While some dog owners worry about putting their dog in a crate, crate training has many benefits. Dogs naturally seek out small spaces as protective shelters. When properly done, dog crate training can make your dog feel safer, reduce stress in an emergency, and help curb bad behavior. The American Kennel Club recommends crate training for all dogs, of any size.
When to Use a Crate?
- Housebreaking: Crate training puppies can provide a natural incentive for them to learn to hold their bladders. Puppies don’t want to dirty their sleeping quarters or safe space, so crate training reinforces relieving themselves outside. It also gives the owner a smaller area to clean during the training period.
- Emergencies: Many emergency shelters mandate that dogs must be crated to stay with their owners. Ensuring your dog is comfortable in a crate can make an already stressful situation easier on your companion. It can also save you valuable time evacuating.
- Recovering from Surgery: After certain procedures, a vet may prescribe “crate rest” for your dog to help them recover. A dog who is already crate trained will be able to settle down into the crate and heal more easily.
- Travel: A crate gives a dog space to lie down during a long car ride. During air travel dogs will also usually have to be contained. A dog who is already crate trained can accompany you more easily on vacations and trips.
- Socialization: Crate training can help dogs adjust to new additions to the family, like new pets or children, by giving them their own safe space to retreat when they get overwhelmed. In particular, a rescue dog may benefit from crate training since it gives them time to adjust to a new space and the feeling of having their own territory.
How to Use a Crate
When crate training, think of it like making a room just for your dog. Never use the crate as a punishment; it should be a place where they enjoy being, and where they feel safe. A dog should never stay in a crate all day. Instead, try spending time there in short increments, and offering them treats in the crate. Kong dog crate training suggests offering your dog a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter, or another long-lasting dog toy, for an engaging and rewarding experience in the space. For safety, make sure to remove your dog’s collar any time they’re in the crate.
Getting the Right Kind of Crate
Certain kinds of crates work better for different needs. If your dog prefers to fall asleep in the dark, or you plan on doing a lot of traveling by air, you may want an enclosed kennel for dogs or an airline crate. However, if you want to keep an eye on your dog more easily in the house, a wire crate may be more helpful.
Senior dog trainer Anna Flayton of PUPS Pet Club offers a guideline for crate training puppies: “Buy the right crate for their adult size,” she recommends. Using dividers can shrink the space down while they’re small, so that the crate is not too daunting to start, but ensures that they won’t need to get accustomed to a new crate once they’re fully grown.
How Do I Know What Size Crate to Get for My Dog?
Dog crate sizes vary, but selecting the right size for your canine companion is the key to successful crate training. Your dog’s size is more important than its weight. Even if shopping by breed, you may still want to take their measurements to ensure accuracy.
To measure your dog, start with their length. Measure from the nose to the tip of their tail, then from the top of their ears down to the ground. Add 2 to 4 inches. Any dog crate you get should be at least 6 inches taller and wider than your final measurements.
A dog size chart can help you explore your options. Crates are commonly found in dimensions of 24 inches (small dog crate, like for a Pug or a Pomeranian), 30 inches (medium dog crate, like for a Dachshund or Lhasa Apso), 36 inches (intermediate size, like for a Beagle or Bulldog), 42 inches (large dog crate, like for a Labrador Retriever or Border Collie), or 48-54 inches (xl dog crate, like for a Weimaraner or Rottweiler).
Best Crate Options
- The MidWest iCrate Starter Kit offers crates in all different sizes, which come with accessories like attachable bowls, a removable bed, and a crate cover for nighttime. The crate cover and bed are machine washable, a must for anyone using crate training to housebreak a new puppy.
- The EliteField 3 Door Folding Soft Dog Crate is the highest-ranked option on Amazon for soft dog crates. Available in different colors, this well-ventilated option also sports padded carrying straps, making it popular for travel.
- The BMS Dog Crate is a standard wire option for a medium-sized dog crate. Easy to assemble, it also breaks down and can be stored flat when not in use.
- The PUPZO Heavy Duty Dog Cage is an option for a large dog cage that’s easily portable on lockable wheels. It offers a removable floor tray for easy cleaning, as well as a detachable roof.
A good dog crate can help your dog feel safe and secure in your home or while traveling. Crate training your dog can curb bad behaviors, reduce stress, calm down your anxious dog and make you both more mobile for vacations or an emergency. Offering your dog treats or toys in the crate can help make it a positive environment for your dog. A good crate will be big enough that they can stand and turn around easily. Selecting the right size and style of crate can make a big difference in your dog’s comfort. A crate-comfortable dog can go to many more places with its owner, bringing you two even closer together!