How to choose a puppy or dog crate

Your dog’s crate is more than just a place to keep him while you’re away. It’s a sanctuary, his home within your home. And at a cost of $30 to $200, a crate can be the most expensive item you’ll buy for your puppy or dog. You want to choose a crate that’s tough enough to last a lifetime with features to keep your dog comfortable and safe.

The following are important points to consider when looking for a crate:

What size dog crate?

The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up to his full height, turn around, lie down, and stretch out comfortably. He shouldn’t have to curl up to fit, but you don’t want the crate to be so big your dog can soil one side and sleep on the other.

If you’re buying a puppy crate, choose one that will fit your puppy’s adult proportions. You can resize the crate with divider panels as he grows or put a cardboard box inside to reduce the amount of space.

What kind of crate: wire or plastic?

The style of crate that’s right for your dog will depend on his size and type of coat, the climate where you live, and whether you plan to fly with your dog.

Wire dog crate: If your dog has long hair or you live in a hot climate, a wire crate offers plenty of ventilation to keep your dog cool. The bars on wire crates should be spaced close enough to keep your dog’s head and paws from squeezing through. Learn more about wire dog crates.

Plastic dog crate: If you have a smaller dog or live in a cool climate, a plastic crate allows your dog to retain more heat. Also, plastic crates are generally the only ones approved for airline travel. Learn more about choosing a plastic dog crate.

Features for longevity and ease-of-use

Look for divider panels that allow the crate to grow with your dog and the ability to fold, collapse, or disassemble the crate for storage or travel.

Make sure the door on the crate you choose latches securely. It shouldn’t bend or pop open when you put pressure on it from the inside. A dog can strangle if he squeezes his head between the door and its frame while the crate is latched. Also, some dogs are Houdini-like in their ability to escape confinement, so don’t make it easy for them.

Useful crate accessories

Once you’ve chosen the right dog crate for your pet, you can make it more inviting with a few simple accessories.

Bedding or Crate Pad

It’s an inexpensive item that can add an extra level of comfort. Be sure to choose bedding that’s both durable and washable.

Crate Cover

Crate covers make wire dog crates more den-like and give your dog extra privacy. They also block outside distractions, which can be useful if your dog barks or whines while he’s in a wire crate.

Toys and Treats

Your dog should have something to do while he’s in his crate, especially if you leave him alone for extended periods.

With so many dog crates to choose from, you should be able to find a quality crate that will provide your pet with a comfortable home that lasts a lifetime.