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Whether you’re bringing a new puppy into your home or adopting an adult dog, there are many benefits to crate training your pet. The best dog crates offer a secure and relaxing environment for your dog to sleep and unwind. Moreover, they help in keeping pets safe and out of trouble when unsupervised, which is why crate training is strongly recommended by both dog trainers and veterinarians. We recommend the Diggs Revol Dog Crate that conveniently collapses for travel and is easy to clean, but there are several options on this list to suit every type of pet owner.
“I recommend a dog crate for all dogs the moment the dog comes into the house,” says Michelle E. Matusicky, D.V.M., M.P.H., assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “If they are a puppy, this should be a natural part of an acclimation process. If it is an adult dog, this may be a trickier endeavor, but I view it as equally important as being able to walk your dog on a leash.” Aly Cohen, D.V.M., clinical instructor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, agrees. “All dogs would benefit from acclimation to a crate,” she affirms.
To ensure your pet’s comfort and facilitate effective crate training, it’s important to select the right product for your dog. Crates come in a variety of styles, such as metal wire, plastic and fabric options. Selecting an option that suits your pet’s temperament and preferences is key. It’s also crucial to choose an appropriately sized crate—enough for them to turn around and stand up comfortably, but not too large that they might use it for the bathroom.
If you’re ready to start crate training your new family member, these are the best dog crates you can consider investing in for your pet.
How We Chose The Best Dog Crates
To choose the best dog crates, we consulted with two veterinarians about the features that make a quality crate. We also spoke with dog owners for their top picks, and tracked down the most popular crates on the market. From there, we narrowed the field by looking at features like durability, quality of materials, ease of use and size options. We also consulted reviews from real owners to get a better sense of how these crates do under real-world conditions. This story is updated regularly to ensure it includes the best dog crates of the moment.
What To Look For In A Dog Crate
There are several types of dog crates you’ll encounter as you shop, including wire, plastic and fabric options. A few pro tips, per Cohen:
- Wire crates are durable and can fold relatively easily for storage.
- Many dogs feel comforted by being in a den, so covering a wire kennel with a sheet or a custom crate cover except for one or two sides is recommended.
- Wire crates often come with dividers, so your dog can grow into the kennel size they will need as an adult.
- Plastic crates are durable, and the walls are often solid, so no covering is needed, but they may be more cumbersome to store.
- Fabric or mesh crates are better suited for traveling or short-term use for small breed dogs as they are lightweight and easily foldable, but they are not very durable, and puppies or chewers may destroy the material.
It’s important to select the right size crate for your dog — if the crate is too small, they won’t be comfortable, but if it’s too big, they may have room to go to the bathroom. The general rule of thumb is that your dog should be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate, so you may want to measure your pup to get an idea of how much room they need.
If you’re shopping for a puppy, look for a crate that comes with an adjustable divider, such as the Life Stages Single Door Folding Crate. This will allow you to give them an appropriate amount of space inside the crate, and you can adjust the divider as they grow to give them more room.
Ease Of Use And Cleaning
The best dog crates are easy for both you and your dog to use. Look for a model with easy-to-open locks and convenient features such as a handle or locking caster wheels. If you plan to travel with your crate, you’ll also want to look for a model that collapses into a flat form for easy transport.
You may also want a crate that’s easy to clean, especially if you’re training a puppy. Some products come with a removable plastic tray that sits in the bottom of the crate, and this will catch any accidents, making it easy to clean up after your pet.
For dogs that like chewing, digging or scratching in their crates, it’s important to select a durable product that can stand up to their antics. In these situations, it’s best to look for a metal crate with welded joints—for instance, the Lemberi Heavy Duty Dog Crate is made from 20-gauge steel that your pup won’t be able to bend. You may also want to look for a reinforced lock and thick mesh bottom, which will help prevent your dog from escaping.
It’s important to consider safety features in a dog crate, especially if you have an anxious pup. You may want to avoid wire walls or doors, where your dog’s teeth can get stuck, and always be sure to remove their collar before placing them inside the crate—it can be extremely dangerous if their collar gets stuck on something.
If you’re planning to use your dog’s crate in the car, consider whether the design has been crash-tested. Models like the G1 Kennel are specially designed to protect your dog in the event of an accident and are worth the added investment if you regularly hit the road with your pet.
How To Find The Right Crate Size Can For Your Dog?
It’s important to get the size of your dog’s crate right. “The dog should be able to comfortably walk into the crate without crouching and turn around easily,” Matusicky says. But they shouldn’t have enough space that they feel comfortable peeing or pooping in a corner and spending the rest of their time in another area. “Most crates come with a breed comparison,” Matusicky says. “If you have a mixed breed adult dog, choose the breed closest in size andbuild to your dog. If you have a puppy, be sure to anticipate growth.” In general, Matusicky recommends buying an adult-sized crate with divider panels to adjust the crate as your pup grows.
What Is The Best Type Of Dog Crate For Training A Puppy?
When you’re first crate training a puppy, it’s important to select the right size crate. Your puppy should have enough room to stand up, lay down, and turn around, but they shouldn’t have space to go to the bathroom. To this end, you likely want to look for a wire crate that comes with an adjustable divider—this will allow you to give your puppy the appropriate amount of space as they grow.
You may also want a covered crate for your puppy. Some puppies have trouble settling in their crates if they can see what’s going on around them, so a cover may help them to relax and become comfortable within the space.
Do Dogs Prefer Crates Or Kennels?
While crates are compact enclosures to keep your dog contained and safe while indoors, kennels serve a different purpose. Kennels are much more spacious and designed to be placed outdoors, and they give your dog space to hang out and play without getting into any trouble. Because they’re much larger, kennels allow your dog space to go to the bathroom and even eat, and your dog can stay in these enclosures for longer periods of time than a crate.
Which Is The Best Crate For An Older Dog?
Senior dogs often enjoy being able to retreat to a crate, as it provides a safe and quiet location for them to rest and sleep. Many senior dogs will be able to use the same crates as younger dogs, but if your older pet has mobility issues, there are a few key features you may want to look for. A low opening will allow pets to walk into the crate easily, and you should ensure the crate won’t slip or move when your dog enters. You may also want to outfit the crate with a supportive bed, which will help older pets sleep more comfortably. We recommend the Impact Dog Den as the best crate for senior dogs.