Many of us already know the joy and privilege that comes with sharing our lives with a canine companion. We provide them care, comfort and security, and in return our furry friends give back unconditional love by the bucketful. It’s only natural that we pet parents want the best for our pups, and part of that is giving them a cozy place to call their own.
A dog crate can be the answer here. Often associated with crate training, they can be a safe and secure place for your pup to lay down their head, or an easy form of transport in the car when taking them on a trip.
There are many options on the market when it comes to crates for generously-sized dogs, and many considerations to keep in mind when picking the right one for you and your pet. Fortunately, we have already done the hard work for you. This guide will cover everything you need to know to make the big decision, and show you a selection of the best large dog crates available for purchase today.
- Choosing the Right Crate for You and Your Dog
- Top 10 Best Large Dog Crates 2023
- 1. Best Overall Large Dog Crate: MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate
- 2. Best for Travel: Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
- 3. Best Budget Large Dog Crate: Amazon Basics Folding Metal Dog Crate
- 4. Best Fabric Large Dog Crate: AmazonBasics Portable Folding Soft Dog Travel Crate
- 5. Most Durable Travel Crate: Petmate Vari Kennel
- 6. Best Outdoor Large Dog Crate: X-ZONE PET 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate
- 7. Best Premium Large Dog Crate: ITORI Heavy Duty Metal Dog Crate
- 8. Best for Extra-Large Dogs: Midwest Homes for Pets XXL Giant Dog Crate
- 9. Best-Looking Large Dog Crate: ecoFlex Pet Crate/End Table
- 10. Most Convenient Large Dog Crate: Pet Gear “The Other Door” Steel Crate
- Full Guide to Buying the Most Suitable Crate for Your Dog
- Final Words
Choosing the Right Crate for You and Your Dog
To help select the perfect crate for your furry best friend, keep these important factors in mind.
The size of the crate you buy is very important and should be chosen carefully based upon the size of your dog. One that is too small risks your pet being uncomfortable in a place they should see as their home, which will deter them from sheltering in it and make training much more difficult. On the other hand, a crate that is too large will encourage your pup to soil inside it if they can sleep away from their mess.
Fortunately there are plenty of sizes to choose from, and often the same model will come in a variety from small to large. For larger dogs the typical crate will be 42 inches long and 30 inches tall, which is suitable for a dog weighing 70-90 pounds, however you are very much encouraged to measure your pup and make a decision based on their needs. We have included a short guide here on how to do so.
Crates come made in a variety of different materials and each have their benefits and drawbacks.
Metal Wire Crates
Metal wire crates are very sturdy, which is a positive if your pooch likes to bite and chew. They can also stand up to more physical punishment from boisterous dogs who haven’t quite learned how to behave. They have been known rarely, however, to have sharp edges if the manufacturer isn’t attentive to detail, and transport can sometimes be an issue due to their tall, boxy shape. For those interested by the benefits of a metal crate, the MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate is the top pick on our list and is a great example that’s definitely worth a look.
Plastic Wire Crates
Plastic, or hybrid plastic-wire crates are sometimes referred to as ‘flight kennels’. This is because they often are used with transport in mind, and many models fit plane standards for hauling in cargo. They are lightweight and portable, but sometimes suffer from a lack of internal space due to this fact. These crates are also less durable than their metal counterparts and fall victim to the dreaded chewing instinct all puppies seem to have. If you’re looking for a something easy to transport, or just prefer the thought of owning a plastic crate we encourage you to check out the Petmate Sky Kennel, which is our top choice for travel crates.
Soft-sided crates consist of a fabric lining supported by a rigid frame. These are used, mostly, as a portable home-away-from-home for your pup, due to their ease of set-up and hauling. As the walls provide no real obstacle to a determined pooch they are unsuited to crate training and are instead suggested for dogs who are already trained, or those who just need a cozy place to sleep. The AmazonBasics Soft Dog Travel Crate is one of two soft-sided crates on our list, and it’s here for good reason. If your dog needs a snug hideaway that will easily follow them wherever you go then we suggest you take a look.
