Puppies need a lot of equipment and supplies.
From leashes to food to flea medications, you’ll have to buy a bunch of stuff to ensure your puppy starts life on the right track and remains healthy and happy for years to come.
This can test even the biggest budgets, so it’s often necessary to pick and choose the things you buy at the outset.
But while there are a few things that can wait for a while (you may not need nail clippers, brushes, or training clickers for a few months), there’s one critical piece of equipment that all new dog owners should budget for: A high-quality crate.
A crate will help you manage your dog in myriad ways, and it’ll provide a wealth of emotional benefits for your new floof too. We’ll explain some of the most important benefits crates provide below, and then we’ll cover some of the things to look for when making your choice.
Then, to make things easy, we’ll point out five of the best crates around, so you don’t have to spend hours comparing the various models on the market.
Best Crates for Puppies: Quick Picks
- #1 Midwest Pet Crate [Best Basic Crate for Puppies]: An easy pick for most new puppy owners, this crate checks off all the major requirements you’d want and it’s pretty affordable too.
- #2 Pet Magasin Foldable Traveling Crate [Most Affordable Crate for Puppies]: If you just need a crate that’ll be easy on your wallet yet still get the job done, this soft-sided model is a great choice.
- #3 Ruff Land Kennel [Best Premium Kennel for Puppies]: Want a top-of-the-line kennel that’ll spoil you and your pooch rotten? It’s hard to beat this easy-to-clean, roto-molded model.
Things to Look for When Picking a Puppy Crate
Finding the best crate for you and your puppy starts with the basics. Start off on the right foot by excluding those models that don’t satisfy the following basic requirements:
1. Secure Latches
Crates that don’t feature secure doors and latches are obviously not acceptable – puppies don’t do well on the honor system, and you’ll always want to be certain that your dog cannot escape from his crate.
Typically, if you stick to crates made by high-quality manufacturers, you’ll find their latches sufficient. However, dogs who display an aptitude for escape may require heavy duty dog crates that are specifically designed to be extra secure.
2. Removable Litter Pan/Tray
Even pups who pick up housetraining quickly will occasionally have accidents or spill their water dish.
And while this can make a pretty bad mess, it’ll be easier to deal with if you select a crate that features a removable pan or tray.
With a removable tray, you can just take the tray outside, hose it off, and put it back in place, which is easier than cleaning a mess inside the crate.
Most removable trays will sit underneath a wire grid, but some can also be used on top of the wire grid. This will make it a bit more difficult to remove and clean, but it’ll provide your dog with a more comfortable surface to rest on.
3. Easy-to-Clean Materials
Speaking of cleaning, you’ll need to scrub down the entire crate from time to time to keep it clean and prevent your puppy from getting sick.
Accordingly, it is important to select a crate that has a non-porous surface that won’t absorb liquids and can be cleaned with a dog-safe disinfectant.
In a nutshell, this means you don’t want a crate made from unfinished wood. Additionally, avoid crates that feature any fabric sections that cannot be machine-washed.
A lot of new owners assume that crate dividers are used to keep two dogs in a single crate. But while they can be used in such a manner, they are more helpful for reducing the size of a single puppy’s crate.
This way, you can go ahead and buy a large crate that’ll suit your pet once he’s full grown, while still enjoying the benefits small crates provide.
For example, snug crates generally help dogs feel more secure. They feel safe in relatively tight spaces which resemble the dens and burrows used by some wild canines.
Additionally, small crates will also advance your housebreaking goals, as dogs are reluctant to poop or pee in their sleeping quarters.
Dividers aren’t truly mandatory if you have a very small dog (since the difference between a puppy crate and adult crate won’t be very dramatic). Likewise, if you don’t mind buying a small crate to start and moving up to a full-sized crate in a few months, you could forgo the dividers.
But in almost all other circumstances, you’ll definitely want to opt for a crate that does come with dividers.
The Best Crates for Puppies: 11 Great Choices for Different Scenarios
There are dozens of different puppy crates on the market, but you can just focus on the ones listed below to save yourself some time and trouble.
All of these are high-quality crates, representing several different styles and construction materials, so you should be able to find a good fit for your pup among them.
1. MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate
MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate
The perfect choice for most owners, this wire metal crate boasts several nifty features, such as a lightweight, fully collapsible design.
