Archive for March, 2014

dog crates

If you have a dog, you need a dog crate. Here’s how to choose one.

A crate is a vital piece of dog furniture. Dogs are most comfortable when they have a personal den available, and crate-training is also a great way to house-train your pooch.

A look at what crates are made of

There are three common materials for dog crates:
• Wire, looking like a basic cage
• Plastic or fibreglass, typically sold as a “flight kennel” or “pet carrier”
• Fabric over a wire frame, like a pop-up tent

Flight kennels have the advantage of doubling as a safe and comfortable enclosure for transporting your dog to the vet, on vacation, and so on. These are very easy to clean, and they are less likely to scratch floor surfaces than other crates are.

Wire cages are inexpensive and safe. In our climate, the easy airflow through the walls is a big plus. Wire crates will scratch bare floors. There’s an easy way around this, however: Put a mat under the crate.

The tent-like fabric crates have a devoted fan-base, and they can be decorative, which is nice in the living room. They are the riskiest choice, though, unless the dog will always be under supervision when he’s in the crate. A dog can chew through most fabrics. The only real questions are how long it will take and whether you’ll notice the damage before there’s a significant hole. Fabrics with prints are more likely to hide damage. Also, these crates are the most difficult to clean and disinfect.

Some dogs like to have the cave effect that a covered crate provides. Covering the crate with a blanket will produce a nice, dark cave. Be careful about ventilation and temperature. The inside of a blanketed crate can heat up pretty quickly.

Check any crate for sharp edges and loose pieces when you buy it, and from time to time at home. There’s always a small possibility of damage to a crate in the warehouse or in transit.

Looking at Structures

The shape of the crate isn’t a big problem. Most of them are rectangles, or rounded versions of rectangles. Sometimes, just to be different, the occasional crate will be shaped like a pup-tent or a tube. Pup-tents waste height, because the ridge area is not very usable for the dog, and tubes are awkward to turn around in, so stick with basic rectangles.

Some crates are sold with an internal divider which can be removed. These are very convenient if you are crate-training a puppy. You can buy a crate that will be the right size for your dog as an adult, and use the divider to make a puppy-size den while the dog is still small.

Choosing the right size

You might be wondering, “Why can’t you just use an adult-size crate for a puppy? Isn’t bigger better?” When you’re crate-training a puppy, the crate should be small enough that the puppy doesn’t have the option of sleeping in one end and peeing in the other. It should be big enough for the pup to stand up comfortably, turn around easily, and stretch out when he lies down.

How to furnish your dog’s crate

A well-chosen crate is a comfy den for your pooch. A nice den needs some furnishings.

The biggest piece of “furniture” is bedding. There are low-padded dog beds that can be fit into dog crates. Some dog crates come with bedding, and some dog bedding retailers, such as Hot Dog Collars, make beds especially for crate-use or have a wide range of alternatives. Or use a sturdy blanket with a dog cushion. Just be sure the dog can’t tangle himself in the blanket.

The kinds of sturdy drip-bottle such as are sold for hamsters, rabbits, or rats will be handy. Choose the size according to your dog’s breed and age. You can fill these with cold water, or even ice-water, and attach them to the side of the crate to keep your dog well-watered on warm days, on road-trips, and whenever he needs to be left alone in the crate for any amount of time.

Finally, a good sturdy toy or non-messy treat will be appreciated by your pooch.

The next step

The next step is to figure out how big or small a crate you need. Measure your dog’s height and add a few centimetres to determine the minimum height for the crate. Sneak a measurement in when your dog is sprawled on the floor. There’s your length. For most dogs, if the crate has those two measurements as minimums, the width will take care of itself. If your dog has mobility challenges or is a member of a particularly un-agile breed, err on the side of too wide.

Now, take a look at the pet-store and online on pet-supply sites like Love That Pet, and see what your options are, comfortably within your budget.

Bio:
With 7 years of small animal practice and after surviving 5 years of veterinarian school, it’s no surprise that Dr. Eloise Bright has a passion for dogs and all animals. With Pomeranian, Duster, in tote she has practiced in Sydney, Australia with Love That Pet and has taken the opportunity to volunteer at local charity clinics while completely her Masters in Small Animal Practice. Chat with her on Google+.

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