Crate training is something that many vets, dog trainers, and breeders can agree is necessary for the mental health of your pet. Whether you want to crate train a puppy or a dog with behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, you need to use the best dog crate possible to keep your dog safe, secure, and comfortable when you’re away from home. A dog is a den animal and treats their crate as their own personal den. In fact, many will quickly consider it their home within their home. There are many benefits to using a crate but finding the right one for your pet can be tricky since there are so many models to choose from on the market ranging from plastic and soft-sided to metal or wood. Here, I’ve put together an in-depth buyer’s guide that will go through the different options available, how to choose a crate type based on your pet’s needs, and which models are currently leading the market. I’ve tested many of the best-selling crates, narrowing down my choices to six crates that come loaded with all the right features to keep your pet happy and comfortable. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes the six models that made it onto my must-have list, their best features, and how they rated.
Dog Crate Comparison Chart
ecoFlex Pet Crate/End Table
This model is made out of recycled poplar wood fibers and polymers. This eco-friendly model comes with spindles located on each side and the door, that are made out of stainless steel. It offers the perfect level of security and can be a great choice for medium and large breeds. This model doubles as an end table and features an attractive wood finish that allows it to blend right in with your home’s existing décor. The assembly process is fast and easy, requiring just ten minutes and no tools. It’s also very low maintenance, so cleanup is a cinch. However, considering it’s made out of wood, this crate is not a good choice if your dog displays destructive behaviors, such as chewing.
- Doubles as an end table
- Beautiful wood finish
- Low maintenance
- Tool-less assembly
- Not recommended for dogs that chew
This is an eco-friendly dog crate that will fit right in with your existing home décor. Since it doubles as an end table, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This model will work for medium and large breed dogs but should not be used if your dog is a chewer, since this model is made out of wood. The crate’s low maintenance needs combined with its durable design and beautiful wood finish will make this model the perfect addition to any home.
Pet Gear Crate with Plush Bed
This is a four-door model that features a plush dog bed and comes with built-in wheels for easier transport, and a massive side door that rolls up just like a garage door. Each of the four doors comes equipped with steel locks, which will keep the crate secure. The doors located on the sides will make it easier for your pet to enter and exit the crate. If storage is an issue, the crate folds up flat and can be slid under a bed or stored in a closet. The crate itself is made out of blow-mold plastic, complete with steel inserts for increased durability. There are no sharp corners, instead the rounded corners make this model a great choice for homes with small children. The rounded corners will also prevent any damage to your vehicle, if you plan on using this model for travel.
- Four doors
- Includes pet bed
- Difficult to fold
This model is perfect for medium-sized breeds, giving them plenty of room to stand up and turn around. The durable design makes it suitable for aggressive dogs and dogs with destructive behavior. The four large doors will make it easy for dogs to enter and exit the crate and will allow you to easily reach inside the crate for a good cleaning. The wheels also make this model highly portable, which will be a huge plus if you need to wheel this crate through the airport or from room to room.
Paws & Pals Dog Crate Pet Cage
This wire and metal crate features a split divider that’s removable, so it can be used to house a couple of small breed dogs or puppies. The foldable design makes this model easy to store. This particular model is perfect for medium-sized dogs and will provide them with plenty of room to stand up, turn around, and relax. The durability of the crate makes it a good choice for aggressive, hyper, or destructive dogs. Assembly is fast and simple, with no tools required. This model can be used for crate training purposes, but it doesn’t meet flight regulations, so it cannot be used for airline travel.
- Foldable design
- Perfect for chewers
- Easy to set up and collapse
- Includes removable divider
- Not portable
- Cannot be used for air travel
This model is foldable, easy to store, collapse, and set up, and can be the perfect model to potty train and crate train your dog, and can even be used for dogs that have destructive behaviors. The crate can be folded flat for storage or transport, and comes with a divider, which you can use if you have two small breed dogs or you’re trying to potty train puppies. This versatile, tough crate is a great buy for the dog owner on a budget and offers the type of durability all pet owners are looking for.
Zoovilla Dog Crate
This elegant dog crate is disguised as just another beautiful piece of furniture in your living room. Stylish and designed to also double as an end table, this piece will complement any home. But it’s not just beautiful, it’s also highly functional. The crate is equipped with three doors, one located on the side and two located on the front. The double door hinge design adds to it’s durability, while the crate itself is made out of tough MDF wood. However, considering its made out of wood, this model may not be the best choice if your dog is displaying any type of destructive behavior such as digging or chewing.
The bottom of the crate is equipped with a removable tray, which will make cleaning out the crate a breeze. The tray itself is held securely in place and will not slide or move, thanks to a set of magnets.
This model is available in either black or white, so you can choose the perfect color to complement any room in the home.