About: MidWest Homes for Pets’ iCrate is a no-frills solution for canine containment. It features a divider for fine-tuning the space for your pup’s size, a slide-out plastic tray allowing easy cleaning, and a folding design that requires no tools for assembly.
- Slide-bolt latch closure with paw-block design to keep canines safely contained
- Offered in single and double-door construction
- Fully collapsible for easy storage or transportation
- Made in China
- 18” x 12” x 14”
- 22” x 13” x 16”
- 24” x 18” x 19”
- 30” x 19” x 21”
- 36” x 23” x 25”
- 42” x 28” x 30”
- 48” x 30” x 33”
- Top-rated pick amongst pup parents
- Wide variety of size options
- Provides excellent canine ventilation and visibility
- Affordably priced
- Lacks the high-end features some other crates provide
- Wire crates aren’t a good fit for anxious doggos
2. Pet Magasin Foldable Traveling Crate
About: Pet Magasin’s Foldable Traveling Crate is a tool-free way to enjoy an affordable canine carrier with its pop-up design. Best suited for short-term use or for calm canines who aren’t big on chewing or digging, this carrier keeps your floof secure while protecting surrounding space from messes with a water-proof liner.
- Made with lightweight polyester
- Rear seat belt loops for safe anchoring during car rides
- Multiple mesh panels for ventilation
- Made in China
- Offered in one size measuring 27” x 17” x 18”
- Won’t dent your budget too badly
- Lightweight, portable design that folds flat when not in use
- Roomier than most small dog travel crates
- Lack of size options leaves out large pups
- Only suitable for non-destructive, calm canines
- This is really best suited for short-term, “in a pinch” use
3. Ruff Land Kennel
Ruff Land Kennel
A truly premium puppy crate that’s available in numerous sizes and made the USA from roto-molded plastic for easy cleanup.
About: A great choice for owners seeking a top-of-the-line puppy crate, the Ruff Land Kennel features a strong plastic shell, plentiful ventilation holes, and a rust-proof composite door. It’s perfect for nervous pooches, thanks to the den-like design, and it is available in three neutral colors, including Rockstone, Millstone, and Whitestone.
- Made of a single piece of tough molded PE plastic
- No-bite door pattern keeps canine chompers safe
- Durable enough for safe car travel
- Made in the USA
- Small: 16” x 22” x 16”
- Mid-Size: 16” x 24” x 18”
- Medium: 18” x 27” x 20”
- Intermediate: 20” x 30” x 22”
- Large: 22” x 35” x 26”
- X-Large: 22” x 40” x 30”
- Quality is a high point with many pup parents
- Excellent crate for dogs with separation anxiety
- Comes with a 1-year comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty
- One of the relatively few US-made crates on the market
- Bulkier than other crate options
- While high-quality, it’s expensive
4. ASPEN PET Fashion Kennel
ASPEN PET Fashion Kennel
A lightweight, single-entry puppy porter made of thick plastic that is affordable and easily wipes clean in case of messes.
About: The ASPEN PET Fashion Dog Kennel is a well-ventilated, plastic pen for safely toting your puppy. Featuring a single, front-mounted door with a pinch-lock mechanism, this kennel is straight-forward, well-built, and assembled with metal hardware.
- Durable plastic shell
- Meets most airline cargo travel requirements
- Offered in 5 colors: Blue, Pink, Gray, Storm Gray, and Red
- Made in China
- Dogs up to 10 pounds: 19” x 12” x 10”
- Dogs up to 15 pounds: 23” x 15” x 11”
- Dogs up to 20 pounds: 23” x 15” x 11”
- Dogs up to 25 pounds: 26” x 18” x 16”
- Den-like design perfect for settling puppies during travel
- Most owners report the product lasts a long time
- Top-mounted handle for easy lifting
- Lack of sizes for medium and large-sized puppies
- Plastic-shell crates limit visibility
5. Petmate Two Door Pet Kennel
Petmate Two Door Pet Kennel
A high-quality plastic carrier with top and front steel grated doors that provide multiple access points for owners and pets.
About: Need a straight-forward puppy crate with two doors? The Petmate Two Door Pet Kennel may be the perfect pick for your pup! Featuring front and top door panels, this crate provides easy entry and exit for your pooch from multiple angles. Additional air holes offer plenty of ventilation, while the steel doors keep your canine securely contained.
