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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Pet carriers for dogs run the gamut from fun to functional and everything in between. If you have a large dog you are more or less restricted to using a traditional crate of some kind when you travel; but owners with small and Toy dogs have many more options when it come to choosing a dog carrier. Here’s a look at some of the types and styles you and your dog can choose from.

Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier

Deluxe Rolling Pet Carrier







For the serious pet traveler

If you and your small dog are flying then you have a couple of choices. Dogs on planes have to fly in an airline-approved carrier. However, if your dog or puppy is small enough and you make arrangements in advance, dogs in their carriers can fly in the cabin as long as the soft-sided carrier will fit under the seat in front of you. Each airline has slightly different requirements about the size of the carrier but as long as it is soft-sided and you can slide it under the seat with your dog inside it, it should be all right. It’s best if the carrier has mesh sides or openings to allow good airflow for your dog. Pockets on the side are also a plus so you can keep important papers and your leash in them. Be sure to call ahead and speak to the airline before you travel to make sure your carrier is approved and they have room for your dog in the cabin. Airlines limit the number of dogs that they allow to fly in the cabin on each flight.

Carriers for this kind of travel can be shoulder bags, carry-on style travel bags, or duffle-style bags. They can even match your luggage.

Your dog can also fly in a small airline-approved kennel as baggage when you travel together. These kennels are made of hard plastic and have a wire door. They will keep a dog secure during the flight. Pets fly in a pressurized, heated compartment of the plane with other pets. Many pets fly this way each year and it is normally safe. However, if you have a brachycelphalic (short-nosed) breed, most airlines will not accept your breed for flights during summer months because of the higher risks to them.

Fun carriers

There are all kinds of fun carriers for small dogs when you just want to zip around town.

 

Handbag-style carriers. One popular type of pet carriers is made like a handbag or shoulder bag for women. Small dogs can easily fit inside these bags with room to spare. You often see their heads poking out when they are having a look around.

Shoulder bags and slings make good carriers for dogs. Some of these bags are sherpa-lined for extra comfort for your dog. These bags can be as deluxe as you like. They can have side pockets, handles, and shoulder straps. Bags can be made of leather, canvas, faux croc, and other designer styles.

Baskets are another popular kind of carrier, especially if you like to ride your bike with your dog. Baskets can fit between your bike handle bars. Or you can use a basket that you carry with your dog inside. Baskets come in many attractive styles.

Backpacks also make popular pet carriers. You can walk, hike, jog, go shopping, or do anything you normally do with  your small dog secure in  your backpack carrier.

There are all kinds of styles of carriers for dogs. If you haven’t seen the kind of carrier you like yet, you can probably improvise one. As long as it keeps your dog safe and secure, then it will probably make a good carrier.

Finding A Good Dog Crate

Dog crates have many good uses.  If you have a medium or large dog and you plan to fly with your pet, you will need a crate for the flight.  Crates can be used for house training.  They are great for traveling with your dog in your vehicle and will protect him in case of an accident.  And, many dogs like to sleep and hang out in their crate at home.

 

Crate differences

There are two basic kinds of dog crates:  wire crates and hard plastic crates.  Both kinds of crates can be good choices, depending on why you need a crate for your dog.  The cost of the crates is similar, so that will probably not be a deciding factor for you.  Both kinds of crates can be broken down or taken apart and put together rather easily, so that, too, will probably not be too influential, although wire crates are usually more portable if you are going to training classes or taking your dog someplace local.

 

Hard plastic crates

If you will be flying with your dog on a plane, you will need to get a hard plastic, airline-approved crate.  Airlines are very picky about the crates they allow on planes, for the safety of the dogs, and they do not accept wire crates because they can be bent during a flight, which could crush a dog.  Most hard plastic crates are airline-approved but you should look for this label or statement to make sure.  Hard plastic crates have ventilation holes so air can circulate and they have a wire grill for a door so your dog can see out and have more air.  Under ordinary circumstances a dog is safe in one of these crates and will not escape.

 

They come in two pieces (a top and a bottom) and are put together with screws and knobs around the sides.  They are easily assembled in just a few minutes.  Hard plastic crates have the added bonus of being a good way to travel with your pet in your personal vehicle.  If you should have an accident, the hard plastic will provide some protection for your dog and prevent him from being tossed around the vehicle or thrown out on the road.

 

Wire crates

Wire crates are a good choice for your dog if you go to training classes, dog events such as agility or obedience trials where the dog might have to wait around at the site for a few hours, or if you prefer your dog to be able to see more outside the crate.  Wire crates are more open than hard plastic crates and the dog can feel like he is part of what is going on.

 

They will also work as a way to confine your dog in your personal vehicle but they do not provide as much protection as hard plastic crates.  If you are in an accident, a wire crate can be crushed more easily and your dog could escape.  However, many people who go to lots of dog events with their dogs like wire crates because they are easier to carry than hard plastic crates and more portable.  They are relatively easy to fold up and set up quickly and they collapse into a much smaller space than hard plastic crates.

 

Both kinds of crates are equally good if you will be using a crate at home to help with house training or as a place for your dog to sleep and hang out.

 

Finding a good crate

You can find good crates at your local pet store, online from vendors who sell dog products, and even at your local discount stores and building supply stores.  They are not hard to find.

 

Most crate manufacturers provide a guide that suggests the correct size crate to get for each breed or size of dog.  These guides are usually very accurate and you should follow their recommendations.  It is generally best to get the correct size crate for your dog and not get a crate that is too large.  Crates that are too big for your dog are not safe if your dog is flying or traveling in your car.  The more space there is in the crate, the more your dog can be thrown around in case of a turbulence or an accident, possibly causing injury.  If you will be using the crate for house training, extra space would allow the dog to poop in his crate which would defeat the purpose of using the crate for house training.  However, if your  dog will simply be sleeping in the crate, you can get a crate as big as you like.

 

Conclusion

Crates are great for dogs and most dogs like them once they have been introduced to them.  Which kind of crate you get for you dog is really a matter of personal preference, unless you will be flying on a plane with your pet.  In that case you will need to get a hard plastic, airline-approved crate.  Happy crate training!