1. Dog Crate Questions

    Dog Crate Questions

    Buying a dog crate?
    Ask yourself these questions and get it right first time!

    Your choice of a dog crate is important. It's easy to snap up the first crate you see or to buy purely on price (as they say .... buy cheap, buy twice), but it's harder to make sure you get it right first time.
    So here are a few questions to ask yourself before buying a crate.

    1. How big is your dog - or how big will it get?

    This is the basic question, and is one which many get wrong!
    A dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in the crate. It is not always necessary that the dog should have enough crate headroom to fully raise the head, but every crate should allow the dog to stand with fully straightened legs, and lie down in the favoured position.
    Our many years of experience have helped us compile a DOG CRATE SIZE GUIDE BY BREED which you may find helpful. Just CLICK on the link to find what size you need for your breed.

    2. What will you use the dog crate for?

    Will you use the crate solely for travelling? Or will you just use it at shows?
    Then again you may use it in the home as an aid to training, or you may use it as a bed or daytime den. Or another use entirely?
    If your dog is not entirely happy within a crate, or if it is still a puppy then a soft sides crate is probably not for you. Although a crate trained dog is often happier in a soft crate as it creates the 'den effect' which animal behaviourists love as it is (more or less) enclosed all around.
    If a soft crate is not for you then consider a wire dog crate - and these are available in a variety of designs and strengths. The Croft Alpine is undoubtedly the lightest Croft crate, and is vailable in most sizes with a choice of colour - black, pink, or blue.
    Stronger crates are available in either the Croft Showman range which has a metal floor tray, or the Crufts crates which have a plastic tray making the crate lighter to move and carry.
    All metal crates fold down for easy storage and carrying.
    If you are using a crate for travel, then any of the above are usually fine, but you should also consider shaped crates which may fit better inside your car.
    The "Rolls Royce" of travel crates is undoubtedly the Variocage crash tested crate which is available in a variety of sizes and may be used for one or two dogs.
    If you have a toy dog you may wish to consider the plastic CARE2 range which is designed to be used on the car seat and secured by the seat belt.

    3. Do you need more than one?

    It's a lot more common than you may think for a dog parent to own more than one crate. It is not unusual to have a crate in the bedroom for night-time, a crate down stairs for daytime and for those short periods when it is necessary to crate whilst you pop out, and another crate permanently in the car - especially if you have invested in a shaped crate or crash tested crate.
    By owning more than one crate you can save yourself a lot of work and give maximum flexibility. - Think about it!

    4. Will you want to fly with your dog?

    If you need a crate to use whilst you travel by aeroplane, then this opens up a whole new series of questions.
    You must first contact the airline and ask about their specific rules.
    Wire crates or fabric crates are seldom accepted as dogs have to be fully enclosed to avoid the possibility of touching other dogs - or airline employees!
    Water must be provided and door locking arrangements secure.
    Each airline has its own rules so it is virtually impossible to list all the requirements in this blog - you are far better speaking to the airline and asking for their favoured brand(s) of travel crate.

    dog crates and dog cages.

    5. How long to you plan leaving your dog in a crate?

    A dog should never be left in a crate longer than it can control its need for toileting. This has to be the absolute maximum - and really this should go without saying!
    If you are leaving your dog alone, please ask yourself -"Does my dog need to be crated, or is it safe to leave it in a safe controlled space - such as a kitchen with the room doors closed?"
    Consider combining this approach with leaving the doors to the crate open so that your dog can use the crate as a den (which it loves), but still be able to walk around.
    We are often asked for guidance on what is acceptable regarding dog crating, and as always - this depends upon the dog. Most adult dogs are ok to be crated for a few hours - say 4 or 5 hours, although some may be fine for longer. If you do leave your dog crated on a regular basis, then there may be a case for purchasing a crate with a larger floor area so that the dog can change positions - after all we all like to toss and turn in bed!
    Crating at night is slightly different and it may be that a slightly longer time is needed.
    Please make sure that, whatever the reason for crating, your dog has plenty of exercise and toilet opportunity before and after. Always ensure a supply of water (non spill bowls can be good here) and that safe toys are available. Some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety whether or not they are crated, so be aware of that. If this results in the dog chewing the mesh of the crate then there is an obvious danger there. Please seek the advice of your vet and/or a local animal behaviourist if you have any concern whatsoever.
    A dog crate can be a great help, but it should never be used as a substitute for responsible pet parenting! See also our advice on dog crate training.