- Made of two-tone plastic
- Pinch-style locking door mechanism
- Offered in 4 colors: Pink, White, Blue, and Tan
- Made in China
- Dogs up to 10 pounds: 19” x 12” x 10”
- Dogs up to 15 pounds: 24” x 16” x 14”
- Great choice for small puppies needing a safe carrier
- Reasonably priced
- Extra door provides greater access
- Easy to clean thanks to the top door (a must with accident-prone puppies!)
- Doesn’t meet most air travel standards due to roof door panel
- Too small for some medium and large-sized puppies (particularly those who are leggy)
6. ECOFLEX Dog Crate
ECOFLEX Dog Crate
A great-looking, locking canine crate that will keep your puppy secure while doubling as a functional furniture piece.
About: The ECOFLEX Dog Crate is a cool dog crate you don’t want to miss with its sleek wood-look finish and stainless steel spindles. Its no-tools assembly is an added bonus, along with its latch-style closure and warp-proof construction.
- Made of non-toxic ECOFLEX composite material
- Slotted spindles give your dog maximum ventilation and visibility
- Comes in 5 finishes, with availability varying by size
- Made in China
- Small: 23” x 18” x 22”
- Medium: 29” x 21” x 25”
- Large: 36” x 24” x 28”
- X-Large: 42” x 27” x 30”
- Blends in with most interior design palettes
- Recycled material construction a hit with eco conscious owners
- Fair amount of size options to choose from
- Pricey, particularly for larger sizes
- Not recommended for chew-happy canines or puppies
7. Petmate Sky Kennel
Petmate Sky Kennel
An airline-approved dog crate featuring ample ventilation, a hardy plastic shell, and travel-ready tie-down holes.
About: Need a puppy crate that will work for flying with your four-footer? Well, the Petmate Sky Kennel may be the perfect choice, as it meets most airlines’ travel requirements with its top-notch ventilation holes and 4-way vault-style door. With a raised interior and tie-down holes, it’s made to help your dog travel safely and comfortably.
- Made with a strong plastic shell
- Available in a solid gray finish
- Comes with clip-on food and water bowls, two live animal stickers, and ID markers
- Made in the USA
- 21” x 16“ x 15“
- 28” x 20“ x 21“
- 32” x 22“ x 24“
- 36” x 25“ x 27“
- 40” x 27“ x 30“
- 48” x 32“ x 35“
- Meets most airlines’ requirements for canine travel crates
- Comes with must-have travel accessories like feeding bowls and identifying stickers
- Most owners are tickled pink with the quality
- You may need to swap the plastic bolts for metal ones before air travel
- Only one (relatively dreary) color option
8. EliteField Three-Door Crate
EliteField Three-Door Crate
An easy-to-carry, collapsible crate with three zippered doors, mesh ventilation panels, and a padded shoulder strap for comfortable carrying.
About: The perfect choice for pet parents who like to take their pooch everywhere, the EliteField’s Three-Door Crate is a soft-sided crate that is super-easy to carry and pack when not in use. Additionally, because this crate features a removable and machine-washable cover and mat, cleaning up sneaky puppy accidents is a breeze. And finally, the trio of mesh door panels keeps your canine comfortable and breathing easy on the go.
- Crafted of 600D fabric and a steel tube frame
- Included carrying case for easy transport and storage
- Comes in 16 colors, including solid and dual-tone designs
- Made in China
- 20” x 14“ x 14“
- 24” x 18“ x 21“
- 30” x 21“ x 24“
- 36” x 24“ x 28“
- 42” x 28“ x 32“
- Easy-to-clean option is great for pre-potty-trained puppies
- Multiple doors allow for maximum canine access
- Comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Some owners reported sizing issues
- Not ideal for escape artists or destructive doggos
9. Amazon Basics Portable Folding Soft Dog Travel Crate
About: Although it isn’t the most affordable option on the market, the Amazon Basics’ Portable Folding Soft Dog Travel Crate is a great choice for budget-conscious owners, who want to get good value for their dollar. The crate’s top and front doors feature zippered closures and allow versatile loading, while mesh panels on all sides help your fur kid breathe with ease.
- Made of tan polyester fabric and a PVC frame
- Folds flat for simple storage
- Pop-up, tool-free assembly
- Made in China
- Small: 26” x 18” x 18”
- Medium: 30” x 21” x 21”
- Large: 36” x 24” x 24”
- X-Large: 42” x 30” x 30”
- Lightweight design is a traveler’s best friend
- Provides great quality at an affordable price point
- Easy to store when not in use
- Not recommended for escape artists
- Not a good choice for destructive dogs
10. Diggs Revol Dog Crate
Diggs Revol Dog Crate
A cool twist on canine crating that looks cool and is made from premium materials that can withstand typical puppy shenanigans.
About: The Diggs Revol Dog Crate’s style mirrors kid-friendly gear with its blocky build and rounded edges, while its tough-as-nails materials keep your puppy safely tucked away. Featuring a diamond-patterned mesh and two doors, it’s as functional as it is fashionable.
- Made with high-grade aluminum, steel mesh, and heavy-duty plastic
- Collapsible design allows for easier travel and storage
- Available in 4 colors: White, Charcoal, Gray, and Pine
- Made in China
- Small: 25” x 17” x 19”
- Medium: 32” x 22” x 20”
- Large: 44″L x 28″W x 30″H
- Unique alternative to traditional wire crates
- Provides maximum airflow
- Most pup parents give it a paw’s up for quality
- Heavier and more expensive than other puppy kennels
- Doesn’t collapse down as much as other foldable designs
11. Homey Pet Inc. Gold Crate
About: The Homey Pet Inc. Gold Crate is a perfect fit for your flashy Fido with its entirely gold finish. Dual doors and a slide-out tray and grate make ideal for puppies, letting you configure it to work best for you and your dog while easily wiping it down as needed.
- Made of a durable thermoplastic polymer called ABS
- Non-toxic coating for canine safety
- Grid floor keeps accidents away from your pooch
- Made in China
- Dogs up to 30 pounds: 24” x 16“ x 20“
- Dogs up to 40 pounds: 30“ x 18“ x 22“
- Dogs up to 70 pounds: 36“ x 22“ x 25“
- Dogs up for 90 pounds: 42“ x 28“ x 31“
- Eye-catching choice stands out from everyday puppy crates
- Setup is perfect for cleaning puppy accidents with ease
- Most owners praise the crate’s quality
- A pricey pick compared to other crates
- Grid-style floors aren’t ideal for every dog
Why Does Your Puppy Need a Crate?
Crates are helpful for a variety of reasons, and you’ll likely find that they instantly make it easier to care for your pup.
But just wait until you’ve been using a crate for a month or two – you’ll wonder how on earth you ever managed to take care of your puppy without one. The five most important ways crates help include:
1. Crates Make Housetraining Your New Puppy Pretty Easy
One of the biggest challenges new owners face is house training their puppy and teaching him not to poop or pee in the house. Some dogs learn the rules quicker than others, but most puppies will learn pretty quickly if you employ a technique called crate training.
Dogs don’t like to relieve themselves in the same place they sleep, and they often prefer going on the grass (or some other type of vegetation). Accordingly, this procedure helps reinforce good bathroom behavior and teaches your pup the rules.
You just have to make sure that he stays in his crate whenever you can’t supervise him, and that you stop him and carry him outside if he starts lifting a leg or squatting. Once outside, be sure to praise him whenever he poops or pees in the correct place!
2. Crates Will Keep Your Belongings Safe While You’re Away
Puppies are notorious for chewing things and otherwise destroying the house when left alone for significant periods of time.
Some chewing behavior is the result of the normal teething process, but it can also be triggered by boredom or separation anxiety.
Even if you make sure your puppy has at least one safe and suitable dog chew toy, it’s unlikely that your pup will restrict his chewing behaviors to the pre-approved items.
In fact, he’ll likely gnaw on the most expensive thing he can find – not consciously of course, but that’s just the way it always seems to work out.
But a good crate eliminates all of these problems. Once you put your pup inside, you know he’ll stay out of trouble until you return and turn him loose (be sure to go right outside when you do – always employ good crate training principles with puppies).
Just be sure to give your pup plenty to do inside of the crate so that he doesn’t get bored. Crate time shouldn’t be considered a punishment, and you want your pup to associate the crate with fun.
3. Crates Give Dogs a Safe Place to Hide
Even the most formidable dogs in the world get spooked or nervous from time to time, and some of the tiny, timid breeds seem to live in the midst of a perpetual anxiety attack.
One of the best ways to soothe nervous pups is to provide them with a dark, snug place — like a crate — they can retreat into.
Not all crates provide a den-like environment, so you may need to add a dog crate cover to help darken the internal environment. You can also make a crate feel more like a den by putting it up against a wall (or even better, two walls), or by placing it under a table, bed, or another piece of furniture.