- Easy to clean
- Fast assembly
- Removable tray
- Not recommended for diggers or chewers
This beautifully designed crate is available in a couple of color options, so you can choose a model based on which color will best complement the existing décor in your home. The triple door design makes it easier for a dog to enter and exit the crate, in addition to making clean up fast and easy. While durable, since it’s made out of wood, this crate isn’t a good choice for dogs that display destructive behavior. Overall, the crate is well-built, durable, and will make a beautiful addition to your home.
2PET Foldable Dog Crate
This is a soft-sided crate that’s perfect for travel and designed with small breeds in mind. The frame of the crate is made out of strong steel tubing, unlike many competing soft crate models. This model can easily be folded for storage and transport. The crate’s cover is washable and water resistant. The cover is made out of 600 denier so it’s tough and won’t tear easily. This model offers excellent ventilation thanks to the mesh panels so it’s perfect for use in all types of weather. On the inside of the crate you’ll find a waterproof mat that can be wiped down in the event your pet has an accident. The mat also comes with a thick fleece cover that’s washable. This model is covered by a one-year product warranty, which will be a huge selling point for most buyers.
- Washable mat
- Excellent ventilation
- Foldable design
- Perfect for car travel
- Not designed for air travel
- Not recommended for dogs with destructive behavior
This model is foldable, features a low maintenance design, and comes with a thick waterproof mat that’s easy to clean. The crate is perfect for home use and car travel, but it doesn’t meet flight regulations and it’s not durable enough to handle dogs that dig and chew. Of course, it’s a great choice for small breed dogs in need of a safe and comfortable place in the home or during your next car travel adventure.
SMONTER Heavy Duty Dog Crate
This model features an escape-proof design, making it a great choice for hyper or destructive dogs. The Y-pattern design gives the crate a bite-proof shape, preventing a dog from sticking their mouth out. The sturdy thick metal frame offers excellent visibility and ventilation, which will leave your dog feeling safe, secure, and comfortable. The crate comes with three locks and bars that are welded, sturdy, and designed to prevent the escape of even the most aggressive dogs. The crate arrives partially assembled however, the assembly process is fast and easy, all you need to do is screw together a few parts. The plastic tray slides out for easier clean up, while the built-in wheels make this model highly portable, so you can easily roll it room to room.
- Built-in wheels
- Welded bars
- Designed for large breeds
- Includes removable tray
- Wheels have trouble rolling over thick carpet
This large crate is perfect for bigger breeds and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The non-toxic finish makes it pet-safe, however, the design of the crate itself will prevent a dog from being able to stick their mouths out of the crate. The rotating wheels are perfect if you’re looking for a crate that you can move around the home or yard. Overall, this model is a great buy if you’re in need of a crate that can handle a hyper, or aggressive large breed dog, and a model that’s designed to last.
Dog Crate Buyer’s Guide
As I mentioned above, a dog is a den animal. In the wild, a dog would live with a pack of other animals in a small den that was considered home, a quiet secure place that a dog could relax in and feel protected. At home, a crate becomes their den, their place of security, a place they will go to calm down, nap, and enjoy some alone time with their favorite toy or a treat. It can be a lifesaver for pet owners who have anxious, hyper, and destructive dogs, old dogs that need a quiet spot away from the kids, or for dogs that simply need a space of their own. In fact, there are many benefits that come with using a crate for your dog, many of which, new dog owners simply aren’t aware of. Below, I’ll go over these benefits so you can learn more about the importance of using a crate for your dog’s physical safety and mental health.
Dog Crate Benefits
- It’s totally natural to feel guilty about using a crate for your pet. But this type of enclosed space can be very beneficial for them. On instinct, dogs will actively seek out this type of space because it makes them feel safe and secure.
- Crates can be used for puppies who are being potty trained, since a dog will not urinate or defecate in a space that’s so close to where they sleep.
- If you have a hyper dog and you’re tired of coming home to find your new shoes torn to pieces, then a crate can keep your pet safely contained until you get home
- A crate can be a safe haven in a multi-pet household where every dog is fighting over a space of their own
- Crates are a lifesaver for older dogs who need a safe space they can totally relax in, away from the cat and the kids
- If you have a dog with separation anxiety, then a crate can be the perfect tool to use to help relieve their anxiety and help them feel safe and loved
- Crates are a good place to secure a dog that’s an escape artist. there are many dogs that will be destructive and dig, destroy personal property, or even try to leave the yard, once the owner leaves. When you use a crate, you won’t have to worry about your dog escaping the yard ever again.
- If your pet is recently recovering from an injury or type of surgery, then the crate can be a peaceful place for them to recover
Now that you understand more about the benefits of crate training, let’s learn about the different types available and how to choose the right one for your pet based on their breed, behaviors, and size.