Wooden crates are often ‘furniture crates’, which is to say that they are made to look good and compliment the room in which they are placed. This is a great positive to some, but to others who don’t mind a more neutral-looking crate they are unnecessary. They are often quite sturdy, but their weight makes rearranging and transporting them a hassle. We have only one furniture crate on our list and it’s the ecoFlex Pet Crate/End Table – an attractive product squarely aimed at the style-conscious dog owner.
Teaching your dog to control their bladder is an important part of crate training, but as anyone who’s owned a pup of their own will know, accidents happen! A crate that is easy to clean will save you a lot of time and trouble.
Metal crates often come with a removable floor panel that can be discreetly hosed off in the yard while holding your nose.
Plastic, wooden or soft-sided crates rarely come with this benefit so if you choose one of these for your pet it may be wise to provide a lining of your own that can be removed if soiled.
There are many additional features that manufacturers include with their crates that could benefit you, but sometimes it takes a keen eye to spot them.
Some crates come with roller treads to help transport and prevent floor scuffing, while others have detachable feeding bowls, or useful handles for carrying.
We will cover the specific features of each crate in our reviews. It pays to keep these details in mind as you may find something that suits you and your pet’s unique needs.
Hopefully now we have given you a good idea of what to look for in a crate for your beloved pooch. Read on for our top picks of the best large dog crates on the market and, armed with knowledge, you might just find the home of your big pup’s dreams.
Top 10 Best Large Dog Crates 2023
1. Best Overall Large Dog Crate: MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate
- Sizes available: 18-inch length x 14-inch height, to 48-inch length x 33-inch height.
- Material: Metal wire.
Tip top of the dog-pile, this offering from MidWest Homes for Pets easily steals our ‘best overall’ spot due to its high quality, beautiful simplicity and great value for money.
Made of metal wire, it’s durable enough to stand up to years of use as well as the occasional tantrum from an untrained pup. It comes in an optional single- or double-door set-up for convenience and features two slide-bolt latches on each one to make sure your dog is safely contained when they need to be. No accidental jail breaks here!
A selection of sizes catering to larger dogs is available and you are encouraged to customize your crate based on your needs. A divider panel included in the price also allows portioning off of the internal space in the crate, which can be used to start small with your new puppy and expand as they grow.
Four roller feet on the bottom help protect your floors from scrapes when moving the crate and a removable pan in the bottom prevents leakage from any potty mishaps your pup may have. Additionally, it is extremely easy to set up and disassemble, with no tools required. It folds flat for portability, so it can follow your pet on day trips or on vacation, bringing with them a reassuring piece of home.
All corners have been rounded to protect your pup from injury, however it is worth noting that, on rare occasions, the hinges have been known to have sharp edges that may need attention before use.
MidWest Homes for Pets is the largest home builder for pets in the country, and it’s easy to see why with quality products like this in their roster. Overall, the iCrate is a fantastic choice and if peace of mind is what you’re looking for, this may be what you need.
- Simple, durable design.
- Many convenient features.
- Customizable to your pet.
- Great value for money.
- Hinges rarely known to have sharp edges.
- Neutral in looks, which may unappealing to some.
2. Best for Travel: Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
Why we like it: This is an extra-secure travel crate made of heavy duty materials that will ensure your pup is kept safe on long journeys. It also comes with a few attractive extras that set it apart from other plastic kennels.
- Sizes available: 21-inch length x 15-inch height, to 40-inch length x 30-inch height.
- Material: Plastic with metal mesh door and windows.
A first-class ride for pups up to a size of 70 to 90 pounds, this particular crate is our top pick for those frequent flyers or day-trippers. Unlike other travel crates on the market, this product is particularly durable if you are concerned for your dog’s security, and comes in sizes more suitable for larger pups.