    6. Will your dog be too hot / cold in the crate?

    When planning your crate purchase, if you are planning to use your crate in your home, then think about the best position. The crate should not be too far or too close to a heat source. Fires and electric leads should be well away from the crate.
    It may be that in order to shelter your dog from draughts a crate cover is necessary. In addition to draught protection a crate cover is helpful in providing the den effect so loved by dogs and animal behaviourists.

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  2. Crash Tested Car Crates

    Crash Tested Car Crates

    Why would you even consider a crash tested dog crate?

    Well, it depends on your view to car safety generally, but the Highway Code says a dog must be under control in a car whilst travelling, and ROSPA have a very graphic image which puts car safety for dogs and passengers most effectively. So your dog needs to be contained not only for the dog's safety, but also for your safety and that of your passengers.

    ROSPA advice on car travel for dogs.

    To learn more about crash tested crates - read on!

    To find out which crate is suitable for your car, click on the buttons below.

    What makes a crash tested car crate so different from a normal Croft crate?

    It's true that Croft have been manufacturing dog crates for 40 years with lots of other brands available, and it's also true that Croft crates have protected dogs in car accidents. But no matter how good these wire crates are, they have not been subjected to impact tests as they are simply not designed for a car crash. They cannot give you that peace of mind!
    So we have to look at what may happen in a crash, and what forces a crate has to withstand to give your dog maximum safety.
    Whilst crash testing does not make a crate crash-proof, it does mean that when you put your dog in a MiM Variocage car crate you have done everything you can do to look after your dog during travel.
    And every dog deserves that!
    Watch this video for more information.

    How are these crates actually tested?

    crash tested car crate

    Crash Test Report.

    (Note - Crash Tested - not crash proof!)

    MIM Construction AB has evaluated the dog crate Variocage in car crashes from the safety aspect of both the dog and passengers.

    Rear end collision

    Out of a variety of crashes the rear-end collision is a big threat to passenger safety. The luggage compartment is a part of the deformation zone around the passenger compartment that protects passengers in collisions. In a rear-end collision the rear-end is pushed forward by the hitting vehicle. Objects in the luggage compartment are then pushed forward. The amount of intrusion is limited by the stiffness of the car and the speed and energy of the hitting vehicle. A dog crate placed in the luggage compartment affects the balance of the system, and if the crate is too stiff the back of the rear seats will yield and collapse in a rear-end crash.
    When passengers occupy the rear seat the change of the deformation zone becomes dangerous if the back of the rear seat does not stop the dog crate. It is thus essential that the crate is constructed in a way that makes it collapse in a controlled way in severe rear-end crashes.
    The speed that was used in the rear-end crash test was 30 km/h. It is equal to at a stand still getting hit from behind by a car with the same weight as the hit car doing 55 km/h. Part of a Volvo V70 body was placed on a crash test sled. The crate was then placed in the luggage compartment against the seat back. Two 35-kg dog dummies were placed inside the crate. The crate was pushed forward during the crash by a plate big enough to hit the entire rear-end of the crate. 
    A Variocage XL dog crate for two dogs was tested. The loading of the seat back was moderate and no visible deformation of the seat structure could be found after the test.

    V70 crash test The plate enters the luggage compartment just a little bit above the floor and push the crate forward during the braking of the crash test sled.
    The crate was compressed about 150 mm after the test.
    No sharp edges dangerous to the dog could be found. Both gates could be opened.
    The emergency gate was not jammed and could be opened.

    Front end collision

    A frontal collision test was also performed. Two 35-kg dummies were placed in a Variocage XL for two dogs. The test speed was 50 km/h and the retardation was approximately 24 g, which corresponds to 2,5 tonnes of loading of the rear seat. The crate was slightly compressed by its own weight during the collision. No sharp edges were found. Both gates could be opened. The emergency gate was not jammed and could be opened. The front wall of the crate was deformed by the dummies during the crash test. That was positive as it took care of some of the energy during impact and it would have helped the dogs in a real crash. No deformation of the seats could be found. 

    Vehicle roll-over.

    The forces in a roll over are difficult to create in a controlled way in a crash lab. They are randomised and can come from any direction. The falling distance in a roll over is not very high and the crate is close to the centre of gravity. It is thus the impact from the falling that is interesting and easy to create. A Variocage XL single crate was tested in a drop test to see if the crate could handle forces in the corner of the gate. The crate was dropped from a height of 70 cm, which corresponds, to a speed change of 13,3 km/h when it hits the concrete floor. With the lower hinge corner of the crate facing down and a 45-kg dummy inside the impact of the crate is quite rough.
    The crate handled the impact well and did not open or crack in any other way that would be dangerous to the dog.

    crash testing showing crate on its side The Variocage crate after the drop test was resting on its side.

    The next video gives a little more information about the actual test.

    Impressed? We hope you are!
    There is a lot more information on the product page.
    Find out which crate is best for you by clicking on these buttons.
    Drive safely!

    If you are still unsure, or need any further information at all, please phone us on 01257 484200 or send an e mail by clicking on the button below.

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  3. 6 Summer safety tips for dogs.

    6 Summer safety tips for dogs.

    Are we to have a hot summer? Time will tell, but ...

    We like to think of summer as those hot balmy days with the sun beating down. And this year we are even told that we are going to be very warm with some forecasts mentioning a sizzling summer - we will see.
    However, if it does get hot there are certain things a dog owner should be aware of - so here are our top 6 tips.

    1. Make sure you provide shade, especially when using a dog crate.

    Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, think 'shade'. This applies everywhere - in the car, at a show, in the back garden, on the beach, in the park, everywhere. And don't forget to provide plenty of water in a suitable bowl. Here you may consider the non-spill bowls which are plastic so they don't absorb heat as much as stainless steel bowls, and also have a small lip to give a possible shadow over at least some of the water. As it happens, we sell these and you can find them HERE on our website. Place the water in a place which is likely to get maximum shade.
    In the garden you may be able to erect a sun umbrella - perhaps from your garden patio set? When you go out - do you use a dog crate? If so, this should be covered - at the very least with a towel but preferably with a purpose made crate cover which allows adequate ventilation. This is important because in a crate the dog cannot get up and walk away to find a cool place. Dog crate covers are easy to get from our site, and even include a shiny silvery cover which reflects the sun to a degree. Crate covers can be viewed HERE.
    dog crate covers and soft crates can provide shade
    And if we are wrong about the hot summer, the crate cover will give shelter from the rain!
    Or you may consider a soft crate which has fabric walls to keep the dog shaded whilst allowing plenty of air to circulate.

    2. Keep cool while lying down.

    An elevated bed is just the thing to keep your dog cool as it not only gives somewhere comfortable to lie, it ensures that air can circulate underneath the dog as well as all around, and this is a big help in keeping your dog cool. It also has the advantage of avoiding floor draughts. Click on the image to learn more.
    elevated camper dog beds in hot weather

    If it gets really hot, consider a cooling mat. Your dog will love it! Click on the image for further details.

    3. Adapt your walking routine to suit the weather, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion.

    Remember that dogs don't sweat (they pant) and therefore it is best to avoid mid-day and afternoon sun if you possibly can.
    Whilst the early or early-ish morning routine walk is probably OK, it may be best to change the time of your afternoon walk . Instead of taking the dog out before tea, why not wait until, say, seven o'clock when the heat has gone out of the day and it's a bit cooler. In this way you avoid physical and mental exhaustion for you both.
    The classic signs of heat exhaustion in a dog are excessive panting, being unable or unwilling to move around, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, mental dullness, uncoordinated movement, and in extreme cases, collapse. If these signs appear, then head straight for the shade, provide cool water to drink, douse the dog in water, especially on the underside, paw pads and armpits and then get to a vet asap.

    4. If it's too hot to walk barefoot, it is too hot for your dog's paws.

    In a really hot summer the newspapers love stories about frying an egg on the pavement. This should be a warning that the pavements can get unbearably hot, so think about treating your dog to some footwear - search on Google or Amazon for 'dog booties' and you will see the choices available.
    Wherever possible choose your walks carefully to include grass or sandy paths, avoid the excess heat and check your dog's paws for injury or abrasions.

    5. If you have a big garden, section off a cooler area.

    This may be under trees, by a hedge or in the shadow of your house and in this way you will control your dog's movement whilst allowing freedom.
    outdoor play pens for dogs
    We have a great range of outdoor panels which can be used to segregate your garden to give a cooler experience for your dog.
    Click on the image above for details or read an earlier blog HERE.

    6. Haircut, sunscreen, fleas and ticks?

    It may be that a shorter cut would be welcomed by your dog in hot weather, so think about this if you don't have to consider showing your dog when certain grooming standards are essential, although in double coated dogs shaving can make matters worse. Also some breeds such as GSDs, Retrievers etc have coats which adapt to hot and cold weather. A short back and sides MAY be something to think about, but discuss it with your groomer or breeder first.
    Dogs can get sunburn too, especially on noses, ears, bellies etc, but human sunscreen is rarely if ever suitable as it contains substances which can be really harmful to a dog, so make sure you use a dog-safe sunscreen. Again, search on Google or Amazon and you are sure to find what you are looking for.
    Fleas and ticks can be a big hazard in warm weather, so take precautions as they can carry harmful diseases. Invest in a specialised treatment before your dog goes out, and remember, if your dog is bitten by a tick, don't just pull it out, use a proper tool under instruction, or see a vet as hasty removal of a tick can leave the head in and cause problems. Never 'dig around' to remove the last bits of the tick, and apply antiseptic cream if necessary.

    But don't let these 6 warnings spoil your summer with your dog - enjoy the good weather!

    This is part of a series of blogs about dog crates. If you want us to write about any aspect of dog crates or playpens then please contact us using the link below, and ask. If we can help, we will.

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  4. Use dog crates for car seats - safely!

    Use dog crates for car seats - safely!

    Now your dog can safely travel on the car seat in a crash tested dog crate!

    Until now, it was never recommended that dog crates be used directly on the back seat of a car, as it has always been difficult to ensure they are safely strapped in. Dog crates are OK behind the back seats where it is more difficult for them to become a projectile.
    Now we have a brand new product which fits snugly onto the car seat, and has built-in contact points for the standard car seat belt. To date this crate is only available for toy dogs or cats, but that may change!
    We currently have two sizes of Care dog crates, with the sizes varying by width. You can view these crates by clicking on the link button below, but read on to learn more!

    A dog car crate for use in and out of the car!

    These pet carriers are virtually crush proof in most road accidents, and being crash tested they offer a safe place for your dog or cat to travel within the car, or to be carried outside the car. Easily to carry this dog crate

    Where the crate is to be used within the car, it should be secured using the car's seat belts.
    Each crate has moulded fixing points for the seat belt to pass through, so it remains a safe place for your pet!

    car seat dog crates should be secured with the seat belt

    The main safety points.

    • Two doors (front and back) make it easy to reach your pet in almost any circumstance.
    • The doors are reinforced, and designed not to open in the event of an accident.
    • These car crates are tested to the same exacting standards as those imposed on baby car seats.
    • Each dog crate is fitted with an integral thermometer so it is easy to see if your dog is comfortable.
    • Designed for pets up to 9kg.

    This is part of a series of blogs about dog crates. If you want us to write about any aspect of dog crates or playpens then please contact us using the link below, and ask. If we can help, we will.

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  5. Where should your dog sleep?

    Where should your dog sleep?

    Question:- 'Where should dogs sleep?'
    Answer:- 'It depends on the dog, his age, behaviour, training and of course your own preference.'
    So let's have a look at the alternatives, some of which are - in a dog bed; on the floor; on furniture; in a crate; sharing your bed or free roam to do whatever it wants.

    Would you let your dog share your own bed?

    Firstly, if you have a partner, are you both happy with this sleeping arrangement, as it may prove none too easy to change?
    If your dog moults, your bed is going to get a bit hairy, and those hairs will probably transfer to your clothing. You may also breathe them in when you sleep which may not be too healthy. But none of that may not worry you.
    Some animal behaviourists are against sharing a bed with your dog as they look on dogs as a pack animal and so have a natural tendency to be 'top dog' They will therefore try to take over the bed by shoving you out of the way. Others say this is nonsense - the dog just wants to cuddle up and get warm. dog sleeping on the bed with its owner.
    However, if you are a light sleeper you will soon notice that a dog generally does not close its eyes and then never move until the morning - they do move, they do jump on and off the bed, pant, roll over and all the things that we do (perhaps we don't pant quite so much!).
    But if your dog is well behaved and a good sleeper then you may love its company and enjoy the sleeping arrangement. You may want to train your dog to sleep alongside you, rather than on your head or your feet - you want to move around as well!
    If your dog spends the night jumping on and off the bed, or if it is not house trained, then sleeping in your bed may not be ideal. Perhaps he should have a crate or a pen.

    A crate or playpen can give security and safety.

    You would probably expect us to extol the virtues of a crate or playpen, but they are very good!
    Especially if you have a puppy which is still in the housetraining stage then a dog crate or puppy playpen can be a great help.
    Older dogs also love their crate as a special safe and secure place as dogs are basically den animals, and the crate becomes their safe den!
    dogs love a dog crate - it is their own special place.
    You will probably find that if you leave the crate doors open then your dog will come and go as it pleases, but it will spend a lot of time in the crate by choice. 
    At nightime you may or may not want to put the crate in your bedroom - especially if you don't allow your dog to sleep on the bed - as then you both can have an undisturbed night's sleep in a comfortable place.

    Of course, your dog can have its own bed or basket.