Other Important Features
When you’re shopping for a dog crate, there are many factors to consider. What’s the main reason you want to crate train your dog? Do they have behavior issues? Are they destructive? Do they have separation anxiety? What breed is your dog? The answers to these questions can help guide you toward the perfect model for your pet. Now, I’ll begin by going over the importance of choosing a crate that’s the right size for your pet.
One of the most important factors to consider is the size of your dog. A dog will need to be able to stand up and turn around in their crate. The crate must not be too big or too small. If the crate is too big then you’re providing them with the room to urinate and defecate in the crate. Make sure you measure your dog prior to shopping for a crate. You can use this information and compare it to the dimensions of the crate. Many manufacturers will have a size chart that will list the dimensions and the dog size it’s compatible with. It may also do this by recommending the crate for certain breeds. As an example, an extra-large crate may be recommended for mastiffs or German Shepherds, while an extra-small crate may be recommended for chihuahuas or miniature poodles.
In addition to measuring your dog, you should also weigh them. Most manufacturers will also provide a recommended weight along with the dimensions. A crate that’s extra-small may be recommended for pets eight to twelve pounds. Medium-sized crates are usually designed for dogs that weigh thirty to fifty or sixty pounds.
Keep in mind, if you’re purchasing a crate for a puppy, you’ll want to buy one based on their breed and the breed’s average size.
Types of Dog Crates
Crates are available in a variety of designs, styles, and materials. Some crates are better suited for home use only, while others are portable and can be used in the car for road trips, as a way to transport your pet to the vet’s or they may be airline-friendly and can be used when you and your pet fly.
The most common type of crate for home use is made out of metal or plastic. These crates are very durable, although metal is often the best choice for pet owners with dogs that are destructive and have a reputation for escaping or chewing.
Metal or Wire
These crates do well for puppies because they often come with a divider that allows you to increase the amount of room in the crate as your puppy grows. These crates are low maintenance, easy to clean, and can collapse and be stored away when not in use or easily transported. These crates also often come with a couple of doors, and a roof hatch, so putting your dog in and letting them out is also very easy. These crates are a good choice for dogs who are hyper, those who have separation anxiety, dogs that are destructive, and dogs that are escape artists. However, if you’re using this for a dog with anxiety, you may want to purchase a crate cover, which will cover the sides and the top of the crate, providing a quiet, dark space for your dog to relax.
These crates are easy to clean, but because they’re made out of plastic, which is porous, they may be a bad choice for potty training puppies or for use with an older dog who has frequent accidents. These crates can also be a bad choice if you have a dog that’s a chewer. These crates have solid plastic sides, bottom, and top, and holes along the sides for breathability. They will also have a handle on the top for easier transport. These crates are not wide open like a metal or wire crate, so you won’t need to use a cover since they provide more than enough privacy for your pet. Many are also airline compliant, however, I recommend double checking a specific airline’s requirements for crate use. Some will have strict dimension requirements.
Soft crates look just like their plastic counterparts, but they’re soft, not rigid. They can provide your pet with a comfortable, private, dark spot to rest and relax and they’re significantly lighter than any other type of crate, which makes them easier to transport. They’re a great choice for smaller breeds and can be the perfect choice for short car rides or cross country travel.
These crates are often ornately decorated, which can make them less of an eyesore in the home. They’re more durable than a soft-sided crate, but they’re not quite as durable as a metal or wire crate. If you have a chewer then you’ll definitely want to avoid purchasing a model that’s made out of this material. Wood crates are also more expensive compared to plastic or metal crates and some cannot be used outdoors if they don’t have some type of protective coating that will prevent rot due to exposure to rain or snow. These crates are often best suited for indoor use only.
A tray will come with most types of crates, with the exception of soft crates. These trays are perfect for dogs that are incontinent. These removable trays will come in handy when you’re potty training puppies, since you can remove the tray and hose it down if your pet has an accident.
A crate with wheels is highly portable and will allow you to move the crate to a different room in the home. This way, you can keep the crate in a wide-open space in the home during the day and wheel it to a quiet space for bedtime, at night. Other crates will not be portable and are designed to remain in one room.
Wire or metal crates tend to be the most affordable, especially when compared to plastic and soft crates. Of course, the price for any type of crate will increase with its size. So, you can expect to pay more for a crate that’s meant for a great Dane than you will for a crate that will be used by a rat terrier. As you can see, crates are available in a variety of price points. If you have a small breed dog, you can expect to pay anywhere from thirty to sixty dollars for a crate, while a medium-sized dog’s crate can have a price range of sixty to one hundred dollars, and a large crate will be around eighty dollars up to two or three hundred dollars depending on size, type, and style.
Does My Dog Need to Use a Crate?
Many people mistakenly believe that crate training a dog is cruel. But one of the things you’ll learn, is that when used properly, a crate can be a useful tool in the home. Positive, proper crate training can be essential in most homes.
