The 10 Best Dog Crates
What Do I Need to Consider Before Purchasing a Dog Crate?
Any owner needs to be sure that a prospective crate will be long, high, and wide enough to accommodate the dog, particularly when that dog is lying down.
Otherwise, you could wind up purchasing a model that's too large.
The first thing you need to consider before purchasing a dog crate is your dog's size. Any owner needs to be sure that a prospective crate will be long, high, and wide enough to accommodate the dog, particularly when that dog is lying down. This not only applies to the crate, but perhaps more importantly, the crate's entrance. You should also determine how much house space you're willing to devote to a crate. Otherwise, you could wind up purchasing a model that's too large.
If your dog is prone to spending time in more than one home, then you'll probably want a lightweight crate (e.g., 10-40 lbs) that is either collapsible, or made of fabric that you can fold. If your dog is big, you'll want a crate to have a weighted base, the kind that prevents your dog from tipping the crate over if he or she happens to be flailing around from side to side.
Certain dog crates feature a wooden trim, which is nice, but could present a problem if your dog has a tendency to scratch or claw. Regardless of what type of crate you own, any water bowl that you place inside should be made of metal, as opposed to plastic. A lot of crated dogs are inclined to treat a plastic bowl as if it were a toy, which is part of the reason you don't want to overfill any bowl that you place inside a crate. The other part of the reason is that your dog could drink all of that water, resulting in a crate that is ... all wet.
It's worth mentioning that the majority of fabric crates (e.g., nylon, mesh, polyester, etc.) have been designed with smaller dogs in mind. Buying a fabric crate for a 60-lb dog can - and probably will - result in a lot more headaches than it's worth.
How to Help Your Dog Embrace Its Crate
Long-term, you want a dog to look at his or her crate as being less of a cage and more of a home. The first step to creating that type of atmosphere involves lining the crate with a layer of cushion and a blanket. Assuming the crate has a hard surface, adding a cushion should keep the dog from feeling like he is being made to lie on a flat slab. Laying a blanket down can provide a sense of security, especially if that blanket is one that the dog already loves.
Most dogs are suspicious of entering a crate for the first time. Crates are small and confining, which is why you may need to lure your dog into the crate with the promise of a treat. The key is not to give your dog the treat until he is completely inside. Hopefully, you'll only need to do to this a handful of times. In addition, you may want to spend some time with your dog while he is lying in the crate with the door open. Petting your dog in this environment reinforces the idea that you are not punishing the dog, or banishing him to the crate alone.
Obviously, you'd like for your dog to sleep while he's in the crate, or, at the very least, to refrain from constant barking. With that in mind, it might be worth taking the dog for a walk or playing with him just prior to placing him inside the crate. Fifteen minutes worth of activity might go a long way to ensuring your dog feels exhausted.
Finally, you may want to put a dog toy and a metal water bowl in the dog's crate to make the atmosphere seem more congenial. You may also want to put a cover (i.e., a blanket) over the top of the crate if it happens to be placed inside a sunlit room.
A Brief History of the Dog Crate
While it's probable that rudimentary dog crates have been around for centuries, the first official patent for one of these crates was awarded to an Ohio man named John Porterfield in 1902. Porterfield's carrier was built with wood, and it featured small windows, a handle, and a collapsible frame.
What's more, the American public had really come to embrace the idea of owning - or building - a more traditional dog house.
In 1924, a Missouri inventor named Dwight McBride improved upon Porterfield's original design by adding a series of metal bars along one side of the crate. These bars provided the dog with a wide-open window, and they also functioned as the crate's primary door.
Up and through the 1950s, dog crates were still considered a specialty item, something used by SPCAs and kennels, or private owners who were transporting their dogs inside a car, a plane, or a boat. The majority of consumers made little distinction between a dog crate and a dog carrier. What's more, the American public had really come to embrace the idea of owning - or building - a more traditional dog house.
During the 1980s, manufacturers began to shift from advertising these products as "cages" to advertising them as crates. Soon after, the pet-owning public caught on. Having a crate meant dogs would no longer be hopping over fences or chewing up the furniture while their owners were at work. It also meant that dogs might not have to spend their daylight hours with a boarder.
Today, indoor crates are more popular than they have ever been. Crates have effectively supplanted the dog house in a number of areas, while making it more feasible for people who aren't always home to own a dog.