By: Orvis Staff
Crate training is an important step in pet ownership, but should your dog’s crate be draped with a blanket, sheet, or crate cover? Whether you cover the crate depends on your dog. Some dogs love the security provided by a darkened, enclosed space, while others can feel anxious in a confined area. How should you introduce a crate cover to your puppy or adult dog, and what options are the safest? We explore the advantages and drawbacks so you can decide what works for your furry best friend.
Should a dog’s crate be covered?
Dogs are den animals who prefer the security of a secluded area—it’s instinctive for our canine friends to search out an enclosed, dark space when they’re scared or need rest. A crate cover can help reduce anxiety and soothe dogs by limiting visual stimuli, which in turn can prevent excitement and barking. Easily excitable dogs are less likely to react to movement outside windows or in other areas of the building if they’re in a covered crate. A closed cover at night can signal bedtime, and an open one may indicate that it’s okay to play. A covered crate can be can be especially helpful on a road trip for a dog who is stressed by car rides, or while she’s in an unfamiliar place with new distractions.
How do you get a dog used to a covered crate?
As with crate training, a gradual introduction is the best way to get your best friend used to a covered crate. And because a properly trained dog considers her crate a safe and happy space, you should never place a blanket or cover over it to punish her. Instead, offer a covered crate as an opportunity to wind down.
Follow these steps to introduce your puppy or adult dog to a covered crate:
- Drape your blanket or fitted cover over the top of the crate, and tuck up the draped material to leave the sides uncovered.
- Allow your dog to enter the partially covered crate on her own, and progressively increase the time she is expected to spend inside.
- After a couple of days, lower the cover on one side.
- When your dog has accepted one side of the crate being covered, lower the material over a second side.
- After she has grown accustomed to two covered sides, let the cover hang over a third side.
Offer plenty of praise and rewards for good behavior. Consistency is important, as with all aspects of dog training. Do not leave your dog unattended until she has adjusted to a covered crate, to ensure she is content and will not chew or tear the cover.
Is it safe to cover a dog’s crate?
Yes, when you observe a few important guidelines. Keep blankets away from heat sources, ensure the fabric is breathable, and avoid using knit blankets that may snag or unravel. Monitor the conditions inside the crate in humid summer weather to ensure it doesn’t get too hot. Brachycephalic breeds may be more susceptible to overheating, which makes airflow particularly important for them.
Puppies go through a natural chewing phase. Between the ages of four and eight months, puppies may chew more than usual because they are teething—they may shred bedding and any blankets or covers within reach. If your dog is likely to chew, secure the cover to prevent her from pulling it into the crate and chewing or ingesting it. An airline-style plastic crate can provide similar comfort, without shreddable materials in your dog’s reach.
What type of cover is best for a dog crate?
Breathable, easy-clean material is best for a dog crate cover. If you live in a cold climate or your dog spends most of her time outdoors, an insulated cover may be beneficial—but it may be too warm otherwise. A dedicated crate cover that matches your décor can disguise an unattractive wire crate. Carefully tucked sheets or blankets can also do in a pinch—if you take precautions to avoid creating tripping hazards for yourself, as well as chewing or tearing hazards for your dog. Consider proper air flow to prevent overheating in the summer. And for a fitted crate cover, choose material that’s easy to fit and remove as necessary.
If your dog is sensitive to sounds, covering her crate with moving blankets or furniture pads may help reduce the noise within her sanctuary. Moving blankets are constructed with padding between layers of fabric, so they may dampen unwelcome sounds from household appliances, outdoor traffic, and to a lesser degree, storms. Though you can’t fully soundproof a dog crate, you can still use sound dampening blankets when you anticipate distressing noise.
What if my dog doesn’t like her crate covered?
Observe your dog for signs of anxiety when using a crate cover. Not every dog appreciates a blanket over their crate—for some, a cover may cause more fear than relief. Some dogs may accept a partly covered crate, while others prefer no cover at all. If your dog shows obvious signs of discontent or becomes aggressive, a covered crate may not be suitable. In short, if a covered crate isn’t benefiting your dog, leave it uncovered.
While not every dog appreciates the solitude of a covered crate, it can help anxious or excitable pets. When you properly introduce a crate cover, your dog may relish the opportunity to unwind inside her own personal retreat. With consistency, your companion can learn that a covered crate signals bedtime and offers a space to relax.