Crate Training: Choosing The Right Dog Crate

Yesterday we talked about why you should crate train your dog, in Crate Training: Why you should be doing it.  So, now that you’ve decided to start to crate train your dog, let’s begin with choosing the right dog crate.

There are many different kinds of dog crates to choose from.  Plastic, metal, nylon.  The choice is really up to you, and what type of crate will keep your dog safely confined.

For many years we used only the plastic travel crates for our dogs.  And I still have the original plastic “pet carrier” crates that we purchased as each new dog was added to the household.  But they are in pretty bad shape.  The clips are missing, so they’re held together with zip ties.  They’re hard to latch from many dogs chewing on them.  So last year, I started investing in the metal/wire crates for most of the dogs.  Our Big Boys hated the metal crates though, so they’ve retained their plastic crates.  And I usually have adult fosters in plastic crates.

The Terrible Trio loves the metal crates.  Our bonded pair of brothers, Santana and Pantera, share a medium sized metal crate.  And the Monkey has her own tiny metal crate.  I also use a large metal crate for our foster puppies.  In my opinion, the metal crates, although more expensive, will last a lot longer.  The puppies may chew on the bars, but the most they can do is chip off the paint.

Plastic dog crate: Pros and Cons

Pro: For small dogs, plastic dog crates are great for traveling with your dog.  Light-weight and easy to carry, they fit in the back seats well, and at least in my vehicle, the medium size crate can be seat belted in.

Pro: For dogs that like more privacy, such as our Woobie, the anti-social dog.  He prefers a plastic crate, where you have to look hard to see if he’s really in there. He likes to be alone.

Pro: Relatively inexpensive.  The second size up, small, I think I paid around $40 a piece for.

Con: Dogs, especially puppies, like to chew on the plastic crates.  This makes them wear out pretty quickly.  The clips that hold the top and bottom together disappear, and you end up zip tying them together.  Which makes getting stubborn dogs out of them when need be.  Just two weeks ago, I hauled Chewy into the vet in his plastic dog crate, and due to the injury that he was there to be seen about, he refused to walk out of the crate.  It took side-cutters to cut the heavy duty zip ties I’d used off.  Luckily, my vet was prepared, and they even had more zip ties for me to use to get him home.

Con: For some dogs, the plastic dog crates are too confining.  They want to be able to see out.  Puppies, I’ve found especially.  They’re so curious, they want to see everything that’s going on.

Con: They can be a pain to clean, unless you tear them apart.  Which, again for me, means cutting a replacing zip ties.

Metal dog crate: Pros and Cons

Pro: Heavy duty, metal dog crates have stood up to even my strongest chewers, without a mark.

Pro: They let the airflow through.  Not more hot dogs in the summer, when I’m too stubborn to turn on the AC.  But if you have a dog that prefers their privacy, cover the crate with a cover, or even just a blanket.

Pro: They fold up for storage.  I think this is a wonderful thing.  As my large puppy crate isn’t always in use, we just fold it up and slip it behind my bed.

Pro: Easy to clean.  No more tearing apart and scrubbing.  We just pull the tray out and scrub it.  Between dogs, or every few months, We fold up the metal parts and put them in the shower, spray them down with some bleach and wash them off. They dry in a snap, and are relatively easy to set back up.

Con: Metal dog crates, except the smallest ones, don’t travel easy set up.  It’s hard to carry a dog in one.

Nylon dog crate: Pros and Cons

Pros: Nylon dog crates are light-weight and portable.  They work great for tiny little dogs.  They’re great for traveling, but I wouldn’t recommend using them for every day use, unless you have a 3 pound dog that is very gentle and never scratches at anything.

Cons: They won’t hold up to much abuse.  Or any of our dogs.  Not for long anyway.

Choosing the right size of dog crates

Now that you’ve decided on the type of dog crate you’d like to use, you need to know what size to get.  Most experts recommend that the crate should be just big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in.  My dogs like lots of blankets and beds in their crates.

If you’re starting with a puppy, and wish to buy only one crate for him to use as he grows up, get one with a separator.  A lot of metal dogs crates come with one.  Use it to make the puppy’s space smaller.  If a young puppy has too much space in his/her crate, most will use it as a potty spot.  Then it’s hard to break them of that habit.

This post is part of the series Crate Training

Other posts in this series:

  1. Crate Training: Why you should be doing it
  2. Crate Training: Choosing The Right Dog Crate (Current)
  3. Crate Training: How to Crate Train your Dog

Continue reading this series:

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