Some dogs need this type of “safe space” more than others, so you may not find it necessary. If your dog is especially anxious, consider one of the crates specifically designed for separation anxiety and high-anxiety dogs.
4. Crates Can Help Keep Puppies Calm and Quiet Following Surgery
When you get your puppy neutered (or spayed if your new pup is a girl), your vet will likely instruct you to keep your pet extremely calm and quiet for an extended period of time (probably a week or so, but sometimes longer).
Doing so will help prevent your pup from ripping out his stitches or otherwise injuring himself.
One of the best ways to keep your pup relaxed is by simply keeping him in his crate while he recovers.
You’ll obviously need to let him out to eat, drink, poop, and pee, and he’ll need to be able to stretch his legs a bit, but he should spend most of the time in his crate until the vet says it’s safe to resume normal activity.
In fact, most significant veterinary procedures will require you to keep your pet subdued for a while afterward. But no matter what type of operation or treatment your dog has had to endure, crate confinement will help limit his movement and activity during recovery (recovery e-cones are also helpful to stop your pooch from nibbling at his wounds).
5. Crates Are Great for Miscellaneous Dog-Management Challenges
There are dozens of different scenarios in which a crate may be helpful for managing your pet.
Consider, for example, dogs who tend to get overenthusiastic and jump up on visitors.
Rather than allowing your dog to engage in this behavior – which will only reinforce it – you should consider putting him inside his crate, to prevent the problem from happening at all.
Crates can also be helpful for preventing your dog from bolting out the door while you haul groceries from the car. They can also be great for keeping your dog out of the way when you’re dealing with delicate projects or trying to get some work done.
Crate training essentially involves keeping your puppy in his crate most of the time, and then taking him directly outside each time you let him out.
Homes with multiple pets will find crates helpful in tons of different ways. A crate will likely come in handy anytime you have to bathe them, trim their nails, or administer medications.
Crates can also be helpful if you need to feed your pets at separate times due to food resource guarding and aggression or any other dinnertime issues.
Additional Considerations for Puppy Crates
There are a few other things to think about when selecting a crate. These aren’t mandatory criteria like some of the things discussed earlier; these are things to consider when trying to select a crate that’ll suit you and your dog well.
→ Location, Location, Location
Always be sure to think about where you are going to put your pup’s crate before making your purchase.
Are you going to stick it in a back bedroom, where it’ll largely be out of sight? If so, you probably don’t need to worry about aesthetic considerations very much. On the other hand, you’ll want to ensure that you pick a good-looking model if you plan on placing it in your living room or if it’ll be in your own bedroom each and every day.
If you’re not sure where you’ll be placing your dog crate, make sure to read our guide to crate training 101 where we talk about this and other crate-placement considerations.
Fortunately, there are a lot of different colors and styles you can choose from. Just don’t overvalue aesthetic considerations at the expense of things like security.
→ What Kind of Durability Do You Need?
Crates are made with varying levels of durability. Some crates are lightweight and dainty, while others are built like tanks.
Small or well-behaved puppies may be able to get away with crates that feature soft mesh walls or panels. Crates made from plastic may even be suitable for these types of pups.
But dogs who like to chew on things or make frequent escape attempts will need crates made from metal or very strong plastics.
This isn’t just a security issue, it’s a safety issue too – you don’t want your puppy to break off parts of his crate and swallow them, as this could lead to a potentially fatal obstruction.
→ Collapsible Crates Are Great for Travelers
Most crates can be disassembled to some degree, but some are easier to flatten and carry with you than others. These types of portable dog crates are great for pet owners on the go, as it makes it easy to bring your pet’s crate with you on the road.
It’s also easier to store these types of crates if you only use them sporadically. Large crates can take up a lot of room in your house, so this isn’t an insignificant consideration.
→ Wheeled Crates Are Pretty Convenient
If you think you may want to move your crate around the house a lot, you’ll probably find that a wheeled crate makes this easier to accomplish.
This way, you won’t have to collapse your dog’s crate to move it from the kitchen to the living room – you can just push it, thanks to the wheels.
Of course, wheeled crates may “wander” about your house a bit if the wheels don’t lock, so you may want to keep this in mind when comparing different models.
→ Two Doors Are Better Than One
You can get by with a single-door crate, but those with two doors are much more convenient.
For one thing, top-opening doors make it easier to load or unload small dogs – they prevent you from having to bend over all the way to the ground.
