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If you’re considering a dog crate for crate training your dog, or want to provide your dog with a safe and secure space all his own, away from the foot traffic in your home, you know the decisions before you are endless. From the range of sizes available to crate materials to choose from, there are a lot of features to keep in mind when shopping for a dog crate.
This reference guide will help you learn how to choose the crate that’s best for your dog—and you!
How to Choose the Right Dog Crate Tip #1: Consider Your Needs
The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for a dog crate is to remember that all dog crates are not created equally. From sizing, to the type of material used, to the various purposes they can serve, there is generally a dog crate for every kind of dog—so you’ll want to get the one that will meet your needs.
As you begin to shop, consider the purpose of the crate you are looking for.
- Is it for a puppy who is beginning crate training and will it have different needs as he grows?
- An upgrade for an older dog who has chewed through his first crate?
- Something to travel with you in the car, or on the plane?
- An item that can seamlessly blend into the decor or your home?
- Something portable, or collapsible, that can be used indoors or out?
Determining why you need a crate, how it will be used, and the personality of your dog will help you make an informed decision.
How to Choose the Right Dog Crate Tip #2: Determine the Best Size
There are as many size crates as there are dogs! So, how do you choose?
Kate LaSala, a New York City-area dog trainer and behavior consultant, and owner of Rescued By Training, advises that “the crate be just large enough for the dog to be able to stand up and turn around.”
A crate that is too small will restrict your dog’s movements, won’t be associated with a relaxing place to rest, and may go unused by your dog. A crate that allows your dog to move comfortably in the crate while also offering the den-like experience that most dogs find comforting is the optimal choice.
Clearly, for large dogs such as Great Danes and mastiffs, that’s a large crate! So, for bigger breeds, you’ll need to have a place for the crate to go that can accommodate its large size without being in the way. Likewise for smaller dogs, you’ll need to have a place in your home that it can go where it won’t be tripped over or bumped into. “You want the dog to know he can use that space as a safe escape from kids, noises, and guests,” LaSala says.
Another consideration when it comes to size is a crate for a growing puppy. Some crates come with dividers that can be used to create a smaller crate for young puppies, which can be removed to create a larger space that can grow with your dog.
How to Choose the Right Dog Crate Tip #3: Material Selection
Dog crates are primarily made from four main materials: wood, metal, plastic, and fabric.
When it comes to the most attractive crates, wood is generally the best bet. However, keep in mind that wood is not the best choice for crate training puppies, as it’s more susceptible to damage from chewing and scratching—behavior puppies often exhibit while being crate trained. That can not only harm your crate, it can harm your dog. Wood can also be more challenging to clean because it’s porous and may absorb messes and odors.
Less attractive, but more durable, are metal crates that can often take more wear and tear and are easier to clean. Another benefit is that many versions are collapsible, so they can easily be stored or relocated, and as mentioned earlier, many are built with dividers to accommodate your dog throughout all life stages.
Plastic crates are commonly used for travel and transportation as they can be found in a range of smaller sizes, are easy to clean, and many are quite durable.
Lastly, fabric or soft crates have the advantage of being easily stored and transported (though you’d want one with a frame for travel safety), and are often the lightest crates so are easy to pick up and move, but they are more difficult to clean if your puppy has an accident and can be shredded to bits if your pup is a determined chewer or scratcher.
The End Game
It’s important to remember that the goal with any crate is to make your dog feel safe and secure.
“With proper crate training, the dog will see the crate as a happy, safe place and voluntarily go into the crate,” LaSala says.
Successful crate training equals a happy dog, which equals a happy owner, so you’ll want to choose the dog crate that’s right for you with care and consideration.
The Best Dog Crates
Now that you have a better idea of how to choose the right dog crate, read on for some of our top picks for a range of dogs and needs.
Our Favorite Collapsible Metal Crates
Fold and carry says it all! This metal crate comes together without tools and collapses down when on the go (it comes with a convenient handle, too).
Available in different sizes, this Frisco crate contains a side and front door, plastic bottom pan for easy cleanup, and optional divider that allows the crate to grow with your pup.Find on Chewy
Available with a single or double door, this metal crate comes in several sizes ranging from 22 to 42 inches.
Collapsible for storage and transport, this crate also comes with a removable plastic pan for easy clean up. Adjust your crate with your growing pup with the included divider.Find on Amazon
Our Favorite Wooden Crates
Get ready for compliments! This chic wood-style crate comes in white or espresso, depending on your decor needs.
Made from sturdy medium density fiberboard and wire, this crate is not for chewers and best for dogs on the smaller side. The double front door and single side door are secured with nickel hardware locks. Included is a removable pad for your doggy’s comfort.Find on Amazon
It’s a wooden-style crate, and so much more. Wire and solid wood veneer make for an attractive addition to your living space and can be utilized as an end table or stand.
Available in two sizes, slide the panels out and connect the pins to transform this space from a crate to a gate if you need to close off a room.Buy on Chewy
Our Favorite Plastic Crates
Though primarily meant for transporting your pet (hello, air travel!) this crate from the trusted Petmate brand can also be used for crating at home.
This crate comes in several sizes, and the heavy-duty plastic connects via metal screws and plastic fasteners for easy assemblage. A sturdy latch on the outside provides extra security.Find on Amazon
Use the front door or load your small breed pup through the top. This Frisco crate is great for travel and comes in two sizes for crate training smaller dogs.
Made from 95% pre-consumer recycled plastic, this crate includes spring-loaded latches for extra security while an interior indentation helps keep your dog dry in case they have an accident.Find on Chewy
Our Favorite Heavy-Duty Crates
Keep in mind that while no crate is 100% dog-proof, heavy-duty crates are best for dogs who are large and in charge.
Heavy-duty, indeed. Some dogs require a bit more heft to their crate and this one is made from nontoxic coated reinforced steel.
Front and top doors are secured with anti-escape locks, while two of the four removable wheels lock into place to keep your pup secure.Find on Amazon
This heavy-duty crate is made for giant breeds and features a double door for easy access. Heavy-duty metal and generous sizing make it a great fit for your extra large furry friend!
MidWest’s crate also comes with rubber feet to protect hard floors and a removable plastic pan for easy cleaning. Note that this crate is not collapsible, and it’s on the heavy side, about 80 pounds.Find on Chewy
Our Favorite Soft Crates
This versatile soft crate is made from double weave, water-resistant mesh fabric and includes mesh windows for ventilation.
Constructed with a top and front door, this crate also contains a steel frame so it’s a great option for vehicle travel. Petnation’s soft crate is also collapsible for easy transport and storage.Find on Amazon
Made with three options for easy exit and entry, each door is secured with locking zippers. Reinforced with a steel tube frame, the washable nylon cover can come off for cleaning.
Bonus? This soft crate comes with its own fleece pad and carrying case. Available in various and several colors.Find on Chewy
Now that you know a little more about choosing the right crate, consider some related reading below.
- The Best Dog Crates for Small Dogs
- The Top Large Dog Crates
- The Best Crate Pads for 2020
- The Best Dog Crates for Puppies
- The Best Dog Crate Covers