Get Your Dog a Crate

When you go shopping, you’ll find that your choices come down to wire or plastic. "Neither and both are correct; it’s a matter of your individual personal preference and your dog’s preference," according to Susan McCullough, author of Your New Dog. If you and Fido enjoy hitting the road, your mode of transportation may figure in your decision. Airlines only allow plastic crates and soft leather bags, such as Sherpa Bags (which resemble gym bags) in the cabin, and they must be small enough to slide under the seat. If your dog is too big for that, you must check with the airline to find out about their requirements for crates that can be checked as baggage.

McCullough travels mostly by car, so for her Golden Retriever, she prefers a wire crate. These crates can be folded flat. The plastic crates do unscrew, so the top of the crate fits into the bottom mold, but they don’t fold up. Wire crates are a room with a view – a preferred choice for hounds who never want to miss the action. Dachshunds, who are bred to hunt burrowing animals underground, are among the dogs who may favor the feel of a more secluded den in a plastic crate. Of course, you can easily alter the view in a wire crate by draping a blanket over the top.

The crossbars of the wire crates provide better ventilation on all four sides, and that’s probably a better idea for dogs with pushed-in noses, like Pugs and Bulldogs.

All dogs should have enough room to easily lie down inside a crate, and to stand up and turn around. With too much extra space, many dogs – particularly puppies – will feel free to use a corner of the crate as a bathroom. For about $12 to $18 extra, you can purchase a crate divider for a large wire crate. Then, instead of buying two or three crates as the dog grows, you can buy an adult-size crate, and then expand the available space with this divider as the dog grows. There are no such dividers for plastic crates, but McCullough says you can make your own. For example, cut a wooden plank to fit the inside the crate and attach it to the outside with sturdy wire ties. As the dog grows, push the wood back further into the crate, gradually giving the pooch more leg room.