One of the most important items on any new owner’s to-do list is to buy a crate. The right crate is essential to any housetraining program because it teaches your new puppy, or dog, bladder control. It can offer safe haven to dogs with separation anxiety and to puppies lonely for littermates. And when you’re not home, leaving your puppy in a crate means he can’t get hurt when you’re not around to watch him–or hurt your furniture.
In fact a crate is such a great tool it’s easy to over-use it, so once you get through the intensive housetraining phase, use it conservatively. Crates are cruel only if you leave your dog closed in it for more than a few hours at a time during the day. Besides, a well trained, happy dog shouldn’t need one.
The right crate
- Buy one with several inches to spare so your dog has plenty of room to stand up, turn around, and lie down. You also need one big enough to hold a few chew toys and big enough for your puppy to grow into. Giving your dog enough space inside the crate, and much more time outside it, insures it doesn’t become the equivalent of a prison for your dog.
- Best reasons to choose one made of hard plastic: They can’t be taken apart, are well suited for big dogs and rambunctious puppies, and are nears impossible to escape from.
- Best reasons to pick a soft-sided flexible crate: You have a smallish, more delicate puppy or dog, or if you live in a small space or travel a lot and need to disassemble it to often.
- Best reasons to pick a cage: You get some of the benefits of both a plastic and a soft-sided crate. A cage is easy to assemble and take down, and harder to escape from then a soft-sided crate. More anxious dogs may prefer the cozier nature of a plastic crate, but that’s not always the case.
Products that complement your crate
You can buy flat pads for the bottom of crates to keep your dog comfortable, since lying on uneven plastic is not a feel-good event, particularly for older dogs. They are sold in standard crate sizes and washable.