Two-door crates with a front/side door arrangement provide more placement flexibility than single-door crates. For example, you may want to put the crate against a wall, which would render one of the doors useless. But because there are two doors, the crate still works.
→ Material Differences: Plastic vs Fabric vs Wire
Most crates are made from one of four basic materials: plastic, metal wire, fabric, or wood. Each presents a unique collection of benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to consider the issue carefully before picking a crate.
We’ll discuss the differences between the various crate materials below.
Material 1: Plastic
Plastic dog crates are one of the most effective styles available, particularly for small and relatively well-behaved dogs.
Plastic crates are usually made from a rigid yet thin and lightweight, plastic. They usually feature metal-wire doors, and most will also have holes cut into the sidewalls to provide sufficient ventilation.
Plastic crates are really light, so you can carry them around easily – especially the smaller sizes.
Plastic crates are pretty escape-proof, and they provide a dark-and-secure space for nervous pups. They’re also durable and easy to clean.
However, plastic crates usually don’t collapse. You can take them apart for storage or travel by separating the top and bottom, and then inverting the top and placing it inside the bottom half, but this doesn’t really save you much space, nor does it make the crate easy to carry. Their design typically precludes the use of litter pans or dividers too.
So, if you plan on traveling with your dog while he’s inside the crate, a plastic model is a good choice. But, if your dog will be riding in the car cabin, and you just want to bring a crate along, a plastic model isn’t very space-efficient. Instead, you’ll want to opt for a dog car crate designed for travel.
Material 2: Metal Wire
Metal wire crates are another very popular crate style among dog owners.
They’re usually made from heavy-gauge metal wire, and some utilize plastic-coated versions to provide additional comfort and safety. Metal wire crates essentially resemble a “cage,” and they are often the best choice for dogs who are determined to escape.
Many high-quality metal wire crates feature things like litter trays and dividers, and most models are easy to collapse.
It is difficult to carry medium or large metal wire crates when assembled, but small models can be carried around while your dog is riding inside. All models are pretty easy to haul around once collapsed (and many come with a carrying handle).
Metal wire dog crates are one of the most durable crate options available, and they’re really easy to keep clean. They don’t provide your dog with a great deal of privacy, but a crate cover can fix this pretty easily.
Material 3: Fabric
Fabric soft-sided dog crates usually feature a rigid frame (which is typically made from plastic or metal) and a nylon or polyester “sleeve” which fits around the frame.
Most of these crates utilize mesh panels to provide ventilation, and they usually have multiple doors. Most fabric crates are very lightweight and easy to carry around – some even have shoulder straps.
Fabric crates are only appropriate for well-behaved dogs, as it wouldn’t take long for a determined pup to chew his way to freedom. They’re ultra-portable and often used as temporary on-the-go crates for camping or travel.
On the other hand, the outer fabric “sleeve” is usually machine washable, so these crates are easy to keep clean.
Material 4: Wood
Wood crates are usually furniture-like options that can function as traditional end tables — they’ve just been altered to serve as a dog crate too.
They’re often placed beside or in front of a couch, where they serve as a combination crate-and-table. These types of crates often look great, and you can probably find one that’ll match your home’s décor very well.
These crates do have a number of significant downsides, though. First of all, they’re usually pricey, as they’re made from expensive materials and require plenty of skill to construct. They’re also heavy and difficult to move around.
In addition, these types of crates are really only good for very well-behaved dogs. They are not a great choice for dogs who like to chew or are determined to escape.
You don’t want to spend a small fortune on a fancy, cool dog crate only for your dog to destroy it. Also, these types of crates can be difficult to clean, making them a bad choice for puppies who aren’t yet house-trained.
Sizing: Picking the Proper Crate Size for Your Puppy
It is critical to select a crate of the proper size so that it’ll work the way you want it to.
Crates that are too small are simply cruel, but crates that provide your pooch with too much room can also cause problems – particularly if you are using it for crate training purposes.
A crate of the proper size will allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around completely, and stretch out when laying down.
The best way to achieve this is by measuring your dog carefully and then selecting the best size for your dog.
You’ll need to primarily concentrate on the length and height of the crate, as most crates feature fairly similar widths for a given crate length (for example, most 36-inch-long crates are 23- to 25-inches wide).
