Michael is an avid pet-lover and content writer on topical themes related to dog care, training and behavioral development.
When used correctly, a crate can be an essential part of a puppy's development and training. Aside from being a safe haven and resting place, it can also prevent the pet from getting into dangerous situations.
With so many types of crates available in the market, the task of finding the one that is best suited for your dog can be a daunting one. So if you are in the process of searching, here are 7 essential steps to help you identify the perfect dog crate.
- Take maturated measurements
- Select the corresponding size
- Consider availability of space
- Research on reviews
- Check safety features
- Assess structure and durability
- Conform to mode of life
1. Take Maturated Measurements
In order to identify the right crate size for your pet, the first step is to find out the height, length and width of the dog when it is a fully mature adult. It is necessary to have an idea of how big does it gets to be when it is fully grown.
This information can be obtained either by research on the type of breed, or by reaching out to the local vet or a canine expert for details. For example, bigger crates are ideal for breeds such as Basset Hound, English Setter, Bulldog, and Shar-Pei.
Remember, the relevant dimensions that need to be compared in this context are the inner dimensions of the crate and not the outer ones. To avoid any confusion, consider the system of measurement depending on where the crate is to be procured from.
For example, in the US, measurements follow the imperial system (feet and inches) whereas in the UK, they use the metric system (meters and centimeters). Many countries will fall under either the one system or the other.
If the dog is already mature, the height is measured from the floor to the tips of the dog's ears when erect, whilst the length is measured from the nose to the tail. The measurements you take should all follow a straight line rather than along the dog's physical features (if you are measuring an adult dog). Once you have noted these values, add 3 extra inches in order to find out the amount of space that is required.
2. Select the Corresponding Size
As noted before, the ideal-sized crate is one that can contain the dog when it is fully grown as an adult. Obtaining such a crate will prevent you from having to get a new one every couple of months because your pet keeps outgrowing them.
This is why it is always preferable to procure a crate that is resizeable. The key is to obtain crate dividers that can be inserted to adjust the available space as the puppy continues to grow toward adulthood. These dividers can be fixed inside the crate while it is still a puppy and then later removed when it is fully grown.
The crate should not be large enough for the dog to have space for running around or performing other such activities. This is reserved for the outdoors. If the crate happens to be too spacious, the dog will use one section as its sleeping place and the other as its toilet.
A crate that is too big can interfere with the crate training process and gives the owner the extra task of having to clean it frequently. Also, the larger the crate is, the more uncomfortable it will be for the dog especially when traveling. Moreover, the dog may not feel as safe as it would when reposing in a smaller crate.
Similarly, if the crate is not spacious enough, the puppy could injure itself and this could impede your efforts especially if you are just starting to provide training lessons. The crate should have enough space for the dog to stand at full height, lie flat and turn around. A crate that is too small will feel cramped.
3. Consider Availability of Space
It is necessary to take into consideration the amount of space the crate itself will occupy. Determine beforehand if it will be convenient for your home and your lifestyle. How will the crate fit in with the setting and activities in the home?
Since this is a long-term arrangement, it is essential to see if an ideal spot exists that will ensure privacy and convenience for the dog over the course of its lifetime.
It is also important to see how it may affect the family lifestyle around the home and any future expectations like guest stay-overs, or additions to the family such as newborns. This will help you better plan for the puppy's accommodation and a suitable crate.
If you plan to travel with the dog, it would also be important to first consider the dimensions of your vehicle and see which crate would be the best fit without compromising the safety and comfort of the pet and passengers while in motion.
Metal wire crates tend to be most popular, especially the collapsible ones because they are light and easy to transport. They may not be as attractive as other types, but they are cheaper and easy to set up, clean and store.
So if you are short on space and need to be economical about it, it would be best to go for a collapsible crate that can be easily stashed away when it is not in use.
Such include the Diggs Revol crate which won two awards in 2018 and 2019 - the Pet Business's award for Best Dog Containment and the Good Design award. The MIdwest Pet Products version of the iCrate is also ideal for folding and storage purposes.
4. Research on Reviews
If you have already identified a crate that is to your liking, check online reviews for feedback from customers who have used the product. Ideally, narrow down your search to customers whose dogs belong to the same breed as yours.
