Best Crates for Puppies: Quick Picks
- Midwest Pet Crate [Best Wire Crate] Available in several sizes with options for single or double doors. Features secure latch, roller feet, plastic tray, and divider.
- EliteField 3-Door Soft Folding Crate [Best Portable Puppy Crate] This soft-sided crate can be collapsed and re-assembled in seconds for travel. Great for gentle, non-chewers and owners who are constantly on the go.
- Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel [Best Plastic Puppy Crate] Plastic, hard-sided crate that provides privacy as well as plenty of ventilation. Can also be used as a travel crate.
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 amplest 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.
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 puppy owners face is teaching their pup not to poop or pee in the house. Some dogs learn the rules quicker than others, but most puppies will learn faster than normal if you employ a technique called crate training.
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.
Dogs don’t like to relieve themselves in the same place they sleep, and they prefer going in the grass. 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. 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 on things and otherwise destroying the house when they’re 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 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.
I once had a puppy rip up every square inch of linoleum on the kitchen floor. I was gone for just two hours!
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).
Try to give your pup plenty to do inside of the crate so that he doesn’t get bored – you want your pup to associate the crate with fun times!
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 an 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 burrow or den by putting it up against a wall (or even better, two walls), or putting 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 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 (ouch) 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.
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.
Things to Look for When Picking a Puppy Crate
Now that you understand the myriad ways a crate will make your life easier, you can start trying to find the best one for you and your pet. Just be sure that you 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. Kidding aside, 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 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 much 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 reticent 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.
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 why your dog might prefer being crated in your bedroom!
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 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 easy to flatten and carry with you. These types of 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 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 also precludes the use of litter pans or dividers.
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 (for example), and you just want to bring a crate along, a plastic model isn’t very space-efficient.
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 usually 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 (several come with a carrying handle).
Metal wire crates are likely the most durable option 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 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
Wooden crates are usually furniture-like items that have been altered to work like a dog crate.
They’re often placed beside or in front of a couch, where they serve as a combination crate-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 crate only for your dog to destroy it. Also, these types of crates can be difficult to clean, making them a bad choice for pre-house-trained puppies.
The Five Best Crates for Puppies
There are dozens of different puppy crates on the market, but you can just focus on the five listed below to save yourself some time and trouble.
All five 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
About: Midwest Homes for Pets makes a number of high-quality pet products, including their iCrate line of crates, which are effective, feature-packed, and affordable.
- ICrate the 'All inclusive dog crate' includes free divider panel, durable dog tray, carrying handle,...
- XS double door folding dog crate ideal for XS dog breeds with adult weight of 7 to 12 pounds,...
- Your dog's home while you're away from home: Durable design creates a safe place for your pet while...
- Safe & Secure Home: Heavy duty slide bolt latch firmly locks dog crate door in place keeping your...
Features: The Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate is a sturdy yet lightweight metal wire crate that is strong enough to keep your pet contained, while still being easy to transport.
In fact, you can quickly and easily collapse the crate for storage or travel (no tools necessary). You can also simply push the crate around, thanks to the four wheels built into the bottom.
The metal wires are covered in satin-black electro-coating for your dog’s comfort, and a removable litter pan is included to make it easy to clean up messes, spills, and accidents.
The iCrate comes with an optional divider so you can reduce the amount of space in the crate, and the doors feature slide-bolt latches for maximum security.
The iCrate comes in both one- and two-door versions, and it is backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
(Length, Width, Height)
- 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”
The iCrate checks off nearly every criterion you and your puppy could want in a crate. It is well-built, durable, and secure, it comes with a removable divider, and it has built-in wheels in the base. It is easy to take with you when traveling, but you can also fold it up and stick it in a closet for long-term storage.
Generally speaking, the iCrate received fantastic reviews from most owners who tried it, and it doesn’t have many shortcomings. A few owners complained about rough edges, and a few very determined dogs were able to bust free of the crate, but these types of problems were fairly rare.
2. AmazonBasics Folding Metal Dog Crate
About: AmazonBasics Folding Metal Dog Crate comes from Amazon’s fairly high-quality line of pet crates which come in a variety of sizes and a few different configurations, so you can select the best crate for your pet.
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Features: The AmazonBasics Folding Metal Dog Crate is made from plastic-coated metal wire, and it comes with a number of helpful features.
For example, a composite litter tray is included to make it easy to keep the crate clean, and it also comes with an optional divider, so you can reduce the amount of space available.
