Updated Aug 30, 2022
Should You Crate Your Dog?
This is a hotly discussed question. There are some misconceptions about whether you should put your dog in a crate. This article will give you the information you need.
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Should I put my dog in a crate? Yes. Under some circumstances, it is essential that your dog is constrained, for his own safety. And in other situations, it is beneficial for both your dog and you. But be sure not to leave your dog in his crate for too long.
When your dog is a puppy, it is just not safe to allow him to roam the house unsupervised. Your breeder will have raised the litter in a pen with the mother. You will need to continue a regime where the puppy is either supervised, or confined to a safe area.
An adult dog will probably not need the same degree of supervision, but you need to be vigilant with a new puppy.
When you are asleep at night, and unable to supervise your young puppy, it is necessary to keep him out of harm’s way. If he is allowed to roam unsupervised, your house contains many dangers for him. For example, he can easily chew through an electrical wire and suffer injury or death.
And, even if the consequences are not as dire as that, he can cause a great deal of damage and inconvenience.
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It's not that much different from a human baby, really! You don’t leave your new baby unsupervised. If you’ve ever been a parent, you will know how you become super concerned about household objects that could cause injury. You keep your baby in a cot, a playpen, or close to you with your full and undivided attention.
Obviously, a new puppy is not quite the same thing, but the principles remain the same.
The most practical way to keep your dog safe is to provide him with his own crate.
Anti-Dog Crate Fallacies
Some dog owners are against the use of dog crates. One high-profile and particularly vocal anti-crate protester is PETA the animal rights organization. Their view is that dog crates deprive an animal of his rights and natural requirements.
Such a high ground view is all very well, but it is also completely impractical. Comparing with wild dogs in ancient times is not relevant. We’re not living in ancient times. Our circumstances as modern humans is different from our predecessors in ancient times, too. In our society today, dogs do not roam free everywhere.
The same argument about constraints impinging on dogs’ rights could be applied to every person using a dog leash. But we must constrain our dogs when walking in the street. The dog leash is a legal requirement in many circumstances.
The Leash Law "Prohibits dogs from running at large on any public street, park or other public areas or upon private property other than that of the dog owner."
In the same way, it is a responsible dog owner's duty to constrain a dog in the home, when unsupervised.
Is A Dog Crate Cruel Or Inhumane?
Other arguments against providing a crate for the dog claim that it is cruel or inhumane. Our experience shows that this is complete nonsense.
Our dogs love their crates. They like to go in their crates. They go in there of their own accord and sleep happily there, sometimes for hours at a time.
The crate is their safe haven. They feel secure there, protected on all sides.
Our older dogs are now fully grown. They do not require constant supervision and they therefore do not require crating for their safety. When they wander into their crates and go to sleep, there is no need for us to close the crate door.
Nevertheless, we do close the crate door once in a while, for our own convenience, or someone else's.
For example, our latest doggy family member still has a tendency to chew. So, when we go shopping, for example she will go in her crate, with the door shut.
She also sleeps in her crate at night. And we keep the door shut for her own safety. We don’t want her chewing something dangerous to her health.
But all our dogs have been perfectly happy to go to their crates. It is unmistakably obvious that it doesn’t cause them any hardship. And to suggest cruelty is absurd.
Another example: our two large Cane Corsos terrify some people. When we have had workmen at the house, for example, we have put the Cane Corsos in their crates to reduce people’s heart rate!
The crate training process is an easy way to get into training. Your dog easily learns to use his crate and the fact that the crate is part of day-to-day life means that training is naturally reinforced every day. We have an article here: Crate Training A Dog
A crate trained dog will be much easier to introduce to other forms of training. Dog training is outside the scope of this article, but you can get information about our favorite dog training resource by clicking the button below.
What Dog Crate Should I Get?
Whatever is the right crate for you, your dog and your circumstances. They all do pretty much the same job.
We recommend a wire dog crate. We have had two of these for over 25 years. They are pretty much indestructible, and the black powder-coated finish is exceptionally durable.
Click the button below for more information.
How Much Room Should A Dog Have In A Crate?
It is recommended to measure your dog's height and length. You would measure from the top of his head to the floor for height, and from nose to tail for length.
The recommendation is that a dog should be able to stand and turn around in his crate. Using these two measurements as the minimum size for your crate will ensure that he can.
Dog Crates And Anxiety
Some dogs suffer from anxiety. Common causes are loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks.
Separation anxiety is also common. As the name implies, the dog gets nervous and anxious when his owner or family are not there.
An older dog can become anxious if his sight and/or hearing diminish.
Anxiety can manifest in crying, whimpering or whining and, in more severe cases chewing.
A crate and crate cover can help. As discussed in our article Soundproof dog crate, it's not possible to completely prevent sound from getting into the crate. The air that your dog needs to breathe also carries soundwaves.
But a thick crate cover can reduce noise. And a covered crate provides your dog with a safe haven -- he feels he has protective cover from all directions, and can feel more secure.
A soft blanket in the crate can also help with anxiety. It's another thing that your dog can get used to. The familiar smell of a safe object is another calming factor.
