4 Expert Tips To Choose A Dog Crate

Dogs are a fun and cute addition to any family, but dogs have specific care needs. One of those needs is to be kept safe when you cannot be home to watch them. If a dog is young or older and still rambunctious, they could chew furniture, eat items that are not safe for them or mess inside the house when you are not home. If you do not have a dog-proofed room to keep them in, dog crates are a safe alternative. 

But which kind you get will depend on the size of your dog, features you may need and the type of crate you prefer. Below we'll start by looking at how to use a dog crate and then how to choose one that is right for you.

What is the purpose of a dog crate and where to place it?

Many pet owners have a negative association with crates. They see crating as imprisoning the dog. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends crate training your dog. According to the AKC, dogs are den animals out in the wild, so they like to have a small, enclosed space to feel secure. 

As listed by the AKC, other key benefits to using a crate include:

  • Dog crates get the dog used to enclosed spaces, so when they have to be in a cage for vet care, crated while recovering from surgery or are boarded, they are used to the environment.

  • If a dog associates a crate with a place to rest, they can often manage their own anxiety. The crate becomes a safe place to go when they feel anxious, like during fireworks or a thunderstorm. It's a little like a child having their own room to retreat into.

  • Crates can keep puppies, known for getting into everything, safe when you cannot watch them. The crate can also help puppies learn to hold their waste for longer because they do not like to mess where they lay.

  • Rescue dogs often like a place to feel secure in a new environment. If they have abuse in their past, they especially need a place where they know they are safe and no one will harm or bother them.

  • Older dogs often like the place to retreat. They need frequent rest and peace, especially if there are kids or other dogs around.

With all these benefits, it might be time to crate train your dog if you have not already.   

But keep in mind, with a purchase like dog crates, you cannot just willy-nilly throw one into your home. The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you place the crate in an area where you spend a lot of time, like the living room, to start. You don't want the dog to associate the crate with exile. After training is complete, you can move the crate to a location you prefer. Common sense goes a long way when finding a permanent spot: don't place the crate where the dog is too isolated and do place the crate where the area is still room temperature.

How to choose a type of dog crate?

Because the crate will be a visible and permanent fixture in your home, it's important to choose the right type for your home and lifestyle. The main types of crates include:

  • Wood: Wood crates look the classiest and fit into surrounding furniture styles. They are often painted a neutral shade like black or tan to give them a timeless look, too. Choose a wood dog crate if you plan to keep the crate in a highly visible spot, like the living room.

  • Wire: When most people think of a dog crate, they may see the metal wire crate with the solid bottom. These typically come in a black color, but you can find them in bold shades like bright blue or electric green for a more playful take. From an interior standpoint, wire crates look best if you plan to keep the crate in a less visible area, like a side bedroom. A very casual space can get away with a wire dog crate, however. 

  • Mixed wood and wire: Many designs combine the best of both worlds. The frame of the crate is often a classy, solid wood, but windows with wire give the dog more space to look out. However, these tend to look best in casual spaces due to the wire.

Wire and Wood Dog Crate
White Wood and Wire Dog Crate
White Wood and Wire Dog Crate Credenza
Small Light Wood Dog Crate
Dark Wood Dog Crate
Medium Dark Wood Dog Crate
  • Foldable canvas: If you plan to travel with your dog, some crates are made of a foldable canvas for portability. The dog can often see out through mesh windows. 

  • Multiple-use: If integrating the crate with your home's interior is a must, look into the dog crates that are designed to look like dressers or end tables. These are typically made of wood to look like a solid type of regular furniture. The top of the crate then has a look like a tabletop. These are also best for if you plan to keep the crate in a busy area.

  • Plastic: These often look like larger carrying crates with a wire door on the front. If you need to transport your dog often, a plastic crate can be a good option.

Grey Plastic Traditional Dog Crate
Light Pink Plastic Dog Crate
White and Black Soft Polyester Dog Crate
 Brown Soft Polyester Dog Crate
 Dual Light Brown Soft Polyester Dog Crate
White and Grey Premium Plastic Dog Crate

How to select dog crate size?

Dog crates come in different sizes depending on how large your dog is. Often, the same crate style will come in multiple size options. For instance, one wire crate came in five sizes depending on the dog type:

  • Small dogs: 20 inches high by 16 inches wide by 24 inches long
  • Small-medium dogs: 20 inches high by 18 inches wide by 30 inches long
  • Medium dogs: 23 inches high by 22 inches wide by 36 inches long
  • Large dogs: 29 inches high by 27 inches wide by 42 inches long
  • Largest dogs: 31 inches high by 29 inches wide by 48 inches long

As a general tip, a crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. 

If your dog is growing, choose a crate that will fit what the adult size is likely to be. You may have to block off part of the crate in this instance so the dog cannot have a place to eliminate.

Small Double Door Pet Crate
Small Grey Wood Pet Crate
 Medium Dark Wood and Wire Dog Crate
Medium Pink Wire Dog Crate
Large Wooden Dog Crate
Rustic Wood Dog Crate in Large Size

What are some features to look for in dog crates?

Dog crates also come with a number of convenient extra features:

  • Textured bottom: Some dog crates may have added texture for comfort, like a faux sheepskin mat. Choose this option if your dog likes to snuggle up to soft materials. It's common to find this feature in canvas crates, however.

  • Door style: Other crates have wide double doors that swing outward. If you have the space where you place the crate and you want your dog to feel more free while you are home, choose a double door option.

  • Water and corrosion-resistant: For if your pet does mess or spill, you may want to choose a type that is water-resistant. This is also a common feature for canvas and portable dog crates.

  • Handle: If you plan to move the crate around for a smaller dog, choose a model with a handle at the top.

  • Expandable: Some models allow you to fold up or expand the carrier for added portability. Choose these if you plan to have your pet in different environments, like the car versus outside camping, where you can fold down the attachments.

  • Modular design: An added barrier in the middle of the crate allows you to house multiple animals or an animal when it is a puppy versus fully grown.

  • Easy-to-clean finish: The finish should ideally allow for easy cleaning, like the black powder coat finish on many wire models.

  • Water and food bowl attachment: Some crates allow for a food and water bowl to hang from the door or wall. Choose this style if you want to provide food and water while preventing spills.

  • Crate cover: Other crates come with a cover that you can optionally place over the crate. Look into covers if you want to give your dog added security. Many of these are in solid shades, but some come in classy designs that fit décor themes.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.