    There are so many beds to choose from that finding the right bed for you should not be too much of a problem. Watch your dog as it sleeps - does it curl up, stretch out, prefer a head rest, or does it lie on its back with its paws in the air? See which position it favours, and choose the bed with that in mind.
    dog fast asleep in comfortable dog bed.
    If your dog is the outdoor type and continually muddy, then think of a waterproof bed which can easily be hosed down and cleaned.
    Or of course there is the tried and trusted wicker dog basket, and also a camper bed which will keep your dog away from a draughty floor.
    dog baskets and camper beds are great dog beds.
    A bed is a very important choice. We all know how good it feels to get a good night's sleep, so choose carefully.

    Or just give your dog the freedom of the house at night!

    Be careful if you choose this option, and ask if your dog is well trained, well behaved, mature, housetrained and not likely to get into trouble or mischief. What dangers are there in your house for an unsupervised dog? Check the risks.
    dog asleep on furniture.
    Are you happy if your dog sleeps on the furniture? If so, no problem - the dog will be comfortable. Of course it may prefer to sleep on the floor, or on a blanket or vetbed on the floor - or all of these.

    dogs and cats sharing a bed

    If there is more than one pet in the household, they may want to share - are you happy with that? We are sure you are!

    And then of course there is the Vetbed 'family'

    Vetbeds are recommended by Vets.

    Vetbeds are a top of the range dog bedding recommended by vets. They are great because they fit into almost any sleeping arrangement. They can be purchased cut to size to fit into a dog crate, or you can buy a piece cut from a roll to the length you need. Vetbeds can be used anywhere - inside a dog bed or basket for that extra bit of luxury; just on the floor so your dog can lie out; or even on your bed to protect your sheets and duvet, Available in a huge variety of sizes, colours and patterns. Check this site for details.
    Then, of course, there is the tried and trusted Flectabed. This is a range of dog bedding filled with a refglective material which reflects the dog's own body heat, and so keeps your dog nice and warm. Again it can be used with standard dog beds, dog crates etc. We have used it for years with our scotties and can swear by it.
    Posturepal is a specialist bedding which can be used wherever your dog sleeps. It is an orthopaedic bedding which again can be used whichever sleeping arrangement you have chosen. So if your dog is old, stiff, or has special needs - check it out on our site.

    It's your decision.

    Where your dog sleeps is ultimately up to you. Think about all of the points above and consider the hazards - remember that you will be asleep so not in close control. You probably don't want your dog to rummage around the waste bin, or jump up on working surfaces to eat whatever food is there, so choose carefully. A dog bed within a dog crate or playpen may be a great choice - but every dog and home is different.
    Here's to a good night's sleep for all!

    Stock photos courtesy of Dreamstime.com.

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  6. Garden Play Areas for Dogs

    Garden Play Areas for Dogs

    Summertime - and the living is easy.

    Throughout the year, and especially in the good weather, your dog will enjoy being outside in the garden, so you need to know that even when you are not looking the dog cannot get into trouble!
    This can be done by choosing either good strong dog-proof perimeter garden fencing, or by choosing an enclosed run of the correct height and design. How to choose the correct height will depend upon the breed of dog as well as it's characteristics. What size is the dog? Does it jump? Does it climb? Is there anything else you should consider such as are there any dangers in the garden such as ponds, and will a dog running freely damage itself or your plants, or might it have a tendency to eat things it shouldn't such as the family's vegetable plot or dog toxic plants?
    More and more owners are choosing a high quality outdoor pen which will not rust to keep their dog safe and happy.

    Your Play Pen Choices.

    Although it is obviously possible to simply carry a foldaway dog crate outside which will contain the dog, a dog crate may not give the space to lie down and walk around. Crates certainly have their uses, but if a garden play area is needed then purpose made panels are the answer.
    Here at Croft we have two such products - The Discovery range which is made up of individual hook together panels, either with or without a gate, and has height alternatives of 3ft and 4ft (90cm or 120cm), or the bolt together kennel run panels which are 6ft high. Where the dog's size, breed and temperament are suitable the most popular choice is the hook together Discovery range as this can quickly be adapted in size and shape, as well as being really easy to erect and dismantle.
    Because it is hot dip galvanised (coated in zinc so it will not rust) this outdoor playpen system is strongly made using 25mm square tubing and a welded mesh infill with 2" - 50mm - squares. This makes it ideal for most applications and your dog will love the freedom an outdoor play pen gives.
    Owners love this system as it lasts for years and gives confidence.
    The kennel run panels are made of similar materials although the mesh is made from thicker wire and are slightly more difficult to erect or dismantle as they bolt together, but do have the advantage of being much taller, standing at 6ft (180cm) in height.
    Whichever your choice of pen, your dog will be grateful, but don't forget to leave sufficient water at all time. Often this is best served in bowls which clamp to the mesh to reduce the possibility of spills, and again such bowls can be seen on this site. You may even want to include a covered kennel within the run to protect from rain or excessive shine - this would make it a real home from home!
    Galvanised pens such as these are gaining in popularity all the time - and deservedly so!