The crate itself is made of a combination of a heavy-duty plastic shell, and metal wire mesh ventilation openings. A 4-way vault lock secures on the top and bottom of the wire door, as well as on each of its sides. This helps prevent sliding and shifting, which may lead to accidental opening in transit. A reassuring feature to us pet parents whose dogs are nervous travelers, or who sometimes don’t know their own strength.
While secure the crate is also very well ventilated, with openings on all four sides. This allows more than ample air flow, keeping your pup cool, and also allowing clear vision in and out to keep an eye on your precious cargo.
As with the other travel kennel on our list, the Petmate Vari Kennel, this particular product meets most flight requirements, and comes with a few convenient extras with the price that make it suited to life on the road. A clip-on food and water bowl will keep your pet topped up during long journeys, and two ‘live animal’ stickers let others know to be careful when handling your pup’s crate. Finally, a Pet ID sticker is a mandatory addition which will display your info should the worst happen and you get separated from your dog.
It is worth considering that, as with most other travel crates, the internal space is not as generous as a static crate. All measurements given are taken from the outermost edges so, when in doubt, buy the larger size if your pup is particularly hefty.
Petmate has a long pedigree of making quality travel crates and this is no exception, however it is worth noting that the larger models come at a premium price.
- Secure and safe for long journeys.
- Meets most airline cargo requirements.
- Comes with a number of convenient travel extras.
- Smaller internal space compared to non-travel crates.
- High price.
3. Best Budget Large Dog Crate: Amazon Basics Folding Metal Dog Crate
- Sizes available: 22-inch length x 16-inch height, to 48-inch length x 32.5-inch height.
- Material: Metal wire.
Amazon Basics are always a safe bet for quality and value. This product fills its niche particularly well, providing a secure and comfortable home for your dog while not breaking the bank doing so.
Sharing many similarities to MidWest’s iCrate, though lacking in some of its features, this product is a metal wire crate with a single- or double-door option. It is locked securely with two slide-bolt latches ensuring that, on the rare occasion your pup manages to push open one, the door is still held shut. When not in use the whole crate folds flat for storage or transport, requiring no tools to take down or set up. This is particularly convenient for vacation trips when you want to bring your pup’s home with you.
A removable tray is included in the base of the crate to catch any potty incidents, along with a divider panel that can be used to constrict the internal space to discourage smaller puppies from soiling while inside. It is recommended to buy your own bedding, however, as one is not included in the price and the extra comfort will encourage your dog to sleep and stay in their crate without prompting.
This may be part of a ‘basics’ range but if you’re looking for the security that a metal wire dog crate offers then there is no reason to discount this product. As far as build quality is concerned it is an easy match to its competitors, let down only by its relative lack of convenience features and the occasional sharp edge that needs to be smoothed.
Overall, a solid product with great potential to last your pup ‘til retirement.
- Simple and durable.
- Good price for quality product.
- Easy to disassemble for transport.
- No additional features.
- Wires can rarely have sharp edges.
4. Best Fabric Large Dog Crate: AmazonBasics Portable Folding Soft Dog Travel Crate
- Sizes available: 26.3-inch length x 18.1-inch height, to 42.1-inch length x 30.7-inch height.
- Material: Soft-sided fabric with PVC frame.
A convenient and mobile home for the dog who is already crate trained, this product offers little in the way of security, but a lot when it comes to comfort.
AmazonBasics does it again with a simple and high-quality product that leaves out the frills and focuses on function. As a soft-sided crate, this won’t keep an unruly dog contained for very long, but that’s not what it’s made for. Instead, this is a cozy slice of home that acts as a bed or place of refuge for your pet whether in the house, or out on a trip.
