Skip to content

get free shipping on any order

get free shipping on any order

10% off any subscription order

10% off any subscription order

Page Overlay

need our help choosing the right supplement for your fur-baby?


How to Choose a Dog Crate or Kennel

There are many factors to consider when choosing a crate for your dog. It's important to remember that you should select the option that will best serve your pup.

How to Choose a Dog Crate or Kennel

There are many factors to consider when choosing a crate for your dog. It's important to remember that you should select the option that will best serve your pup.

Written by: Isabel Klee

When you adopt a dog, one of the first questions you will likely ask yourself is whether you want to crate-train your dog. It can be overwhelming for pet parents to make these choices when it comes to our pups. We love these animals more than anything and always want to make the right decisions, especially regarding their safety.

In this article, we'll break down the entire process so you have every piece of information you'll need. We'll cover the benefits of crate training, understanding your dog's needs, the different types of kennels and crates, choosing the right size crate, and some crate training tips.

A white dog sleeps inside a wire crate that has its door open

Benefits of Crate Training

There are many benefits to crate training, especially for new puppies. The most obvious benefit is to help with safety and security when you're not home. Crates provide a safe and secure space for your dog to retreat and feel protected, and ensure they'll be safe when you're not there to watch them. Picture the worst-case scenario – your dog destroying something, eating something they shouldn't, or falling off furniture. A safe zone can also help with other aspects of your dog being left alone, like separation anxiety

Crate training is also incredible for house training and setting a routine. Most dogs won't go to the bathroom where they sleep, so their crate will teach them to hold their bladder. This helps them follow a consistent routine and know when and where to use the bathroom.

Understanding Your Dog's Needs

The four most important things to consider are size and breed considerations, age and activity level, behavioral factors, and health considerations. Your crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. However, they should not have enough space to use the bathroom. This means if you have an extra large dog, like a Great Dane, you will need a larger crate than you would for a small breed dog, like a Chihuahua.

If your dog is anxious, it might help to have a crate with fewer sightlines. Many dogs are comforted by a "den" and prefer not to be able to see what's happening outside their kennel. If you have a puppy, consider a crate with adjustable walls or divider panels to accommodate growth.

There is no "right" option, only the best option for your unique dog. You know your pup best!

Different Types of Dog Crates

Just as dog crates come in different sizes, they also come in different materials. There are quite a few options for choosing a crate for your dog. We will list a few below and discuss the pros and cons of each!

Wire Dog Crates

Wire or metal dog crates are the most common and often the least expensive, which is a big pro for first-time dog owners since the cost of new dogs can be a lot to handle. Wire crates also provide excellent visibility and ventilation and are easy to travel since they fold easily.

Some cons are the potential for injury and the noise if your dog claws at the sides. Ensure your dog's collar is off before using a wire crate to avoid getting caught on the metal.

Plastic Dog Crates

Plastic crates are an excellent option, especially for smaller dogs. They're lightweight and portable, some are even collapsible, making it easy to transport your pup to the vet or on public transportation, and they tend to have better insulation if your dog gets cold easily. They're also easy to clean if you're still early in the potty training journey!

One downside of plastic crates is that they're often designed with travel restrictions in mind, so finding one to accommodate a larger or heavier dog might be challenging.

Soft-Sided Crates

Soft-sided crates are great for comfort and coziness – the soft fabric offers a pleasant, cushioned surface, making it comfortable for your dog. The soft sides also help reduce noise, which is a plus. However, we'd shy away from a crate with fabric sides if your dog is a chewer – they could ingest small bits of fabric, which is a significant health hazard.

Furniture-Style Crates

Wooden crates are the most beautiful option if you're into aesthetics and integrating a crate into your home decor. Many people arrange their furniture so their wooden dog crate serves a dual purpose as an additional piece of furniture, like an end table.

Wooden dog crates are less portable, especially as a decor piece in your home. Wooden kennels are also susceptible to chewers – for whatever reason, some dogs love chewing wood, so purchase at your own risk.

Red merle border collie puppy sitting inside metal dog crate looking out the door

Sizing Your Dog's Crate or Kennel

Sizing your dog's crate is incredibly important. You want to ensure the kennel is neither confined nor spacious, so measuring your dog is vital. Measure your dog's length from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. Then, measure your dog’s height from the floor to the top of their head or ears while standing.

Most crate manufacturers also provide helpful size guides which suggest a crate size based on your dog's breed. Once you get your crate, double-check the interior dimensions to ensure your dog has enough room

Additional Features to Consider

In addition to the considerations we've already mentioned, here are some other nice-to-haves you might add to your list when shopping for a kennel for your pup.

  • Portability and ease of assembly: Will you use this crate to travel or at home? If it's the former, consider how this crate will fit into your car or on an airplane. Also, make sure this crate has a 5-star crash test rating!
  • Ventilation and airflow: Do you have a nervous dog who prefers to feel safe and enclosed or a big dog who gets hot quickly? This will affect the material and design of the crate. 
  • Durability and quality: Are you planning on using the crate when your dog reaches their adult size or just during the puppy stage? This might affect how much money you spend.
  • Safety features: Is your dog a chewer? Are they an escape artist? Consider crates with double locks or a double door.
  • Easy cleaning and maintenance: Are you still potty training? If so, you'll want a crate that's easy to clean often.

A black pug lays in a black and white patterened dog bed situated inside a metal dog crate

Crate Training Tips

Once you've bought the perfect crate for you and your dog, you'll start teaching your pup that their crate is their safe place. This might take time to happen. Here are some tips to make your crate training process seamless.

First, introduce your dog to the crate. Start slowly, and let your dog get familiar with the kennel over time. You don't want your pup to see their crate as a punishment. We recommend putting the crate in a familiar and low-traffic area. Keep the crate open as much as possible and allow your dog to enter independently. You can also try giving them a calming supplement to help with the transition and training process. 

Next, create a positive association with the crate. This means giving your dog new toys and feeding your dog while in their crate, and handing out plenty of treats along the way. Leave them some fun surprises to discover when they head into the crate, like a tasty long-lasting chew so that they learn what a positive and fun place the crate is. Once they're comfortable, you can close the door for short periods and slowly extend the time for a few days or weeks. Never use the crate as a punishment after your dog does something wrong – we want them to view this space as their safe space.

The best way to make crate training sustainable is to create a routine. If your dog gets a long walk at 8am, try having them nap in their crate from 9-10am. Establishing a reliable daily schedule will help your dog understand that the kennel is a place for them to relax and decompress.

What to keep in mind when deciding on a crate for your dog

There are many factors to consider when choosing a crate for your dog. It's important to remember that you should select the option that will best serve your pup. Crate training is an incredible tool that can make pet parenthood so much easier. Most importantly - remember to be patient with yourself and your dog throughout the process. You want to make your dog feel safe in their kennel, not as though it is a punishment.

For more tips on dog training and behavior, check out the Native Pet blog.

illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging

need our help choosing the right supplement for your fur-baby?

illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging