Your Dog’s Crate Is Their Den of Zen—Here’s How to Pick the Perfect One

Everybody needs their own private space, a haven where they can relax and recharge. That includes your pet, which is why a dog crate is one of the best gifts you can give your new pup. If your dog is comfortable in their crate, it can be a safe and secure place for them, as well as a helpful training tool. The best dog crates provide coziness and a place that belongs just to them.

Crates are also often used when house-training puppies, because most dogs will not soil their space if they can help it. Likewise, for puppies who are going through a chewing phase, short periods of crate time can help with controlling their chewing behavior.

The key is using your dog crate strategically and not for extended periods of time.

“If you want your dog to crate happily, then it should never be a punishment,” explains Irith Bloom, a certified dog trainer, certified behavior consultant, and owner of The Sophisticated Dog in Los Angeles, California.  “Your crate should be a happy, safe place for your dog.”

So, how do you choose the best dog crate? Let us guide you to the perfect pick.

What’s Your Dog Like?

Knowing your pup well will help you choose a safe and comfortable crate for them. Here are a few questions to answer when purchasing the best dog crate for your pet.

  • How big (or not so big) is your dog? When choosing a dog crate, the top factor to consider is size. Your dog should be able to walk into the crate without crouching down, and be able to comfortably turn around with the door shut. Because dogs are usually taller when sitting, it’s OK if they are unable to sit up in the crate, but they should have plenty of room to stand. A good way to determine the correct size is to measure your dog’s height when standing (top of the dog’s head to the floor) and length (tip of the dog’s nose to the base of its tail). Then, add 4 inches to the dog’s measurements to determine the best dog crate size. After you’ve figured out what size crate you need, measure the area of your home where the crate will be kept to make sure it fits.
  • Will your dog grow? Puppies need a smaller space right now, but plenty of room as they grow bigger. If your new pet is a puppy, consider a crate with divider panels. Dividers prevent a dog from having too much space and can be adjusted as the puppy grows into the crate.
  • Does your dog want to look around? Some dogs really like to see what’s around them, but for other dogs, feeling exposed can heighten their anxiety. Think about whether your dog would do best in a covered crate or a more open one.
  • Will your dog try to escape? Crate usage and crate training go hand-in-hand in ensuring your dog feels secure in their crate. “You don’t want a dog that injures itself trying to escape its crate,” Bloom says. “If the dog is uncomfortable, they are much more likely to hurt themselves in a wire crate than in a soft sided dog crate. Although it would take some time and effort, a dog could chew its way out of a soft dog crate. On the other hand, dogs can break their toenails and teeth trying to escape the bars of a wire crate.”Find out how to teach your dog to be calm in their crate.

You should also consider the size and layout of your home when making your decision. Will you need to put your dog’s crate away when it’s not in use? Consider a collapsible crate for easier storage. Crates with multiple doors give you more flexibility when it comes to positioning the crate in your home. And if you plan to use your soft-sided crate outside, look for water-resistant material.


Wire Dog Crates

These basic, sturdy structures are made of metal, allow a dog to see their surroundings, and provide steady airflow. They often come with a removable floor pan, like this MidWest Puppy Playpen, and sometimes come with dividers too. Larger wire crates can be a bit heavy, but most can be collapsed for easier transport.

Perfect for: Most dogs, including puppies and dogs who are being house-trained.

Dog Crate Furniture

Furniture-style dog crates are designed to blend into your home décor. Dog crate furniture is usually made of wood, like the New Age Pet ecoFLEX Crate & End Table, with a solid top that can be used as an end table or accent table.

Perfect for: Smaller dog breeds; pet parents who don’t have a separate space to crate their dog aside from their main living area.

Soft Dog Crates

These are lighter weight than wire crates and furniture-style crates. They are typically quick to set up and fold away when not in use. Many soft-sided dog crates have two or three doors, so you can let the dog in from the side, front or top, providing several options for getting in and out and giving treats.

Perfect for: Traveling pets and parents, dogs who want to sit up and look around, and pet parents who want a crate they can easily move.

Heavy-Duty and Extra-Large Dog Crates

These dog crates are extra long and tall, and are usually made of coated metal, or sometimes high-grade steel. Large dog crates will generally have multiple latches on them that may be positioned so even the most clever canine escape artist can’t outwit them. Heavy-duty dog crates can be a smart choice for dogs who need extra security.

Perfect for: The very largest, strongest dogs and cleverest pups


Dog Crate Accessories

After selecting your crate, you may want to add a few extra pieces to make it just right for your dog, including:

  • Crate trays: Durable, removable pans are useful when housetraining your dog since the pan slides out from under the crate and can be easily wiped down. Replacement pans are also convenient to have on hand for when your dog is muddy or your dog’s food and water bowls make a mess.
  • Dog crate covers. Crate covers slip over your crate to enhance that den feel and offer a quiet, private place for your canine to relax. They often have tabs that hold the cover in place, yet are lightweight enough to provide ample airflow. Dog crate covers come in lots of different sizes and several colors and patterns.
  • Crate casters. If you want to be able to move your dog crate around with ease, casters are a super solution. These wheels fit onto the bottom of most wire crates and can lock when your crate is where you want it.

You can buy crate accessories separately, or look for a package that includes what you need.

Perfect for: Dogs who need a little something extra