As mentioned above, crate training gets your dog used to his crate on a day-to-day basis, and reinforces the crate as a safe haven for him.
This is how a dog crate can help to reduce anxiety in your pet.
Should I Put My Dog In A Crate At Night?
It really depends on the individual dog’s stage of development. As covered above, if the dog is still young, and has a habit of chewing things, he cannot be safely left to roam.
If a puppy is still young, he will probably not be happy to be separated from you. He will view your family as his pack, and will want to be close when he is sleeping. The simple answer to this is to have the puppy's crate in your bedroom.
Our latest dog has two crates. She has a large full size 42 inch wire crate in the main living area, and she has a smaller plastic bodied travel crate in the bedroom. The travel crate is covered (any attractive piece of material that matches your decor will do). This makes the crate darker and more secure for her, and encourages sleep.
You may have to let a puppy out at some point during the night for potty purposes. A rule of thumb is that a dog last for his age in months +1. So a six month old dog could be expected to last for seven hours without needing a potty break.
Our latest dog is a rescue. She has been used to time in a crate at the rescue center. She has been able to last through the night from a young age.
Should A Dog's Crate Be Covered At Night?
It's not a bad idea. It's up to you. As mentioned above, we cover the crate for sleeping. Covering the crate makes it darker and feels more secure to the dog.
Just make sure that there is plenty of airflow.
And also, depending on time of year and where you live, watch the temperature. Make sure covering the crate doesn’t make it too hot.
Should A Dog's Crate Have Water?
This is always a good idea. It might not be necessary if your dog only ever spends a very short time in the crate, but it can't hurt to have water. And you are then covered if the dog ends up being in there for a longer period.
And, even if he is only in there for a short time, you never know when your dog might like a drink. So our answer to this question would be yes. You should have a water bowl in the dog's crate.
It's best not to put the water bowl on the floor because it can get knocked over and leave your dog laying in a wet area. We have a bolt-on attachment for our crates, which hold a water bowl securely, off the floor.
Nevertheless, although the water bowl is held secure, you should remove it at night, if the dog is sleeping in the crate. You don't want him filling his bladder unnecessarily, and needing to go out.
Should I Put My Dog In A Crate When I Leave?
If your dog cannot be left unsupervised, then the answer is yes.
All dogs are individuals, they are all different. You will know whether your dog is able to be safely left alone.
If he has a tendency to chew things then, as covered above, he must be constrained for his own sake. Not to mention your convenience.
We’ve all seen the YouTube videos where a dog owner comes home to home full of destroyed furniture. Amusing to watch the videos, but not so amusing to experience in person. Never mind the expense. How many times can you afford to buy a new sofa?
But, as we have mentioned above, the biggest reason is whether the dog can be left at home safely. From ingesting something sharp, which damages his insides, to chewing through electrical wires, the average home is fraught with danger for a dog who chews.
But do be careful about how long you leave your dog alone in a crate.
There is no hard and fast rule or number here, just don’t leave them too long. It’s just common sense. Imagine yourself travelling in a car — after a few hours you will be increasingly keen for a break to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom.
Should I Put My Dog In A Crate In The Car?
This is a good idea, from a couple of points of view.
Firstly, the crate restricts movement of your dog in the case of an accident. In other words the dog won't be thrown through the windscreen, or thrown into an object with high impact.
And this restriction of movement is good from another angle. It means that you can focus on driving, and not have any distraction. You don't need to keep an eye on what your dog is doing. You know he’s safe in his crate, and he can't distract you.
Should I Put My Dog In A Crate As Punishment?
No. The crate must be somewhere that the dog views positively. It should not be a negative experience. And it should not be associated with the negative experience of you being cross with the dog, and the dog being told off.
There are better ways to discipline your dog. You can get information about our favorite dog training resource here: Do you want a well behaved dog?
Should I Put My Dog In A Crate The First Night?
Yes. For all the reasons covered above. The primary reason being his safety. It’s not reasonable to expect your puppy to arrive at your house for first time and sleep in isolation, separated from you and your family.
So you shouldn’t put him in a dog crate in one part of the house and then go off to sleep yourself another part of the house. He is going to need to be with you. Otherwise he is likely to whine and cry all night. And the important part of that is not that it inconveniences you or keeps you awake. It’s the fact that the whining and crying represents the puppy suffering.
We have worked out our new puppy procedure over time, with a good deal of experience. With a brand-new puppy on the first night, we will have him in a small dog crate very close to our bed. Where he can see us, he can hear us if we speak to him, and he knows he is with his new family, his new pack.
As the new puppy becomes comfortable in his new home and starts to grow up a bit, you may decide on other plans for his sleeping arrangements. But, on his first night, you will have to bear in mind that he has just been separated from his siblings in his litter, and his mother, and he needs some contact with his new pack — and some kindness, to replace that.
A dog crate is a good thing, for both you and your dog. We have seen above that, far from being a bad thing, there are many ways a dog crate really benefits your dog.
So you can feel good about providing a crate for your dog, and turning it into a safe haven where he can feel relaxed and secure.