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  7. Dog crates - Questions and Answers and helpful tips.

    Dog crates - Questions and Answers and helpful tips.

    Will my dog like a crate?

    The usual answer is yes, but of course this may depend on your own attitude to training. The most common misconception is that a dog crate is is a cruel form of caging a pet. This is completely false, and in fact your dog will actually find its foldaway kennel to be a secure and safe sanctuary.

    Is it an investment or an expense?

    Apart from investing in your dog's safety and wellbeing, just think of the cost of replacing furniture, plants, carpets and other personal items which may be destroyed if a dog or puppy is allowed to roam a household unsupervised. We had personal experience of this before we became involved with Croft. As a newly wed couple we had a lovely little puppy who in our eyes was the best dog that ever walked the earth. Sadly when left alone it got a bit bored and ate our new dining room suite (well, it chewed the edges, but enough to spoil the furniture). Compared to this a foldaway kennel crate is very economical.

    How is a crate used for training?

    Apart from the training collar and lead, a dog crate is often the training tool most recommended by professional dog trainers, groomers and vets. Since the dog's habits are much easier to regulate using a crate, discipline for misbehaviour will be less necessary thus enhancing a strong bond between dog and owner.
    We have many training tips on this site - follow the links below for two of them.

    A crate is a home from home.

    You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly and easiliy your pet will accept the foldaway kennel, and how soon it becomes its home. Far from being cruel, the crate becomes your dog's 'security blanket' and a place of its own where it knows it can relax.
    The welfare of your dog should always be your first consideration. The crate is designed to give a home or den to your dog, and can provide temporary confinement when the door is closed. It should NOT be used to restrain an unhappy animal, or one that is distressed. It should never be used to lock away a naughty dog - that can easily bring you a whole new set of problems!
    If the dog is unhappy with the door closed then recognise your duty to train or re-train. The crate will become your dog's home from home .... let's please make it a loving home.

    Why use a crate made of wire?

    A foldaway kennel or wire crate is recommended to allow the dog complete visibility of surroundings as well as proper ventilation. Wire crates are easy to move and to store and can be easily cleaned. They quickly fold when not is use, and can be carried by the handle, briefcase style. They are the number one choice of most top breeders.

    What is a soft crate?

    The soft crate is a relatively new idea (the past 10 years or so) which dramatically reduces weight and eliminates the need for a crate cover, yet still folds easily and quickly. It is suitable for crate trained dogs or those who are not aggressive or destructive. Remember, a soft crate is made of fabric, so can easily be chewed. The fabric surrounds a metal framework which can be tubular or made of wire.

    When can I start using my foldaway crate?

    Immediately! The sooner the better no matter what age your dog may be. Ideally a puppy should be introduced to a crate at an early age. In fact many reputable breeders will advise you when buying your puppy to invest is a foldaway kennel and puppy pen, and will have already familiarised the puppy with a crate or pen before it is introduced to its new owners. But a dog of any age can be successfully introduced to crate training.

    So what size?

    You are in the right pace to get an answer to that question! When selecting your foldaway, choose a size suitable to an adult dog, even if you currently have a puppy because your Croft crate will last for years. An adult dog should be able to stand with straight legs without its back touching the crate's top. It should also be able to lie down, stretch its legs and turn around in the crate. Click on the button to see popular crate sizes per breed.

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  8. The 4 commands which may save your dog's life.

    The 4 commands which may save your dog's life.

    Critical Commands to teach your dog.

    As well as selling great products such as dog crates and puppy pens, we like to help the dog owner who may be a first time owner looking for guidance, or an experienced owner who needs reassurance. Whatever the case there is no doubt that certain training commands are so important that they may save a dog's life. 
    These commands are 'look at me' (to get the dog's attention), 'Sit', 'Stay' and 'Come Here'
    So where do we start? Well, dog training classes are recommended and always good, also helping a dog to socialise, but you can also do some training yourself using patience, love and a treat or two. The aim must be to make training fun for you and your dog.  As well as reward training, we are believers in combining the spoken command with body actions such as pointing to your chest while teaching 'look at me' and putting out your hand in a 'stop' pose when teaching 'stay'. This is because in real life away from training there may be lots of noise, or your dog may be across a road or car park where it is difficult to hear.
    Training takes time. Always start training a new command in the home without distractions, then in the home with distractions, then outside without distractions and then outside with distractions.
    The training should have three basic steps.
    1. Show what you want your dog to do.
    2. Reward the behaviour.
    3. Repeat and repeat until it is understood.
    Follow the link below to Behaviour Training to see our suggested training methods on these very basic commands which may save your dog's life.
    There are also links to Dog Crate Training which is vital, and suggestions on how to control unwanted barking.
    Thank you for reading this short blog.

