Dog crates, discover the truth

You are bringing home a new family member – this one with four legs, not two – and he will need a place to sleep.

Everyone needs a space to call their own. Managed properly your dog’s crate will become his room, a cosy place he goes for privacy. Think of it like a toddler’s cot or playpen.

What must I know about puppies and dog crates?

Growing puppies alternate between periods of activity and sleeping. As long as you have a regular schedule of toileting, feeding and exercise, your puppy will be happy to use his dog crate for a bed.

Just don’t expect your puppy to stay in his crate unless he is sleeping: remember he needs lots of love and attention. If you intend to keep him in his crate for long periods perhaps you need to re-consider whether you are able to commit to a dog right now.

How will older dogs and dog crates work?

If you have an older dog you think you may like to crate – perhaps you are giving a new home to an older animal from a refuge shelter – you can still happily use a dog crate as a bed.

Let him investigate the crate. Just as with a puppy, put in soft bedding and a treat, and let him get used to things while the door remains open. Once he is accustomed to his crate you will most likely find he will take himself off there to sleep or to get away from noisy children or visitors.

What should I put in my dog’s crate?

Put washable bedding – perhaps a favorite blanket – in the crate to make it comfortable. Put the favorite toy of the moment in as well and perhaps a rawhide bone to chew on.

I have found my dog will happily chew her rawhide bone as she is dropping off to sleep in her crate and again when she wakes.

Especially first thing in the mornings this can give me a much appreciated extra fifteen minutes of sleep!

It is a good idea to give your dog some treats when you put him in his crate, to reinforce positive feelings: a little snack before he settles down to sleep would go down well.

If your dog wears a collar make sure you remove it before he goes into the crate. Dogs have choked to death when their collar or Id tags have caught on the crate’s bars. A good idea is also a crate bumper, which is very similar to a cot bumper.

How can using dog crates for beds help toilet training?

Puppies have an instinctive desire to keep their sleeping area clean. Using a crate takes advantage of this and helps your puppy learn to control his bladder between trips outside. He will have accidents, of course, but by using a dog crate as a bed and combining it with a regular toileting, feeding and play schedule, toilet training will be quicker and less stressful – for everyone involved!

Just remember never to use the crate as a form of punishment. If you shout at your dog or smack him and then put him into his crate he will see his crate as a place to be feared: those associations are the last thing you want to create.

How big should my dog’s crate be?

You don’t want your puppy to toddle off into a corner of his crate to go to the toilet, so get a crate with a divider. This can be moved as he grows, and discarded once he is grown and/or completely housetrained.

If you are getting a dog crate as a bed for a dog that is already fully grown, make sure the crate is big enough for him to stretch out, stand up and turn around comfortably.

What type of dog crate should I buy?

A wire crate is a good option if you’re buying a dog crate for a bed. It is a good idea to get a crate bumper for comfort and safety. Many dogs also prefer a covering over the back and perhaps the sides of the crate to give them a greater sense of privacy. This doesn’t have to be expensive: we have a blanket draped over our dog’s crate.

Using a dog crate for a bed doesn’t mean that you can’t be stylish as well. There are many crates that are both comfortable for your dog and will fit with any décor. Check out the wicker-look versions, or the very upmarket Bauhaus, and you will never think of crate and cage in the same sentence again!

If you want a dog crate for travelling by airplane you will need one which is approved by the airlines. These will generally be molded plastic, and are lightweight and portable. Look for a crate which has a carry handle and which you can collapse for storage when you get back home. Always check with the airline you intend to travel with, as their regulations may vary.

Dog crates for beds: “my” place

Some of us initially balk at the idea of putting a puppy or even a grown dog we love very much into what can be perceived as a cage. However, used properly your dog’s crate will come to be seen by him as a place of comfort and privacy: a place of his own to go to when he wants to sleep, or just wants time-out.