The dog has a natural instinct to choose a den, so a crate can provide the safe space a dog can turn to when they need some downtime, they feel stressed, or they’re tired. If you have small children, it will be important to teach them that when a dog is in their crate, this means they need some alone time.
They’re also a great solution for the busy professional who is trying to potty train their pet. As I mentioned earlier, a dog will never soil their bed, so if you choose a properly sized crate, your dog will learn how to hold their urine until you let them out for a potty break, once you get home. In fact, many dog trainers recommend using a crate to teach dogs about bowel and bladder control.
Crates have a negative reputation because they can be misused.
Below, there are some things you will want to avoid doing when you introduce a crate to your pet.
- Never use the crate to punish your dog. The crate is meant to be their safe, happy space. If you train your pet correctly, you’ll often find them using their crate, even when the door is wide open. This shows that your dog thinks of their crate as a den.
- Crates can be used to teach your pet the rules of the home, but it should never be used in place of adequate training. A dog wants to spend time with their owner, not in their crate.
- A dog should never be left in a crate for too long, especially if they’re six months or younger because they have very limited bladder control. If you have to crate your pet when you’re at work, then it’s crucial that they have a bathroom break after four hours. If they’re six months or younger, they should have a bathroom break every two to three hours. If possible, have a friend, family member, or neighbor come over and give your dog a bathroom break. This will also give them the opportunity to stretch their legs. If left crated all day, then you will also need to make more of an effort to exercise them and pay attention to their needs, once you get home.
How to Use a Dog Crate
- Don’t only crate your pet when you leave. Instead, crate them at regular intervals, for short periods of time throughout the day, when you’re home. This will prevent your dog from learning that using their crate means that you will soon be leaving. This will only make them want to avoid using it. Because a crate is meant as a safe space for your pet, avoid allowing your children to play in or around it. Never allow them to go in it. This is your dog’s safe, special place to rest. However, you should also make sure that your dog also allows human entry and contact when they’re in the crate. The last thing you want is for your dog to use guarding behavior and begin to growl or lunge at you or other family members whenever someone comes too close to the crate.
- Make sure your dog gets an opportunity to use the bathroom prior to entering the crate before you head out of the house. If they don’t get the chance, then they may be stuck in the crate for hours holding their bladder. Take your dog for a short walk before you leave for the day. This will tire them out and leave them exhausted and ready for a nap once it’s time for you to go. This will also make them look more forward to using their crate.
- Try to get your dog to use the crate locked, for at least an hour, then gradually increase the length of time they’re in there. The goal will be to have them in their crate up to two or three hours, in total comfort, without any signs of distress. This will help prepare them for when you plan to crate them when you’re at work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Do You Put a Dog’s Crate at Night?
At night, cover the crate with a cover, bed sheet, or towel. This will teach your dog that it’s time for sleep while keeping them cooler or warmer during the night and giving them a little privacy, making their crate more den-like.
Is it Cruel to Crate a Dog at Night?
Some dog owners will not crate their pets at night because they feel that this length of confinement is cruel. However, if done correctly, crating your dog at night can be a lifesaver for some pet owners, especially those that have dogs who try to escape the yard at night, become destructive during the night, try to hunt wildlife, or are too rough with the cat. Crating at night is possible if done right but avoid using the crate for longer than eight hours. Make sure your dog has used the bathroom prior to locking them in for the night. Additionally, do not give them water after 6pm, which will eliminate the need to use the bathroom during the night.
Should I Avoid Paying Attention to My Dog When They Whine in Their Crate?
Yes. As hard as it will be, you must resist the urge to let your dog out of their crate when they whine. Make sure they use the bathroom prior to going in their crate, so you won’t worry that they’re whining because they have to use the bathroom. During crate training, many dogs will whine in the hope that you’ll immediately let them out since they seem to be in distress. But do not give in. If you do, then your dog will whine every time so you will let them out. They know this will trigger that type of response. Many dogs will whine or even bark during the training process. Once they learn that doing so will not get a reaction from you, they will become quiet. Totally ignore your pet when they whine to be let out and only allow them to leave the crate three to five minutes after they have stopped whining, if needed. Do not allow them to associate you letting them out as a result of their whining or barking.
The best dog crate can keep your pet safe and secure when you’re not home. It can also quickly turn into their favorite spot to nap, a place where they can go to destress, and it can also be a great way to housebreak young pups. This guide includes all the essential information you need to know to make an informed decision when you’re shopping around for a model that meets the unique needs of your pet. The products that I’ve included here earned top marks in a variety of areas including durability, comfort, and overall quality. The goal here is to ensure you choose a great model, one that’s durable and comes loaded with all the right features that will keep your pet content and safe while you’re on the go.