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Everyone, including your dog, needs a space where they can feel safe and protected. For many dogs, this safe space comes in the form of a dog crate. The best training crates provide dogs with a sense of security and comfort, allowing them to have their own personal space where they can recharge and relax peacefully.
And that’s not all they’re useful for – a dog crate can also be a helpful tool for house-training new puppies, keeping anxious or destructive dogs contained, or as a safe transport option when traveling. Ultimately, dog crates offer pet parents peace of mind knowing their canine companions will always have an area where they can feel secure and comfortable.
When you’re a dog training newbie, crate training a dog can be a daunting task. That’s why it is so important to understand the basics of crate training and what type of crate is best for your pup when you’re getting started.
In this guide, we provide an introduction to crate training along with some helpful tips on crate training techniques. We’ll also offer some recommendations for finding the right crate and showcase some of the most popular products from across the internet. Let’s get started!
What is a Dog Crate?
A dog crate is a secure, four-walled structure usually made of metal, plastic, or fabric. Dog crates are designed to contain a pet in a safe space while providing them with the freedom to move around inside. They can also be used as a training tool to help potty-train puppies, encourage better behavior, and as a form of protection for dogs with anxiety-driven destructive tendencies.
Why Is Choosing the Right Training Crate Important?
Comfortable, well-sized crates are a must-have for dogs because they can:
Most importantly, the right training crate can help you and your dog enjoy a more relaxed, harmonious life together.
What to Consider in a Dog Crate (Finding the Right Crate for Your Dog)
Size - How Big is Your Dog?
Pro Tip: If your dog has to crouch or duck down to walk into the crate, it’s likely not big enough for the dog.
How to Measure Your Dog for a Crate
One of the best ways to determine what size crate your pup needs is to measure the size of your dog. To do this, your dog should be in a standing position. Carefully measure his height (the distance from the top of his head to the ground) and length (from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail). Then, add four inches to each measurement – this will give you an ideal guide for the perfect crate size.
Size - Is Your Dog Full-Sized or Still Growing?
If you’re shopping for an adult dog, the measurement instruction above is a great way to determine what size crate your dog needs. However, if you’re shopping for a puppy who still has some growing to do, you may instead consider an adjustable option, such as this crate with divider panels. A crate with divider panels is a perfect option for growing puppies, as it prevents them from having too much space to roam and can be easily adjusted as they get bigger. Remember to consider the estimated maximum breed size, not just your puppy’s current size.
Are you shopping within a particular budget or is money no object when it comes to pampering your pooch? Whether you’re looking for something cute, stylish, waterproof, or durable, many great training crates are available, both in stores and online. Consider your budget to determine which crate brand might be best for your household.
Material / Comfort
Ensure the crate is comfortable for your pet by adding a soft blanket, mat, or bed inside (unless, of course, you have a destructive dog who might destroy or eat the provided bedding). The material also determines how durable the crate is and whether or not it can withstand chewing or scratching.
The design will determine the aesthetic of the crate, as well as how easy (or not-so-easy) the crate is to set up or take down in case you need to move it around.
Your Dog's Training Goals
Consider what your dog needs to work on in their training and find a crate that supports the necessary behavior modification. After all, the best crate for potty training a Chihuahua puppy probably won’t be an appropriate option for an anxious Golden Retriever.
Is Your Dog an Escape Artist?
If your dog is a known escape artist who will likely attempt to break out of his crate, you may need to consider purchasing an escape-proof crate.
“Can’t I just use a traditional wire crate?” you might be asking. Sure you can! Traditional wire crates are very affordable and are a great option for calm, non-destructive dogs. But for those who may attempt to escape, wire crates can be dangerous (both to your dog and your home).
Instead, consider purchasing an escape-proof crate such as this heavy-duty aluminum option from Impact Dog Crates. These types of tougher-than-tough dog crates are specifically designed to prevent dogs from escaping and are built with materials that won’t injure their teeth or nails during the process.
How to Start Crate Training - The Basics
Step #1: Let Your Pup Get Comfortable
Allow your pup to become comfortable in their crate by using positive reinforcement tactics. One great way to do this is by giving your dog a high-value treat when they go into their crate on their own or stay inside for long periods of time. Just be sure to avoid making too big of a scene – we want the introduction of a crate to seem as normal and natural to your dog as possible.
Step #2: Create Positive Crate Experiences
You can also give your dog toys or treats while they are in their crate to make their time more enjoyable; this helps create a positive association with the crate and encourages your pup to stay in it willingly.
