Choosing a carrier for your dog is a very important task – one that will ensure yours and your pet’s comfort and safety when traveling. But there are lots of available models on the market varying in size, materials and design, so selecting one from the many can be a bit overwhelming. How can you narrow down your options?

The most important thing about the carrier you will purchase is its size. Get your dog to sit still and measure it entirely – from head to tail, from floor to top of head, from floor to shoulders. No dog enjoys being confined in a carrier, but you are obliged to make them as comfortable as possible. In order to do that, you must ensure that your dog can stand, lie down and turn inside the carrier. If you have a small dog, like say a pug or a Pomeranian, the size shouldn’t be a problem. You can get a big enough carrier that is easy to handle and has enough room for the dog. If your dog is medium sized, however, like a Chow Chow, it will be harder to get a carrier that has all the extra room. That’s why it was said you should measure the height from floor to shoulder above – that is the minimum carrier height that will make your pet feel okay inside. As pets usually curl up when they are placed inside the carrier, the ability to stand up straight is not mandatory.

The next thing to consider is the material of the carrier. There are two main types – soft and hard carriers. Soft carriers are the ones that resemble a shoulder bag and are made of some kind of fabric. These are only good for small dog breeds, because a dog that is bigger will not feel comfortable, and you will also not be able to handle its weight on your shoulder. Hard carriers look like boxes and are made of plastic. They are good for all dog sizes and are preferable if you want to make sure your dog stays inside. It is very important to make sure that the locking mechanism is fully operational and that the plastic used is very durable and shows almost no bending when handling the weight before you make the purchase. There is also a third type which is a combination between soft and hard carriers – hard construction with soft lining. This will of course be more comfortable for your dog, but you shouldn’t buy it if your dog is still in training – getting rid of the stains on the lining can be extremely hard, if not impossible.

Last but not least – the ventilation. As mentioned above, you should ensure the pet’s comfort as much as possible and ventilation is very important in that regard. The carrier should have openings on all sides except the floor and ceiling. These openings contribute to the pet’s comfort not just by providing them with fresh air, but also by giving them the chance to see what is going on around them and where are you taking them, plus to see you so they don’t feel as nervous.

If you are going to be traveling with your pet by plane and that is the reason for buying a carrier, check the airline’s requirements before you make a purchase. You may find that your carrier does not fit them when it is already too late to buy another one.

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