With travel in mind, this crate sets up and folds flat in seconds. A sturdy but lightweight PVC frame holds the polyester fabric sides in place, creating a roomy interior with mesh windows that allow proper ventilation. There are two doors, one at the top and one at the front, which are also mesh. Both doors can be held open with fastening straps, or closed securely with zippers when it’s time for a nap.
A dog bed isn’t included but is encouraged as, while the crate is fabric, the floor is not padded, and a comfortable pup is less likely to be pawing at the door in the middle of the night. Additionally, it is worth noting that any potty mishaps must be washed by hand. The fabric is reassuringly water-resistant but not machine-washable.
Another winner from the guys over at Amazon. This is a very safe choice for a well-trained dog who needs a calming, cozy space to call their own.
- Easy to disassemble for travel.
- AmazonBasics quality.
- Not designed for untrained dogs.
- No choice in color.
5. Most Durable Travel Crate: Petmate Vari Kennel
- Sizes available: 19-inch length x 10.8-inch height, to 40-inch length x 30-inch height.
- Material: Plastic with metal mesh door.
One of the best travel crates available, the Petmate Vari Kennel offers your pet security and first-class comfort while also being conveniently proportioned for transport.
Made of heavy-duty plastic, this crate is built to take a beating, which makes it great for first-time craters whose pups haven’t quite learned their manners. Metal screws and a wire mesh door add to this durability, yet do not contribute much to the overall weight. It’s a reassuring touch when your pet is shut in for the night, or when they are out of your sight while traveling. We all know how nervous our pets can get in unfamiliar surroundings, after all.
The top of the crate is well ventilated, providing ample fresh air, and allows extra visibility both in and out for curious dogs. It’s not quite as open as a wire mesh crate such as the Midwest iCrate or AmazonBasics Folding Metal Crate, but that may also be something of a benefit. A more enclosed space can be reassuring to some dogs, who find the cosier interior less overstimulating.
The Vari Kennel is what is sometimes known as a ‘flight kennel’, which is to say it’s suited for travel on a plane as well as by car. It meets most airline cargo specifications and features tie-down holes to keep the crate secure when traveling. You should, however, always check with individual airlines beforehand as standards may differ.
While the overall construction is very sturdy, it falls prey to the weakness of most plastic crates. Some dogs are relentless chewers, and even the toughest plastic can be gnawed away with enough effort. This rarely leads to an escape, but can be unsightly.
A great offering overall, though obviously most suited to pet transport and travel. The smaller upper size limit precludes a lot of dog breeds but fits snugly in a car. If you’re looking for a larger travel crate the Petmate Sky Kennel may be worth considering, but otherwise, the Vari Kennel is an extremely reliable option.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Meets most airline cargo specifications.
- Made of recycled plastic.
- Dull appearance.
- Plastic may be chewed.
- Smaller upper size limit.
6. Best Outdoor Large Dog Crate: X-ZONE PET 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate
Why we like it: This outdoor crate is a surprisingly sturdy offering for a soft dog crate, with a steel frame and durable fabric. Lightweight and portable, it sets up in seconds, perfect for any adventure you want to take your pup on.
- Sizes available: 28-inch length x 20.5-inch height, to 36-inch length x 25-inch height.
- Material: Fabric with steel frame.
A soft crate that’s built to last while not sacrificing on comfort, X-Zone Pet have made a quality product with portability in mind. Designed for both indoor or outdoor use, take it anywhere your pup needs a cozy place to lay down their head.
The crate is made of durable fabric, though the walls mainly consist of a fine mesh to allow sight and proper ventilation. Three of these can be held open by Velcro straps to allow your dog free access, or can be fastened securely with self-locking zippers. A steel frame holds the overall shape of the crate but, as with other soft crates, it is recommended only for use with properly trained dogs as it will not withstand the efforts of a determined escapee.
Set-up is a breeze and takes seconds. You only have to snap the frame together via simple, retractable springs and you’re good to go. Perfect for those unplanned trips to the beach when the weather changes, or wherever your adventures might take you.
