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. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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.

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  7. Dog crates and cages. Is it cruel to crate? How long should you crate?

    More Q & A on dog crates and puppy crates.

    Continuing our blogs on dog crates and cages, we answer some really important and popular questions which keep being asked. We all want the best for our puppy and adult dog, and we hope that we can help you find the right course of action for you.
    We already have page on crate training your dog - click HERE to see it - but it is our intention to expand on this in the near future and if you want personalised advice please drop us an e mail by using the 'contact us' link at the foot of this page in the left hand column.
    But here we explore two questions, "Are dog crates cruel?" and "How long can a dog or a puppy be left in a crate or play pen?"

    Are dog crates cruel?

    Simple answer - no, of course not. Read on to see why!
    You will see that most dogs love their crate - it is their own bit of private space.

    "just the right place to go when your dog is tired, nervous or just wants a bit of peace and quiet"

    There are many people who are initially reluctant to crate a dog or puppy because they see it as cruel and think the dog will not like the confinement. Some even liken it to a jail! But this is looking at a crate through human eyes and bringing human thoughts to a very doggy question. A dog or puppy simply has no pre-conceived ideas and assuming you have had the time to correctly crate train your dog, then it will see the crate as a place of security, privacy, quietness and safety. Dogs are by instinct a den animal, and the crate is a den. By crating you are responding to this very basic doggy instinct. It is the opposite of cruelty!
    Of course a dog crate can be abused but that is not the fault of the crate, but a fault of the owner. You will find that using the crate appropriately can help with toilet training, combatting any urge towards destructive behaviour and teaching your dog and puppy to relax and chill out. It should be a place of happiness. By good training, love and patience you can achieve these aims.
    A dog often welcomes the crate as it's own safe place; it's own den; it's own place of refuge. Try leaving the door open when you are around, place a few toys and a bed inside (see previous blog) and you should reap the rewards. Your dog and puppy will love the safety and security that a crate can bring. It is just the right place to go when your dog is tired, nervous or just wants a bit of peace and quiet - perhaps away from children, visitors or even the TV.
    Most dogs love their crate, so time spent on crate training is time well spent and the crate will add enjoyment to your dog's life as well as your own. An added bonus may well be that you use the crate during car trips and travel, in hotels etc., where the relaxation the crate brings will help to combat any other stress or distraction. 
    So no, a crate is not cruel. Used correctly it can be one of the kindest things you can do for your dog or puppy.

    How long can my dog or puppy be left in a crate?

    This depends on many factors including the age of the dog or puppy, and how training has been carried out. How long is too long? There are a few general 'rules of thumb' and these are explained below.

    "Whatever the age of a dog or puppy, it should never be crated for longer than it can control its bowels and bladder."

