Whether at home or on the road, a crate can be your dog’s favorite safe zone.
In the ancient past, dogs looked for small protected spaces to hide out or sleep in. You can see the same instinct in dogs today when they hide under furniture or in closets when they are anxious or afraid. Modern LA dogs can get the same benefits from a crate with training and regular use. Some of these benefits include:
- Security. Having a familiar den-like safe zone can help reduce a dog’s anxiety or stress when there are visitors, curious kids or other animals around.
- Protection. A properly secured crate in a car can protect a dog from being thrown around in a collision. It can also keep a dog from distracting a driver. It can protect reactive dogs from getting into trouble at training classes or competitions.
- Control. When a dog is in a crate, you know where she is. This can be critical on holidays celebrated with fireworks, during an emergency, when you have a lot of guests or workers coming and going in your home or when you are staying in a hotel.
Many people leave the crate open in the house so the dog can come and go as he feels the need. Rather than feeling caged, a well-trained dog will feel more secure knowing he can go to his “den.” Keeping treats or toys in the crate or feeding the dog in or near the crate all help to build positive feelings about it..
Choosing the right dog crate
Dog crates come in different sizes, materials and configurations. The best one for you and your dog depends on how you want to use it. There are three main types of crates:
- Metal cage-type crates. These are the types of crates you might see at a kennel or an adoption event. They may have one or more doors. Some types allow you to attach food and water bowls. The bottom is a solid pan where you can put a pad. If you want to keep out the light or shut out the view of what’s outside the crate, you’ll need to put a cover or blanket over it.
- Plastic carriers. These are much more enclosed, although they usually have openings in the upper half of the carrier for a dog to look out of and get ventilation. Some come apart in a bottom and top half. This style often has a handle for carrying the crate on top. This style will be warmer than the metal cage style.
- Canvas and mesh folding crates. These crates have a plastic or metal frame that is covered with canvas. Mesh openings zip open or closed or can be covered with flaps. This allows for good air circulation and a lot of control over the light and privacy inside the crate. These are lighter to carry and are usually designed to fold flat. This makes them easy to travel with or store when not in use. The exact way that they fold varies with the maker. It’s definitely worth practicing.
When selecting a dog crate, you should look for:
- Good fit. The dog should be able to comfortably stand up and lie down inside the crate. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers offers tips on choosing the right size crate.
- Transportability. If you go to agility events, dog shows or other activities where you want to have a crate, you’ll want to be able to carry it and get it in and out of your car, SUV or truck. If the crate will only be used at home, it’s size or weight isn’t important.
- Flexibility in shutting out light and distractions. Having a dark space often helps calm a dog, especially one that is reactive to people or other animals. At the same time, giving the dog the ability to look out and see what’s happening around him relieves boredom and can make them feel more secure. Having flaps that roll up or can be zipped in place gives you options depending on the circumstances.
- Ease of folding. It’s worth the time to go online and look at the directions for folding various crates. Talking to people with different brands of crates is also helpful.
The cost of a crate varies widely and depends on the size. Small crates can cost between $20 and $25. Some large crates cost $200 or more.