By: Jill Jones
Having made the decision to adopt a dog, it’s time to start making a list of all the supplies and equipment you need before bringing her home. One of the bigger items on the list is probably a crate. Doubtless many of your dog-owning friends have one and maybe you’ve heard that experts recommend them. A dog crate can serve as a really useful training aid as well as an important refuge for your dog. For maximum utility, the dog crate needs to be sized just right.
A Crate-Trained Dog – Safe and Secure
Before buying a crate, it’s important to learn about how to use a crate properly to help you train your dog. Its most critical function is to provide your new dog—whether she’s a puppy or an adult—with a safe, dedicated space she knows is hers. As lovely as your home environment may be, it will be unfamiliar and therefore overwhelming for your new dog initially. Having her own cozy space will help her adjust. It will also assist with housebreaking and keep her out of trouble.
Dog crates are made of various materials and come in different sizes. Whichever type and size you choose, lining the bottom with a fleece pad, blanket, or towel will make it snug and comfortable.
Dog Crate Size Guidelines
The sizing of the crate is particularly important for several reasons:
- The crate needs to be just big enough to allow your dog to stand, lay down comfortably, and change position as needed.
- But it shouldn’t be too big because that will interfere with housebreaking. Too much space may liberate her to soil the far reaches of the crate, in an area not immediately adjacent to where she sleeps. Close quarters will inhibit this impulse.
- Also, your dog will feel more secure in a crate that’s not too spacious.
If you’re adopting a puppy, in order to avoid buying multiple crates to fit her as she grows, consider a metal crate sized large enough for when she’s an adult, that includes a movable partition to adjust the interior living area as your puppy grows.
What Size Crate for Your Dog?
Crates come in various sizes ranging from extra small to extra extra large to suit a wide variety of dog breeds. Orvis provide guidelines to help dog owners choose the size most appropriate for the average size of your breed. Of course, this may be a challenge if you have adopted a mixed-breed puppy of mysterious provenance; you’ll have to make an educated guess or go for a larger size with a movable partition, if necessary.
If you are seeking a crate for an adult dog and want to be sure it will fit, measure your dog and make the calculations yourself to pick the perfect-sized crate. Your dog’s height (from the top of head or ears to the ground) and length (nose to tail) are the key determining measurements. We recommend adding 2 to 4 inches (2 inches for smaller dogs, 4 inches for larger ones) to these dimensions to determine the crate size. The width will be commensurate with the other dimensions.
Special Consideration: Dog Travel Crates
Generally, the hard-plastic crates required by airlines have the same sizing guidelines as the metal crate described above. However, the few commercial carriers that allow brachycephalic breeds (short nosed breeds with flat faces such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and others) to fly as cargo, require that their travel crates be one size larger than normal.
There’s no good reason not to train your new puppy or dog to accept a crate as a safe place to hang out. If you are careful to use the crate appropriately, it benefits your dog as well as the humans in your household. The secret to success is figuring out the right sized crate: not too big and not too small.