    The age of your dog or puppy is a big factor, as well as to how you prepare for crating. Your dog should always be thoroughly exercised before any prolonged crating, and given adequate time to eliminate all waste. This way the chance of crate defecation is reduced, and the dog will be much more prepared to sleep. The length of exercise time obviously depends on the breed, and your breeder or vet will be able to guide you here.A big or energetic breed will need a lot of time.
    The crate should be prepared with bedding, toys, water and all the comforts your dog enjoys. The crate should be welcoming. Full crate training must already have been carried out so that your dog is content within the crate. Only then can we begin to think of how long your dog or puppy can be left without a break.
    So, the age of the dog is important.
    It is unreasonable to expect a puppy to be able to control its bladder for very long, so a young puppy can only be left for a short time without the risk of 'accidents'.
    Many behaviourists and experts have an 'hour a month' rule, although it is unreasonable to expect a puppy of up to eight weeks to spend more than an hour crated. It will simply not be able to control its bladder. Whatever the age of a dog or puppy, it should never be crated for longer than it can control its bowels and bladder.
    So, a two month old puppy may be able to last 2 hours crated, a 3 month old 3 hours, and so on. Many experts say that a puppy up to the age of 6 months should spend no more than 3 or at the most 4 hours crated during the day, and give a guide of 6 hours as an optimum maximum time as the dog gets older, although this period may be able to be extended by an hour or two if the dog is comfortable with that. For ourselves (we have scotties) we like to set a 5 hour maximum, but this sometimes has to be extended due to particular circumstances, and if this is the exception rather than the rule then little harm will be done. If you leave your dog or puppy whilst you are at work, please try to get home once or twice during the day to allow the dog to relieve itself, or if this is not possible ask a friend or relative to let the dog out for you. Otherwise hire a dog walker - it probably is not as expensive as you fear, and you will have peace of mind.
    A dog is a social animal and ideally should not be alone for most of the day. If you are away a long time, then as soon as you get back, give your dog some exercise and food.
    Nightime crating is slightly different and the time can be extended so that you get a good sleep as well, although until the puppy is thoroughly toilet trained be prepared for a night of broken sleep.
    It is true that some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety even after a very short time, and may attack the crate, perhaps biting the the mesh. This is not a fault of the crate but is an obvious safety hazard and must be treated seriously, taking advice from your vet as necessary. However, crate training is key, and if your dog is exhibiting behaviour which is unwanted, then the answer is probably training, training and more training.Good behaviour should be rewarded. We will return to this subject in a future blog, but if you are unfortunate enough to have trouble, return to training and take the advice of your vet.
    However, most dogs can be safely left for a reasonable time within their dog crate when planning and training will hopefully be relied on to solve most potential problems.
    In the puppy Q&A section of this website we do have some guidance on owning a puppy and going out to work. You can read this by clicking HERE.
    As with most things to do with a dog's welfare you will find that kindness, consideration, common sense, planning and training will help to overcome most things, and these qualities certainly apply to deciding the length of time you can safely crate your dog, and we hope that these few notes help decide the optimum time for you.

    Future blogs.

    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.

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  8. Dog Crates - Where to put them and what to put inside.

    Dog Crates - Where to put them and what to put inside.

    Blogging on dog crates.

    We have been asked many, many questions over the years about dog crates - how to use them, is it cruel to crate (no!), which type of crate is best for you, what size etc etc.
    So we are introducing a series of blogs which will help with most crate questions. This first blog in the series is intended to help with a couple of less obvious, but still important, crating questions. 

    Where should I put my crate in the home?

    The first thing to remember is that dogs are generally social animals and love company, so a crate should never be in a lonely place. But it does depend on how you are using your crate, and what you want out of it.If you are just using it as a bed then remember that a dog likes to sleep - a lot! So it should be in an accessible room whether this be your lounge, kitchen, utility room, hallway or bedroom. If you leave the crate door open then your dog can pop in and out at will.
    Ideally it should be in a busy room where your dog is not alone and can feel a part of what is happening around it. To put the crate in too quiet an area may make your dog feel lonely or isolated, and this is not good. View the crate as you would view your own armchair and put it in an important place in your home and you will find that your dog loves it!
    Do not place it in a draughty area, or in direct sunlight, or too near a fireplace or radiator. I know this can be difficult but it is important that your dog doesn't feel too hot or too cold - take the 'Goldilocks' approach and all will be well.

    What should I put in my dog crate?

    Well, dog crates should be comfortable and welcoming. The comfortable part is quite easy to solve by using a crate mat or piece of Vetbed to take the hardness off the floor. At home, we use both. When we are dog tired we all like to snuggle so you may even consider putting a bed or snugglebag inside the crate, and this will be very popular with your dog.
    You may also consider a water bowl which hooks or clamps on to the crate side - a very popular accessory but perhaps one that should not be used if you are using your dog crate as part of toilet training! 
    And then we come to the fun bit. Especially in the early months and years a dog likes to chew, and you don't want it chewing the crate walls so think about chew toys. It is usually unwise to leave a dog alone with a stuffed toy, or one made from cheaper rubber or plastic, or one with a squeaker as if these are ingested the dog can become seriously ill. So choose your toys and chews carefully and go for a well known brand name such as Kong or Nylabone. Some Kong toys can be stuffed with treats which are always popular, and there is such a variation of Nylabone chews that your dog need never be bored.
    A well planned dog crate and contents will pay dividends. It is a very important place in your dog's life so will find that opting for quality will bring you peace of mind - and a happy dog.

    Future blogs.

    As we said above, this is just the first in 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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