Updated: May 16, 2015

Dog Crate and Dog Kennel Buying Guide

Finding the right dog crate for crate training
Thousands of years ago, men and dogs struck up a deal -- help protect us, help keep us warm, help us hunt, help keep us company, and we'll feed you. Some would argue about who controls who these days as you see people following after dogs with pooper-scooper bags, carrying their dogs around in little purses, and buying cute clothing for their dogs. In any event, the partnership and friendship between man and dog continues, and when it comes to co-habitating indoors, people have always needed a way to train the dog and keep it out of trouble. No ones likes their belongings being chewed on or torn up (2 of a dogs favorite games), much less having to worry about the dog going to the bathroom in the house. House breaking has always been step one, starting at the puppy stage, getting the dog used to going outside to do their business. Fortunately dogs are naturally clean animals and don't want to soil their den, so they take to house training pretty quick when it is done properly. But protecting the house from a lonely, gnawing dog can be another problem. If you live in an environments where you dog is outdoors almost all the time, it's not such a big problem. But if you are a city dweller or just need to keep your dog indoors most of the time, then crate training is a real advantage and really a necessity. Check out best-selling models here)

What is crate training? Crates are also called kennels. You've probably seen those dog carriers or travel crates at airports -- they look like dog cages, made out of plastic or metal usually. For the uninitiated, they look like cages, and we think, "look at that poor dog locked up in a cage". But crate training involves using those same crates at home to keep your dog and home safe, and to give the dog a safe place of refuge. People forget that domesticated dogs used to be wild, and they lived in dens -- cozy little caves and burrows dug out of the ground. Having den walls (or crate walls) around them makes a dog feel safe as nothing can sneak up behind it, and in fact it is natural for a dog to be content in an enclosed space. Sure, some dogs prefer to sprawl out on the couch, but you'll find most dogs are also perfectly at home curled up in a crate on their favorite pillow or blanket. When it comes to puppies, starting crate training early can pay huge dividends (just not too early -- see guides below for suggestions on when to start crate training) when it comes to housebreaking.


Why Crate Train? Advantages of crate training..

So why crate train? Crate training has a lot of advantages, to both dog and owner.
  • Helps with housebreaking by keeping the puppy in a confined space until ready to go outside
  • Gives dog a safe place of refuge (ie, away from kids sometimes)
  • Protects house from damage when pet is left alone
  • Reduce separation anxiety when you are away
  • Keeps dog from wandering and getting into trouble at night
  • Makes travel easier, both in car or by plane, since dog has his familiar "home" with him
For most of us, it is really about peace of mind at home. You can't keep a dog locked in a crate 10 hours a day, but if you are going to the store for a few hours, a young dog left in a crate is a much better idea that a young dog running amuck in your apartment. When done correctly, the crate is a positive experience for you and the dog -- it is not a place of punishment. Keep some dog toys in there and something soft to sleep on -- we used to just say "go to your crate" at night when we were ready to turn off the lights and our dog would hop off her pillow (sometimes with a little goading if she was too cozy) and curl up in the crate ready for bed. And if you are traveling and want to leave your dog with a friend or relative, having a crate makes it a lot easier on everyone involved.

Crate Training Guides - Does Crate Training Work?

A lot of people that have never crate trained a dog think it is too difficult, too inhumane, or that it simply won't work. We've talked about the benefits of crate training above -- if you do it correctly, it absolutely does work. And to prove it is not inhumane, here is a dog crate training link from the Humane Society. It covers such basics as selecting a crate, how the training process works for puppies and older dogs, crating at night or when leaving a dog alone in the house, and potential problems with crate training. Another local Humane Society offers this guide to crate training -- again it covers things like buying the right size crate, where to place it, crating a puppy vs. a dog, etc. A final good source for dog crate training info in here. If you're like most puppy owners, you'll want a little more handholding and information to get started -- we recommend you get a good book on crate training as well. Try "Quick & Easy Crate Training" (just 63 pages but covers what you need to know) from Amazon.com -- $5.

Buying the Best Dog Crate - How Much do Dog Crates Cost?

Crates come in all different sizes. The first rule is to buy the right size crate for your dog. Crates are also made of various materials, namely metal wire, plastic, and soft-sided. The soft-sided crates have a metal frame and canvas fabric for siding -- they are meant to be easy to collapse and take with you -- since they are canvas, though, they are not recommended for crate training or for puppies since they will likely get chewed up. Some examples of these include the Remington Soft-Sided Kennel for $80, or the Deluxe Soft Dog Crate for $100 (small, large is $165). Most people opt for the plastic or metal versions, though. The plastic ones (with metal doors) definitely look less cage-like, which is a buying factor for many people. Many of the plastic kennels also allow you to remove the top half to make them more like an open container -- a good way to introduce a dog to a crate. I've used 2 different Petmate plastic crates over the last 10 years and have been very happy with them. They assemble/disassemble with about 10 screws in about 5 minutes, and they are virtually indestructible. You just pinch the door locking mechanism together to open or close.

Most metal crates are collapsible and come with plastic liner trays to prevent messes. Most metal crates also have divider panels so you can buy a larger crate that your puppy will grow into, while you only use a portion of the space when the puppy is still small. You can also buy a dog crate from an online pet supply company or from a pet store near you (think PetSmart or PETCO) -- the plastic ones especially can be kind of big and bulky, so buying it in person might be better than trying to have it shipped to you. If you have a very large dog, make sure you can an extra large crate that can accomodate them. For example, the Petmate XL Pet Porter runs about $180, and measures 40" by 27" by 30". For even bigger dogs, check out the Big Dog Crate at Pet-Super-Store.com - $210 for this metal wire crate meant for Great Danes, Mastiffs, etc.

If your into something more stylish for your dog, check out the line of Petmate Furrarri Pet Carriers - they come in different colors, are sturdier than most dog crates, has quick release latches instead of screws or wingnuts for taking them apart and putting them together, and have door that can swing open from either side. They run $80-$180 depending on size. So the bottom line, shop around a little and see what style of crate you like the best. Then get the right size for your dog. Expect to pay from $35 to $150 depending on the size and style.