The product also comes with a few additional features that make life easier. A fleece mat is included that can be used to give your pup a little extra comfort, or you can easily substitute it for bedding of your own choosing. There is also a handle at top for easy carrying, though it isn’t recommended to do so while your pet is inside. Two small pockets allow for stashing of anything your dog might need, and finally four seatbelt restraints give the crate some stability when transporting your pup by car.
Overall, a solid offering from X-Zone Pet that’s only let down by its relatively small upper size limit. Recommended for dogs up to 70 pounds, this precludes some larger breeds. Otherwise, when used by a suitably-sized, well-trained pup it will serve as a snug and comfy mobile home that will last them years.
- Sturdy construction for a soft-sided crate.
- Three doors allow convenient access.
- Easy to set up and take down for portability.
- Smaller upper size limit compared to other crates.
- Not durable enough to contain untrained dogs.
- Sizes available: 42.5-inch length x 34.6-inch height, to 47.2-inch length x 34.6-inch height.
- Material: Metal.
It’s no surprise that a big dog can be a big handful, especially if they haven’t been trained properly as a puppy. Many less-durable crates won’t stand up to the full force of a naughty dog’s energy if they are not used to being contained, but this product from ITORI is a true heavy-weight that will provide your pup security even if they are a master escape artist.
Made of heavy-duty, 20-gauge steel and 0.5-inch diameter tubes, this beast may seem intimidating, but can quickly become a safe home for your pet. It comes with two doors as standard, one at the top and one at the side for convenient access, both equipped with a pair of latches that cannot be accessed from inside. Four lockable wheels allow for easy transport and raise the crate from the ground. This provides space between the wire mesh floor and the ‘clean-up’ tray below, which is designed to catch any messes your pup may make. Both the floor and tray are easily removable for cleaning.
Assembly is a little more involved than other models, but that comes as no surprise given the added weight and durability of the product. Though shipped partially assembled there are still a number of screws that need to be tightened. Additionally, as with some other crates, bedding is not supplied and is recommended given the solid nature of the wire mesh floor.
Worth noting, as our guide explains, it is highly discouraged to keep your dog caged for extended periods of time, no matter how secure they are. This product is recommended to be used as a training tool for larger dogs who might easily escape other models, providing a safe home until they are taught how to behave appropriately.
Overall, a very solid choice for those whose beloved pup can be a handful. Use this crate indoors or out to provide a safe and secure home that won’t fall apart in the event of a tantrum.
- Virtually indestructible.
- Wheels allow easy transport.
- Can be used indoors or outside.
- Assembly can take longer than other products.
- Wire mesh flooring can be uncomfortable without bedding.
- Premium price.
8. Best for Extra-Large Dogs: Midwest Homes for Pets XXL Giant Dog Crate
- Sizes available: 52-inch length x 45-inch height.
- Material: Metal wire.
If your dog tips the scales and you’ve been having a hard time finding them a proper home, Midwest Homes for Pets might have the answer you’re looking for. This product is a monster, at 54 inches long and a staggering 45 inches high it is well suited for any extra-extra-large breed who won’t fit anywhere else.
Constructed of metal wire this crate is sturdy enough to house a very big dog, with a single- or double-door option, each with three slide-bolt latches for added security. It is assembled with a drop-pin at each corner, giving the crate extra, much-needed stability to support its size and contain your pet securely. We can all agree how difficult it is to keep larger pups in one place, so the added durability of this model is reassuring.
As with other MidWest products, such as the MidWest iCrate, this product comes with a removable plastic tray that allows for easy cleaning.
Unfortunately, however, due to the nature of the crate, it is also lacking in some features that make other choices attractive. It does not come with any feet or rubber rollers, so you may want to be careful placing it on hard floors in case of scuffs or scratching. A divider panel is not included, either, which makes the crate unsuitable for training puppies unless you can find a way to portion off the internal space yourself.