What were their experiences? Were their expectations met? How did the dog respond to the crate and what is the current situation? Were there any additional changes that had to be made subsequent to their purchase?
Answers to such questions will help give you a clear picture of what to expect. The ratings will also help point you in the right direction. At the time of writing this article for example, AmazonBasics Metal Crate has nearly 40,000 reviews and a rating score of 4.7 out of 5.
Do your due diligence and also consult with your local vet or animal expert for advice on the crate that is best suited for the specific needs and requirements of your dog.
5. Check Safety Features
The safety of the dog is of key importance. The crate should not have spaces or openings where its paws could get stuck, either at the top, bottom, or on the sides.
Consider the welfare of the other members of the family as well. Are there children in the house who could be harmed if they played with the crate or entered in themselves? Does it have sharp edges that could wound the pet or other family members? How portable is the crate can it be safely carried around without causing physiological injury?
Think beforehand concerning how the crate fits in with other items in the home. This is especially so if the crate is to be a constant feature. Some crates come with lockable casters while others require extra padding or material underneath to prevent scratching or damaging the floor. As the crate will be regularly shifting, it is best to obtain one with smooth edges.
You also need to consider if the crate is properly ventilated as well. There should always be sufficient airflow. This is one advantage that crate types mentioned so far have. Additional examples include Easipet Metal Dog Cages and Midwest Contour Dog Crates.
Such crates also offer the pet visibility of the external environment so they do not feel like they are completely isolated or crouching in a cell. They are always aware of what is going on around them and receive proper aeration. If you intend to purchase an outdoor crate, it should be the type that can contain and maintain heat during the cold seasons and keep cool during the hot seasons.
6. Assess Structure and Durability
The crate that you purchase needs to be tougher than your dog. Crates are designed from a range of materials and there are some made of reinforced steel. These are quite sturdy and tough, but also particularly heavy to carry around.
Metal wire crates are quite popular and are known to be among the most durable. Of course, these can always be modified in case the dog needs more privacy by including a crate cover.
Fabric crates are best suited for calm dogs that are properly behaved. These are easy to pack and transport. They are convenient for those who enjoy traveling, camping, or other outdoor activities. However, this type of crate is not ideal if the puppy is prone to chewing as it will not withstand the onslaught. It can also prove difficult to clean in case the puppy throws up, relieves itself or creates any other sort of mess.
When you purchase a crate, ensure the bottom is completely leak-proof and one that allows for absorbent pads or other coverings to be added without creating unevenness. None of the surfaces should be slanted, bent or irregular in any way.
It is also essential to consider the ease of entry and exit. There are some crates like the UltimaPro Wire Crate that have double doors and a lock that is easy and quick to operate.
In case of an emergency, it is best to have a crate that allows for your pet to be extracted as fast as possible. It should not be one whose locking mechanism tends to jam or turns the pet's experience into something more like solitary confinement.
7. Conform to Mode of Life
If you travel often and would like to take your furry companion with you, it is best to procure a hard plastic crate that can absorb heavy impact, rather than one that is made from a less resilient material. Such robust crates however, will not be collapsible and will occupy more space. Wooden crates are not ideally suited for travel as they tend to be heavy.
If you intend to be traveling by air, research in advance concerning the crate dimensions and sturdiness required by airlines for your chosen routes. It will not be allowed on board if it is not airline-approved.
For example, Pets Abroad UK have all their crates IATA compliant, meaning that they are approved for transport in domestic and international airlines. Also bear in mind that certain airlines will not permit multiple animals to be transported in a single crate.
Confirm also whether the crate is going to be for indoor or outdoor use. If it is to function as an outdoor kennel it should consist of material that can withstand weather conditions and keep your pet at normal temperatures.
You also need to take into account the mood and personality of your dog. There are crates specifically designed for dogs with anxieties. It is necessary to have a crate that fits in with your pet's particular disposition and special qualities. For instance, a soft-sided or fabric crate may not be ideal for an energetic, outgoing dog.
The setting of your home can also give you an indication of the type of crate to use. Some crates fit in so well because they are purposely built to become part of the decor in your house. The features of the crate are designed to blend in with the furniture and other items in the home.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 08, 2021:
This is a very helpful article. The dog in our extended family had a crate when he was a puppy. But has not required one now for several years. This is a useful article for anyone looking for a new crate.