3 Crate Training Approaches & Techniques
Crate Training a Puppy
Crate training a puppy, for instance, will require more frequent potty breaks as puppies have smaller bladders that are tough to control fully until about six months of age. Additionally, puppies are more likely to chew on things if given the opportunity, so it is important to make sure the items in their crate are safe for them to chew on and don’t present a choking hazard.
Crate Training for Separation Anxiety
Crate training for separation anxiety, on the other hand, might require a different approach, such as leaving the room for short periods of time and then returning to reassure your pup that everything is alright. Doing this consistently will help teach your pup that it is okay to be alone and that you will always come back eventually. You can also give your dog treats while they are in their crate during this type of training to help build positive associations with being alone in their crate.
Crate Training Older Dog with Anxiety
Crate training an older dog with separation anxiety may be slightly more difficult as they may already have adopted behaviors that are difficult to break. However, using positive reinforcement techniques such as giving treats while they are in their crate can help encourage better behavior and make the transition easier. As with all dog training endeavors, it is important to remain patient and consistent in order to build trust with your dog.
Best Training Crates for Dogs
Best Soft-Sided Crate for Small Dogs
If you have a pint-sized pooch at home, there are a couple of different options to consider. Many small-dog owners love to use a soft-sided crate such as this one from Firstrax. Soft-sided crates are typically cheaper and more lightweight than traditional wire crates – plus, they are easy to transport so that you can keep your pup comfy and contained while on the go!
What We Like
Best Secure, Collapsible Crate for Small Dogs
If you’re in search of a more secure option for your tiny four-legged companion, you may instead consider this aesthetically-pleasing collapsible option from Diggs. Not only is this all-white dog crate elevated to give your pup the best possible view, but it also features a large “garage-style” side door that allows you to “transform the crate into an open-air resting spot for your sidekick.”
What We Like
Best Durable Crate for Large (and Extra-Large) Breeds
Large dogs need–you guessed it–large crates that will give them plenty of room to move around in comfortably. It also needs to be made of durable materials so that your big pup doesn’t accidentally knock it over or damage it unintentionally. Some of our favorite options are this collapsible design from Impact Dog Crates. While not the cheapest option on the market, Impact crates are incredibly durable–Impact’s High Anxiety crate even comes with a generous warranty in case of dog damage (accidental or otherwise).
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Best Affordable Crate for Large Breeds
For a more affordable option, check out this basic wire crate from Amazon. This popular dog crate is very budget-friendly, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be compromising on quality! This crate is made of reinforced metal wiring and even features an extra set of dividers to prevent your dog from pinching his toes accidentally. Plus, it’s collapsible and comes in a variety of options, from single-door to double-door.
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Best Dog Crate for Escape Artists
Attempting to crate train a dog who doubles as a hairy Houdini can be a challenging task. Not only do you fear for the safety of your favorite pair of shoes should your pup escape from his crate, but you may also have concerns for his safety. After all, there are some dogs who will do anything to escape from a crate – even if it means causing harm to their own bodies.
To avoid harm, consider investing in an escape-proof crate such as this heavy-duty option from Impact Dog Crates. These impressive structures are meticulously welded with military-grade aluminum to prevent escape and also include a ten–year warranty for any potential doggy–related damage. Though the price isn’t cheap for this type of crate, the relief you’ll feel knowing that your pup is safe and secure while you’re away will be worth every penny.
What We Like
Best Budget Dog Crate for Dogs with Separation Anxiety
One very important factor to consider when training a dog with separation anxiety is the type of crate you use. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety do best in covered crates, as this helps them feel more secure due to its den-like nature.
To create a covered crate on a budget, invest in a crate cover such as this one from Frisco, and place it atop a standard wire crate. Crate covers can be purchased in a variety of colors and patterns to match your decor and in a variety of weights.
Pro Tip: Heavier covers will help reduce light and noise, creating a secluded, stress-free den that will make your pup feel safe.
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Best Dog Crates that Don't Look Like Dog Crates
If this is the case for you, dog crate furniture may be the solution. A trend in recent years, furniture-style dog crates such as the Piskyet Wooden Dog Crate Furniture are designed to blend into your home decor. They come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles meant to match any home, and some are even built to double as a side table or desk, like this IDEALHOUSE Furniture Dog Crate End Table which even has a pull-up drawer! Dog crate furniture is a great option for those who want to provide their pups with a safe space without sacrificing the vibe of your house.
What We Like
What We Like
Crate training your pup may seem intimidating at first, but with the right knowledge and resources, it’s a piece of cake! With this blog post, you now have all the information you need to create a safe and comfortable environment for your canine companion. From teaching your pup crate training basics to selecting the perfect pet sanctuary, you should be able to provide your pup with everything he needs for a successful journey through crate training.
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