Due to the size of this product assembly is a little more involved, and the manufacturer suggests that two people are required to do so. While necessary, this is obviously an inconvenience that will make moving the crate around a hassle.
Although suffering from a number of drawbacks, this crate is a boon for those of us with big pups. It’s a basic product but don’t be put off – it delivers on its promises and carries out its job reliably. Used correctly this product will last as long as the best wire crates on the market.
- Larger than most other crates.
- Extra build-features add to stability.
- Additional locks for security.
- Very basic in terms of extras.
- Assembly and disassembly is a hassle.
9. Best-Looking Large Dog Crate: ecoFlex Pet Crate/End Table
- Sizes available: 23.8-inch length x 22.2-inch height, to 42.6-inch length x 30.9-inch height.
- Material: Recycled plastic-wood polymer.
A lesser-known player in the field of homes for pets, ecoFlex is the name of the company and also the material which this crate is made of. While a pleasing product to look at by itself, you may also be attracted by its durable and eco-friendly construction.
There are many crates out there on the market, but few of them look this good, and that’s the major draw of this particular offering. If you need something pleasing that won’t look out of place in the careful décor of your home this may be the crate for you. It fits neatly at the end of a sofa, or next to a bed as a bedside table if you like the company of your pup while you sleep.
As far as function goes, it fares well, but lacks many of the convenient features other crates can offer, and suffers some drawbacks that you will want to bear in mind when making the big decision to buy. Overall, it is durable, but it’s known to have issues relating to the bars that make up the windows. The metal used in their construction is light-weight and can bend under a determined assault from a naughty pup. This should not, however, be an issue to a well-trained dog who knows how to behave. The floor is not removable in the event of a bathroom incident, but it is easy to wipe clean and won’t stain, warp or take on odor.
A good product to consider if you’re looking for something attractive to home a dog who is already trained. Otherwise, look for something more secure.
- Very attractive appearance.
- Sturdy walls and door.
- Fits in with furniture as an end-table.
- Weak window bars.
- Difficult to transport.
10. Most Convenient Large Dog Crate: Pet Gear “The Other Door” Steel Crate
- Sizes available: 27-inch length x 21.8-inch height, to 42-inch length x 28-inch height.
- Material: Metal wire and plastic.
With this product Pet Gear seem to be striving for convenience. The stand-out feature that will attract the most attention is that every side of the crate, including the top, can be opened. The side walls can even be slid upwards and out of sight like a garage door. This allows for most any configuration you require for your pet’s needs, or to fit the room where the crate is located.
The crate itself is made of a combination of steel wire walls and a heavy-duty plastic frame. This is stable enough for every-day use, though not as durable as a fully-metal product. If your pup is well-trained this should not be a problem, but issues may arise trying to contain an unruly dog. There are benefits, however, to this design. The plastic presents no sharp edges and it is easy to transport on the wheels included, not scratching your hard floors while doing so. The insulated base is simple to clean in the case of a potty mishap and, also, the crate folds away to fit a handy carry bag included in the price.
No tools are required for assembly, which can be done by a single person. The crate is, however, considerably heavy. This should be taken into consideration if you and your pet are going to be traveling.
A very decent choice if comfort and convenience are what you desire, though bear in mind the drawbacks. When used right it can be an ideal home, but if your pet is poorly behaved you may want to find something more durable.
- Five(!) doors for full access to your pet.
- Unique garage-door design.
- Comes in a variety of colors.
- Lacks durability.
Full Guide to Buying the Most Suitable Crate for Your Dog
Now you have seen some of the best options available to you on the market currently, you may still have more than a few questions about buying the best crate for your pet. Hopefully, by the time we’re done, you will have all the information you need to make a properly informed decision.
What Is a Crate For?
A crate can serve a number of purposes in your dog’s life, depending upon your intentions or the model you buy. It may be as simple as a cozy place to sleep, or something in which you can transport your pet safely.
