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.
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.