Everyone likes to have a bit of their own space, even your pup! Dogs are denning animals by nature, meaning that most take comfort in being in small, enclosed areas. A crate can give your pup an added feeling of security, and when used properly it can help to reduce anxiety when they need to be left alone in your apartment. With many options on the market, choosing the right crate isn’t always the easiest task, especially if you're new to pet parenting! The following list offers guidelines and tips to consider before you start your hunt for the best dog crate for your pup.
Choosing the right crate for your pup is paramount to getting them comfortable, with the most important aspect being the size. Your dog’s crate should be big enough for them to lie down, stand up, and turn around comfortably, but not so big that they have room to pace or use the restroom. Dogs don’t like to go potty where they sleep, so using a properly sized crate can help avoid potty accidents as well. If the opposite problem occurs and the crate is too small, meaning your dog is hunched or can’t stand up and turn around, then they may develop a negative association with the crate and become more anxious when put inside of it.
To ensure you’re choosing the best size for your dog, measure their height while standing from the top of their head to the floor (pointy ears not included), and measure their length from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. From there, add 4 inches to both measurements, and you’ve got your crate size! For puppy parents, we recommend getting a crate with divider panels that’s based on their estimated adult size. That way, you can increase their space as they get bigger! Chewy put together this handy video clip to show you how to measure for the perfect size crate.
There are many different types of crates to choose from as well, so be sure to pick one that aligns with both your and your dog’s needs. Wire crates are usually a great option for most breeds, they’re sturdy, allow for good airflow, and are easy to clean. If you plan on traveling with your pup, getting a soft-sided crate for your trip will help keep them feeling secure and comfortable, though these aren’t recommended for chewers, as they aren’t very durable. If you don’t have much space to work with or are more design-conscious, then investing in a multifunctional crate that doubles as a side table might be a better choice for you.
Location is another important factor to consider when choosing a crate. Typically, your dog will need a space that’s close to the general action of your apartment, but secluded enough for them to rest easily inside without being disturbed by foot traffic. Using a corner area in your living room or bedroom is usually a good bet. If your dog or puppy is new to crate training, starting them off wherever they can be close to you will help them feel more secure. For instance, keep them in your home office during the day, and in your bedroom at night. Once they become more comfortable in their space, you can migrate them to a different location if you prefer, such as the living room. Keep in mind that wherever you place their crate, it’s best to avoid locations that have direct sunlight, a radiator, or a/c unit. Keeping them away from drafts and extreme temperatures will help keep your pup feeling comfortable and allow them to rest easier.
No matter what kind of crate you choose, always be sure to reinforce the fact that it’s a happy place for your dog to relax and feel safe! Give your pup a high value treat or interactive toy (like a Kong) before you leave, and never use their crate as a punishment. Keep the space comfortable with a bed or blanket, or perhaps throw in a slightly worn shirt to let them snuggle up with your scent when you’re not home! When you are home, leave the door open for them so they can enter and relax in their safe space when they need some alone time.
Lastly, remember that while the crate may be your dog’s den, there’s a limit to how long they should be left alone inside of it. Just as you wouldn’t want to spend your entire life in one room, your dog shouldn’t spend most of their time in a crate! For adult dogs, 6-8 hours is the maximum amount of time they should be left alone, and for puppies, it’s 3-4 hours at most. If you have a long day out and about, we strongly recommend bringing in a trusted dog walker to give your pup a chance to stretch their little legs and get some fresh air outside their crate!
For more tips and tricks to help get your puppy or dog comfortable with their new room, bookmark our blog or follow us on instagram! And if you live in a Bark Building, reach out to your pet concierge for helpful tips and techniques on crate training, selecting the right crate, or all things animal behavior!