It can also provide a space-efficient place dedicated to your dog, their bed and their toys, which will free up a great deal of the room that would otherwise be cluttered. Additionally, it is helpful to contain your pet at times when they may be overstimulated and cause a ruckus, such as when guests drop by unannounced or when the kids come home from school. It can also allow you to safely transport your pet, whether in the car on a day-trip or on a plane across the country.
These days many people are also curious about crate training, which has become popular amongst both professional and casual dog owners. It is claimed that, like the wolves they are descended from, dogs have a natural instinct to find their own den: a comfortable spot they can call their own and retreat to when they need some space or reassurance. Providing such a place is good for your pet’s mental well-being and may also offer further benefit if used in a proper training regimen.
There are many other uses besides these and it’s likely that, once you own one, you and your dog will be discovering new ways to use them you hadn’t even considered.
This has been mentioned many times in this guide and, for many people, crates and crate training are inseparable. The benefits are numerous so, for those curious, let’s explore the topic so you can make up your own mind.
What Is Crate Training?
Crate training is the process of teaching your pup to accept a dog crate as a safe and familiar space they can rest in, away from the household or any stressors that may be bothering them. Many people who advocate this method suggest that dogs are naturally inclined to this sort of behavior, thus making it suitable and convenient for training your dog into many good habits.
Should I Crate Train My Dog?
Crate training is currently very popular amongst dog owners and it’s easy to see why. It brings many benefits, quickly teaching your precious pooch where to sleep and where to go potty, while also getting rid of many of those nasty habits that come naturally to naughty pups.
When taught correctly, a crate becomes a place of stability in your dog’s life. It becomes their den, and by working with their natural instincts you can teach them into all sorts of good behaviors that last a lifetime.
Most importantly, for both new dog owners and those more experienced, it is quick and straightforward, often taking only days or weeks for your dog to master.
What Are the Benefits of Crate Training My Dog?
If done correctly, using positive reinforcement, your dog may come to see its crate as a place of privacy and safety, in the same way that we see our own houses or rooms. This is especially good for anxious pups who need a place to retreat to and a little extra stability in their lives.
Crate training is also handy for house-training your dog as, if the crate is appropriately sized, they will want to avoid soiling in any space where they sleep. This encourages them to hold their bladder until the morning, or to alert you when they need to do their business. Of course, this helps instill the behavior outside of the crate too, as your pup starts to associate the outdoors as their place to potty.
Particularly boisterous or excitable dogs can benefit from a crate by learning when it is appropriate to play and when it’s time to settle down. Being inside a cage or crate prevents overstimulation, encouraging sleep or relaxation. Such pups can also be kept out of trouble when you are at work or in bed by keeping them confined, though it is very much encouraged to exercise your dog and leave the crate door open whenever you are around.
How Can I Crate Train My Dog?
There are many resources available for pet parents who want to try their hand at raising their pup with a crate.
The Humane Society has a guide here that many may find helpful.
We’ll leave the specifics to the professionals but, generally, crate training should be a positive experience for your dog and always associated with something pleasant such as a treat or attention. Every dog takes to the process differently, so don’t become impatient with your pup if they don’t respond correctly right away. The method is tried and true, so take it slow, and you’re eventually sure to see results.
Perhaps the most important consideration to make when deciding to buy a crate is just how big (or how small) you need it to be for your pup. Whether for everyday use or just travel, you want your dog to be comfortable in their home and the best way of making sure that is the case is to make sure it is appropriately sized.
Measuring Your Dog
Large dogs average in at around 70 to 90 pounds, however the largest breeds can tip the scales at 100 to 150 pounds. Some crates operate on this standard, using weight as a measurement, but this is not the most convenient method. Instead, we encourage you measure your dog properly and use their length and height to make a decision.