The smaller sizes also include another great feature: The vertical bars on the bottom portions of the crate walls are situated very close together (they are less than ½ inch apart), which will prevent your pooch from sticking his paw between the bars and hurting himself.
Most of the AmazonBasics Folding Metal Crates come in one- and two-door models, and their doors feature secure, slide-bolt latches to keep your canine contained. This crate can be collapsed quickly without tools, making it easy to store or take with you when you travel.
(Length, Width, Height)
- 22” x 13” x 16”
- 24” x 18” x 20”
- 30” x 19” x 21”
- 36” x 23” x 25”
- 42” x 28” x 30”
- 48” x 30” x 32.5”
The AmazonBasics Folding Metal Crate is an impressive crate, which appears to have worked very well for most owners that tried it. It is well-built and equipped with most of the features you could want in a crate. The coolest feature provided by the crate is undoubtedly the narrow divider gaps near the bottom of the small models, which will help keep your small dog safe.
The AmazonBasics Folding Metal Crate is pretty portable, but it doesn’t come with built-in wheels. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does mean you’ll have to pick it up whenever you want to move it. Complaints about the product were pretty rare, but generally related to long-term durability concerns.
3. EliteField 3-Door Soft Folding Crate
About: The EliteField 3-Door Soft Folding Crate is a lightweight crate that is easy to take with you when you travel. This crate is a great fit for relaxed canines, although it may not be the best option for destructive or escape-minded dogs.
- Size: 20" long x 14" wide x 14" high; fully assembled; set-up and fold-down in seconds, no tools...
- The crate frame is made of strong steel tube; the crate cover is made of high quality durable 600D...
- Three mesh doors (on the top, front, and side) for convenience and for sunlight and breathability;...
- Free carrying bag and fleece bed included; a handle and hand carrying straps on the crate, hand...
Features: The EliteField Soft Folding Crate features a tubular steel frame and a 600D fabric cover (600D simply means that the fabric features a fairly dense weave).
Hex mesh fabric is used for the “windows,” ensuring that the crate provides plenty of ventilation and viewing opportunities for your pet. The crate folds down for travel, but you can also remove and machine-wash the cover if it becomes soiled.
The EliteField Folding Crate features three doors (one on the front, one on the side, and one on the top) for ease of access, and two pockets are built into the exterior and give you great places to store small items.
Carrying handles are also included with the crate, making it easy to carry.
The EliteField 3-Door Folding Crate comes in 12 great-looking colors, so you can match the crate to your home’s décor. It is also backed by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
(Length, Width, Height)
- 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”
Most owners were very pleased with the EliteField 3-Door Crate, citing its portability, convenience, and quality. It is a great option for owners on the go, and it comes in more colors than most other crates do. You won’t have to worry about sharp edges, thanks to the soft-sided design, and it is slightly roomier than many similar crates.
There aren’t many drawbacks to the EliteField 3-Door Crate, provided that you use it with calm, well-behaved pets. It will not contain a canine who is determined to escape, nor is it a good choice for dogs who like to chew on things. Some owners did complain about the durability of the crate, but most of them seemed to have dogs that were poorly suited for the product.
4. Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
About: Plastic-sided crates, like the Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel, are the best choice for some dogs – especially those who’d appreciate a little extra privacy.
This particular model provides exactly the kind of dark and secluded space some dogs want, and it features a few design concepts that’ll make it convenient for you to use too.
- PET CRATE FOR SMALL DOGS: This small dog kennel has a top entry door so you can access your cat or...
- AIR TRAVEL APPROVED: This pet carrier meets most airline cargo specifications. The air travel kennel...
- KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate & kennel training is vital for dog safety & comfort. We provide traditional...
- Petmate: For over 50 years, we at Petmate are passionate about our dogs, cats & furry friends in...
Features: The Petmate Two-Door Kennel comes with a front door that your dog can use for entering and exiting the crate, and it also features a door on the top, which makes it easy for you to load or unload your dog as necessary.
Easy-squeeze latches are included with both doors and allow you to open the crate with one hand.
A carrying handle is included on the top to make it easy to transport the crate, although you can also disassemble it whenever you need to by simply removing the included wing nuts.
While the crate does provide plenty of privacy, it is made with ventilated walls to ensure plenty of airflow for your pooch.
The Petmate Two-Door Kennel comes in four attractive color combinations, including several two-tone options: Pearl White / Coffee Grounds, Metallic Pearl Ash Blue / Coffee Grounds, Pearl Honey Rose / Coffee Grounds, and Metallic Pearl Tan / Coffee Grounds.
(Length, Width, Height)
- 4” x 12.8” x 10”
- 24” x 16.8” x 14.5”
Most owners raved about the Petmate Top-Load Dog Kennel, reporting that it was well-built, easy to transport, and contained their pet securely. Several owners specifically praised the top-loading door and enjoyed the convenience it provided.
The biggest shortcoming of the Petmate Kennel is its size — it just isn’t appropriate for big dogs. However, it’d be difficult to carry a big dog with this type of crate anyway, so it doesn’t make very much sense to build bigger versions. Some pets suffered abrasions after rubbing their nose or face against the ventilation holes, but this wasn’t a common problem.
5. Petmate Sky Kennel
About: The Petmate Sky Kennel is designed to work as a general-use kennel, but it is also designed to meet the requirements of most major airlines, so you can use it for travel too.
- Extra Security: 4 way vault door provides extra security for the travel dog crate by preventing...
- Durable, Heavy Duty Construction: Durable plastic shell, non corrodible wing nuts, extra strong...
- 363 Degree Ventilation: Ventilation openings surrounding the travel kennel give pets fresh air and...
- Travel Necessities Included: Portable dog kennel includes 2 Live Animal stickers, clip on bowls and...
Features: The Petmate Sky Kennel is a plastic-sided kennel that features metal wire doors and windows for ventilation.
All of the components, including the extra-durable plastic used in the walls and the extra-strong steel wire, are made from heavy-duty materials to ensure the crate is strong enough to withstand the rigors of travel.
A carrying handle is included on top of the crate, and the four-way vault-style door ensures that your dog will remain safely contained while traveling.
Non-corrodible wingnuts are used to keep the top and bottom of the crate connected, and they also make it easy to disassemble the crate when you need to store it.
The Petmate Sky Kennel also comes with some of the things you’ll need when traveling with your pet, including clip-on food and water bowls and “Live Animal” stickers.
(Length, Width, Height)
- 21” x 16” x 15”
- 28” x 20.5” x 21.5”
- 32” x 22.5” x 24”
- 36” x 25” x 27”
- 40” x 27” x 30”
- 48” x 32” x 35”
Owners who expect to travel with their pet will likely find that the Petmate Sky Kennel is the perfect crate for their needs. It is not only durable and strong but easy to carry too. Even if you don’t intend to travel with your pet, it can make an excellent kennel for home use, and it is surprisingly affordable for its strength and rigidity.
Although the Sky Kennel is designed to be airline ready, you’ll likely have to switch out the included wingnuts before airlines will accept the crate. A handful of owners complained that the handle wasn’t strong enough, but these types of problems weren’t common.
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 the following guidelines will give you an idea of where to start:
- Really young puppies (in the 8- to 10-week range) need a bathroom break once an hour or so
- By three months, most puppies will be able to hold it for about two hours or so.
- By four months, your puppy should be able to go four hours between breaks.
- By the time your dog has turned six 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 containments options include:
- Dog Gates. Indoor 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.
Many consider these options more humane than crates, and they’re really the only appropriate option when regularly leaving your dog alone for more than a couple of hours.
Introducing the Crate: Convincing Your Puppy to Go Inside
Some puppies will run right into a crate without a second thought, but others are reticent 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 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 crate-appropriate dog bed so that he doesn’t have to lay on the hard plastic or wire floor
- Interactive “puzzle” 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 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 Give In
Often, puppies (and, to a lesser extent, older dogs) will begin whining and crying when you put them in their crate.
Some may 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, it is absolutely crucial that you do not reward this behavior. It’s time for some tough love.
Your puppy is whining so you’ll let him out. If you do so, he’ll quickly learn that he can gain his freedom by vocalizing in this way.
But, if you remain resolute and don’t interact with your pup when he starts crying, he’ll learn that his vocalizations won’t help him escape the crate, and he’ll eventually stop the behavior.
I’m not saying that this is easy – it can be a heart-wrenching experience to simply ignore your pup’s pleas. However, it’ll definitely pay off in the long run, and before you know it, your pup will take crate time in stride.
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.
I wonder if there is a better way to put this? For example, “whenever he is taking a rest.” I know what you mean by “most of the time,” but someone less familiar with this strategy might visualize a doggie Rapunzel locked away from the world.
What do you think about puppy crates? Which models are favorites for you pup owners? Share your thoughts in the comments!