Start by measuring your dog from his nose to the base of his tail. Add 2 to 4 inches to this figure, and you’ll have the proper crate length. To determine the correct crate height, measure your dog’s paw-to-head height and add 2 to 4 inches (be sure to account for your dog’s ears if he holds them upright).
Note that this is how you can determine the proper crate size for your puppy’s current size – he’ll obviously grow and require a larger crate over time.
This isn’t a problem for owners who intend to buy a new crate once he outgrows his current one.
If, on the other hand, you want to buy a larger crate and use dividers to reduce the amount of space available to your pooch, you’ll need to research the typical length and height of the breed and base your crate-sizing decisions on those numbers.
How Long Can You Leave Your Puppy in a Crate?
There’s nothing wrong with using a crate for puppy management purposes, but you must be sure that you do so in a benevolent and humane manner.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to limit crate time as much as you can. Life is more fun on the outside, and you surely love your floof and want him to live a happy life.
Dogs who are reliably housetrained and well-behaved when unattended rarely need to be kept in their crate (although it is always important to have the option available).
But brand-new puppies are a whole different story.
The crate-training process will require that they spend a lot of time inside, and it’ll take time for you to feel comfortable leaving your pooch out when you’re away.
Ultimately, it comes down to understanding how frequently your puppy needs a break to stretch his legs and answer nature’s call. Adult dogs can be crated for 8 hours or so on occasion.
You don’t want to do this on a day-in-day-out basis, but most adult dogs will sleep away the bulk of those hours, and they can easily control their bladder for this length of time.
Puppies, on the other hand, cannot hold it for such lengthy periods. Plus, most would go stir-crazy if confined to a crate all day long.
Adjust things as necessary to suit your individual pup, but generally speaking, puppies can wait about one hour for each month of age between potty breaks.
In other words, a 2-month-old puppy can likely hang out in his crate for about two hours before he’ll need to tinkle. Meanwhile, a 4-month-old pooch will be able to “hold it” for about four hours. By the time your dog has turned 6 months old, he’ll probably be able to hold it for at least six hours at a time, and perhaps longer.
Puppy Crate Alternatives
It’s worth noting that you do have other options at your disposal — you don’t have to go the crate-training route. Other canine containments options include:
- Indoor Dog Gates: Dog gates can be used to section off your dog into a pup-friendly part of the home (most owners choose the kitchen or a laundry room where the floors are easy to clean up). Many owners prefer using gates over crates since it gives your pup more space.
- X-Pens: X-pens are basically doggie play pens that act a bit like top-less crates while giving your dog substantially more space to move around and play.
- Tie Downs & Tie Outs: These items are essentially tethers that’ll keep your canine in a single location or attached directly to your body. These should only be used under supervision, but they can be quite helpful for puppy management and the bonding process.
Many consider these options more humane than crates, and they’re really the only appropriate option in cases in which you’ll need to leave your doggo contained for hours on end on a regular basis.
Introducing the Crate: Convincing Your Puppy to Go Inside
Some puppies will run right into a crate without a second thought, but others are reluctant to enter this strange new thing you’ve brought home.
But don’t worry, you will probably be able to coax him into the crate with a bit of patience, some dog crate training games, and a little positive reinforcement.
Begin by simply setting up the crate.
- Let your puppy check it out on his own while you throw away the packaging and tidy up. If your pup hasn’t gone in on his own, go and sit down beside the crate – having mom or dad standing by may be all he needs to feel brave enough to enter.
- Use a little encouragement if need be (pat your hand down on the inside of the crate), but don’t force him to enter. He’ll go inside when he’s ready. Don’t be afraid to take a break and walk away for a while – a bit more time may help him gather his courage.
- If none of this works, it is time to break out the heavy artillery. Grab a favorite toy, handful of kibble, or a couple of treats and start bribing. Put the enticing item(s) inside the crate and wait until your pup can’t stand it and enters the crate.
Once inside, reinforce the positive association – give him plenty of praise and another treat.
What Kinds of Things Should You Put in Your Puppy’s Crate?
Before you start using the crate regularly, you’ll want to consider adding a few extras to the interior.
- A comfortable dog crate bed, so that your pooch doesn’t have to lay on the hard plastic or wire floor.
- Interactive dog toys to keep your dog’s mind busy and stave off boredom.
- A soft blanket for snuggling and comfort purposes (a blanket that smells like you will help him feel safe).
- A super-durable puppy chew toy to help alleviate any anxiety or frustration.