Measure from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail and then add four or so inches, perhaps a little more if you want to be sure, to get an appropriate length for the crate. For height, it is best to measure while your dog is sitting, as this is when they are tallest. Measure from the top of their head to the ground and add two to four inches to allow enough head room.
If you are unable to measure your dog, or if you prefer to use weight or breed to determine a crate size, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers has published a comprehensive guide that can be found here.
Is Bigger Better?
There is a common misconception that a larger crate is better for your dog as it allows them more space to relax. This is not true. A crate should be just large enough to allow your pup to turn around and get comfortable, but no more than that. Any larger risks nullifying that important ‘den’ instinct and they may soil on one side of the crate if they can sleep on another.
As already suggested, an ideal crate size is approximately four inches longer and taller than your pup and no more than that.
General Questions and Good Practice
How Long Can I Keep My Dog in a Crate in One Session?
Many people see crates as a way to keep our pups out of trouble when we are not around. While they do serve that purpose it’s important to remember we should try to avoid limiting our dogs’ freedom as much as possible.
When training puppies a good rule of thumb is to keep them in the crate for a maximum time of an hour per month of age. They will not be able to control their bladders for any longer, which will obviously lead to a mess and complicate efforts for house-training.
Once your dog is both crate trained and house trained they can be safely kept confined for up to eight hours, though this should be avoided if possible and they should be given as much exercise as they need before and after. If you can, try providing something safe to stimulate them and occupy their attention, such as a toy, while they are locked in.
Should I Use the Crate to Discipline My Dog?
There are split opinions on this question.
Some believe that a crate can be used as a ‘time-out’ zone to punish your pet for bad behavior, if the right lessons have been taught and the crate is associated with calm and quiet.
The Humane Society, however, advocates against crate-based punishment entirely. Their rationale is that the crate should never have negative connotations to your pet or they will refuse to enter it in future.
The general consensus is that your pet’s crate should always be a positive space for them and for you. If you decide to use it for punishment, use it sparingly and carefully.
Should I Cover My Dog’s Crate With a Blanket?
While a common practice amongst crate-owners, whether you do this will depend upon the personality and nature of your dog. The simple answer is that some pups are calmed by the security of an enclosed space, while others become anxious and claustrophobic.
If your dog responds well to having their crate covered you may find it worthwhile to continue to do so, as it may help reduce overexcitement and barking, especially when there are guests over, or in other overstimulating situations.
For those who are interested a more in-depth guide is available.
Should I Leash or Collar My Dog While Using a Crate?
No, you should never allow your dog to wear a collar or a leash inside a crate. There are many horror stories of pups whose collars have become caught in hinges or wiring, subsequently suffering life-threatening breathing problems. Of course, many pet parents do not follow this advice and suffer no ill-effects, but the danger is always present. If you want to be safe, remove your dog’s collar before sending them to their crate.
What Should I Consider When Transporting My Pet Using a Crate?
Depending on your mode of transport, there are a great deal of things to bear in mind when taking your pet across the country or abroad.
First, you will want to find a crate that is appropriate for travel. The Petmate Sky Kennel is our top pick for this purpose, though the Petmate Vari Kennel is also a contender, if your pup is not too large. Both will fit in an averagely-sized car and come with tie-down holes to keep the crate stable during transit.
If you are flying the question becomes more complicated. While the Vari Kennel and Sky Kennel both fit most flight cargo regulations you will want to confirm with your airline some time before the departure date.
The Humane Society has you covered with a guide on this topic, outlining all considerations you need to make, not just relating to crates specifically.
Here we are at the end of our guide, and hopefully by now you are well on your way to finding the right crate for you. That is, if you haven’t decided already! We’ve tried to cover a range of crates in our list, from sturdy metal fortresses to soft-walled boudoirs, so no matter what your pet’s size, breed, age or temperament, you should find something to suit their unique needs.
As always, no matter what you choose, do so with your pup’s best interests at heart and find them the home they deserve.