    Thanks to Shelley Aspden of Chorley for her help in the successful training of our dogs, and on whose methods this blog and the behaviour training article is based. If you do have a training requirement and need help, please look around your local area for a personal trainer such as Shelley. You will find the cost well worthwhile.

    Future blogs.

    This is an ongoing series of blogs which is intended to be of help. If we have not answered whatever is troubling you yet then click on the link below and ask us to write a blog about your concern. Or if you have any other questions about crates, cages, play pens, dog runs, healthy diet or any other doggy question then let us know. If we can help, we will.

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  9. Winter Dog Care Advice

    Winter Dog Care Advice

    As you prepare for low temperatures, winds, ice, snow and whatever, it is vital that you think about what you can do to make your dog's winter that little bit better.

    Is your dog crate warm?

    OK, I know if it's wire mesh that may seem a bit of a daft question, but think about it - is your crate in a draught? Is it too near a fire or electric heater - or too far away?
    There's lots that can go wrong, so safety first is always good. Keep fires screened and electric wires away from your dog's reach.
    And think about a crate cover and warm bedding such as a self warming Flectabed or the popular  Vetbed to help with the warmth. A purpose made dog crate cover can be used with one, two or more sides down to shelter from draughts, whilst allowing the dog crate to be left with an open door for ease of entry. A little planning can make such a difference. 

    Dog food - what is needed?

    Is your dog very active with lots of outdoor runs and walks? If so it will certainly need more calories to combat the cold, give energy and maintain a healthy body weight.
    Alternatively, if your dog prefers the life of luxury with as little running about in the cold as possible, then fewer calories will be needed.
    In either case it is important that the food is right and it is always wise to consider natural dog food. Here we offer several alternatives and have 'compare' buttons, so check it out and choose your best winter food. If in doubt, then have a chat with your vet who will be pleased to help.
    Stock up on food and medication in case it gets too dangerous to venture out. Always have a supply of fresh water available - even when outside.

    Have you thought about a dog coat or boots?

    We all feel the cold, and your dog is no different even if it has a wonderfully thick coat. It may benefit from a dog coat which will keep the warmth in. Think also about the dark nights and bad visibility and choose one with reflective safety strips.
    Have a chat with your groomer to see if any special preparation of the coat is necessary. Dog breeds with a history of surviving in the cold may not need too much special grooming, but thinner coated breeds may need the dog coat.
    Think also about paws, and whether it is necessary to get some doggy boots. If your dog keeps lifting it's paws, or is reluctant to walk, or generally complains, it may be that the paws are too cold. Sharp ice can cut paw pads, so always check your dog's paws after a snowy or icy walk. Ask your groomer if your dog would benefit from extra grooming attention around the paws as long hair here can easily act as a trap for ice and snow. Check for redness, scratches or other soft tissue damage, remembering that there may well be anti freeze, salt or an array of chemicals which can be detrimental to your dog's health, so if you walk on salted pavements, wash your dog's paws when you get in to prevent irritation.

    When you are out and about.

    Stay well away from frozen ponds, lakes and rivers. If you do have to go near them, keep your dog on a lead, because if they do go onto ice, you may find it really tempting to go after them. DON'T! Most dogs are strong swimmers, and stand more chance in water than you do.
    Remember that snow can cover up potholes and other hazards, so be especially aware.
    Be careful in icy or slippery conditions - especially on steps, pavement edges or slopes. If you find it difficult walking in ice or strong winds - keep indoors and exercise your dog with lively indoor games.
    When you do go out, both you and your dog should wear bright reflective clothing - see dog coats above.
    Always make sure your dog wears a collar when outdoors - and is microchipped!

    And when you have done all of that - enjoy your winter together!

    Future blogs.

    This is an ongoing series of blogs which is intended to be of help. If we have not answered whatever is troubling you yet then click on the link below and ask us to write a blog about your concern. Or if you have any other questions about crates, cages, play pens, dog runs, healthy diet or any other doggy question then let us know. If we can help, we will.

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  10. When your Vet says your dog needs crate rest.

    Bandaged dog needing crate rest

    • What should I know when my Vet says my dog needs crate rest?

    • What does it mean?

    • Do I need a special dog crate?

    • Read on for helpful tips.

