and can be moved around with ease – even brought along on trips. Higher quality wire metal crates also come with a solid metal floor or floor pan, allowing for easy cleaning and increased comfort for your dog. Wire metal crates without a solid floor should be avoided, as dogs benefit from having a solid, stable area on which to sleep.
Wire metal crates vary in strength, but may not be appropriate for more aggressive, strong dogs, as these types of dogs may be able to break out of their crate and risk injury in the process.
Solid metal crates
Solid metal crates are rare, but offer enhanced strength and durability. Metal crates are typically heavier and more difficult to move from place to place, so these types of crates should be stationed in a part of your home that offers high visibility to your dog’s surroundings as well as frequent human company and companionship.
Wood crates are generally the heaviest of crates, but also of the highest quality. Wood crates have the added value of potentially matching your home’s furniture, allowing for a “doggie den” that fits right in with your family room. Wood crates tend to be the least porous of dog crates, so be sure to position wood crates in an area of the home with high visibility of your dog’s surroundings as well as frequent human company and companionship.
Wood crates may be difficult to clean, but they can also be the most comfortable for mid to larger sized dogs. Ensure your dog’s comfort and happiness with regular cleanings (using pet-safe cleaning products) and the most comfortable “den” arrangement you can offer by adding a dog bed or pillow to the crate.
Molded plastic crates
Wire crates can also be made of plastic, but these are generally discouraged for all but the smallest and weakest of dogs. Molded plastic crates, on the other hand, offer many of the same creature comforts of a wood dog crate while being much lighter and easier to clean. Molded plastic crates can be re-positioned throughout the home and will keep your dog happy and comfortable with their more breathable construction.