- Clip-on food or water bowls if your pup will be staying in the crate for lengthy periods.
You don’t necessarily need all of these things, but it is wise to consider each carefully. If you feel that a given item is safe and will improve your dog’s comfort or well-being, then go ahead and add it to the crate.
One Last Word of Advice: Don’t Force Your Dog to “Cry It Out”
Often, puppies (and, to a lesser extent, older dogs) will begin whining and crying when you put them in a crate.
Some puppies may whine and begin vocalizing immediately, while others may wait for a while before starting up. Some will remain quiet if you are still in the room, but they’ll start wailing the second you walk out.
In all cases, you don’t want to reward the dog for crying, but you don’t want to be cruel either. There are plenty of valid reasons why your dog may be distressed in the crate, and you’ll want to do everything you can to ease your pup’s anxiety.
We discuss it all in detail in our full article about how to stop your dog from crying in the crate, but basically you want to allow your dog to leave the crate when they cry, but they only thing they get is a boring potty break.
If your pup is continuously crying, it’s time to brainstorm what you can do to ease some of his stress, whether that means moving the crate to a different location or providing stimulating chews or licking mats.
Best Crates for Puppies FAQ
Selecting the right crate for your puppy comes with a lot of questions. We’ve wrangled and answered the most frequently asked ones for you.
What type of crate is best for a puppy?
The best type of crate for your puppy is one that works for his size, first and foremost. He should be able to stand, sit, and turn around comfortably while inside. A crate using a movable divider to grow with him or suiting his projected adult size is ideal. This keeps him from getting cramped and protects your wallet from needing to buy larger kennels in the future.
Next up, you also need to determine if you’re looking for a travel crate or a home hideaway. Travel crates need to meet strict parameters for airline travel, while home crates require more focus on the overall aesthetic to avoid an eyesore.
Once you have the crate’s size and use locked down, you can move on to puppy must-haves, like an easy-to-clean material like plastic and a pull-out tray for convenience. In most cases, puppies do best with plastic or wire crates, as soft-sided ones are easy to gnaw or dig through.
What size crate should you get for a puppy?
The proper crate size varies by your intended usage. For instance, travel crates have strict rules to adhere to if you’re planning on flying with your puppy.
As a blanket rule, any crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably inside. It also helps to buy a crate that will last your puppy into adulthood, meaning you should purchase a kennel that will work for his expected size at maturity. This is particularly important with large and giant breeds that grow quickly.
Is it better for a puppy to sleep in a crate?
Yes. Having your puppy sleep in his crate protects your home from wayward messes and prevents your pooch from getting injured when you’re not watching his every move. Puppies are like toddlers. It only takes them a few seconds to get into some serious trouble. This can include anything from chewing electrical cords to falling through stair railings.
We know it can be tough to shut your puppy away, but your pup will view his crate as his little hideout in time. In the meantime, you can sleep soundly, knowing he’s safe.
How long can a puppy stay in a crate?
Typically, puppies can remain in their crate for about one hour for every month of age. In other words, a four-month-old puppy can usually rest in his crate for about four hours at a time.
Does crate-training puppies work?
Yes – at least, most of the time. Crate-training is a simple way to safely guide your puppy into adulthood. It navigates around the typical headaches of puppyhood, like furniture chewing and floor peeing, and gives your new little one a safe space to hang out when he’s feeling overwhelmed.
The key to crate-training success is to never use the kennel as a punishment. Your puppy may cry in his crate at first, but with consistency and some tweaks to your approach, you’ll both be sleeping easy in time. Form positive associations with the kennel early on with crate-training games.
What is the best crate for crate training?
The best crate is one that works for your needs while keeping your canine contained. Wire crates are a no-fuss favorite of many crate-training pup parents, as they feature must-have perks like pull-out trays, ample airflow and visibility, and removable dividers. They also fold flat when not in use, allowing for simple storage and transport. Best of all, they’re affordable and relatively durable, lasting for years with proper use.
Again, there are a lot of things you’ll need to buy for your new puppy, and you may be inclined to put a few things off for a month or so to give your budget a break.
However, a crate is not something you want to wait on. A good crate will help you take care of your pup in several different ways, and it’ll make things easier while you adjust to your new pup.
Just be sure to select a well-made model that satisfies the specific needs you and your pet have, and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of a crate in no time.
What do you think about puppy crates? Which models are favorites for you pup owners? Share your thoughts in the comments!