    So your vet says "A few weeks of crate rest is needed here."  

    So what now?

    Nothing prepares you for this. OK, you may have a dog crate anyway - but will this be the one to use? Probably not.
    Crate rest is usually advised after major surgery following illness or an accident, and means that it is essential for your dog's movements to be controlled - and there is usually no better place to control movements than in a dog crate. But it doesn't end there!
    You need to ask your vet exactly how much movement is allowed; what posture is best for the dog - lying on its side with legs straight out? Or on its tummy? And of course, how long will this go on as a period of 4, 6 or 8 weeks is not unheard of, and in some cases can be as long as 6 months. So its important you get this right.
    The dog is usually confined in the crate almost full time, being let out for toilet duties only, and then only on a leash - certainly in the early days. You may even have to carry your dog to the toilet area. Discuss this with your vet so that early healing is not impeded. Don't allow your dog to become too excited on these toilet trips, and never allow any jumping up or bouncing. As they say - 'keep calm and carry on.'
    It is essential that you choose the correct size of dog crate, and it is not unusual to choose a very big crate - 54ins / 60ins/ or even 72ins, although small breeds will obviously be OK in much smaller crates. You must agree the size with your vet, and have the crate waiting in your home for when the dog returns home, as even with very fast delivery periods, the dog needs the crate straight away - crate rest means crate rest. Croft have what is perhaps the biggest size range available from any supplier, so you should find the size you need.
    And then you move on to the next phase. The recuperation.

    Kitting out and positioning your dog crate.  

    Remember that the crate is about to become your dog's world view, so make it comfortable. Discuss everything with your vet in case there are special needs, but it is not unusual to include some comfortable hygenic flooring, such as Vetbed, which can be easily washed and dried - not forgetting to have two sets of almost everything so there is never a problem. Traditional dog beds are rarely recommended for crate recovery as they tend to dominate the dog's lying position. If you need to leave water bowls inside the crate then make sure they can be firmly secured within the crate, remembering that your dog may not be as agile as it once was.
    The recovery crate must be kept in a draught-free position, yet be somewhere that the dog has a view of family life. This can cause a problem if there is too much going on and your dog has disturbed sleep. This is important because much healing is done during sleep. So have a crate cover or a blanket ready to hand to put over the crate giving your dog as few sleep impairment moments as possible.

    Fighting boredom.  

    Once you have chosen your dog crate and have done the basics of comfort, the healing process really does become a team effort with you and your dog. Boredom is often the biggest problem so be prepared to have lots of toys and chews, and use them on a rotational basis. More is better.
    Companies such as Kong have a wonderful choice of strong and safe stuffable toys which you can pack with biscuits, treats, cheese or almost any tasty bit. You may want to tie the Kong to the side of the crate so that it does not roll out of reach and force unnecessary movement.
    Chewing is a great relaxing pastime, but make sure that the chew is safe and will not cause choking. Of the nylon chews we always advise Nylabone chews, although other makes are available. However, don't go for the cheapest chew, or those which can be chewed open and expose a whistle or rattle which can be swallowed. Check out your local pet shop for quality puzzle toys - anything to fight boredom. It really is worth while spending extra to ensure safety and a feeling of well-being.
    But don't go overboard with fattening treats. Remember that as your dog is not taking much exercise it may not need the usual intake of calories. Again, discuss this with your vet.

    Two's company, so buddy up!  

    Does your dog like to be cuddled? If so give lots of cuddles, inside the crate if that is possible. Our larger crates will easily take you and your dog. You should also give lots of grooming and stroking - massage brushes are a great idea and avoid hair pulling. This will make your dog relaxed and less likely to want to get up and about - remember this is crate confinement so make it as good as you can.
    You can also use this time to train your dog in simple tasks which demand little in the way of exercise - such as 'don't touch', 'sniff out the treat' and so on.
    Some advocate the playing of relaxing music during your one-on-one time together avoiding noisy high tempo music. Relaxation is the key.

    And finally .....  

    Crate rest is not great - much like being in hospital for a long time is not great, but it is necessary and can be made as pleasant as possible. Use the time to bond together.
    Your first duty is to get the right size of dog crate, and be prepared to get another smaller one as healing progresses. No-one said it was going to be cheap, but you can make it rewarding and ensure the healing time is as short as possible.
    Good luck!

    This is an ongoing series of blogs about dog crates and puppy crates which is intended to be of help. If we have not answered whatever is troubling you yet then click on the link below and ask us to write a blog about your concern. Or if you have any other questions about crates, cages, play pens, dog runs, healthy diet or any other doggy question then let us know. If we can help, we will.

    Read more